Bad Axe 10" Dovetail Saw
The Unplugged Woodshop
The Oldwolf Workshop Studio
Bad Axe Tool Works 10" Dovetail Saw, aka Doc Holliday: $225
Meet Doc Holliday
--Tombstone's steely-eyed killer who will level the playing field in your woodshop corral. Doc's weapon of choice? Among several, he particularly favored a compact, yet robust and concealable 1877 Colt Lightning with a nickel-plated finish, chambered for either .41 or .38 caliber, depending on how big a hole he wanted to blow through anyone nervy enough to throw down on him. So why didn't Doc Holliday simply conceal a derringer in his vest pocket like most gamblers? And how does his gun of choice relate to my dovetail saw?
Because Doc was a real Bad Axe who preferred a compact weapon with a heck of a lot more accuracy and punch than your average gambler's derringer. Many woodworkers who frequent the Bad Axe Facebook page told me when I designed this saw they wanted more accuracy and control when cutting 3/4 up to 5/4 stock, where shorter saws fall--well, short. That said, there remains a requirement for a dovetail saw slightly longer than average for work in the 1/4 to 5/4 range--and that's where the Doc with his 10" plate truly excels. And--like Doc's 1877 Colt Lightning, you too will prize this dovetail saw's fantastic balance, fit, looks, and robust cutting action.
Why do I want this saw? Simply put, because it feels and cuts just right, not to mention it looks great, because you're the one who gets to design the aesthetics of this saw. Most of all, it will fit YOUR hand, whether you can haul a dozen steins at once in a German beer tent, or you have the delicate fingers of a world class eye surgeon. Here are the highlights for your consideration:
- Handle Sizing: I now offer FIVE sizes for this saw, Extra Small, Small, Regular, Large, and Extra-Large. If your hand just doesn't feel right on a dovetail saw because it was designed for average-sized adult men only, then I would encourage you to look at the different sized handles I offer at no additional cost, and feel good about shaking hands with the Doc without losing your cool.
- Hang Angle: With this saw, you are in control. I challenge you to find a more comfortably-fitting dovetail saw handle available anywhere with the kind of hang angle that gets you behind the push stroke instead of riding awkwardly on top of it.
- Mass: The weight and mass of the carbon steel back provides just the right heft and balance for starting and maintaining a straight cut-line without forcing the cut.
- Two thin-plate options: The .015 or .018-gauge thin plates with its hammer-set toothline slices through wood like a new razor, leaving behind an exceptionally clean, thin kerf.
- Action: And then there's my reputation as a sawfiler, which I mention in all humility: a saw is only as good as it cuts and tracks, no matter how comfortably it fits in the hand or how good it looks. I remind myself of this imperative with each saw I build. Remember that with a Bad Axe saw, it's the owner of the company personally sharpening up your toothline based on your input and requirements.
Sizing Handles: Here's my hand: it measures about 3 3/4" across. That's what I'm calling regular, and it will work with a range from 3 5/8" and start getting tight at 3 7/8." Bigger hands just under 4" up to 4 1/8" spans will require the size Large handle, and 4 1/4 to 4 1/2 will want an Extra Large. Going the opposite direction, if the span of your hand measures in the 3 ¼ up to 3 1/2" range, then we're looking at a size small handle. Smaller hands from 2 7/8 up to 3 1/8 should warrant an XS handle. (return to sizing menu)
This will be my first dovetail saw, and you present a lot of choices--which configuration do you recommend? Bottom line up front: I personally lean toward the .018 gauge plate filed 15 ppi rip, followed by choice of wood species, fasteners and sawback finish per your personal taste.
- Gauge Choice: Order the .015 plate if you never see yourself cutting into stock more than 1/2" thick--as long as you're working predominantly in the 1/4 to 2/4 range, then the .015 plate can't be beat with its whisper-thin kerf. The .018 gauge plate is still very thin, but far more robust and less prone to kinking than the .015 plate. The .018 gauge therefore has more range, able to cut effectively up to 5/4 stock while still dealing with the thin stock just fine. At the end of the day you have to ask yourself--do I want to be skinnier than the rest of the girls because I'm in a skinny girl competition, or do I want to pack a little reserve in my belly for when the going gets rough?
- Pitch Choice: 15 ppi IMHO hits that sweet spot where action meets heft, balance and smoothness of cut. But there are noticeable shifts in efficiencies between plate gauge and pitch when it comes to cutting action and cut friction (which can heat and expand the toothline). That said, I'd recommend 16 ppi for the .015 plate, and 15 ppi for the .018 gauge plate.
- Keep your physics in mind: For instance, a .015 plate filed 16 ppi will excel in 1/4 up to 3/4 stock with little to no toothline warp due to cut friction, and the .018 plate will hit an even broader range from 1/2 up to 5/4 stock with no plate warp at all. If you like to make fast, efficient cuts with as few strokes as possible, go with the .018 plate filed 14 ppi.
- Albert will sum it up for you: I personally prefer the .018 plate filed 15 ppi rip, because it's a wonderfully flexible choice that will outperform a .02 plate for fine work in the sub-6/4 range; but like anything else, these choices all boil down to what you the individual desires, rather than what the manufacturer deems best for the market. For a more detailed analysis on saw performance design, refer to Albert Einstein's article on sawfiling theory I've posted in the articles section of this website. What--you didn't know Albert was a saw geek?
