Wargaming Tradecraft: Cleaning Your Files


Cleaning Your Files

A file is a tool that's generally pretty sturdy. They're made out of steel, they're strong, won't bend or break and just keep on working. This makes it a tool you're going to have around for quite some time, and like anything they'll stop working as well as when you initially bought them.

Eventually, your file ends up with a smooth(ish) surface and it stops filing. Usually your file is fine; the metal isn't worn down, what's happened is residue from all the stuff you've filed off fills the rough surface. That's all the junk you now need to clean out, but it'll be in there pretty good considering the force you use a file with.

Water? Maybe - but you want to avoid rust. (and a file will chew through a Rust Eraser) Sponges? A file will tear them up. Another file! Well, kind of. Obviously another normal file will just grind and destroy both your files.

There are tools for cleaning files. They're not very expensive, and can be found at hardware or surplus stores. I found mine at Princess Auto, a rather large tool chain up here in Canada.

Looks like a filled pin cushion with a handle. The pins are weak enough to avoid damaging your files and small enough to rub away all the gunk.
To use it, hold the file or the brush and rub the other against it quickly and with some force.

Pay attention to the angle you use. You may have to rotate them to find out what works best. Files have different patterns that make up the rough areas. Sometimes rubbing with the "grain" is best, other times against.
The files won't be perfect, as there is wear on them as you use them, especially when you're using files on other metals like pewter. However, when you're done, you'll notice a significant improvement.


  1. Nice post -- the use of these file cleaners is really under-rated. They can extend the working lifetime of a file very effectively.

  2. Nice tip. My file set belonged to my grandpa and it's older than I am, so they could use a good cleaning.

  3. Wow I did not know that there were file-cleaning tools out there. Mine are a little rusty because I tried to use water and a toothbrush.

    Thanks, that was really helpful.


Please keep all comments civil and language appropriate for a child-safe environment.