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All woodwork involves a little metalwork. Whether you are installing locks that need filing or working with a handplane that needs fettling, you need a good set of needle files.

I’ve had my grandfather’s set from Germany since 1993 and always took it for granted. Needle files sneak into places that regular files won’t venture and (if made well) work quickly and last forever. Then one of the files in my set disappeared. And a second one was left in a puddle of water and rusted to a useless stalk.

That’s when I realized how important these little tools are. I bought a replacement set from the hardware store. It sucked. I bought a second set online in a red plastic package. It (somehow) sucked more. I tried to find the manufacturers of my grandfather’s set – that company was long gone.

Then I started looking for needle files that were similar to my grandfather’s. German. Beech handles. Blue plastic case. And then bingo, I found the Carl Walter 7802/3 needle file set. The set is made in France by a German company (those Christmas parties must be interesting), and I could not be happier. It’s like using my grandfather’s set when it was brand new in the 1970s.

All the files you need are here: half-round, square, flat with a square tip, triangle, round and flat with a pointed end.

These files sneak into the guts of your handplane to remove a burr in a bad place. They file down lock strikes and other lock parts to ensure things work smoothly. They file handmade hinges to fit handmade mortises. They remove metal burrs.

And at $30, the set is a bargain. I expect to get about 40 years of use out of mine.

— Christopher Schwarz

Read other entries in the Anarchist’s Gift Guide.

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Showing 5 comments
  • JAC

    The Carl Walter needle files are back in stock at Samstag Sales:

  • xanatizer

    My guess is that the author had a few of these he wanted to sell. Why else would someone write an article recommending a tool that seems to have no US distributors and can only be located in a single eBay auction conveniently linked to within the article. Is this really what Popular Woodworking is now?

    • SmittyUSA

      My guess is that your guess is wrong. Know anything at all about this author and you wouldn’t be guessing in the first place.

  • sheppo26
  • Mitch Wilson

    I hate to break it to you, but the listing for these files, on eBay, ended on Nov. 2 and was re-listed. That listing ended a half hour ago and is no longer available. Happy Holidays!

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