One of the tedious chores required of jewelry makers who work with different forms of metal, such as plate and wire, is filing. This is required when you are incorporating metal fabrication techniques, and for me at least, it is one of my least favorite jobs. However, filing correctly and accurately can be incredibly important whether you are soldering the metal later or you are making a piece of wire jewelry. Below are some tips and suggestions to consider when implementing this fabrication technique:

  • First, get a good set of jeweler’s files. No matter what you hear, you cannot really file well with something like an emery board, which is normally used for filing finger nails. Unless you have nails as hard as steel, it won’t do the trick. Small files like those pictured are helpful for getting into small areas and come in different shapes like square and flat. They normally come in groups of 10 files and cost around ten dollars. Well worth the expense.
  • Now, just like filing your finger nails, you do want to file in one direction, not back and forth. For the same reason you do this with your finger nails, you do this when filing metal plate or wire. You want to create a flat area, a smooth even surface, and if you go back and forth, you will expend way more energy and not get the same affect as if you go in the same direction using smooth, even strokes.
  • If you have a large piece of metal to file, a bench pin is handy to help stabilize your work area. A bench pin is a piece of wood that connects to a table or work bend and sort of juts out giving you more room to work and freedom to work around a piece. Check my list of Soldering Suppliers for a list of vendors who sell these and similar equipment.
  • When filing, keep whatever you are working on in one spot and securely held in one hand, maybe even using a magnifier over the piece to look at it while you are working. Moving around too much while trying to file will cause your strokes to be uneven, and uneven strokes mean an uneven surface.
  • If you have a lot of filing to do, you may want to invest in a protective mask or at the very least make sure you work in a well-ventilated area. You don’t want to breathe in the particles released as you file. Obviously, that’s not good!
  • Try to remember to keep your files all together in the container they come in or find a place on your work bench to keep them. For larger files, you may want to invest in a metal strip and attach it to the wall over your work bench. This way your files are always there when you need them.

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