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What is a Needle File?

Victoria Blackburn
Victoria Blackburn

A needle file is a tool commonly used by a crafter to design or finish small pieces of material. Most common files are made from a hard steel bar with a series of narrow or pointed ridges or teeth that face upward. The needle file is no different and is made up of a series of teeth laid out on a piece of metal, usually with a handle on the end. It is a very small tool that is usually sold in sets of five or more files.

The difference in the files that are available on the market is based on the cut of the teeth and the size and shape of the file, as each file is designed to be used for a different purpose. The teeth in the file are specifically designed to create different finishes on an object. Diamond needle files, hand files, checkering files, crossing files and half round ring files are a few of the common types of files that exist today.

Man with a drill
Man with a drill

Needle files are commonly used in metal, woodworking, arts and crafts and glass and marble work to name a few fields. Any trade that requires a tool to assist with the design, finish or completion of detailed work to small pieces of material is a trade that may utilize one of the many common types of needle files available. Using a combination of these different files allows woodworkers and metal workers to make specific designs and finishes on objects. Typically, a project requires a variety of different tools to produce a good finished project. A needle file is just one of the many tools that contribute to the look and feel of a finished piece.

A needle file is excellent for shaping, designing and smoothing small pieces of wood, metal, glass or plastic. The person using the file pushes it back and forth over the piece to create friction between the teeth of the file and the object. The teeth of the needle file pushing against the object will work to shave off pieces of the material until the desired effect is produced. A needle file is typically used to carve out the intricate details, smooth out a surface or provide a specific finish on a piece.

Needle files typically come in sets with each having a slightly different shape to allow for different uses and handling. All of these files are specifically used for detailing work on the surface of a project. Some needle files have a sharp pointed tip, which can be used for puncturing material or engraving details into material. These types of needle files can be sharpened if necessary. A needle file would not be used to file large quantities of metal or wood, but rather to touch up work on smaller pieces.

Discussion Comments


These things can work wonders in the hands of a professional, but do some major damage when wielded by someone who doesn't know what he is doing. Those "do it yourself" projects sometimes look a lot simpler than they really are, don't they?

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      Man with a drill