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  1. #1
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    half-round files: diameters?

    (Sigh) This really shouldn't be this hard...

    Just so you know, I did my due diligence and reviewed Walt's FAQ before posting this. Unfortunately, my own findings conflict with the FAQ regarding file length/diameter. I have a 12" half-round file. I stuck it inside my 1.375" tube block and it is an exact match, or "bang-on" for our friends across the pond. (The FAQ equates 12" length to 1.25" dia)

    So riddle me this: What does a 10" length equate to (in dia.)? 8"? 14"? I can't find this information anywhere. Are there standards, or can it vary? Who knew files were such a complex subject? Money is tight and I only want to buy good files that match as closely as possible the common tube diameters. Thank you for indulging my anal-retentive questions.

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    does it matter

    I use an 8 inch for pretty much every single one of my miters. I spent time at first trying to figure this out too, but I think I've come to the conclusion that it doesn't really make a big difference.

    Also, I'm not sure the answer to your question. so sorry.

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    Not an anal question, a good question, just not much info and some guess work.

    I can only add to the list a 10" half round as suitable for 1 1/8 (28.6mm). A very common frame size.

    Look for BB @ about 38mm and Head Tube @ 36mm, 2 files is all you need to cover all those frame mitres.

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    If I don't make an attempt, how will I know if it will work?

  4. #4
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    Hey;

    Same answer as Adam. I use about an 8" which seems to be 3/4-ish for my stays or to do detail work on larger tubes (where I have a small spot to touch down). I have a couple that are 10-14" long. I'd have to guess, but I'd say one is 1-1.25" and the other is 1.5 wide. I use the 1.25 a fair amount on larger tubes. I don't find much use for the big one, oddly enough. Perhaps because it is a bit too coarse, and a bit of a blunt instrument because of it.

    Trying to file miters with just the right size file is pointless, as you cannot stay straight enough with your strokes to make a tight miter like a hole saw, if that is what you are thinking. More importantly, find a file with a tooth count that gives you a good feel. Some are too fine and don't rip, and others are too coarse and you can't be smooth with them. I like my 3/4 and whatever the next one is for that reason. I tried looking back through my invoices to see exactly what size they are, for your... um... anal retentive pleasure, but couldn't find them.
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    half-round files: diameters?

    Try this for some information:

    http://www.mcmaster.com/#hand-files/=ljeprx

    http://www.apexhandtools.com/brands/...iles/index.cfm

    I also that you find a used copy of the machinery handbook, I find that the 11th to 19th edition are the best for the home shop, do it yourself type of person, the newer ones are more on the technical end of terminology and can confuse you. Another great read is:
    "starrett book for student machinists". It's still a go to book after all these years.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by TrailMaker View Post
    Hey;



    Trying to file miters with just the right size file is pointless, as you cannot stay straight enough with your strokes to make a tight miter like a hole saw, if that is what you are thinking.
    And yet, I do....with every miter on every frame. Angle grinder and files are all I ever use. 3-5 min per join.

    To the op- files do vary a bit, but most are 8" for 1" tubes, 10" for 1.125", 12" for 1.25". Since most of my ht's are close to the bb diameter I use the same 14" file for both.

  7. #7
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    Thanks to everyone for your replies. It's turning into a more interesting thread than I expected. At UBI, we were taught to use the file with the profile that most closely matched the miter you were cutting. TM, I have to disagree with you on this point. I believe that with care, one can create a 1.125" miter with a 1.125" file. Because, well, I've done it. But I do agree with your point about the cut or grade of the file. At UBI, every file size was available in two grades. I'm not sure, but I think I found the second cut files more to my liking than the coarser bastard cut. Yeah, this sh!t matters to me. I'm a bit of a Luddite, and I believe in using hand tools whenever possible. For me, it goes to the core of being a craftsman.

    Moving on...sounds like there might be some variability on diameters, since my 12" is definitely a 1.375 dia. That said, I might as well pick up an 8", 10" and 14" in my preferred grade and call it good.

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    Hey...

    I guess I don't have CNC hands/arms... or I'm not that patient, or something. Angle grinder? Oh no... far too... barbaric. I'm more patient than that. I do most of my roughing for large tube miters on the top roller of my belt sander. Some people use snips. I'd imagine some people would use their band saw, and I know a lot of guys use their chop saw, at least for heavier stuff! Whatever gets the job done.

    Files; 2nd cut... that's it. That's the tag I was looking for. Thanks to the File Luddite for dropping that piece of info.! Much more effective than the Bastard variety, at least on thin wall stuff. If it was .095 I'd be reaching for that hogger!

    I say again, whatever gets the job done. For the artisans among us, I'll add, and makes you a happy craftsman!
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  9. #9
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    If you're going to miter with a file, then get a good set of tube blocks and rough them in with the bastard and then finish with the 2nd. You'll just wear 2nds out roughing miters in with them. The smart guys use a hack saw or tin snips to rough miters in.

