Best Metal Files

When working with metal, wood, and aluminum, you need a sturdy tool to eliminate extra material or add finishing touches. Metal files will do either job, but it’s up to you to decide what kind of job you need them to do. 

Maybe you need some small needle files for small-scale projects. Or maybe a complete set with big and small files will help you finish a range of jobs. Either way, we’ve got you covered when it comes to finding the best metal files available right now.

Metal Files Reviewed

REXBETI Forged Alloy Steel File Set


Specs

  • Made from high-grade drop forged alloy steel
  • Set of 16 files in varying sizes 
  • Soft and long rubbery handles
  • 4 large pieces, and 12 smaller pieces

Pros

  • Comfortably-fitting handles
  • The organized carrying case is a welcome bonus
  • Varying file heads allow versatile use
  • Cuts smoothly on a variety of materials
  • Long-lasting use

Cons

  • Handles might slip off on occasion
  • Files bend slightly, like rubber

The REXBETI 16-piece metal filing set is among the most complete sets you’ll ever find. You won’t have to look for smaller sets or individual pieces: all the best metal files are right here in a convenient carrying case.

Each file comes from drop forged alloy steel for extra strength, and the soft rubbery handles should fit into most workers’ hands. With such a variety of file heads, you can tackle almost any project, whether you need to file away a large chunk of wood or metal, or just to put the finishing touches on.

A set with so many versatile pieces comes at a high value, and luckily, its durability matches that value. The files might bend slightly, like rubber, but they should be able to tackle any task and come out on top.

Kapoua File Set


Specs

  • Made of carbon steel for optimal hardness
  • Built for wood and metalworking
  • Total length: 6.2 in. or 15.9 cm.
  • 6 piece set in different sizes

Pros

  • Awesome for smaller projects
  • Toolbag keeps set together
  • Sharp right out of the package
  • Sharpens all kinds of materials
  • Great price for the set

Cons

  • Might not last for too many uses
  • The slight size might be better for smaller hands

Despite the Kapoua needle file set being small enough for a child’s hands, it should still get the job done for smaller projects. It not only comes with a convenient organizing toolbag but is made from carbon stool to resist rusting and dulling out too quickly.

The files are not always sharp right out of the package with some needle file sets, but the Kapoua range doesn’t have that problem. Once you open them, sharp and pristine, you can leap right into your next project and not worry about them dulling out for a while.

While some users might not like the smaller handles or the shorter file length (they’re roughly 4.2 inches), you can at least count on their strength and durability. Whatever your next woodworking craft or home improvement project might be, the Kapoua needle file set delivers that gentle touch you need.

Preciva 18PCS File Set


Specs

  • Comes with a scratch brush for cleaning purposes
  • Made from drag forged alloy steel
  • 18-piece set with a variety of file heads
  • Item weight: 2.3 lbs

Pros

  • Bonus scratch brush quickly and efficiently cleans the files
  • Great for wood, metal, and even locksmithing
  • A gentler alternative to a Dremel tool
  • Sturdily-attached handles
  • Don’t dull easily

Cons

  • The storage bag is not the highest quality
  • Rubber and plastic handles feel a bit cheap

The best metal files don’t have to remove a lot of material, and the Previca 18-piece file set might help your smaller-scale filing needs. Plus, you don’t have to go hunting for your scratch brush for cleaning your files, because this set includes one for you.

The Previca metal file set is excellent for woodworking, but each file’s small size might be useful for locksmithing and fixing keys. I’ve found them to be a smaller, easier alternative to Dremel tools, which still get the job done but can be a touch aggressive. If slow and steady is what you need, you don’t want to grab the Dremel.

What’s more is that these files don’t dull quickly. Plus, the handles are firmly attached so you won’t worry about them off or bending beyond a usable angle. Overall, the Previca 18-piece set, with its variety of file heads, is a handy multi-purpose set to keep on hand

Gaxcoo File Set


Specs

  • Comes with one bonus wire cutter
  • Includes one piece of sandpaper
  • Sturdy diamond finish
  • Blade length: 3.5 in.

Pros

  • Sharp files do quick work
  • Remain sharp through several projects
  • Excellent at getting into nooks and crannies
  • Tough grit surface
  • Plasty-Dip handles give good grip

Cons

  • Slightly more expensive than other file sets
  • Needle files can seem fragile in comparison with alternatives

The Gaxcoo Multipurpose Needle File set is prime for meeting all kinds of filing needs. It even comes with two bonus tools: a set of wire cutters and a piece of sandpaper (yes, metal files are even suitable for smoothing down wire). The files’ diamond finish also makes for faster work.

Besides having a rigid diamond surface, the Gaxcoo needle set does quick work with sharp tips. Each file not only stays sharp for a long time but can smooth all your projects’ nooks and crannies. If you work on a lot of smaller-scale projects with rough materials, this set might be optimal for you.

