So, if quality is critical, how do we find the best tools?
One simple method is to go for the best makers; the ones the pros swear by. In my case I did that by interrogating my machine shop teacher in university, a master craftsman with decades of experience. Basically it went like this:
Me: what is the best make of hand files?
Master: why do you want to know? These are not for a hobbyist; they’d be too expensive for you anyway.
Me: Oh, I’m just curious.
Master: you aren’t going to buy them, Right?
Me: Perish the thought! I only want to know.
Master: You’re sure?
Me: Cross my heart.
Master: well, the best files are made by Nicholson; but you have to make sure it’s the Dutch Nicholson. Nicholson also has a factory in Canada, those are not quite as good.
And then I’d rush off to buy some Dutch Nicholson files.
Those files serve me well to this day, though in all fairness, I suspect the Canadian ones would have served just as well…