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Difference between a mill file and a flat file

difference between a mill file and a flat file

The design of the flat files is mostly tapered at width and thickness towards the endpoint of the file. It is a great tool with teeth on both sides. Generally used to sharpen the blades and knives. While the mill files are featured with one safe edge. The cut pattern of the mill files is always a single cut type. Used for primary or initial or primary finishing and draw filing. 

Metal Hand Files

The metal files are designed to fulfill various tasks for cutting, shaping, surface finishing, deburring on any metal and wooden workpiece. The use of metal hand files depends on the requirement of the level of finish and shape of the workpiece. Industrial metal hand files can be distinguished according to the sizes, shape, purpose, and material. Mostly the hand files are made of high carbon steel and alloys. The cut pattern shows the coarseness of the metal files. 

Here are the details about the Mill files and Flat files which would help you to differentiate between both the files.                

What is a Mill File?

A mill file is an essential tool for both metal and woodworking applications, that requires cutting a little amount of material from a workpiece. 

It is one of the most common types of filing tools used in shaping and cutting projects. The purpose of the mill files is similar to a milling machine, mainly to get a good initial surface finish on the small parts. The Mill File is constructed with a single cut pattern on both faces. The single cut pattern is a diagonal pattern of teeth to achieve the removal of material. It helps to cut and shape the workpiece efficiently and quickly. The side edges of the files are tapered for detail work.

Applications of Mill Files

Mill files are typically used for deburring a workpiece. There are different sizes and shapes of the mill files available to choose from and complete the tasks with efficiency. 

In most industries, it is used to fulfill small finishing jobs. Ideal file to use for initial shaping and surface deburring in DIY projects.

The mill files are constructed with a variety of sizes for many useful applications. For some of the metalworking jobs a small size of metal mill files is better. 

If you need to work on any precise finishing tasks, small or narrow mill files are great for it. larger mill files have a wider tooth design which is excellent for larger finishing jobs. These tasks include metal plate surfacing, working on corners of a wooden block, etc.

What is a Flat File?

The Flat File has edges that are tapered towards the points from one point near the middle part of the edges. These handheld files are double cut (Bastard cut) patterns for fast cutting and finishing actions on the workpiece. Both the faces of the file have cutting teeth with diagonal double cut patterns. Edges of the file have a single cut. 

The crisscross pattern of the teeth ensures the operation of the file at opposite angles. Also, provide aggressive material removal and better finishing results in lesser time. These hand flat files with bastard cut design are tapered at the tip which helps in detail work. 

Applications of Flat Files

They are also called general-purpose files and are used for filing metal surfaces, wooden frames, blocks, and other internal and external metal surfaces. 

These double-cut hand files are used in manufacturing industries for various types of metalworking projects.

The aggressive action of the metal hand flat file is useful in rapid stock removal. They are used by machinists, repairmen, carpenters, etc. It is easy to use in most DIY projects.

Some of the industrial applications include foundry casting, wood framing, repairing, descaling, die casting, forging works. The hand flat file is suitable to use on iron bars, stainless steel, ferrous metals, mild steel, plastics, hard rubber, wood.


Thanks for reaching here after reading the above information about the hand files. I hope you have understood the difference between the mill and flat files. It is recommended to wear your safety gear (according to the tools used) whenever working with these industrial tools. These metalworking tools will surely help in your next projects.

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