Abrafile Replacement from Axminster Tools

Like many others I mourn the disappearance of Abrafile blades and the attachment to fit them into hacksaw frames.  I admit that you can still pick up an odd one or two on Ebay but there does not seem to be a commercial source anymore.

Tile saws seemed to be the closest approximation to the Abrafile concept but they have larger diameter blades and very large diameter chunky ends.  This would mean having to have big pilot holes in the work piece to accommodate them.

While browsing in Axminster I saw their Japanese Free-Way Saw and was taken by the very thin spiral blade that is available for it. The downside was that the blade had a chunky loop at each end to grip it in the saw frame. The loop is crimped to the blade with a small diameter boss/ferrule not greatly dissimilar to the diameter of the bulbous ends of the Abrafile.

Axminster, Abrafile
Axminster Japanese Saw Blade Fastening

It seemed that it might be possible to modify one end of the saw clamp to take a modified blade end without the offending loop while retaining the boss/ ferrule.

On one end of a blade I trimmed off the loop to leave just the boss. I then replaced the non handle end of the saw body clamp with a 7mm square 36mm long section piece of steel.  The 7mm matches the hole in the hacksaw frame. I tapped a M4 hole in one end of the steel. At the other end I milled a 4.3mm wide trough, 12mm long to fit the remaining blade boss.  I then broke the slot out of the end with a small lead hole/slot to suit the blade diameter.

Axminster, Abrafile
Axminster blade modified to fit into new tension holder

The new blade mount is fastened in place with a M4 cap head and washer and the blade is tensioned as before by revolving the handle.

Axminster, Abrafile
M4 screw fastening of new blade holder

The blade stroke length is reduced to around 115mm but that aside the modification works well.  The blades are nice to use and quite aggressive on brass and aluminium.

Axminster, Abrafile
Overall view of Axminster Free-Way Japanese Coping Saw after modification

16 Replies to “Abrafile Replacement from Axminster Tools”

  1. Thank you Woody, this is a very helpful idea. I don’t have a milling machine so not sure how I’ll form the trough – perhaps drill all the way through and clean it up with a file, except right next to the slot. Gonna give it a go.

    1. No problem David, glad to be of help.
      I think it would work to chain drill the slot and then file to shape.
      When under tension the blade should stay put.

  2. Abrafile were extremely useful and I just picked up 3 new blades at a garage sale but these were the first ones I have seen in the last 10 years. This hack looks to be a brilliant solution for when I finally run out of the originals.

    1. Hi Anthony

      Like you I was desperate for a replacement and could not source anything suitable. The solution does not allow a small starting hole but that aside the blades cut well and seem to last. Thanks for the comment !

  3. I just found some genuine Abra blades on E Bay.
    £6.67 for three. Unfortunately they are in the US so shipping is £10.68, and I guess you might have to pay duty and vat on top of that !
    Think I will stick with the Vitrex tile saw for now.
    Great site by the way.

    1. Hi Nick – sounds expensive ! The tile saws are OK but they are larger diameter than the Axminster one and I could never get them to tension really tight. I found that for spoking out clock wheels they were difficult to use to get an accurate cut. Glad you like the site !

    1. Hi Stephen, thanks for your message and for taking time to read my blog.
      My understanding is that the rod saw is a variant of the tile cutting saws available from DIY outlets.
      It has large ends and a large diameter cutting surface both of which restrict its use for some applications.
      The blades tend to ‘droop’ when in use and lose their tension.
      In particular when crossing out clock wheels this makes life difficult.
      The saw I mentioned overcomes some of these issues.
      It is a very fine diameter and cuts very aggressively allowing accurate profiling.
      The ends when modified as I mentioned, while still larger than the original Abrafile’s, are still better suited for fine work.
      There is however a price difference which has to be considered.
      Thanks again for bringing this to my attention.

  4. Hi, I have 13 individual files in original packs, but no clips. If anyone would like to offer me a set of clips I am happy to swop for some files. Let me know please.

  5. I can’t believe that something as popular and well used as abrafiles are no longer being produced.
    You would think that someone would have picked up the baton and continued to make them.

    1. Good afternoon Lawrence

      Beats me also that such a useful tool should just disappear.
      Maybe there was a patent issue ?
      The modified blades as described do work well but the pilot hole needs to be larger.
      This isn’t always practical.


      1. I’ve just seen Brenton on Repair Shop using what looks very much like an Abrafile. I used them many years ago, borrowed from my dad who was a time served mechanical fitter. I’d like to be able to get them now.

        1. Hi Michael, nice to hear from you.
          Abrafiles sometimes come up on EBay when workshops are cleared.
          Can’t understand why they stopped making them …


    2. Abrafile themselves said that the machinery wore out. It must also be quite an art to make a hard-wearing round file with a softer bendable core.

  6. Try looking at diamond wire saws. Use a fret saw frame and you can wind the wire around the fixing and then back around itself. I’ve used this technique, and as a toolmaker found it very effective. The obvious downfall is achieving the correct tension but it can be done with a little practice.

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