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Safe Edge

That is called a safe edge and lets you file all the way to a corner without removing metal from the wrong surface.

In some cases a safe edge can be very useful all on it's own after the file's normal life is over. It can be used for burnishing and if the end of the file is ground off without overheating, then an old file can have great use as a level scraper that can be used like you would a float.

Since diamond is as hard to the hardest steel as steel is to sheet rock, you can rub fine diamond dust into the safe edge and turn it into a really nice final sharpening tool. Since diamond will tend to push into the softer material and 'bed' while abrading the harder material, for best results you need to rub it in with a harder material than file steel.

For rubbing diamond dust into file steel, I use one of my favorite tools. A solid carbide scraper/awl. I order these online from Enco for $2.30.

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