A file (hand or needle file) is the first tool you’ll use to refine the edges of your piece and prepare for other finishing applications. Whether you’ve cut your metal with shears, a saw, or a disk cutter, it’s a good idea to file the edges to remove burrs or round any sharp edges.
There are many different cuts, shapes (or profiles), and varieties of files; some are designed for specific needs. For example, it’s not a good idea to use a flat file to smooth the inside of a ring — a round or half-round file matches the curve of the band. Likewise, trying to take off a lot of material with a needle file wastes time: It’s better to start with a hand file.
Files come out of the box without a handle. Handles aren’t necessary, especially for needle files, but if you find that the tang (the end of the file) is uncomfortable to hold, it’s easy to add a handle. Handles are sold separately from jewelry suppliers, and usually run $3–15.