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Tyler

Sharpening ice tool picks...

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Okay... So, I'm about to sharpen a couple of ice tool picks for the first time. Gadd's book recommends picking up a round file to sharpen the grooves between your picks teeth, and it recommends using a flat file for sharpening the top of the tool and what not... Now, the book mentioned not to use the flat file for sharpening the top edge. Should the flat file be used for beveling the teeth as well as for sharpening the tip?

 

Gadd's book said not to use the flat file for sharpening a particular are of the pick, but I didn't completely understand what part of the pick not to use the flat file on.

 

Now, I'm assuming I should pick up a round metal file that fits the grooves in the pick's teeth. Is there any specific model or make I should pick up, or will any metal files do the trick? Is there anything else helpful I should know?

 

Thanks

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a bigass bastard mill file works fine (you know: a flat one). i cant think of any reason why a flat file woulnt work.

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I use a flat file.

 

My recomendation would be to not make them too sharp. If you make them razor sharp the point gets "rolled over" very easily, the sharper they are the quicker they will become dull and the more you will need to sharpend them. And as the metal gets thinnner it is more likely to snap...and the sooner you'll need to replace them. Personaly I can't really tell the difference between super sharp pics and sorta sharp picks. Totaly dull picks with the sherp tip "rolled over" totaly suck though...

 

I've never bothered sharpening the teeth.

Edited by Lambone

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Big 'ol Bastard file for tools and a dremel/grinder for crampons since there's lots more points and I have better things to do.

 

I know I know "it'll ruin the metal". No you won't. Just don't get it hot. The key is not to press real hard and take a little from each point at a time with the appropriate grinding stone. Much faster.

 

Never sharpened the bottom teeth on picks. On old style Pulsar picks I used to have to bevel the sides of the bottom teeth with a flat file but the newer quark-type picks are pretty nice right out of the bag.

 

 

-Fear

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Get a small (1/2" x 8") flat bastard file for the tip. This is big enough to handle and small enough to carry with you.

 

You can use this for the top to the pick, but a 1/2 round of the same size will work better. The top was ground on a round wheel and the 1/2 round will fit the profile better w/ less material removed.

 

For the teeth, the main requirement is that the round file fit inside the teeth. The closer it is to the original size, the better and the less material you'll remove. This means you can sharpen it more. The warning Gadd had was that you shouldn't try to use a flat or triangular file to sharpen the inside of the tooth as you'll inevitably nick the edge and create a local stress riser (weak point) on the edge of the groove. Ths would be the first place a highly stressed pick would break. Probably not so important if your M leading ability isn't above a 5 or so, as I doubt you'll be pulling all the pick camming and torquing moves.

 

The most important thing is keep the front and point sharp and correctly angled. The next would be the top. The teeth are really in the noise, except for beveling the bottom edge a bit. All this can be done w/ one good flat file.

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As far as metal files go, there is usually a lot of confusion, especially it seems around climbers, who are typically engineer-types or hippie-types. The engineers are usually too proud to ask for help (because they know it all anyway) and the hippies are too self-reliant. Flat metal files come in three categories, Bastard, Second-cut, and Smooth. Translated into english, these grades are close to coarse, medium and fine. "Mill" vs "Double cut"/"Flat" refers to the alignment of the teeth of the file. Mill files have one set of teeth, Double cut files have two sets of teeth, set apart at 60º or so. The reason for using a mill bastard file is because most ice climbing picks are heat treated steel, and the objective is remove metal as quickly as possible by hand and still achieve a relatively smooth finish. If one were to use a smooth file on a pick it would take you all week to ever get anywhere. The reason you use a 'straight' file as opposed to a 'round' file on the top and for shaping the taper of the teeth and the pick is pretty obvious, it's so you don't put pits or strange depressions in the shape. For shaping the teeth, you need to use a round file because a straight file would produce the exact opposite: sharp, flat spots in an area that is supposed to be contoured.

 

As mentioned above, it is in fact ok to use electric tools to shape picks or crampon points, as long as the metal doesn't get above it's tempering point. Realistically, using 4130 you're not really in danger of this until the metal starts to change to a straw color at about 400ºF, but keeping sharp metal objects cool enough to touch is always a good rule to follow. The fact is, you really don't need to use power tools to sharpen picks/crampons. It takes surprisingly little time to do by hand. As far as technique goes, I'd reccomend using a big 6-8" file when you're at home to do the initial shaping and keeping a 3-4" straight file with you in case you snap a point in the field. They really don't weigh that much. No matter where you are, I'd reccomend a needle file set to get the exact shape you want for the very tip of the pick and to contour the teeth the way you want them. Even a small set will give you a plethora of options on the round surfaces. Remember that mill files really only cut well in one direction. You're not using sandpaper, these are files. A gross analogy is that they are sawblades with a very wide kerf. The teeth really bite in one direction but they glance over and dull themselves if you load them in the other direction. If you are unaware of the correct direction, experiment until you can feel the difference. It'll save you lots of time and you'll end up with a much better finish and have a lot more control getting there.

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I woudn't recomend Power...i ruined a good pair of crampons with a dremel once, too easy to get carried away...

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... create a local stress riser (weak point) on the edge of the groove. This would be the first place a highly stressed pick would break.

Here is an example of the end result. I never file the teeth on my picks, so I don't know what started the cracking, but it propagated through about 1/3 of the pick (probably over a couple of seasons) before breaking. A classic example of metal fatigue.

 

It failed as I was 20 feet into the steep pitch on Night'N'Gale. Fortunately, I was seconding... unfortunately my spare pick was 300m below me in the truck. frown.gif

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Probably not so important if your M leading ability isn't above a 5 or so, as I doubt you'll be pulling all the pick camming and torquing moves.

Huh, I'm not sure I understand your statement. I've never climbed an M-rated route in my life, but in winter alpine climbing I use pick camming and torquing all the time... seems to me those techniques are relevant even on very moderate winter climbs, and not just on overhanging M-stuff.

Edited by Stephen_Ramsey

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