Hand made French Rifflers and Rasps

 A site dedicated to the history, manufacture & use of the classic woodworking tools, Hand Made Rifflers & Rasps by Robert Johnston (wood carver & stone sculptor)

 

What is a Riffler Rasp?

A riffler rasp is a small file like tool used for removing material and also for smoothing various materials. Rifflers are used for shaping fine detail in wood, metal, stone and man made materials such as plastics and resins. Riffler rasps are made of steel and the density of the teeth vary according to the job in hand.

Rifflers are indispensible to woodworking, metal working, jewellry making, stone carving, mould making etc. Riffler rasps can be mass produced, machine made or at the other end of the scale, hand made by specialist craftsmen. The finest hand made rifflers are without doubt made by Liogier in St Etienne, France. The best rifflers are double ended which allows the tool to have two different profiles, thus creating two tools in one. The coarseness of the riffler teeth is referred to as the grain.

There are many differences between wood and stone riffler rasps. The most important being the shape of the teeth. Wood rifflers have triangular teeth so they can remove the softer material easily. The teeth for stone rifflers have a round shape - there are two reasons for this:

  1. Round teeth last longer on harder materials. 
  2. Round teeth give a smoother result on harder materials. 

riffler making close up

The process of hand making a riffler is incredibly skillfull and intense. As you can see from the pictures of the Liogier factory above each tooth is created individually by hand using a specialist file hammer and file chisel / punch.

The work bench is situated next to a large window to give maximum natural like to the work station. In fact natural daylight is so critical to the craftsmen that the Liogier factory is positioned at the top of a mountain just outside St Etienne.

At Liogier it takes three years to train a riffler tooth cutting craftsman.