HealthyHandyman is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you.

Best Metal Files 2020 – Reviews & Buying Guide

Last Updated on August 21, 2020

a metal file

Metal files are excellent tools for every homeowner to have. They can be used in the house to sharpen knives, in the garage to clean up steel cutting surfaces, or to smooth wood items.

These files come in all shapes and sizes, so if you aren’t sure what you’ll be using one for, you could get confused trying to figure out where to start your hunt. We have reviewed a good number of metal files to get you started in the right direction.

Comparison of Our Favorite Products

Image Product Details
Top Pick
Finder Semi-Round Hand Rasp File Set Finder Semi-Round Hand Rasp File Set
  • High-carbon hardened steel
  • Ergonomic handle
  • Single-cut teeth
  • Best for the Money
    Second place
    Nicholson 06706N Axe File Nicholson 06706N Axe File
  • Rectangular
  • Double-cut on one side
  • Single-cut on the other
  • Third place
    JinFeng Needle File Set JinFeng Needle File Set
  • High-carbon steel
  • Rubberized handles
  • Versatile
  • TEKTON 6677 Flat File TEKTON 6677 Flat File
  • Tapered rectangle
  • Comfortable poly handle
  • Versatile
  • SE 10-Piece Diamond Needle File Set with 150 Grit SE 10-Piece Diamond Needle File Set with 150 Grit
  • Set of ten files
  • 5 inches long
  • Dipped handles
  • 5 Best High-Quality Files for Metal – Reviews 2020

    1. Finder 8” Semi-Round Hand Rasp Metal File Set – Top Pick

    Finder 8'' Semi-Round Hand Rasp File Set

    The Finder 8″ Semi-Round Hand Rasp File Set is made of hardened high-carbon steel to give it the durability it needs to do almost any job and last a long time. It has an ergonomic handle with a rubber grip for a firm and comfortable hold in your hand, even when oil or water are involved.

    This file has bastard, single-cut teeth that can cut through almost anything. It can be used to smooth hardwood, or debur, clean up, or polish almost any metal surface. Additionally, it can be used on plastic, glass, plaster, and much more. This file is made to stand up to heavy, daily use.

    The tip of this file has been cut roughly. It has no teeth and hasn’t been rounded. It’s not finished in any way, so the tip itself is useless. The rest of the file works as advertised, with one exception. Even though it does work on wood, it doesn’t do the best job. We’d recommend a wood file for that.

    • High-carbon hardened steel
    • Ergonomic handle
    • Bastard cut
    • Single-cut teeth
    • Rubber grip
    • Versatile
    • Not great on wood
    • Top of file isn’t finished

    2. Nicholson Axe Metal File – Best for the Money

    Nicholson 06706N Axe File

    The Nicholson 06706N Axe File is a rectangular file that’s double-cut on one side and single-cut on the other, making it ideal for sharpening metal tools.

    It also has a handle with a hole in it for conveniently hanging to store it. The handle doesn’t have any coating, though. The edges can be a little sharp, so it isn’t the most comfortable tool to use.

    When we observed this file, we saw that one direction of the teeth on the double-cut side was barely there. The teeth were so shallow that when we tried to use that side, it cut pretty much the same as the single-cut side.

    • Rectangular
    • Double-cut on one side/single-cut on the other
    • Ideal for sharpening tools
    • Sharp edges on handle
    • Double-cut side not really double-cut

    3. JinFeng Needle File Set

    JinFeng Needle File Set

    The JinFeng Needle File Set is a set of six files including a square, half round, round, flat or barrette, flat warding, and triangular rasp file. They’re all made of high-carbon steel for strength and long shelf life. The handles are covered in rubber to provide some extra cushion for comfort, and so you have a firm grip on the file during use.

    A large variety of file types like this gives you the versatility that you need to perform almost any job. They’re small, though, so using them can take longer than using larger files would. They also aren’t made of top-quality material, so they’ll break if you apply too much pressure to them. If you do break one, you can’t buy a replacement. They don’t sell individually, so you’d have to purchase a whole new set.

    • Set of six files
    • High-carbon steel
    • Rubberized handles
    • Versatile
    • Small
    • Break easily
    • Can’t replace just one file

    4. TEKTON 6677 10-Inch Flat Metal File

    TEKTON 6677 10-Inch Flat File

    The TEKTON 6677 10-Inch Flat File has a tapered rectangular shape with a comfortable poly grip handle to tackle jobs comfortably. The file itself is a medium-coarse, second-cut grade that’s versatile enough to use for deburring, shaping, or sharpening metal, or to smooth out rough edges on plastic or wood.

