Copperhead Killer

Bad Axe Tool Works 12" Hybrid Dovetail/Small Tenon Saw, $245
(Delivery: 5-7 weeks)

Build Your Saw:
Type Filing
Desired Pitch
Plate Gauge
Sawback Preference
Open or Closed Handle
Handle Species
Hand Size (how to measure)
Preferred Fasteners
Make Deposit

wyatt.jpgDon't like cutting dovetails and the occasional small tenon with a dinky little saw? Neither did Wyatt Earp rely on a dinky little gun; the legendary Tombstone lawman preferred a Colt .45 Buntline Special, with a 12" long barrel, citing, "fast is fine, but accuracy is everything." So let's extend that notion to the saw world, and see what happens.

buntlineBefore designing my 12" hybrid dovetail/small tenon saw, I asked Bad Axe customers who like my company's facebook page what they thought. Virtually everyone clamored for a longer plate, citing a desire for more accuracy and control when sawing 3/4 up to 6/4 stock, where shorter saws fall--well, short. My new Bad Axe 12" hybrid dovetail/small tenon saw is the happy result--the buntline special of the saw world.

This is a great beginner's choice that experts will still reach for as one of their primary 'go-to' saws, intended for furniture and cabinetry projects. The handle and overall design of the saw is patterned after saws fabricated by the prestigious Wheeler, Madden Clemson saw company from Middleton, NY in the mid 1870’s. This working replica uses state-of-the-art alloys and finishes to promote corrosion-resistance, and with proper care, last for generations. The thin, .02-gauge plate is made of the finest Swedish Spring steel and generally filed 14 points per inch to facilitate a smooth, yet rapidly-cutting action that will easily craft dovetail joints with the grain, and smoothly-finished crosscuts against the

This premium tool constitutes a perfect starter saw for newcomers to hand tools, and one which seasoned experts will still reach for as one of their primary ‘go-to’ saws in the unplugged workshop.


  • Traditional Disston-pattern open handle or Wheeler Madden Clemson-pattern closed handle, available in standard cherry, or optional walnut, mesquite and apple. Apple is in very limited supply.
  • Traditional folded gunsmith-blued carbon or optional stainless steel backs.
  • The carbon steel sawback is now available in black-pearl nickel finish (looks fabulous and highly corrosion-resistant); I also offer optional brass, copper and bronze. Bronze is very expensive, in limited supply.
  • Fasteners in standard brass or optional gunsmith-blued or stainless alloys. You may also choose the niter-blued or nickel-plated finishes for the carbon steel fasteners.
  • RC 50-52 .02-thin premium Swedish spring steel sawplate.
  • Filed 14 ppi rip or hybrid-cut, with moderate-to-aggressive rake, and slight fleam & gullet to reduce tearout.
  • Depth of plate under the back runs 2 1/2" at the heel, and cants to 2 3/8" at the toe.

sizesWhy do I want this saw? Because it will fit your hand regardless of whether you are a linebacker or a tiny dancer, and tracks the line like it's on rails. This saw will likely be THE go-to weapon in your woodshop arsenal, particularly when filed 14-ppi hybrid cut--serving a variety of roles as a robust dovetail saw, carcase saw, and small tenon saw. What's the best pitch and filing? I personally recommend you choose 14 pitch in either x-cut, rip or hybrid-filing for this saw, depending on your requirements. If you're new to hand tools, then you might check out the hybrid-filing. You won't regret it.

dropThe story behind our new shock-resistant handles. About once or twice a month, one of my customers will call in seeking a replacement handle after having accidentally swept their Bad Axe from benchtop to floor. We have now fielded shock-resistant handles in response to that scenario for those who use their tools hard, but don't want to compromise the natural beauty of a solid hardwood handle. Our new laminate handles fuse a top-quality 13-ply hardwood laminate with a genuine hardwood outer sheath. The 3/4" thick, 13-ply laminate is formed in perpendicular layers, resulting in a VERY tough and stable inner core with an attractive edge. We sheath the core with hardwood to enhance visual appeal. As for its durability? Frankly, a resin or plastic handle is tougher--but who wants a synthetic handle? Our laminate handle will dent slightly when dropped horns-first onto a concrete floor from a height of six feet, but that's about it. The horns sure as heck won't snap off, and the body won't check. 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.

Hand Measurement
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 3/8 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. Really tiny hands from 2 ¾ up to 3 1/8 should warrant an XS handle.
(return to sizing menu)

gullet.jpg 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.

High-end, black pearl nickel-plated or bright silver nickel-plated finishes are available for our carbon steel sawbacks and fasteners. 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 240 grit not only looks fabulous, but serves a completly 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 Bronze sawbacks are also now available for 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 muzzleloading 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. 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. And watch out for choice overload--you also have alloy and finish options with my line of slotted and split-nuts fastener sets.

(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.)

So there is your 300-pound cheesecake of choice overload when trying to determine how best to trick out your Bad Axe saw. Can't decide? That's okay--you have up until the week before I build your saw to finalize the look you want. Starting to feel like a 16-year-old girl at this point? Sure you do. Dovetail saws are the prom queens of your saw till, and they may as well wear a little lipstick. Some do it with brass. Bad Axers like doing it with steel.


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 bright-polished stainless steel back
  • 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.

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