View Full Version : Filework Help

08-05-2003, 05:18 PM

I have read all the tutorials on the web and the searched threads on CKD forums. I am having problems keeping thing lined up and spaced correctly. I used a permanent Sharpie to blacken the blade back and scribed off 3\16th inch divisions. I'm using a diamond bit on the end of a flex shaft on a Sears rotary tool(Dremel). Blade is held in a vice. I tried very hard to go slow and to keep on the marks but as you can see it's not working. Does anybody have any hints or trick to help me out? Or do I just need more practice?

Chris Daigle
08-05-2003, 07:52 PM

It may or may not help, but here's what I do (after making the same mistakes a couple of times :rolleyes: ). First, if you have any needle files, use a sharp edge to "notch" more acurately where you've drawn your lines. Instead of a back and forth motion, concentrate on only one direction. That has helped me with control. From there, you can tell how close your marks or and adjust accordingly before moving on to the half round shapes. Now, you can use your Dremel, or other needle file to follow that notch as a guide and hopefully should help you from jumping around. Try it out on a scrap piece to see if that helps you.

Good luck! :D

08-05-2003, 08:00 PM
Thanks Chris, sounds like a plan! :)

Osprey Guy
08-05-2003, 08:22 PM
Your blade here looks to be about 3" or so, judging by the number of cuts and the your 3/16" measurements. For a blade, that's a pretty tight pattern...half-circle patterns that size are more typically found on liners.

So let me ask a rhetorical question or two...
Are you going anywhere with this pattern...I mean to say is there more to the pattern than these initial cuts? (And I should ask...Did you practice this pattern first on some inexpensive steel such as weld steel from Home Depot?).

If there's more to the pattern you can disguise any minor errors as you complete the pattern. If this is it, you've chosen a very unforgiving pattern. You wouldn't think so, but when it's that simple and facing each other, the two sides must mirror dead on or any slight errors stick out like crazy...

What type of small dremel bit are you using? For the really small cuts such as these I prefer carbide bits such as a cylinder or cone (I prefer a cone which I can start off small on my meaurement line and then enlarge to size...shifting it left or right as I enlarge, to wind up with the measurement mark dead center of the cut. (Chris' suggestion of starting off with a needle file is a good idea...use a three square with one side ground off to obtain a good sharp "safety" edge).

Having said all that, you have gone ahead and started already on this blade and are looking to get it cleaned up so here's what I would suggest...With a good, sharp, half round needle file...(or even a half-round micro file with this particular size pattern)...even out your half-circles until they equal each other. Do this with light strokes until you get the rhythm, shifting to left or right of the half-circles' centers as needs be to even things up. Obviously the half-circles will increase in size slightly overall, but that can't be helped.

Next time practice, practice, and more practice. With the right bit and a steady hand you'll eventually be able to just about nail these...requiring only minor cleanup afterward.

Hope that helps...

Dennis Greenbaum

Yeah Baby! :smokin

08-05-2003, 09:30 PM
Thanks Dennis,

This is my second attempt at file work. I used a small diamond cone bit I got at Sears in a pack with a small diamond ball bit. If the first cuts came out spaced right and square with the other side, I was going to use the ball bit to put a round hole in-between the first cuts.

The first one was done freehand sittin' on the couch watchin' TV using a set of Craftsman's jewlers files and some sand paper. I think the idea of getting some weld steel from Home Depot is a good idea. I'm running out of cheep knives. :)

Here's my first attempt. Was trying to do vine but it came out an 's'.

08-05-2003, 09:57 PM
Dave, I like your idea for a pattern. Keep on it. You have some of the best tips going here already.

Early on I tried doing simple rotary filework in reverse; that is, I captured the rotary tool in a vice and brought the work into it. Doing this allows you to see CLEARLY the scribe line as you are cutting, instead of the cutter covering it.

You need magnification. No two ways about it.

Diamond bits are very aggressive, and the tendency for the tool to walk is everpresent. The more you do, the steadier you'll become and the more respect you will have for those that make it look easy! ;)


08-05-2003, 10:17 PM
Thanks Coop!

I have a drill press for the dremel and I was thinking of that. Also I know I need more light and a magnifier would be a plus. Hmmm....maybe one of those round flouresent tube magnifing lamps. I need a Home Depot CC. :)

Thanks everone for you excellent tips and ideas. I will use them all.

Osprey Guy
08-05-2003, 10:50 PM
MAGNIFICATION!...Of course!!! I sure missed that obvious one...good catch Coop!

It is all but impossible to do a good job on filework without some sort of magnification. Invest the $20 (plus or minus) and get yourself an optivisor or something similar. The usual focal point to start with is 8"...(I've got three visors now and I don't know how many different lenses for the two different styles of visor...also several magnified wraparound shop glasses for grinding, and close views at the drill press...and lights can't see TOO much)

That first pattern you say looks like an "S" is pretty close to what's called a Serpentine pattern...the basis for "S" patterns (Still my favorites). I'll bet that if you go back to that blade and clean it up just a little per the suggestions given earlier, you can resurect that into a very nice-looking pattern. Take the serpentine pattern all the way to the point and it'll real kick! If you choose, you can go back to it later and attempt to convert it to a true "S" pattern. (I've got a tutorial around somewhere in these forums...I'll try and find it for you.)

Arm yourself with that visor, a good light source, and the 1/8" weld steel (Lowe's carries it also...about $1/foot...Cheap!), and before you know it you'll be rockin'!!!:D

Dennis Greenbaum

Yeah Baby! :smokin

Osprey Guy
08-05-2003, 10:59 PM
Found it...I forgot about the fact that I was a bit out of it at the time...but it holds up reasonably well given the circumstances...:p

Hope that helps.

Dennis Greenbaum

Yeah Baby! :smokin

08-06-2003, 09:07 AM
Thanks again Dennis for your help.

Ya, I had my first colonoscopy last year when I turned 50.
I didn't feel too bad afterwards. Altough I did walk funny for a while. :D