    If you apply too much pressure, it’ll break, so we don’t recommend this file for heavy jobs. The teeth aren’t the sharpest, so they take longer to work than higher-quality files, and they get dull quickly.

    • Tapered rectangle
    • Comfortable poly handle
    • Versatile
    • Can’t handle too much pressure
    • Gets dull quickly
    • Dull teeth

    5. SE 10-Piece Diamond Needle Metal File Set with 150 Grit

    SE 10-Piece Diamond Needle File Set with 150 Grit

    The SE 10-Piece Diamond Needle File Set with 150 Grit is a set of ten files that are 5.5 inches long with dipped handles for your comfort. The collection includes the following files: crossing, barrette, knife, equaling, square, three square, warding, half round, round, and tapered round.

    These files will get the job done, but they’re tiny and don’t have the sharpest teeth, so it may take you a while. They also aren’t made of the best quality materials, so they won’t last as long as the better ones. Only one of these files is round to use in circular holes; the rest are for flat or square surfaces.

    • Set of ten files
    • 5 inches long
    • Dipped handles
    • Small
    • Teeth aren’t very sharp
    • Only one is round
    • Not the best quality

    Buyer’s Guide

    Four types of files

    1. Single-cut

    The teeth on single-cut files cut in just one direction. They’re used to sharpen cutting objects, like knives or scissors. They grind quickly without a lot of pressure.

    2. Double-cut

    Double-cut files have two rows of teeth that cut in opposite directions. They cut more aggressively than single-cut files. They’re used to remove rust, shape metal, and smooth wood surfaces. These files require quite a bit of pressure to perform these more complicated tasks efficiently.

    3. Curved-cut

    Curved-cut files have curved surfaces. They’re used for working on car parts, fiberglass, and plaster.

    4. Rasp-cut

    Rasp-cut files have a large number of individual teeth. They’re used mainly on wood surfaces.

    Shapes of files

    1. Flat, Mill or Hand

    These files have a series of parallel teeth on a straight, flat surface.

    a. Flat file: thickest in the middle and gets thinner and narrower as it goes outward to the edge.
    b. Mill file: gets narrower and thinner throughout the entire surface.
    c. Hand file: has a square point. The width stays the same throughout the whole surface. The change is in the thickness.

    2. Half-Round

    • Has flat side and curved side
      • Flat side is for flat surfaces
      • Curved side is for use on grooves
    • Bowl-shaped surfaces and edges

    3. Round

    • These files are round with teeth around them. They’re sometimes called “rat-tail”
    • Used to make round openings larger
    • Smooth metal by removing burrs

    4. Square

    • These files have four cutting sides
    • Used to make rectangular openings bigger

    5. Triangle

    • These files have three sides. Two of them are cutting sides, while the third is smooth
    • Known as a “taper” or “threesquare”
    • Work on angles less than 90º
    • File corners to a perfect square
    • Used to sharpen teeth on a variety of tools


    1. Bastard cut

    The bastard cut is very coarse and cuts through material quickly

    2. Second cut

    The second, or medium, cut also removes material swiftly, but leaves a smoother surface

    3. Smooth cut

    Smooth cut files have finer teeth that can be used to get a surface ready to be sanded, or to provide you with a finished surface


    There is a metal file available for any job you need to do. The question is: can one do it all, or will you need multiple files? That depends solely on you and how you will be using them.

    We reviewed quite a few files and tried to give you the low-down on the ones we think will cover pretty much everything. Now, the ball is in your court. Here’s a quick recap of our favorites:

    1. Finder 8” Semi-Round Hand Rasp File Set – Top Pick
    2. Nicholson 06706N Axe File – Best for the Money
    3. JinFeng Needle File Set
    4. TEKTON 6677 10-Inch Flat File
    5. SE 10-Piece Diamond Needle File Set with 150 Grit

    About the Author Adam Harris

    Hi there! My name is Adam and I write for HealthyHandyman. I have a great passion for writing about everything related to tools, home improvement, and DIY. In my spare time, I'm either fishing, playing the guitar, or spending quality time with my beloved wife. You'll also often find me in my workshop working on some new project!