    Using files doesn't make you a craftsman any more than buying/using antique machinery makes you a machinist. What makes you a craftsman are the superior results you achieve. **** work is **** work no matter what tool you use.
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  10. #10
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    Thanks for the advice on the files, Don. Makes sense to start with the coarse file then move to the second cut. Good reminder about tin snips, too. We used left- and right-hand snips to rough in our main tube miters. At least the Luddites in the group.

    I agree with your second paragraph too. It's the results that matter. I just know that for me, I get more satisfaction from using hand tools.

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    Quote Originally Posted by golden boy View Post
    That said, I might as well pick up an 8", 10" and 14" in my preferred grade and call it good.
    I have (and use) my 6/8/10/12/14 inch half rounds all the time. I have both bastard and 2nd cuts in each size. I like cut the tube with either a hack saw or cuttoff wheel to get it close, then comes the bastards and finish with the 2nd cuts. What you'll find with the 14" is that you'll clean up with a 12". I'll make sense when you start using it.

    I got all mine at MSCDirect and bought them during one of the 30% off sales--bastard first, then 2nd cut another time. I'd like to add fine ones in all sizes as well for really getting the miters tightened up. What I find is that just a light pass with a bastard is too much when really dialing in miters--probably good enough, but you can get closer with the 2nd cut. Even then, sometimes a light pass is too much with a 2nd cut and I'd like the fine files. Sure, you can build a frame that would be just fine with bastard only I'm sure--I've done it more than once--but I do like having the 2nd cuts now and wouldn't do it with just bastards again.

  12. #12
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    Thanks for sharing your experiences, Jay. I'll take a look at MSCDirect. I'm hoping to buy all US-made Nicholson files.

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    Quote Originally Posted by golden boy View Post
    Thanks for sharing your experiences, Jay. I'll take a look at MSCDirect. I'm hoping to buy all US-made Nicholson files.
    I'm not sure where mine were made, but they are all Nicholson. They've been excellent files and really weren't all that expensive in the grand scheme of things. I'm sure one day I'll wear them out and want new ones and for what I paid for them and the amount of use I've gotten out of them, I'd buy the same ones again.

  14. #14
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    AFAIK very few Nicholsons are made in the states and from what I've seen they're certainly not the quality they used to be.

    Files
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  15. #15
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    Hmmm....when I did my main file research several months ago, I read lots of comments to only buy the US-made Nicholson files. Easier said than done! I found a couple at the local hardware store and snatched them up, but I need several more. I looked at your link to Grobet and that is the only other brand of files that folks thought were worth a damn. Thanks for the link.

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    Search on VSalon. The Brazil made Nicholson files were not liked.

    Simonds files seem to be one of the more available files that guys like.

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    Not to derail this thread too much.
    But does anyone use a rotary file/burr for roughing out miters? It looks like they would work well.
    "It has always been my way to de-value the fashionable, light-hearted, impulsive traits that people associate with Punk, because Punk is more than that, so much more that those elements become trivial in the light of human experience that all punkers share."
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    Quote Originally Posted by boardrider247 View Post
    Not to derail this thread too much.
    But does anyone use a rotary file/burr for roughing out miters? It looks like they would work well.
    What I've found with rotary tools is that they tend to climb in the direction of the rotation and make the miter un-round. I've actually had better success with sanding discs (the little ones) for miters the tops of chainstays or on the dropout ends of of stays for hooded drops. Those work well, but you have to be very careful and even then, I usually finish them with a file.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by boardrider247 View Post
    Not to derail this thread too much. But does anyone use a rotary file/burr for roughing out miters? It looks like they would work well.
    Yes;

    Just one of many tools that I use if it fits the situation. Like Jay said, there is a skill set to using them, but they work well for an initial hogging. I always finish with files as well.
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    Ive asked before, but does anyone think it is worth it to use spindle sander type cartridge rolls for messing with miter joints, on say an air die grinder? also a buddy of mine showed me some round grinder stones for a 4.5" angle grinder that looked awesome. they thread onto the arbor. I do some miters in stuff like 1x.065 stainless tig welded and things of that nature where time is of the essence and fitup needs to go quick.
    I have a pretty wide assortment of files but many are older and kind of dull. I need some big ones that are fine, 0 or 2. can get a deal on pferd from a supplier of mine. are those any good? how does one judge the quality of a file? I don't mind paying for ones that will stay sharp in hard materials like 4130.
    Last edited by sonic reducer; 03-01-2013 at 09:13 PM.

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    I know it's been covered already mostly but I found this really helpful list somewhere a few years ago, maybe on the old Frameforum archive?


    Files for mitering tubes:


    Different length files have different radii. Generally use a:
    - 14" half-round file to cut a miter for a 1-3/8" tube
    - 12" half-round file to cut for a 1-1/4" tube
    - 10" half-round file to cut for a 1-1/8" tube
    - 8" half-round file to cut a notch for a 1" tube
    - 12" round file cuts a 3/8" diameter
    - 10" round file cuts a 5/16" diameter
    - 8" round file cuts a notch for 1/4" diameter tube
    - 12" and 10" half-round for main tube and chainstay miters; -
    - 10" and 12" 'rat-tail' round for seat stay bridges, dropouts and tips;
    - 6" half-round for filing lugs,
    - some smooth 4" flats, rounds and triangles for detail work;
    - a bearing scraper for carving lug edges, deburring and miters.

