Bahco Oberg files cut steel fast

DSC_0702I filed scrapers today, preparing for new work this coming week. I generally sharpen four at once because they get hot and I never liked anything but my fingers, thumbs and the heels of my hands on the steel. They get hot on large surfaces like tabletops so with 16 cutting edges to work with I can rotate them corner for corner and one for the next and my hands keep cool. Cabinet scrapers are different tools that work well but less sensitive and better suite to heavier work  and for keeping closer tolerances of surface flatness. DSC_0004Mostly I like using the cabinet scraper for heavier cuts too, even though it works well for closer, refined work when newly sharpened. I like sensing the cutting edge in response to the grain changing beneath the turned edge. I shift to refine my movements second by second, and trace the side of my hand on the surface to guide me according to textures I feel. Here I lift and lower the angle in search of cuts that shift according to the grain. The cuts slice and resist by degrees and I flex with the sensing of change. How diverse this thing called grain but without the scraper I would always be lost because when bevel ups and bevel downs lose it the scraper surely cools it.DSC_0003

In case you are still searching for good flat files of quality I wanted to tell you about quality files I have used on and off for years now. Nope, don’t wind me up, their not Nicholson any more. They are pretty bad as files go—about the worst, and well past their sell-by date these days. I use Bahco files mostly because after Nicholson sold out on the US and stopped making files of lasting quality I went back to European Oberg files. DSC_0851Nicholson used to be almost as good until recent years. For scrapers I use files with 40-44 teeth per inch or there abouts, 10” and 12” long by Bahco Oberg. I think that they are wonderful. I sharpened hard scrapers and softer ones in the four I did today and the Bahco files I used never faltered one bit. I filed square across and then draw-filed and those spirals just peeled off like ribbons in long spirals, leaving almost no burr.Three  strokes per edge and I peeled down to 16 pristine square corners in under a few minutes. I like Bahco files because they are made by a Portugese Company and certainly have proven one of the best file manufacturers in Europe.  The files are hard and flat. Two good qualities needed for filing scrapers.


  1. Reece on 28 March 2015 at 4:53 am

    Here in Australia we can buy Bahco files from a chain store, which have black and orange plastic handles. Are these the same ones?

    • Paul Sellers on 28 March 2015 at 5:57 am

      Yes, look at the heel and it will say Bahco Oberg Finland and a number. Look at the face of the file to make sure the teeth go from one side at 60-degrees only and not both sides creating cuts diagonal to the first. The single cut file is what you want for sharpening scrapers and developing fine continuous edges to them. Effectively they ‘plane’ the edge of steel whereas doubly cut files more abrade it.

      • Reece on 28 March 2015 at 12:57 pm

        Thanks for the info. Finally a recommendation of yours I can source locally!

        • salkosafic on 30 March 2015 at 10:02 pm

          Reece where did you see those files

          • enrohau on 19 April 2015 at 7:57 am

            salkosafic, Masters have Bahco Oberg files in Australia up to 300mm in length but only stock the bastard and second cut {1 and 2}. They don’t have the smoothe cut [1 or fine cut].

  2. gav on 29 March 2015 at 12:54 pm

    Are Nicholson files worth purchasing if they were manufactured in the USA? I have found a small amount of old stock, judging from the boxes they were in and the stamping. The last ones I purchased
    were manufactured in Brazil and they were fair.Thanks

    • Paul Sellers on 29 March 2015 at 5:16 pm

      Yes, old USA made files were fine, some of the best. I never used a USA made Nicholson that was bad. Since going to Mexico, I haven’t found one that’s good. This is most likely caused by the US company demanding a certain purchase price and the need for income producing work in Mexico.

      • gav on 30 March 2015 at 1:15 pm

        Thanks for that, will chase it up.

  3. Linus on 29 March 2015 at 8:05 pm

    Hi, may I ask what number there are on the bachofile you use for saws with tpi around 12-14?

    • Paul Sellers on 31 March 2015 at 12:17 pm

      143-10-1 is a good single-cut file I use for most of my sharpening, 10-12″ long

  4. Zeb on 30 March 2015 at 2:38 pm

    Isn’t Oberg the cut pattern, not the company?

    • Paul Sellers on 30 March 2015 at 5:32 pm

      It may be that also. I’m not Swedish, but I think Oberg was the original Swedish file company. We used t to buy Oberg files decades back. They used to last forever. These Bahco files are excellent and they last, which is all the more important.

      • Ivan on 25 February 2019 at 8:36 am

        Bahco brought Oberg out in 1975, Oberg is the original before Bahco. Bahco just do a Oberg pattern.

  5. Spencer on 30 March 2015 at 8:31 pm

    I find that if I use the same edge of a scraper for more than ten or so strokes in a row, it goes dull. I always thought that the heat generated burns up the burr, so I rotate sides often and they last longer. Has anyone else had that experience?

    I have the same issue with cabinet scrappers and I don’t use them as much because I can’t rotate sides fast and they take longer to sharpen and reassemble.

  6. salkosafic on 30 March 2015 at 10:10 pm

    Australian hardwoods are tough woods to work, they much tougher than what woodworkers experience in the US and England and they are full of silica so yes your scraper will go blunt quicker. I have experienced the same thing, that is why we are left without choice on learning how to sharpen our saw. The saw sharpeners on the market claim they know their stuff but all they do is offer lip service, the good ones I suspect are hidden in their sheds gracefullly ageing.

  7. gav on 31 March 2015 at 3:20 pm

    One of the most humouress , unintended, and possibly understated comments relating to this was in a book I read concerning early settlers of Australia. ‘The carpenters were dismayed at how difficult it was to work the local timber’ or something to that effect. Given the blunting effect even on modern cutting edges for powered tools, tungsten etc let alone handtools I have found sharpening techniques such as what Paul demonstrates to be even more valuable as sharpening is so vital for efficient use. I do not find sharpening to be massively enjoyable but it is certainly tolerable and appreciated when I can discern the difference to the end result, satisfaction derived from a better understanding.

  8. Andrew Wilkerson on 5 April 2015 at 10:06 am

    I just dressed a piece of ironbark by hand. I think I spent more time sharpening than actually using my planes. It’s also the heaviest piece of timber I’ve ever had on my bench I think and it was only about 850x190x45mm. And I thought Jarrah was tough. I guess they called it Ironbark for a reason.

  9. John Crossman on 28 September 2015 at 7:50 pm

    • Michelle on 30 July 2016 at 3:54 pm

      Thank-you for the EBay link