FILE" need hardly inform the readers of these pages that he has
long occupied a place at the bench, and has, in spite of certain
asperities of his nature, been received with all honor into
every workshop in the three kingdoms, and far enough beyond
Being of a practical turn of mind and naturally sharp, and of
temper irreproachable, he has been allowed an insight into
various mechanical operations, and has noted down his
Overhauling these notes, he finds that they would have supplied
answers to at least half the queries addressed to the editors of
our mechanical and engineering periodicals, and as the present
state of his teeth remind him that he must soon become a useless
old fellow, he has determined while there is life in him, to
publish his "Annotations" and "Reflections" in the form of
"Hints to Amateurs on the general Operations of the Workshop."
The design is not indeed "pretentious," and as to criticism of
style or matter, "Old File" need only repeat that his skin is
hard, and almost impermeable, while his temper, in common
parlance, leaves nothing to be desired.
"Old File" has made his bow. The amateur mechanic is certainly
of the order composite; his trade absolutely indefinable.
Blacksmith and carpenter, turner and missfitter, he has to
acquire a vast amount of practical skill, without the advantages
of a regular apprenticeship.
The wonder is not that he sometimes fails, but rather that
he ever succeeds in turning out even decent work.
Nevertheless, that he does so is beyond question, not indeed
always, nor perhaps generally, but "Old File" himself has seen
such work as would shame many a professional, executed by men
whose birth and education, mind, body, and estate, entirely
precluded the necessity of applying their right hand to the
And "Old File" set himself to inquire the character of these
successful amateurs, that he might learn, if possible, the
origin of their success. The result of his inquiries may be
written in three words - "patient," "persevering,"
The amateur in general lacks one at least of the above
qualifications, most commonly the first. He is in such a hurry
to drive the last nail, or to enter the last screw, that he
splits his wood with the first, crosses the thread of the other,
and spoils the whole concern.
A good workman never hurries, nor again does he begin a piece of
work without having first conned the details and with pencil and
compasses sketched his design in its completeness.