|I use chainsaw files to do almost all round surface filework.
They come in a variety of sizes, and it's good to have as
many as possible. They cut very fast, so beware.
Good quality chainsaw files are only about 4-6$ for a 2
pack, and each should last through several blades depending
on steel types.
I use the 5/32 size the most, as it's a smaller one and you can
work around more easily with it.
The pattern in the picture above is the "fire ripple". I've already
done about 1.5 inches to give an idea of how it's going to look.
Pretend you are looking at the vise as the picture shows above.
You'll start with the upper right cut which is the longer cut and
you'll take a long angle at it. Shown below is the 2nd ripple cut.
|After you have the first 2 ripples done, you move to the semi-circle cut (shown below).
|This is a very straight forward cut, and it is taken at a
45 degree angle. It should go about 1/3 of the way into
the spine as you are leaving some room in the middle.
This cut takes place at the end (towards the butt of the
knife blade) of the ripple. Leave a little space so it
doesn't directly run into the ripple.
After you do 1 of each cut, your blade and file will
probably look something like the pic below.
|Take the time now to clean the file and blade. A dirty blade is hard to judge as far as file work
goes and a dirty file doesn't cut nearly as well.
I simply use my air compressor with the blower nozzle on it to clean them. Some people use
magnets, but I stay away from them as you can scratch the blade easily, and they just create
|As you go further down, elongate the ripples as that is the effect you are going for here. Fire strands get
longer and thinner the farther away from the source, and thus the ripple should reflect that.
To elongate the ripples, simply flatten the file more, or take less of an angle.
Keep working the same way as you started, with the semi-circle cuts right behind the ripples and you'll
get a nice, uniform pattern.
Once you get all the file work done that you want, clean it up a bit. I use a Dremel (not pictured) with a
320 grit scotch-brite wheel to clean the groves a bit. Keep the speed low if you do this, and try to keep to
the groves only or you'll have blemishes.
After you're done with all that, get out a sisal buff, and some Jackson (or whatever cutting compound you
use) dark 220 grit cutting compound. Go over the groves generously, then clean up and heat treat.
|As for cleaning the file pattern, there’s a couple of ways to go about it… (After heat
You can get a good polish on it, but not quite as refined (still good enough for knives
that aren’t display type) by using a sisal buff (the woven hemp/yellow wheels – call
Texas Knifemakers Supply) and Black 220 grit cutting compound. That will polish it
very well, but don’t go any finer than that on the compound or the file marks will
For a very clean finish, do your initial cuts (to depth and size) with rougher files, then
clean them up with very fine jeweler’s files (called Swiss files in most circles). Then
go to a Sisal Buff and the 220 compound.
If you really want to go that extra mile you can use ceramic files (look for
watchmakers or jewler’s ceramic files, and they break easily and aren’t easy to find)
to clean up the work after the Swiss files are used. Some people use the Dremel fine
polishing tooling as well, but it’s not as controllable as the ceramics.
That should get you where you want to be.
Different patterns require different files, and that's why I have an assortment of
them. Once you do some basic file work, you should be able to start looking at other
maker's file work and get an idea of how they did it.
If you have any questions, just go to my contact page and get in touch with me. I'll
help all I can.
|For other file patterns
and instructions, just
click the link below.
First, let me start off by saying, if you are going to do file work, ditch the rulers pens etc.....
Second, do all your file work before heat treat, because there aren't many files made that will do a whole
lot on a heat treated blade.
File work is usually the last thing I do before heat treat.
I usually start my file work just above the bevel end on the spine. Most of mine will have full filework on
the entire spine and butt. I don't file the underside of the handle because all that will do is create spots
for gunk to collect, not to mention, it can really be uncomfortable to hold.
Have a pattern in mind, and let it go from there. I do file work based on things I've seen. Fire, water,
and geometric shapes are all nice to get inspiration from. The main one I will focus on here is one I call
the Fire Ripple Pattern.