Files are steel tools that have teeth cut into them, the file is used to remove areas of metal (or also for use with other materials - wax, wood, acrylic and more...) to refine or change a shape or surface.
We use files to smooth edges, to remove marks or blemishes from surfaces, and to change the shape or profile of pieces and it is therefore important to use the right file for the job...
My top 5 tips for files....
1. - the best files to start with for general silver jewellery making are a #2 cut half round file (you then have a flat, a curved and a corner surfaces to use), and a small set of needle files (needle files are mini files that come in a wide range of shapes and profiles and are great for fitting into different nooks and crannies).
2. - Files don't come with handles fitted - this is so you can choose and fit a handle that suits your hands best. Make sure to fit a handle to your full size files at least, as the better you can hold the file, the easier and more effective it will be to use efficiently
3. - a #0 or #00 file is a rough file useful for working with wood, acrylic and wax as being rougher it will not get clogged up with filings as quickly
4. - if a regular hand file will fit and has the right shape surface, don't use a needle file - the larger file is much more efficient. Do change down to finer grades as soon as you have the main shape created, as
5. - choose the grade of the file you use (both hand files and needle files come in different grades) to suit what you need to do - if you just need to remove a small imperfection or surface mark, use a finer (#2 or #4) file - if you need to remove a lot of material - use a coarser #0 file, or use a saw to cut more off and then go back to filing
Images below - a flat hand file, a regular wooden file handle, a file brush (for cleaning out the teeth if it gets blocked)