iron file and scale
Triangular file

The triangular or three-square file was traditionally used by carpenters to sharpen saw teeth. The file’s unique three-sided form allows it to sharpen hard-to-reach places like the gaps between saw teeth. Maintaining the teeth of the colonies’ saw blades would have been essential in the early years of the colony because working with wood for construction and industry was an everyday part of life. This file and other tools found at the fort site show that the laborers and carpenters were hard at work not only constructing the fort’s palisade walls and its buildings, but also producing wainscot (finished trim) and clapboard (split planks) for export to England. Wood was a major commodity for export in the early years of James Fort. England was in desperate need of timber, having harvested much of their own already by the early 17th century. Today, files just like this one remain an important part of a carpenter’s kit.