The lowly file is a tool that has been used to produce more products than possibly any other. Since around 1,200 BC, in the hands of skilled arms makers, watch-makers, toy manufacturers and thousands of other craftsmen the simple file has been used to create some of man’s finest products. Most of all, these old “filers” were taught their skills within a Guild apprentice system where they worked their way “up the ladder” to the journeyman level or higher. Colt revolvers, Winchester rifles, Sharps and Spencer rifles and scores of other arms, were created by skilled men as they filed drop-forged and cast parts “to fit” the guns we covet today.
As an interesting side note, one of the first lessons filers had to learn was how to file a 2″ steel cube into a perfect sphere using an 8″ bastard file. The word “bastard” designates the number of teeth on the face of the file in relation to the roughness of the cut, which were graded rough, middle, bastard, 2nd cut, smooth and dead smooth. There are more grades, but too numerous to mention here. This cube-to-sphere exercise was elementary in that most students learned to accomplish this feat in their first year.
By Alex Hamilton
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