Today’s woodworker has many options for shaping and smoothing, and invariably the first tools that come to mind are usually powered. Routers and sanders are undoubtedly the most popular choice, but they don’t always provide the fine control required for shaping contoured parts.
Files and rasps have been around for hundreds of years and can be among the most useful tools in the wood shop. They excel at fine control and precise removal of material with little or no tear-out, and are especially useful for highly figured woods. Of course, files are also associated with metal work (such as putting a new edge on cabinet scrapers), but we’ll be looking at woodworking files and rasps here.