- The Bling is up to you: The following paragraphs and pics explains the expanding role of different wood species and alloy/finishes available now for you to customize the Bad Axe saw you want in the look you want.
There's a new wood in Tombstone: Mesquite. That's right, mesquite--an attractive, yet quite rugged species capable of sinking a taproot 120' down in the arid soils of the American southwest, and harder than a whole barrel full of woodpecker lips. The Janka Scale rates mesquite nearly twice as hard as white oak, and the hardest species native to the North American continent. Like Texans themselves, mesquite has an enduring beauty and resilient character borne of droughts, wet years, cold snaps and extended heat waves (I guess I can say that as a recovering redneck originally from southeast Oklahoma). And apart from its natural beauty and innate toughness, the tangential fibers of mesquite shrink evenly while curing, so what we have here is an incredibly stable, attractive, and underutilized wood species just begging for service in the hand tool world. You won't be disappointed--mesquite rocks.
A high-end, black pearl nickel-plated finish is now available for the sawback on this dovetail saw. Nickel-plating is particularly durable, on par with stainless steel in its ability to withstand the corrosive nature of humidity and coastal air on carbon steel. You'll find this finish on high-end firearms, and on other applications where form and substance converge at a high level. And on that note, it looks just great--the deep black pearl lustre of this finish on carbon steel polished at 400 grit not only looks fabulous, but serves a completely practical role in scratch and corrosion resistance. With proper care, this saw will look just as good a century from now as it does today.
Brass, copper, and now bronze sawbacks are now available on the Bad Axe saw you design. Brass is timeless, heavy and appeals to the eye the same way a Hawkens .50 caliber rifle does to muzzle loading enthusiasts. As for copper--copper is heavy. It's the other red metal that just looks stunning against walnut and mesquite, and apart from a scotch more weight in proportion to the other backs, copper is mostly an aesthetic choice. Bronze offers both strength and beauty. Take a moment to look at the various pics I've loaded up on my Bad Lexicon page to see how the various combinations work together, along with the nicknames I've assigned these looks. I'm always open to suggestions, like King Leonidas and Shaka Zulu, lol.
Proposition 65 Notice: Bronze and brass alloys contain lead, a chemical known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects, or other reproductive harm. Wash hands after handling.
What's up with the nicknames? I'm a visual kind of guy (learning disabled maybe?), and labels bring things to life for me. So when I began matching mesquite up with gunmetal and high-end gunsmith finishes, the movie Tombstone sprang to mind. Remember when Val Kilmer playing Doc Holliday faces down bad guy Johnny Ringo with a little tin cup? I loved that scene. So I know it's a bit of a stretch, but I think my little Bad Axe Doc Holliday will face down any dovetail or small tenon requirement you want to throw at him. The key thing here is to choose the right plate gauge and pitch for the requirements you most often encounter with your projects. But I'll also concede to Megan Fitzpatrick (Managing Editor of Popular Woodworking Magazine) who dubs this saw Annie Oakley on behalf of those of the fairer sex who will often require the smaller handle size. So whether it's Doc or Annie--this little Bad Axe of a saw will work for most anyone. By the way--that's Megan's 2 7/8"-span hand there on the right.
At the end of the day, it's all about choice: Your choice, and how you configure a Bad Axe saw to dovetail (yeah, pun intended) with your woodworking ethos and no one else's. You want the plate a certain way, with a certain pitch in a certain gauge--and not any wood will do, but the wood that strokes your eye with the kind of resonance you relate to with other cherished tools; the same applies with the metal fasteners and back alloy & finish on the saw. At the end of the day, you want a saw that is your creation, that you built--a saw you can pass down to your children, and their children's children-- something that will hopefully never populate a future eBay auction, because it's been kept strictly in the family for the next couple of centuries. That is the saw I want to sell to you: your saw.
And it will be my honor and privilege to build it for you.
All Bad Axe Tool Works Saws Feature the Following:
- Custom filing available at same price per request
- Highly-figured 19th-century patterned cherry handles
- Flush-face slotted or split-nuts sawbolts/nuts in three alloys and four finishes with a 13/16" deep-dish decorative medallion
- Firearms-quality hot-blued finish on traditionally-folded steel back
- Optional black nickel carbon steel, brass, copper and bronze backs
- Premium-grade Swedish Spring Steel, RC50-52
- I personally guarantee that these saws are SHARP out of the box, with appropriate joint, set and rake. Every tooth does its duty. I fully guarantee this saw for one year after purchase.
Learn more about my material choices and rationale.
Other Top Selling Bad Axe Tools:
- Bad Axe 10" Dovetail Back Saw
- Bad Axe 10" Carcase Back Saw
- Bad Axe 12" Hybrid Dovetail/Small Tenon Back Saw
- Bad Axe 12" Carcase Back Saw
- Bad Axe 14" Sash Back Saw
- Bad Axe 16" Tenon Back Saw
- Bad Axe 18" Large Tenon Back Saw
- The Roubo Beastmaster
- Bad Axe Bench Hook Sets
- Bad Axe Miter Box Saws
- Bad Axe Fasteners
- Bad Axe Tool Care
- Bad Axe Accessories