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Motorsport Fabrication Fundamentals: Hand Files and Hacksaws

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Hand Files and Hacksaws


00:00 - With advancements in technology in the motorsport industry, some tools and processes have been made entirely obsolete, however there are some hand tools that have stood the test of time and prove themselves to be highly useful when used in the correct situations.
00:14 Two of these include the hand file and the hacksaw.
00:18 The hand file has been around for thousands of years and can be used to precisely remove material in many different metal working situations.
00:25 This is a long piece of machined and hardened tool steel, with teeth lining the length of the file.
00:31 It has a handle that's traditionally made from timber but you'll find most modern files use a handle made of plastic now instead.
00:38 Hand files are available in 100s of different lengths, thicknesses, shapes and grades of coarseness to suit diferent tasks.
00:46 The smallest are called needle files and these are usually purchased in packs of 6 to 12 and measure around 100 mm in length.
00:54 Needle files don't usually have handles on them as the handle can inhibit the fine work we'll usually do with them.
01:00 These fine files are used for final finishing and sharpening of detailed edges and surfaces as well as deburring and are available in a number of different profiles ranging from various diameters of round, half round, triangle, flat and square.
01:15 Like needle files, regular files are available in many different profiles but are much longer, measuring around 300 mm in length and they're named by their corresponding shape and tooth profile.
01:27 For example, a file commonly used to remove large amounts of material over a flat surface quickly, is the flat bastard file.
01:35 This is great for removing material fast but the surface finish will be very rough as a result of the coarse design of this file.
01:42 We can however finish the surface with a flat smooth file which has a much finer tooth profile that results in a smoother surface finish.
01:51 Most files will have cutting surfaces on all faces but some files have a smooth edge which is known as the safe edge which allows the file to cut on a single face inside a 90° pocket, perfect for relieving or finishing an internal keyway or groove for example.
02:07 It's a good idea to clean your files regularly with a file brush which uses a very rigid and short wear resistant wire than when brushed across the file, removes any build up from within the cutting surfaces.
02:20 This is most important when you're filing soft, non ferrous materials like aluminium because these softer materials build up on the file very quickly, reducing the file's effectiveness.
02:31 If you're just getting started, we'd recommend a set of needle files for fine work and at least a flat bastard file and a flat smooth file for larger jobs.
02:41 If your budget allows then half round and full round versions of the bastard and smooth files are also great additions.
02:48 Another useful tool that you should consider is the hacksaw which is a C shaped frame with a hand grip that holds a 300 mm blade under tension.
02:57 This blade is thin and available in a range of different coarseness levels defined by their tooth per inch or TPI count.
03:05 Advancements in technology now offer alternatives to the hacksaw with a number of powered options but don't rule out its effectiveness in the workshop.
03:14 In recent times we've seen a resurgence of the hacksaw, especially for use with thin wall tubing like titanium where it can deliver precise cuts that offer the user a feel for the cut and the opportunity to go as fast or as slow as you need.
03:29 A common rule for hacksaw blades is that the thinner the material, the more teeth per inch you'll want to have.
03:36 This will produce a smoother cut and lessen the chance of the blade grabbing on thinner material.
03:41 Thicker material on the other hand allows for a larger cut on each stroke and will be suited to a smaller TPI for doing so.
03:48 The most common blades you'll come across range from 14 to 32 teeth per inch and are relatively inexpensive to buy.
03:55 Always check the condition of the blade before using the hacksaw as any missing or worn teeth will make the cut a lot more difficult than it would be with a sharp fresh blade that can be controlled through the work piece.
04:07 It's this control that makes the hacksaw a tool that continues to be a staple in the fabrication industry.
04:13 The file and the hacksaw have been grouped into this one module because the technique used for both of these tools share a lot of similarities.
04:21 They both cut on the forward stroke of motion and are designed to be lifted off the work piece on the return stroke.
04:28 Failure to do this, will result in premature wear to the blades and the teeth of these tools.
04:34 This lifting motion gives the loaded tooth a chance to be cleaned out before the next stroke and the speed in which you do this should be around 40 to 60 strokes per minute or roughly once a second.
04:46 Longer, slower strokes will be more effective than shorter faster strokes and this is true for both the file and the hacksaw.
04:53 There are plenty of devices on the market that can assist you in cutting straight with a hacksaw since it can be difficult to cut in a dead straight line without a guide.
05:02 For this reason, it's a great idea to consider a clamp and hacksaw guide if you want to be able to cut a lot of material like round tube precisely.

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