    I like to use half-round Fine or Mill cut files for smoothing out the marks the hole saw teeth leave on the coped edges after milling and for general smoothing around the edges. But if you're doing it all with files then maybe that isn't a problem.

    BTW, Nicholson files are now made in Brazil. Says right on em.
    Last edited by Meriwether; 03-01-2013 at 10:55 PM.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by sonic reducer View Post
    Ive asked before, but does anyone think it is worth it to use spindle sander type cartridge rolls for messing with miter joints, on say an air die grinder?
    Hey;

    A spindle sander is something that has intrigued me. I always eye the Oscillating Spindle Sander that Harbor Freight sells, but don't know how the oscillating part would work at all. For large tubes, I've used the top of my belt sander for the bulk of the cut, finishing with files. That works very well. There is someone on this forum that has a horizontal belt sander rigged up for mitering.

    No way a die grinder has the torque to run a sanding drum.
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  23. #23
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    When I started, I built about 100 frames with just a hacksaw/file for mitering. This is not to say that I was somehow more awesome than anyone else, I just didn't have any space for machines/knowledge of other mitering techniques (teh interwebz didn't have nearly the framebuilding resources it does now!) As Don said, garbage in, garbage out, and I made some total garbage miters until I got decent at it.

    The technique is:
    -Figure out where your miter needs to be on the tube and mark it out with whatever (ie tubemiter program).
    -Cut out as much material as you easily can with a hacksaw. For me this was generally just a big triangle with the bottom point near the deepest part of the miter mouth.
    -Take a bastard cut file of the correct length/diameter and get close, finish with a smoother cut.

    I never had great luck trying to grind in miters with hand held power tools - maybe I'm just too clumsy, but I would always end up ruining them one way or another and the whole process would take longer than if I'd just stuck with files. In all honesty, I think I can do a miter just about as fast by hand as I can with the milling machine - but while the milling machine is cutting a miter I can be doing something else, so it's still a great time saver for me.

    -Walt
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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Walt View Post
    When I started, I built about 100 frames with just a hacksaw/file for mitering. This is not to say that I was somehow more awesome than anyone else, I just didn't have any space for machines/knowledge of other mitering techniques (teh interwebz didn't have nearly the framebuilding resources it does now!) As Don said, garbage in, garbage out, and I made some total garbage miters until I got decent at it.

    The technique is:
    -Figure out where your miter needs to be on the tube and mark it out with whatever (ie tubemiter program).
    -Cut out as much material as you easily can with a hacksaw. For me this was generally just a big triangle with the bottom point near the deepest part of the miter mouth.
    -Take a bastard cut file of the correct length/diameter and get close, finish with a smoother cut.

    I never had great luck trying to grind in miters with hand held power tools - maybe I'm just too clumsy, but I would always end up ruining them one way or another and the whole process would take longer than if I'd just stuck with files. In all honesty, I think I can do a miter just about as fast by hand as I can with the milling machine - but while the milling machine is cutting a miter I can be doing something else, so it's still a great time saver for me.

    -Walt
    And...

    The key is certainly that you wrapped your mind around what a miter really was. Like anything else, the most basic method will ALWAYS teach you everything you NEED to know. Beyond that, it is purely more expensive, not necessarily "better."
    Most people ply the Well Trodden Path. A few seek a different way, and leave a Trail behind.
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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Meriwether View Post
    I know it's been covered already mostly but I found this really helpful list somewhere a few years ago, maybe on the old Frameforum archive?


    Files for mitering tubes:


    Different length files have different radii. Generally use a:
    - 14" half-round file to cut a miter for a 1-3/8" tube
    - 12" half-round file to cut for a 1-1/4" tube
    - 10" half-round file to cut for a 1-1/8" tube
    - 8" half-round file to cut a notch for a 1" tube
    - 12" round file cuts a 3/8" diameter
    - 10" round file cuts a 5/16" diameter
    - 8" round file cuts a notch for 1/4" diameter tube
    - 12" and 10" half-round for main tube and chainstay miters; -
    - 10" and 12" 'rat-tail' round for seat stay bridges, dropouts and tips;
    - 6" half-round for filing lugs,
    - some smooth 4" flats, rounds and triangles for detail work;
    - a bearing scraper for carving lug edges, deburring and miters.

    I like to use half-round Fine or Mill cut files for smoothing out the marks the hole saw teeth leave on the coped edges after milling and for general smoothing around the edges. But if you're doing it all with files then maybe that isn't a problem.

    BTW, Nicholson files are now made in Brazil. Says right on em.
    Thanks for the guideline on file diameters, Meriwether. Regarding Nicholson files: yes, some are made in Brazil, and they say so right on them. And some are made in the USA, and they also say so right on them. If you look on the Nicholson website, you'll notice that they have two different part numbers for most files; one numbering system is for the Brazil-made files, and the other is the US-made tools.

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