The files’ smaller surface area also works excellently for lighter work. If you don’t have to sand away a lot of material, but only need a slight finish, they might do the trick. They come in a compact plastic sleeve that seems a little wimpy but keeps your files from getting lost among your other tools.

Finder Semi Round Hand Rasp File Set


Specs

  • Product length: 12.6 in.
  • 4.6 in. handle, 8 in. file
  • Made from high carbon hardened steel
  • The concave file works on curved or flat surfaces

Pros

  • Molded rubber grips work well
  • Consistently files a variety of materials
  • Sturdy, durable file
  • Good file length
  • Great product for the price

Cons

  • Might need more TLC than other sets
  • Does not have a cushion grip for the handle

If you must have only one metal file in your tool arsenal, the Finder metal file is a great contender thanks to its long length and durability. Not only does the Finder metal file work for a variety of materials (metal, wood, aluminum, etc.), but its high carbon hardened steel surface means it keeps kicking butt for ages beyond cheaper files.

The 8-inch file length also helps you get your work done faster and more efficiently. The half-circle shape works for both concave and flat surfaces. You might find it’ll work well for filing small holes as well.

The molded rubber grips stay in your hand in both wet and dry working conditions and comfortably fit your hand shape. Combine that with the long file length and durability, and you might be hard-pressed to think of a better file for your toolbox.

Crescent Nicholson 8″ Rectangular Double/Single Cut Axe File


Specs

  • Double-cut side for rough filing and single-cut side for finishing
  • Product length: 8 in. not including handle
  • Larger surface area for faster work
  • Ideal for sharpening axes or gardening tools

Pros

  • Excellent for sharpening axes or machetes
  • Great filing control
  • Handle works for most hands
  • Works to smooth down wire
  • Dual-cut side speeds up sharpening time

Cons

  • Might not work on older, hardened axes
  • Requires a gentler touch for most applications

The Crescent Nicholson Axe file is not just for axes, but for all kinds of tools. You can use the double-cut side for quickly filing away a lot of wood or metal, or the single-cut side to gently finish the edge of a garden tool.

Most people use axe files to sharpen tools, but they’re just as effective at removing metal quickly for machinists, repairers, or engine builders. Plus, the Nicholson Axe file has a greater surface area than other files, making work a lot easier and faster.

You can also use this file for smaller projects like smoothing down 12 to 14-gauge wire. Whatever you use the Nicholson Axe file for, it has excellent file control, so you won’t accidentally file away too much at once. There’s nothing like shaving a bit too much off the top, but you don’t need to learn that lesson here.

Metal File Buyer’s Guide

While it might be obvious to go with a complete metal file set, you should first consider your needs. How often do you plan to work with these tools? What kinds of projects are you going to tackle? Maybe another consideration to factor in is your hand size, plus how rough you are on your tools. But start here when shopping for new files.

Types of Metal Files

Most often, metal files come in single-cut, double-cut, or curved-cut. Single-cut metal files have teeth that cut in one direction, while double-cut files have teeth going in two directions. Double-cut files are much more aggressive and cut away more material faster than single-cut.

Curved-cut files have a curved shape, usually meant to sand down around surfaces, like the inside of holes.

Types of Metal File Cuts

Metal files can either cut fast and deep or just smooth things out. Most often, metal files come in bastard cut, which cuts very fast through wood or metal and is coarse to the touch.

Second cut cuts about as fast as bastard cut but leaves a much smoother finish. You could probably use second cut for a finishing touch, but you’ll have to be careful how fast you cut since it’s still abrasive.

And finally, smooth cut files provide a smooth finish to any surface, using much finer teeth than any previous cuts mentioned.

Handles

Handles are a massive part of comfortably using a set of metal files. The best metal file handles come from rubber molded to fit into your hand. Sometimes, you might be in danger of a handle coming loose from the file, or a handle just being too small for your hand. Beware of file handles made of wood, since they’re not as comfortable and might come loose.

FAQs

How do I use a metal file properly?

It’s tempting to use a metal file in a back-and-forth motion, the same way you use a nail file. Doing so is harmful to the file, especially for a single-cut file where the teeth go only one way. Instead, you should push up with the file, lift the file away from the material, and then push forward again. 

How do I take care of metal files?

Although most metal file sets come at reasonable prices and last a long time, it’s still an important responsibility to take care of them, so they don’t rust.

Always keep your files protected. That’s why most sets come in protective cases where each file is separated and won’t easily rub up against each other. For extra measure, you can wrap each file in paper or cloth.

Similarly, keep your files away from liquids or moisture, since rust will dull the files’ teeth. 

Also, make sure you clean your files every so often. Some sets come with a scratch brush, which will gently remove any material built up on your files. Otherwise, you’ll have to provide your own. You can also use chalk to help keep the teeth from clogging.

There’s a myth that if you douse your files in acid, it’ll clean them off. That’s a terrible idea, so don’t do it. The acid will only eat at the metal, instead of cleaning it off.

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