- Triangular Saw Files -

Range of Grobet and Bahco saw files 10 inch Bahco regular taper saw file

At the heart of any good saw is sharp teeth. A good saw file is invaluable in establishing and maintaining that sharpness. While the range of files available today does not compare to that of the last century, the files below cover the full range of tooth sizes you are likely to encounter, and are the best saw files being made today.

Taper saw files: Made by Bahco, these files are what most likely spring to mind when saw files are mentioned. They are nearly the equal of the old Nicholson, Simonds, or Disston files; their one shortcoming is lack of durability when cutting new teeth into a saw plate, where they do not hold up well. Unfortunately, every new file I have tried falls short in this aspect, beginning to shed its teeth far too soon.

Blunt saw files: Made in Japan for Glen Drake Toolworks, I count these among the very best saw files that I have ever used. Blunt, in this case, does not refer to the teeth, but rather the shape of the file; unlike tapered saw files, blunt files are prismatic, having a uniform cross-section over their entire length. The corners are precise and the teeth are remarkably uniform and durable. Very close in size to a 5" XX-slim taper file, but capable of filing finer teeth because of the sharper corners. Excellent for cutting in new teeth or touching up existing ones. The tang has a grippy rubber coating.

Needle files: Made by Glardon (formerly Grobet) in Switzerland, these files are of the highest quality. They are superior to any file (new or old) that I have ever used, in both sharpness and longevity. While more expensive than traditional taper saw files, they have several advantages.

First, their durability makes them cost effective, particularly when cutting in new teeth.

Second, the smaller corner radius of the file makes them the best choice for smaller teeth (I use them for all teeth 11 ppi and finer). The sharper corner creates more room in the gullet for holding sawdust to clear from the gullet. There is some concern that this sharper gullet will not release sawdust that gets packed in. While this may be a valid concern when used in green woods, these fine teeth are rarely used for cutting these woods. Some have also expressed concern that the sharp corner creates a stress riser, but I have seen no evidence of this in any of the saws I have filed with them.

Finally, this single file covers a wide range of tooth sizes, minimizing the need for additional files (I use these files for all of the backsaws I make).

Further information: For a more in-depth look at saw files, please read this blog post.

Table 1. Saw file summary.

*Face width is the largest width of the file section. Measured in inches.

**TPI given is for the file, and should not be confused with the size of saw teeth the file is used to sharpen.

^Length, excluding tang, is 4 3/8".

^^Overall length, including tang, is approximately 8 5/16".
File Size
Double or
Single cut
Face Width* Teeth Per Inch**
PPI Range
4" X-slim taper file
Single 13/64" 66 11-13
6" XX-slim taper file
Single 15/64" 61 8-11
6" X-slim taper file
Single 9/32" 56 7-9
7" X-slim taper file
Single 21/64" 53 5 1/2-7 1/2
8" Regular taper file
Single 19/32" 38 4-5
10" Regular taper file
Single 21/32" 36 3-3 1/2
7 3/4" needle file^
Double 11/64" 79
(No. 2 - Medium)
5" blunt file^^
Single 13/64" 64 10-18

Bahco tapered saw files are made in Portugal.

Glardon needle files are made in Switzerland.

Glen-Drake blunt saw files are made in Japan.

Range of Bahco, Grobet, and Glen-Drake files