File Work Patterns:
By Curtis M. Wilson
(click to enlarge)
File work has been used for many years and by many knife makers to enhance their work. The following are a few original patterns and some of my own. One of the best things that I have found to use as a practice item is aluminum. Use either a blue or black magic marker or metal blue die-chem. Then you can lay out the pattern. To lay out the pattern I use a flexible metal 6 inch ruler and a scribe.
Patterns can be of a geometric type or of a specific item. I have found that jewelers files work well but must be of a good quality, also chain saw files work very well for the round cuts and they come in two sizes. I have read many articles on file work, as well as demonstrated file work during a class given by: Johnny Stout and Harvey Dean. During the class I actually demonstrated file work doing a Wrap-Around Rope pattern on the spine of a folder blade thus no need for a nail nick as the bottom edges of the rope acted as a nail nick for either the right or left hand.
Some of the files used must have one thing done to them to work best and that is to actually grind smooth one side of them: 1) the triangle file - one side flat, 2) the flat file - one side edge flat, 3) the square file - one side flat. -(You will notice as you cut that the edge against the flat or smooth side will cut cleaner and quicker.) Also you will need to cut away from some of the points without actually cuffing into the point of its origin and the flat side of the file will allow you to do just that.
The following is a list of patterns and of the files used to make them:
# 1) Tusk Walking (A)1/2 Round File or an Oval File; (B) Triangle File with one side smooth; (C) Flat File or the flat of a Triangle File. First cut Is A, Second cut is B, third cut Is C.
# 2) Horns Walking (D) 1/2 Round File; (E & F) Triangle File. First cut is D, Second cut is E, Third cut is F.
# 3) Split Horns (G) 1/2 Round File or Oval File; (H & 1) Triangle File; (J) Oval File. First cut is G, Second cut is H, Third cut is 1, Forth cut is J.
# 4) Claws (K) Round File, 1/2 Round File, or an Oval File; (L) Triangle File. First cut is K, Second cut is L1, Third cut is L2.
# 5) Arrow Heads (M & 0) Triangle File; (N) Oval File - Oval Edge. First cut is N, Second cut is M, Third cut is 0.
# 6) Rope (P) Round or Oval File; (Q) Triangle File. First cut Is P, Second cut is Q. The Rope pattern is basically an elongated S cut, then another one connecting the two points, with a thin cut connecting the two points to give it the braided or thread appearance
# 7) Wave-Broken Double Cut (R) Oval File or 1/2 Round File may be used; (S) Triangle File. First cut is R, Second cut is S.
# 8) Double cut (Either alternating file cuts or the same for both sides.) (T) Triangle File; (U) Round or Oval File.
# 9) Wave - Saw Tooth M Round File. Only cut even side cuts.
# 10) Double Wave (W) 1/2 Round File or Oval File. Only cut odd side cuts (alternating).
# 11) Large Wave - Broken Double Cut. See #7.
# 12) Bat Ears Wave. Modified # 11. *
#13) Modified Bat Ears Wave. Modified # 12.
# 14) Zulu Spear (I) Triangle File; (g) Sharp .V File; (h) Oval File; 0) round File. Note the Sharp V file is a very thin V-shaped file with a smooth back (it only has one cutting edge), sort of a flat triangle file with two sides smooth.
#15) Vine Patterns like the in the side illustration will normally move toward the tip or the point of the blade. They can also be used with engraving and scrimshaw, to give an overall scene. Which is what I have done here with this sketch of a work in progress.