This month, I thought I’d show you my jeweller’s files. As with most smithing equipment, there are a vast array of files, and I have just a few.
The largest file I have is a good old half round file, and the smaller files are barette, half round, pillar, round, three square & square needle files.
Files are mostly used to shape and remove excess metal, so you can imagine there’s a lot of that going on! The larger files move more metal, of course, and the smaller needle files are more delicate and precise.
After you’ve filed a piece, there will be file marks left in the metal. That’s where emery paper comes in. With each stage, you remove the marks that the last stage left, so the file marks are taken away with a coarser emery paper first.
Emery, not to be confused with sandpaper, is mostly corundum, which is a crystalline form of aluminium oxide with traces of iron, titanium and chromium.
I use two grades of emery: a coarser 400 grade, and a finer 1200 grade. I use it wrapped around a metal stick, or a needle file, or just by itself in a small sheet, depending on what I’m emerying! Sometimes a piece looks great just left at this stage – it can provide a lovely matte surface. Most often, though, I brass brush after the emery stage to leave a great satin finish, as you can see on these butterflies. I really love the softer shine this gives the silver.
There are more steps after this used to create a polished finish, but that’s for another day!