2017 Feb. 12 Tools Metal & Shop
Ok, so far I've tested the Nicholson 4-in-1 file and the Corona 4-in-1. Both are currently made in Mexico. This time we're going to look at the Tekton 4-way shoe rasp, which is made in China.
These three files are basically the same type. Each one has a flat file, a flat wood-rasp, a half-round file, and a half-round wood rasp. The Tekton is the lowest-priced of the bunch, from what I've seen.
Let's see if the Tekton is any good.
Tekton 4-in-1: Bad Points
Right from the packaging, this file had one major problem.
The rasp teeth on the half-round side overlapped into the flat side. That means I couldn't use the flat file the way it was; the rasp teeth would scratch the work piece all up.
If you're not handy with tools, this would make the file useless. However, anyone with a grinder could fix this pretty easily. Just grind the sharp edges off, and you can use the flat file.
Tekton 4-in-1: Good Points
The rasp teeth go fully to the edges of the file, unlike on the Corona. That was actually my biggest complaint about the Corona. If you're trying to make a notch or something like that, the rasp teeth really have to go to the edges. So in that regard, the Tekton is the best of all three.
The Tekton file teeth have reasonable uniformity, though the Corona has an overall better, more finished look to it.
Once you grind off the wrap-around wood rasp teeth from the flat file, the Tekton should be great for making tool handles and doing other common shop tasks. Unlike the Nicholson and the Corona, this Tekton shoe rasp doesn't say it's only for soft materials. That tells me it's meant to be used the way a 4-in-1 file should be. So far, it hasn't dulled.
And the price... the Tekton had the lowest price of the bunch. About half the price of its competitors. (Obviously, that's a trade-off; the competitors didn't have to be dressed on a bench grinder before use.)
Again we return to the fact that nobody is making a proper 4-in-1 file in the USA. Hopefully that will change. If you were going to build a factory to make files, a 4-way combination rasp (a.k.a. shoe rasp) would be a great starting point. This is one of those "desert island" tools. So many uses!
As far as the European-made alternatives, I have yet to see any of them making 4-in-1 files today. Maybe they do, but if so, they're not promoting them.
The Tekton shoe rasp is a good file, as long as you're handy with a bench grinder. If you're doing shop-type stuff, you need one of those anyway. (Definitely one of the top tools to have.)
Of the three, I like the Corona 4-in-1 the best right now; Tekton a close second. The Nicholson I found unusable, although I'll entertain the possibility that I just got a bad one.
Once again, it's tough to make a shoe rasp that's both inexpensive and works great. Tekton is a good company from what I've seen. (Tekon bench vise reviewed here.) I've used a couple other Tekton tools and really liked them, as well.
As I said in the Corona review, we're all waiting for someone to make a top-quality file in the USA. If they could make it comparable in quality to what was in every hardware store 30 years ago, we'd be golden. Today we have technologies like laser heat-treating and cryogenic tempering, so I think we'd probably be able to do that easily. Someone just needs to try!
The Tekton file is overall not a bad choice, as long as you are prepared to "mod" it before use. Because of its low cost, I would consider buying one again.
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