19 Types Of Woodworking Files -Woodworking Tools Guide

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When starting out in woodworking you will need some essential hand tools from the word go.  Woodworking files are one of the most simple yet effective tools you’ll need.  In this article, we take a look at the different types of woodworking files and the uses of each type.

When we discuss files in the field of woodworking,  you may wonder why we also mention files that are specific to using on metal (rather than wood). We’ve included these in this article because these files are also used to sharpen woodworking tools. Becoming a self-sufficient woodworker, it’s important that you also know how to maintain and sharpen your own tools.

Dull chisels, planes, and saw blades will make your work less efficient and precise and will shorten the lifespan of your tools. Metal files, along with other sharpening tools in your arsenal, will keep your woodworking tools in good working order.

Woodworking files and tools
Woodworking files and tools. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Different Types Of Woodworking Files

We find that a lot of people do not know what more than half the woodworking files are used for. Hence, the purpose of this article is to enlighten you regarding woodworking files and how best to use them. Here’s a list of some of the standard woodworking files that you can find:

Mill Files

REXBETI 16Pcs Premium Grade T12 Drop Forged Alloy Steel File Set with Carry Case, Precision Flat/Triangle/Half-round/Round Large File and 12pcs Needle Files, Soft Rubbery Handle, Perfect Shaping Tool
Mill File

We use this type of file to sharpen flat-bladed tools. We can also level the teeth on saw blades with these files.

Taper Saw Files

Taper Saw Files - 5 pc Set for Hand Saw Sharpening. Made in Portugal
Taper Saw Files

This is a classic file which we use to sharpen wood saw teeth. It is triangular in cross-section, and the angle of the triangle corresponds to the angle of teeth in the saw.

Veneer Knife Files

Nicholson Veneer Knife Hand File, American Pattern, Single Cut, Rectangular, Coarse, 10" Length
Veneer Knife Hand File.

A veneer knife is a knife that we use to cut veneer. The veneer knife file helps us to maintain and sharpen veneer knives.

Double-Ended Saw Files

Nicholson Double-Ended Saw Files.

This category of file has a unique shape in that it looks like a couple of taper files stuck together. We use a double-ended saw file to sharpen saw blades. It is characterized by its high durability.

Cant Saw Files

PFERD Hand File, American Pattern, Single Cut, Triangular, Medium, 8" Length, 7/8" Width, 1/2" Thickness
Cant Saw Files

If you have a saw with irregular teeth, you can use this file to sharpen it. A prime example is a saw that has “M” shaped teeth.

Chainsaw Files

Oregon 70504/80513 5/32-Inch Chain Saw File
Oregon Chainsaw Files. 

These files are round in cross-section, but we get them in different shapes as well. The specialty of chainsaw files is that they fit into the cleft of a chainsaw blade to sharpen it, which is especially important if you are doing detailed wood carving with a chainsaw.

Flat Files

Wood Rasp with Premium Grade High Carbon Hand File and Round Rasp, Half Round Flat & Needle Files. Best Wood Rasp Set for Sharping Wood and Metal Tools
Flat Files. 

You get a variety of different sizes of flat files. These files are indispensable for smoothing out rough edges and corners, to avoid forming splinters that could injure you while handling wood.

Square Edge Joint Files

Mercer Industries GNSI62 Swiss Pattern Needle File Set, Medium Cut, 6-1/4", 12-Piece
Mercer Industries Square Edge Joint Files.

These files have a cut on their edges only. You can use this sort of file to clean out a rectangular groove or slot.

Half-Round Files

Kalim 8 Inch Half-round Hand File with High Carbon Hardened Steel, Ergonomic Grip, Plastic Non-slip Handle ...
Kalim Half-Round Files. 

Because a half-round file also has a flat surface, it is an extremely versatile tool. You can file flat surfaces, or shape rounded surfaces with this file. They also serve the purpose of descaling the internal walls of pipes.

Marking Files

16 piece Carbon-Steel File Set Great for Woodworking & Metalworking, Whittling Professional hobby project DIY metal file tool
Marking Files.

Similar to a half-round file, a marking file differs in that it has a sharp point. Because of this sharp point, you are less likely to file a surface accidentally with the corner of your file.

Slotting Files

LK-WORLD Golden wood rasp file set 6",8"and 10" wood file Bastard File with packing bags, for Wood Soft Metal Plastic(3 Pcs) (Wood rasp, Golden wood rasp)
Slotting Files.

The slotting file helps to cut or clear slots in a screw. This proves to be quite handy if you need to use a wood screw that has a poorly-made slot.

Needle Files

SE 10-Piece Diamond Needle File Set with 150 Grit - 744DF-R
Needle File. 

These files help us to work with extremely fine detail. Needle files again are incredibly versatile. You can use them to finish off roughly-shaped wood or to clean dog holes and bores.

Japanese Carving Files

Samurai Kanzawa Japanese Saw Diamond Sharpenner DFH-70 for Hand Saws GC JD FC
Samurai Kanzawa Japanese Carving Files. 

These files deserve a special mention in the category of wood carving. Shaped somewhat like needle files, they are slightly larger, and you can use them to move in and out of the contours of wood carvings.

Crosscut Files

If you have crosscut saws, you will need this type of file to sharpen your blades. That being said, you can also use the same file to sharpen a ripsaw as well.

Web Saw Files

We use web saw files to sharpen the rotary blades of web saws. These files are diamond-shaped in cross-section. The angle of the diamond shape corresponds to the angle of the teeth in the circular web saw.

Augur Bit Files

MAGBIT 303DLX.FILE MAG303 Auger Bit File
MAGBIT Augur Bit File. 

We use augur bit files to sharpen augur bits. An augur bit is a helically-shaped drill bit with which you can make holes in wood.

Pillar Files

Nicholson Pillar File, Swiss Pattern, Double Cut, Rectangular, #2 Coarseness, 6" Length, Extra Narrow
Nicholson Pillar File.

A pillar file has safe edges, and we can file rectangular slots and grooves with them. It is a more precise version of a flat file. It is a double-cut file with one smooth edge and is suitable for narrow work.

Equaling Files

10Pcs Needle File Set Hardened Alloy Strength Steel Files- Mini Needle File Set Includes Round, Tapered Round, Half Round, Barrette, Crossing, Knife, Equaling, Warding, Square, and Three Square
Equaling Files. 

This type of file is very similar to a pillar file. It has a different cut on the edge than the face. We use this type of file to even out inconsistencies in a rectangular or square slot. An equaling file also helps us to remove burrs from round holes.

Knife Files

Nicholson 06706N FILE,8",AXE,CDD,203mm
Nicholson Knife Files.

If you have wood with fine grooves or tight internal angles, you will do well to use a knife file. As the name suggests, this file has a knife-like shape with a narrow blade.


When you build your woodworking setup, the first important thing is to get a complete set of tools. And, one of the most critical hand tools that you will need is the humble woodworking file. Power tools are optional add-ons, in the sense that you can go on adding to your collection over the years but hand tools are where to start.

There are many misconceptions regarding the different types of woodworking files. In this article, we have attempted to clear all those grey areas with some reliable answers. Once you get more clarity on woodworking files, you will probably look at them in a new light.

You can only get the best out of a tool if you know what exactly it is meant for. Hence, we hope that you are now clear on this point. Knowing about the different types of tool helps to get the best out of it. We hope that after reading this article, you too will be able to use your woodworking files for the best possible results.

Wondering the difference between a rasp vs a file, click here.

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