know fillets, know no file fillets

the first time i saw an unpainted “no file” fillet was on a jack taylor that was to be refinished.  it was raw, kind of wavy, and pleasing to the eye.  a few years later i saw a ritchey fillet brazed mtb without paint and was floored.  15 minutes later i heard the owner of that frame talking about how he’s pretty sure that it was a “no-file fillet,” – double floored.  compared to that jack taylor, the ritchey fillets looked absolutely sculpted.

more and more recently i’ve been getting into fillet brazing bikes, and parts of bikes.  it’s a different sort of challenge than building with lugs, and fillet brazing makes sense for some frames and some it doesn’t.   finding the balance of that “appropriateness” is something i enjoy.  it’s just not as simple as “the lugs aren’t out there for the angles i want,” which i feel is something that both builders and non-builders mention.

those ritchey fillets have become a benchmark for me, and on certain frames i’ll try one or two no-filers to see how they turn out.  i’m pretty proud of this bottom bracket, which was from one of the city bikes, which are now waiting for paint.  i’ll post a photo or two of them when they are done.

excuse the rust, i left the frame to soak and went and got lunch, came back, and then snapped the photo before any clean-up whatsoever.

no file fillets are a different sort of beast than “stack” style fillets, and they require (at least for me) a different type of flame, and a different kind of filler pattern.  i’m still working on both those set-ups, but generally i use a louder flame when attempting a no file, and i use the proximity of the flame to the metal to alter the temperature.  i start pretty far away, move in real close when adding, and then gently bring the torch back away to smooth out the layers.  the copper color is filler that the flame got a little too close to, but it’s not problematic to me considering it’s a) not charred black and copper, b) not a deep reddish color, and c) it’s located at the edge of the filler-to-metal contact zone.  even with those flaws, i had fun with this one.

for all the ultra-experienced fillet brazers out there, any tips are kindly appreciated.

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2 responses to “know fillets, know no file fillets

  1. i have been doing some. about 3 posts ago i had a whole bike’s worth of unfiled/unfluxed fillets…….steve.

  2. steve – i saw that post. and while my fillets are nowhere close to yours ( lugs, ya know?), your post was sort of an inspiration. i thought “if steve can post it, i can post it!” – dan.

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