JoshClark

Bad Axe Tool Works 14" Sash Saw, $265: aka 'the Sandbar Bowie'
(Delivery: 5-7 weeks)

Build Your Saw:

Type Filing
Desired Pitch
Plate Gauge
Sawback Preference
Handle Species
Hand Size (how to measure)
Preferred Fasteners
Make Deposit

bowieLong before Santa Anna's troops pumped several musket balls into his head with the fall of the Alamo, James Bowie had already established himself as a real Bad Axe in 1827 when a duel suddenly turned south on a bloody sandbar in Natchez, Mississippi. Bludgeoned, shot, and with a cane sword sticking through his chest, Bowie held his own against four opponents with a large knife his brother Rezin made for him--and that's how the legend of Alamo defender Colonel James Bowie and his knife was born.

bowieKnifeSo let's take it a step further and see how my 14" sash saw compares to Bowie's knife in the sandbar fight, particularly when filed 12 ppi hybrid-cut on a hardy .025-gauge plate. This is where rugged durability and precision converge at a high level, especially when you're new to hand tools and you want the perfect starter saw that will never outlast its usefullness. It can be used as a larger carcase saw for cuts against the grain, or a medium-range tenon saw when you want to sink it up to the hilt when crafting tenon cheeks with the grain. It's just a great all-around size, and that's why Disston made so many back saws with the same specs well over a century ago that are still floating around on eBay today.

Here's a run-down on the specs:

  • Traditional Wheeler Madden Clemson-pattern closed handle, available in standard quartersawn hickory, or optional cherry, walnut or fiddleback maple.
  • Traditional folded gunsmith-blued (black-oxided) carbon steel and optional bright nickel-plated or copper-plated carbon steel sawbacks.
  • Fasteners in standard brass or optional gunsmith-blued or stainless alloys. You may also choose the niter-blued or bright nickel-plated finishes for the carbon steel fasteners.
  • RC 50-52 .02-thin premium Swedish spring steel sawplate for carcase configuration, and .025-gauge for the sash configuration.
  • Filed 12 ppi rip or hybrid-cut on the .025-gauge plate, with moderate-to-aggressive rake, and slight fleam & gullet to reduce tearout for sash configuration. For carcase configuration, I recommend 13 ppi x-cut with the .02 plate.
  • Depth of plate under the back for the .025-gauge hybrid and ripping plate runs 3 5/8" from heel to toe.
  • Depth of plate under the back for the .02-gauge dedicated x-cut plate runs 3 3/8" from heel to toe.

BAH14Why do I want this saw? Because it will fit YOUR hand regardless of whether you enjoy wrestling large Japanese men or play first-chair piccolo for the Chicago symphony, and tracks the line like it's on rails. Above all, you get choice: choice in plate gauge, how the toothline is filed, and how you want the saw to look. This saw will certainly be one of the go-to weapons in your woodshop arsenal, serving multiple roles particularly when filed hybrid-cut.

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)

What's the best pitch and filing? I personally recommend 12 ppi dedicated rip or 12 ppi hybrid-cut for the .025-gague plate, or 13 ppi dedicated x-cut with the .02 gauge plate, depending on your requirements. If you're new to hand tools, then the hybrid-filing is a great choice--you won't regret it. For more info on sawfiling angles and how that coupled with plate gauge optimizes the kind of saw best suited for your woodworking method, be sure to read Albert Einstein's treatise on sawplate physics.

"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.

bh

Don't forget the bench hook set. IMHO, the 14" saw is the perfect size for bench hook utility. They're indespensable when making repetive cuts to length or miter, such as running through a series of baseboard cuts without haluing in a powered chop saw into your living room. And you really don't want to inadvertently saw into the nice Roubo workbech you spent the last few months making because you didn't take the time to make one of these. My bench hook sets are pretty bomb-proof, and while they don't come cheap, you will get double-duty out of it (when one side wears out, just flip it over), and they are very well-made. So for those of you who'd rather spending time working wood rather than making accessories, you might give mine a try.


14 Inch Large Tenon Back 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.

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