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The seller of these Japanese Iwasaki carving files claims that they’re significantly more accurate — i.e., they make cleaner cuts — then “Western-style” files due to their uniquely-shaped teeth:

“The key is in the way the face of the tooth is formed to make a mini chip-breaker. It breaks the shavings off and forces them up and away from the face of the file. This helps keep the teeth from getting clogged up.”

The inset picture above (from their website) shows what they mean. Check out the site for a detailed picture of the individual tooth shape when it incorporates a little divot into the edge of the tooth to kick out material as you file.

I have no idea if the claims are true, but I’d love to hear from any of you who might have tried these or files like ’em. Pricing varies based on specs, but most of them run in the $40 range. Bad news: You’re shipping from Germany. Anyone know of closer sources?

Iwasaki Carving Files [Dieter Schmid]


17 Responses to Super-Accurate Files?

  1. Zeattle says:

    Woodcraft has them. They have a video on their site but the guy doesn’t say much – the chips fly though while he’s shaping a cabriolet leg.

  2. aaron says:

    how are these different in function/performance than microplane files/rasps?

  3. Andy says:

    Yep, Lee Valley.
    $17.50-$22.50, plus (more reasonable) shipping from NY.

    I have some that are very similar and they cut quite well – nice smooth cut, faster than a typical file, but not quite as fast as a good hand-cut rasp. Given Lee Valley’s (or Woodcraft’s) price, I think they’re an excellent value.

    This one from Amazon also looks similar:

  4. Kurt says:

    Japan woodworker has something similar:


    Price range 17 to 40 bucks


  5. fred says:

    If you want to get into handwork shaping , fairing curves and fitting rasps, float and wood files are the traditional tools. Lie Nielsen and some other wooden plane makers are now offering floats , it also appears that Auriou may be back in business making hand crafted rasps (teeth are hand raised so they are more random in position thus producing a cut better even than a pattern maker’s rasp). Before there was sandpaper, sanders and grinders and other power tools – producing a cabriole or Queen Anne chair leg – was a combination of work for saw, shave, drawknife, rasp, plane and chisel. I’ve started trying my hand at chairmaking via traditional means (forming searts with a gutter adze , inshave and scorps) – turned spindles – and legs with ball and claw feet. My techniques are getting better – but I’m not likely to be able to give up my day job and sell chairs at the rate I can produce even one – and the number of waste pieces I seem to make along the way. Still, I may buy one or 2 of these filles to see if they have a place in my weekend workshop.

  6. Cameron Watt says:

    I inherited a laminate cutting file with a similar tooth pattern but haven’t ever used it.

    Anybody used a bodifile on wood?

  7. Paul Burbridge says:

    I bought mine from Highland Woodworking.
    They cut smooth and quickly.

  8. pirana says:

    Quote from above article-” it makes cleaner cuts then western files” should be ” it makes cleaner cuts THAN western files”.

  9. dreamcatcher says:


    Holy cow, I just checked out JapanWoodworker, their prices are ridiculous! I think there is some sort of false reliability in the woodworking world these days that if it is made in Japan or even Japanese style then it must be better. Don’t get me wrong, I do like pull saws as well as my jap style cat’s paw but no way am I gonna spend $58 for a 1/2″ chisel. I love woodworking more than most do – enough to make it my profession – but I think I will leave the over priced hype and BS to all the wealthy hobbyists out there.


    ps… who charges $5 for a catalog anymore? that’s bad business.

  10. Old Coot says:

    dreamcatcher: The term “jap” is considered racist by most; perhaps you meant it as an abbreviation? I hope so.

    • Oldhart says:

      Racist is also a word for which you won’t find an equivalent in the Japanese dictionary, nor in the Chinese dictionary, old Coot.

      You won’t even find it in older American dictionaries because the word, “racist” was coined by Leon Trotsky in the early part of the 20th century, specifically to make trouble for… let’s just say that old “Leon” wasn’t exactly Irish; and you won’t find an equivalent term for “racist” in the old Irish dictionary either!

  11. dreamcatcher says:

    @Old Coot

    Are you kidding me? I guess I’m not much of a conformist when it comes to speaking my mind. Indeed I did use it as a foreshortened term without any racist implications, however if I offended anyone, I really don’t care. I happen to be of American Indian aka Native American aka Injun decent, yet I could care less if you just called me a Savage. Those are just words. Now if you rape my sister and steal my land….. 😉


  12. jesse says:

    I think the prices shown on these catalogs only apply to bookstores, magazine stands, and other outlets that sell them independently. Most woodworking catalogs in my experience will be mailed out for free, even if you don’t request one.

    That no longer applies to the tool truck brands and some other large bound tool catalogs. You used to be able to call up and get one for free. I think Mac now charges about $5, Snap-on about $3, etc. Free from your tool truck guy if you have one, I would guess.

    Let’s not get into the racism/PC stuff.

  13. dreamcatcher says:


    I don’t think the catalog price was intended for bookstands, as it was presented as a $5 product on their website. Moreover, I don’t think any catalog is worth $5 even if they are ‘nice enough’ to give me a PDF catalog for free. It’s nice to be able to thumb through a hardcopy in the shop where keeping a computer is often prohibitive.

    On the other hand, there are some catalogs that I get TOO often and feel as though their prices could be lowered a bit if they didn’t solicit me a 100 page, full color catalog every month or two weeks. Of those, Duluth Trading Company and Eagle America seem to be the biggest offenders in my mailbox.

  14. Kurt says:

    @Dreamcatcher –

    As always, it is a good idea to shop around. You are right that the prices for some Japanese tools are quite high; in this case the files were a bit less than the prices quoted in the article.

    The Japanese Woodworker has been importing tools for a long time, and when I lived in the Bay Area I would go to their retail store once in a while to pick up a tool or too. This is before these types of tools were more commonly available. Are they worth it, in some cases yes, as the saws I bought in the mid 1980’s are still my “go-to” choice for hand use, much better than their Western counterparts. I don’t have any experience with their chisels, and the mid grade Marples set I bought years ago works well enough for me.

    As for catalogs, the free ones mostly go on the sink next to the toilet in my shop’s bathroom., and I can’t remember the last time I purchased one. When I am trying to find something these days I hit the Internet first – it’s usually faster, the pricing is up to date, and I can compare prices quickly. As a consequence, the price of a print version is not a factor for me.

  15. dreamcatcher says:


    I didn’t mean to imply that you were some sort of sucker for purchasing from Japan Woodworker, they indeed have some high quality and reasonably priced tools. But there are some suckers out there whom I believe are preyed upon by japanese, german, and even american tool makers.

    I like the rasps shown here and compared to the price of standard rasps they don’t seem absorbedly priced for the difference they could make in the work. I also prefer japanese style pull saws. But I can get a quality chinese made pull saw for a fraction of the price being charged for a quality japanese made pull saw. Similarly to what you say, I get the same quality from midgrade chisels as from ridiculously priced japanese chisels.

    The process of purchasing tools -to me – is one of making well educated comparisons. I am not afraid to pay more if the difference is great and well founded. But I believe many out there make their decisions based on inexperience and price dictated by over-hyped marketing claims.


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