Swiss Files


   
 

My Knick Knacks - Wiktor Kuc


 
  Early Files Cutting  by Eric N. Simons, 1947  

The earliest metal rasps were made by the aid of hammer and punch, the earliest files by a hammer having chisel edge, and later by chisel and hammer.

Records exist to show that steel was used for files as early as the twelfth century, and that this steel was often of case-hardened type, the core being left soft.

The file was forged to shape on the anvil, given the desired dimensions, flattened, and the teeth cut by the chisel-edged hammer. The file was then hardened by a rather primitive form of heat-treatment, ox-horn being used as the carbonaceous substance that gave the steel its surface hardness.

After case-carburizing in this manner, the file was quenched in water. For smaller files goats’ leather was used as the carburizing medium.

The hammer used in earliest ages for cutting files had a double edge, and was shaped roughly as in the image above.  Exceptional skill was needed for its use, and in no circumstances can the teeth by it have had the precision and regularity even of the hand-cut file made by the employment of hammer and chisel.

Eventually, as will be imagined, the superior control over the spacing and direction of the teeth given by the hammer and chisel method led to its world-wide adoption, and it persisted right down to modern times.

from "Steel File" by Eric N. Simons, (London: Isaac Pitman & Sons, LTD., 1947.)

The image of German File Cutter is from the
“House books of the Nuremberg 12 Brothers Foundation” Project.

WK, 08/2012


 
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