When I’m ready to riffel


Riffler files in a jar

When I’m ready to riffel, I go to the riffler jar.  Here I keep these rather special little tools – they are narrow and elongated with a curved file surface at each end – used for filing.

rifflers for filing stone

Riffling is a most enjoyable process (it is a lovely word too – I think comes from German riffel – to cut grooves into) where the file glides and scrapes over the stone surface to smooth, refine and shape to perfection.  It is something I do before sanding begins. They seem to make the most beautiful and subtle of curves and I find are especially good for concave surfaces.  You’ll see some have sharp points, and others round, some straight and others curved – all designed for different hollows, lines and forms and getting into the tiniest space and most awkward of shapes.

Riffler for filing stone

For all its apparent simplicity, a little piece of steel with raised spiky burrs, it is extremely efficient.  The spikes are hand ‘raised’, the steel punched upwards in neat rows by a skilled tool-maker, and the file designed to be used in one direction (pushing forward, not dragging back – to avoid blunting).  There is just enough ‘bite’ in the riffler to shape the stone slightly if needed, but they work superbly well in beginning the finishing and smoothing of a sculpture.

Do you have favourite specialist (or non-specialist) tool for making, (or drawing, or writing, or baking, or gardening – or whatever), that is gorgeous to use and ever so pleasing?




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