My Guys

Let me tell you about my files. Forget about the ones with heft, those above the 6″ rattail types all the way up to 14″ half-round bastard cuts. I mean these. The saviors. The heroes I lean on to make me look good. They enable my work to exhibit a degree of refinement. I know it looks easy when I paste in the heavily edited and carefully chosen images of metal sculpture. I grab these lil’ mofos and it all becomes real.

There’s very little I can screw up. Few if any holes I can fall in. And almost no zags I can’t instantly transform into zigs. As long as I have these.

When grasping for perfection gets the best of me, I buy new precision needle files. Sometimes they’re Bahco. This week they’re all Grobet. Swiss files, made in Italy. Barrette. Knife. Flat. Round. Warding. Triangle. Whatever. These fellas are my last line of defense in making a beautiful and tight frame more beautiful and tight. Imelda did shoes. I do files. All in the 6 1/4″ range. All 00 cut. That’s. Fucking. Sharp. Batman.

Each shape is right for a particular task in my bicycle making chores. Some square up the points on my dropouts. Some accentuate the edges on my reinforcement plates. There’s one that’s only used for seat lug slots. I have a group of these in graduated widths that create the slit on the outside of my fork crowns, And there’s a special batch set aside for making lug shorelines even more crisp than ever. After 45 years, I’m still waiting to try this file.

I love these little guys. Little men. The new recruits arrived yesterday and I’ll phase them in over the next week or two. The other batch, those in the second image – they’re from the January haul. I have a special place in the garden they’ll be placed. To live out their days with the thousands of others I’ve leaned on through the decades.

All This By Hand
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