Metal Files, Rasps, and Rifflers Information

Metal files, rasps, and rifflersMetal files, rasps, and rifflers have serrated cutting surfaces for rounding off sharp edges, removing burrs, blending parting lines, cleaning, surface preparation, and other part surface finishing applications. These tools are commonly used to shape materials by slowly cutting away small amounts. Often, metal files, rasps, and rifflers are used to smooth rough edges of newly cut materials.


Metal files, rasps, and rifflers are versatile, handheld tools with sharp ridges, or teeth. Metal files specifically have three main parts:

  • the length, a tooth-covered cutting surface
  • the tang, where the handle is attached
  • the heel, which is the passage between the length and the tang


When selecting metal files, it is important to understand the cut of the teeth and finish provided. A general rule for selecting metal files is that the longer the file is, the coarser it will be. Rasps are similar to metal files, but they make deeper and coarser cuts, leaving a rough surface. Rasps consist of a point or tip, a steel bar (sometimes known as a belly), a heel at the bottom, and the tang. Unlike files, the teeth of a rasp are separate and triangular, rather than parallel. Since the teeth of a rasp are separate, rasps typically resist clogging. Rasps are used to scrape away and shape wood quickly. When selecting rasps, the size and distribution of teeth will determine how coarse the rasp will be, and how much material it will be able to remove.

While metal files, rasps, and rifflers all cut away material, these tools have evolved over the years and have become specialized tools in some situations. Rifflers are an example of a special type of file or rasp. Rifflers are typically small, double-ended files, rasps, or both, that have a gripping area between cutting edges. Since rifflers are smaller files or rasps, they are useful for working in tight spaces. Metal files, rasps, and rifflers are available with different types of end shapes and profiles. Common end shapes for metal files, rasps, and rifflers include straight, curved, and knife-like. Profiles include oval, triangular, square, round, and half-round.


Metal files, rasps, and rifflers are commonly used in the:

  • automotive industry
  • machining industry
  • metal working industry
  • tool sharpening industry
  • wood working industry

When choosing a metal file, rasp, or riffler, it’s important to consider the style, cut, profile, and pattern that would best suit the application.

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