Saw files revisited – Bahco raises the bar

For more information on Saw Files, see our beginner site Common Woodworking.

As you know I posted recently on Nicholson’s retrograde step in forsaking their US roots and reputation in pursuit of exploitation of cheaply produced files and in the process compromised their world-renowned quality. Their files are regularly produced bent and fractious, rendering the files useless for any aspects of work and especially saw filing and sharpening. This sad reality marks the demise of Nicholson as a viable entity in the industry and for the art and craft of file making. Now it is only a matter of time before indeed we see them, US and Mexican jobs disappear. Of course this is not just jobs and livelihoods but damaged families and wellbeing too.

This week I bought and tested a Bahco saw file street cost £11 About $16.50 USD. Pretty hefty price at first glance, but in the case of the now diminished quality of Nicholson files at around£4 sterling or $6 USD, these files actually fare pretty well. If a Nicholson saw file fractures in use after say three saws, that makes sharpening £1.33 or $2 per saw. The Bahco saw file sharpened 15 saws but has two files in one saw file and I only used one of the two. I will test the other half next, but that means I get 30 filings for $16 making each sharpening 38 pence (sterling) or 53cents USD; about a quarter of the price of the Nicholson files I tested.

Now I must also say that I got much smoother cuts with the Bahco files and that means crisp steel cutting that produced a very clean, sharp, chatter-free (vibration) edge to every tooth. All six faces of the file remained in tact throughout the 15 saws and I can actually sharpen more saws with that file, probably another 5.

Though generally I do not like plastic handles on any tools, this handle was indeed comfortable in use. This handle was part of the price, which of course means another saving on handle purchase. Unfortunately, I don’t need a new handle with each file I buy and would rather be able to buy the files handle free beyond my initial purchase. As I said, the handle was indeed very comfortable and really gripped the file positively with no slippage. Probably the most comfortable handle I have ever used, this file made the sharpening an unwaveringly solid and vibration free experience.

I made a comment in my previous post that Bahco to exported its manufactory to Portugal for production so whether that means Swedish steel or not I will never know. I must say, Well done, Portugal! You make a great file and I hope that Bahco is passing on the savings and paying you decently for your production quality. Nicholson has held its file price pretty much the same, but I wonder if that means they are paying Mexico well or taking care of their own wellbeing only.

These files are available in the UK from Toolcity and all the files are less than £9 and many around £5.

13 thoughts on “Saw files revisited – Bahco raises the bar”

  1. Thanks for this info, Paul. I just went to their catalogue and starting on page 72 they have a great deal of useful information about types and uses of different files.

    Do you have any opinion on Grobet saw files? They are inexpensive and Swiss-made, I believe.

    1. Paul Sellers

      Yes, I have never heard anything but good of Grobet and I will be back in the US soon and hope to test them out when I arrive there. I think that we can no longer rely on the former names of makers which is proved by what Nicholson has done in that they rely on their daddy’s reputation and forsake what they established. Soon as I get some Grobet files I will let you know.

      1. Brandon Avakian

        Hey Paul,

        This is just a followup on whether you had a chance to purchase any Grobet files? You may have not had time.

        I was also wondering. In your saw sharpening DVD you use two files. I am not sure you mention the specific length of each file. I am going to attempt my first saw sharpening but wasn’t sure which files (sizes) I should buy to do most of my sharpening. Also, is there a flat file you recommend to joint the teeth and is there a saw set you recommend?

        As always, thank you.

        Brandon Avakian

    2. I have Grobet and Bahco. In my opinion, Bahco is better. I’m disappointed in the Grobet files. They work, but I can definitely tell the difference between Bahco and Grobet. My Bahco files seem to grab the steel and I can hear a higher and crisper cutting sound when I use them to sharpen my saws. The Grobet files I have seem to slide through the saw gullet, making a low, dull type of sound.

  2. Paul,
    I can’t tell you how much your postings on here and your sage words in the class I took have changed my view on things. It was really driven home two weeks ago went I made a run to a favorite local hardware store to look for a saw file and found that it was no longer in business.

    All though I shopped there occasionally, all to often I took my business to the better priced big box stores. It has now cost me much more than those extra few pennies could have added up to in a lifetime.

    I now turned over a new leaf and doing everything I can to support the little guy running their local businesses. While some things might cost a few cents or even a few dollars more, the helpful advice, specialized selection and convienent access all more than make up for the small additional cost.


    1. Paul Sellers

      Thanks for this, Dave. I think many of us regret the cheap prices that drew us that closed down more locally connected stores for Wally World and Home World and such. We may not be able to stop it now but we can keep trying.

  3. I can’t agree with you more Paul. My TruValue Hardware store Nicolson files are not fun to use. Any ideas whether Bahco has an American reseller on their books? I didn’t find anything online.

    1. Paul Sellers

      Sorry, I don’t know. Anyone?
      It does seem that Grobet has good files but I want to give my opinion as soon as I test them for myself. Hopefully next week.

  4. Eric Potter

    I’ve also had tremendous success with Grobet files made in Switzerland since 1871. Night and day difference compared to any home center file I’ve tried. I first came across an endorsement for Grobet on and now they’re available from for about $6/file, handles sold separately. It would be neato to see a review of those from your perspective as a master, Paul.

    1. Paul Sellers

      Hi, Eric, how are you?

      Thanks for this. I will order some for Joel at tfww and try them out next week.
      Best for now,


  5. Mike Siemsen

    I too like Bahco files. When I looked in to it deeper I was given to understand that they were scaling back production on saw files

  6. Hi Paul – thanks for all the great blog postings and videos. Just for info – your link above to toolcity does not work any longer and was unable to find them on a search. However, the good news is that I have found another seller of Bahco saw files in the UK and they not only now sell files without the plastic handles, if preferred, but also at lower prices. The company is called

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