How did bastard files get their name?

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 A bastard file, one of the coarsest grades of file on the American pattern system 

With 'smooth' files being at one end of the coarseness scale for American pattern files, the name 'bastard' seems a little out of place to describe one of the roughest types, so how did the file get its name?


Bastard files: betwixt and between

 An odd duck out, representing the negative connotation that surrounds the word bastard, which lends its name to a type of file 

There is a theory that the term 'bastard' is used to describe files that are neither coarse nor smooth, and therefore the odd one out. This has loose ties to the word's meaning in the modern day.

 A knight from medieval England, where the name bastard file originates 

A more likely explanation...

Another theory is that files earned this nickname in medieval England (the term 'American pattern' was only given to files many years later). 

 Image showing the barre sinister which has been used for centuries in heraldry to indicate that the bearer is of illegitimate birth 

In heraldry, coats of arms belonging to people born outside of wedlock (also known as bastards) bore a device known as the 'barre sinister', a diagonal stripe that ran from the top right of the crest to the bottom left.

 Image showing that single cut file teeth run in the same direction as the barre sinister, which is how the name bastard file is thought to have come about 

This is the same direction that the teeth of a single cut file run in.

 A knight being ridiculed by spectators at a joust due to his illegitimate birth - little do they know that a file will be named after him! 

Therefore, it seems most likely that this was a humorous nickname that has stuck, and remains in use today as a technical term!

   Wonkee Donkee asserts that the name 'Wonkee' could only be given to a file with higgledy piggledy teeth 
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