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I  was cutting some f-holes today, and just thought I'd throw this out that chain saw files can be very handy  around the violin shop. 

 

I live in the woods and have a couple of chain saws which constantly need sharpening, so I bought files in both sizes, and each size comes in 2 packs. I believe they are "Oregon" brand, but I'm sure there are many brands out there, and also other sizes.  

 

I put one of each file  in the garage with my saws, and the other two in the shop, just stuck in a can with a bunch of other tools.

Ahh, great minds thinking alike.................. :lol:   Chain saw files are neat because they are cheap, fine, and perfectly cylindrical, which is better than tapered for many jobs.

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Ha! I was just using chain saw files for the f holes last night. I've always used chain saw files on the sound holes, and for the fluting at the top of the scroll. That's how I was taught and they work well, so it's one method I've never changed. :)

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Did I forget to say that first I rough out the f-holes with a sawzall and then carve the sides of the f-holes smooth with a bowie knife. 

 

Haha! Ok, I don't do that. :) I'm guessing you are on your own with that method, but you never know! :)

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Well, chain saw files are also, as I have found, made to file steel, so that they don't wear very much, if any, when cutting wood. Especially spruce. So they continue on forever. without loosing their ability to do the cutting.

 

It does not really surprise me that so many people have used them, as a homeowner, you'd have them hanging around.

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A chain saw file is a file used to sharpen the teeth of a chain saw.  The files being discussed here are round with a constant diameter from end to end.  They come in various diameters.

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What's a chain saw file?

Well, that explains part of your electric bill :lol:

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Or about much of your socialisation :P

If so, at least some of mine falls within the bounds of the explainable............ :P:lol:

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 .... but I have a good Australian friend here, and if he were a violin maker, I believe he would probably  start the f-hole cutting process by shooting out the upper and lower holes with his .22 and .357 Magnum! 

Good plan. An arrow doesn't make a clean hole.

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Well, you know that part  about the sawzall and bowie knife is only my warped sense of humor (might work for a bass, though), but I have a good Australian friend here, and if he were a violin maker, I believe he would probably  start the f-hole cutting process by shooting out the upper and lower holes with his .22 and .357 Magnum! 

Savages!  Too much split-out.  Try .223 and .308. The holes are much cleaner and you can use a bench rest.   Then follow up with chain-saw files and connect them with a Sawzall. :lol::ph34r:

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Well, you know that part  about the sawzall and bowie knife is only my warped sense of humor (might work for a bass, though), but I have a good Australian friend here, and if he were a violin maker, I believe he would probably  start the f-hole cutting process by shooting out the upper and lower holes with his .22 and .357 Magnum! 

 

Yes, of course I know you are joking, I like your humour, the imagery gave me a good laugh. :)

 

The words "chain saw" conjure up images of something crude about these files, but they are very fine, and when filing around the holes in the spruce, there is no splintering. They don't cut like a chainsaw and rip wood apart like some sort of coarse rasp.

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I guess I'm not the first one to figure this one out.    Did I forget to say that first I rough out the f-holes with a sawzall and then carve the sides of the f-holes smooth with a bowie knife.  ( I had better edit this here in saying that no, I don't really use a sawzall and bowie knife, this is just my warped sense of humor, but yes, I do use chainsaw files and they work great, like others have also discovered.)

 

I guess I'm not the first one to figure this one out.    Did I forget to say that first I rough out the f-holes with a sawzall and then carve the sides of the f-holes smooth with a bowie knife.  ( I had better edit this here in saying that no, I don't really use a sawzall and bowie knife, this is just my warped sense of humor, but yes, I do use chainsaw files and they work great, like others have also discovered.)

Larry, if you have not seen David Burgess's explorations of sawzall nuance, do a search here or on Youtube.

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Savages!  Too much split-out.  Try .223 and .308. The holes are much cleaner and you can use a bench rest.   Then follow up with chain-saw files and connect them with a Sawzall. :lol::ph34r:

 

 

I would show you my attempt at doing the bass f-holes with a .50 cal but alas, there was nothing left to show! :o

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I would show you my attempt at doing the bass f-holes with a .50 cal but alas, there was nothing left to show! :o

 

I have found that the key to getting a clean hole on an f hole when using a pistol, is to scribe the outline of the hole with a sharp knife first. That may have been your missing step. This helps to prevent tear out of the surrounding wood, but even this doesn't work every time though, if the angle of the shot isn't quite right. :) Clean up can be done after that with a chain saw file.

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So now I know what a chain saw file is. But what's a chain saw? As for using such a tool on soundholes, for me nothing beats drilling from both sides. That's what they did in Cremona. They made perfectly round holes in seconds every time. Then its just a simple matter of joining the dots. 

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