It is a wonder that the file, rather than the hammer, has not been recognized as the sign of the manufacturing industry. Its range, powers, and usefulness are far beyond those of the hammer, and it can assume the functions and perform the work of a number of auxiliary tools to which the hammer holds no analogy.
Whatever cannot be done by the set and power-driven machines in the shops where the metals are worked is sent to the file. The file reduces protuberances, smooths roughnesses, changes inclinations of surfaces, cuts scores, forms levels between parallel drill holes, prepares surfaces for the scraper, evens the roughness and inequalities of lathe work, cleans out the suggestion of the rib-like projections of the planer, shapes the tool where the most delicate grinding apparatus fails, makes a better finish to the eye than any scraping or stoning, is a saw at times, may be used as a chisel, takes the place of a plane, smooths the roughnesses of castings and forgings, reduces their proportions to size, and finishes them to fit. Except for drilling holes through solid metal the file can take the place of any tool used for any other purpose on the metals.
In England, Scotland, and Wales the filer is a man by himself; he has little to do with the lathe man or the floor man. He is the prince among machinists. Here we think all the work of the machinist may be done by one man, and the lathe man, planer man, floor man, and vise man may be compromised in one. But this general ensemble is getting out of date here.