C.H. Becksvoort, Furniture-Maker
The Unplugged Woodshop
The Oldwolf Workshop Studio
Bad Axe Tool Works 10" Dovetail Saw, aka Doc Holliday: $225
(Delivery: 5-7 weeks)
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 how does Doc's gun of choice relate to my dovetail saw?
Because he preferred a compact firearm with a heck of a lot more accuracy and punch than your average gambler's derringer. Likewise, 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?"Because you'll love the balance and the way it cuts with the hammer-set thin-plate toothline. Moreover, you're in the driver's seat in determining how the look of the saw conforms with your personal aesthetic. Now for the details:
Handle Sizing: we 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 our reputation for how we set and sharpen our saws, 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. We remind ourselves of this imperative with each saw we build, every single day. .
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 .018gauge plate filed 15 ppi rip. But that's my preference, based on how I personally like to work wood. Your woodworking style is likely different than mine, with completely different kinds of projects and stock species & dimensions. So here are a few bullets to chew on before you order:
- Gauge Choice: Order the .015 plate if you seldom 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 6/4 stock..
- Pitch Choice: 15 ppi hits that sweet spot where action meets heft, balance and smoothness of cut for the .018 plate. 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 or 17 ppi for the .015 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 up to 6/4 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 or 15 ppi. Looking to finesse your cuts in thin stock? Then .015 filed 17 ppi is your best bet.
"Curse you, Bad Axe Tool Works!"
Considering the .015 thin-plate option? Try the version of the saw we built for woodworking educator and scholar Don Williams last Spring, who wanted a dedicated DT to serve as the 'baby brother to his .018-plate dovetail saw, which he felt was too aggressive for finessing the kind of thin stock he frequently worked for clean, delicate, blowout-free cuts. Here are the specs:
- Plate thickness & fiing: .015 thick Swedish Spring Steel plate filed 17 ppi rip for finessing delicate cuts in thin stock, ranging from 1/4 up to predominantly 2/4 with the occasional foray into 3/4.
- Depth under the back: 1 1/2" under the back at the heel, canting down to 1 3/8" at the toe. You'll have more than enough plate depth to get the job done, but no so much that you begin to lose rigidity
- Combined Set: Combined with a clean, crisp hammer-set, the resulting kerf won't exceed .02 for a whisper-thin kerf--again, for delicate work
". . . it was precisely what I had wanted, a baby brother to my other saw, and took a short minute to try it out on a piece of scrap wood. Magnificent. Just the right feel, just the right kerf, just the right cut. There is one flaw to the tool, however, and it is a serious one I will have to learn to deal with. It cuts so precisely and easily that I will not be able to blame any poor workmanship on the tool. It will be all mine. Curse you, Bad Axe Toolworks."
--Don Williams, from The Barn on White Run
"Where can I buy my own mesquite--or for that matter, a unique species I'd prefer to supply myself for the handle?"Finding a reputable lumber dealer can be challenging, particularly when you're looking for a well-figured species that won't let you down. The good people listed below will never steer you wrong--these are companies that Bad Axe has used over the past eight years with consistently reliable results when it comes to sourcing high-quality stock you'll be happy with.
|Mesquite Valley Woodcrafts||Nave's Sawmill & Woodworks||Horizon Wood|
|(Mesquite & other TX hardwoods)||(Mesquite & other TX hardwoods)||Any North American Hardwood)|
Dimensions Required for shipment of customer-supplied wood to Bad Axe:
- Length: 8.5" Long with the grain.
- Width: 6.25" wide.
- Thickness: can range between 4/4 and 5/4 thick. Do not fall below a full 4/4, given that we mill to a finished thickness of 7/8".
- Type Cut: Quartersawn stock (mitigates wood movement with seasonal change. Do NOT send flatsawn stock. The only exception to this is mesquite, which has interlocking fibers and naturally resists warping despite type of cut.
- Condition & Moisture Content: at or about 8% moisture content. No cracks, splits or defects in the blank.
- Quantity, best to send two blanks, in case the first one has an unseen defect. This very seldom happens, but best to be prepared for it. We will return the unused blank or save it for future milling on your behalf.
- How to ship: Have the supplier label each wood blank by taping your name & contact information (billing address, cell & email--your purchase receipt will also suffice), and drop-ship your blanks to our workshop at: Bad Axe Tool Works, 1500 Green Bay St., Suite #508, La Crosse, WI 54601. Please alert us when this is put into motion, so we may track your package’s arrival.
Click onto my YouTube video on the left to see how this handle reacts to a 6' drop onto my workshop floor, and judge for yourself.
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 kind of saw we want to build for you, and you alone: your saw.
All Bad Axe Tool Works Saws are highly customizable, and Feature the Following:
- Custom filing available at same price per request
- Bad Axe saw sharpening rates $15 nominal fee
- Highly-figured 19th-century patterned hickory handles, also available in cherry, walnut, maple & mesquite.
- Five handle sizes available: XS, S, R, L, XL
- Flush-face slotted 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 or bright nickel carbon steel, brass, copper-plated and bronze saw backs
- Premium-grade Swedish Spring Steel, RC50-52
- Traditional hammer-set toothline
- Lifetime guarantee against all material defects
Learn more about my material choices and saw design rationale.
Other Top Selling Bad Axe Tools:
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- 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 20" Miter Box Saw
- Bad Axe Bench Hook Sets
- Bad Axe Tool Care
- Bad Axe Accessories