It's not as hard as you think, learning how to maintain, retension, and sharpen your own saw. . . .


2018 Dates Now Posted

Bad Axe Saw Tune-up & Sharpening Seminars
Price: $250

2018 Saw Seminars
Lunch Preference (on site)
Lodgings Preference

* Please note that your seminar payment is non-refundable. It may, however, be transferred to another course date or within the Bad Axe product line.


2018 Weekend Seminar Dates



Advanced, 5-day Class

Once a quarter, we'll gather together up to 12 exceptionally great people for an intensive two-day saw tune-up and sharpening seminar. You can even go home with your own Bad Axe that we've helped you build to spec.

We spend about 1/4 of the time on instruction and theory, and 3/4 of the time with concrete, practical application. No death by Powerpoint. No pontificating on saw geek arcana to muddy the waters, and no gadgets or jigs. Instead, we cover the basics, and with file in hand, slap spring steel into one of our Acme Saw Vises and get on it, with loads of practical application under our oversight.

Throughout the process, you'll absorb how to do the basics well under our oversight. To sum it up, the course is actually just a lot like woodworking: there are those who talk about it, and those who actually do it.

Upon course completion, you'll know how to put a fresh edge on a toothline and how to keep your saws tuned up and running. We encourage you take the next step and pick up a challenged old saw off eBay and breathe new life into it--pulling that off creates a sense of satisfaction that gives the term 'self-reliance' a far deeper meaning.

Schedule & Program of Instruction:


  • openDoor.jpg0830 Showtime and coffee at Bad Axe Tool Works, 1500 Green Bay Street, Suite #508, La Crosse, WI 54601. Ph: (608) 520-0729. Just key our address into Google Maps, and you'll find our shop. Be sure to park in back of the building, where you'll see our sign on the door.
  • 0900-1200: Sawfiling theory and practical application.
  • 1230-1300: Lunch. Don't go anywhere. Bad Axe caters lunch ($10 per day surcharge). Alternatively, you may bring your own. Just be ready to go at it again at 130.
  • 1300-1600: Sawfiling theory review, & practical application.
  • 1600-1615: Day One review, and release to quarters and dinner. Volunteer mission: pub crawl.


  • 0900-1300: Sawfiling theory and practical application.
  • 1300-1330: Course review and release for those who need to exfiltrate.
  • 1330-1500: Stay-behind operations, and one-on-one instruction for those who need it.



tools.jpgHand and Back Saws for cutting wood in general:

  • Anatomy and use of hand saws, panel saws and back saws.
  • Advantages of Western saws over Japanese pull saws.
  • How to evaluate a vintage saw as to whether it is a potential user or a wall hanger.
  • How to date a saw (
  • How to buy saws without throwing your money away.

Tools of the Trade:

  • Operate a saw toother on new plates, when and when not to re-tooth a saw plate.
  • Shape teeth on a saw filer.
  • Understand the advantage of hammer sets over plier sets.
  • Hammer-set a toothline.
  • Mount a saw plate in a saw vise for jointing and repositioning it for filing.
  • Use a simple array of tools to completely disassemble a backsaw (including removing the back), & reassemble.
  • Clean and sharpen spring steel with mill bastard files and taper files.
  • Saw Accessories: bench hooks and saw benches.

Terms of Reference and Tooth Geometry

  • HammerSmith.jpg Types of Cut: Rip, X-Cut & Hybrid .
  • Nomenclature: heel, toe, spine, toothline, sawback, etch, open/closed handles.
  • Dot your teeth with a sharpie.
  • How to look at the toothline without going bug-eyed.
  • Take your visual cue from the tooth leaning away from you.
  • Filing facets to keep your rake.
  • Angles Schmangles. Go with high noon for rip, one o’clock for hybrid, and two o’clock for x-cut. Flip, and then go with high noon for rip, eleven o'clock for hybrid, and 10 o'clock for x-cut..
  • Warm up on a crappy sawplate first.
  • How to file using proper body english (don’t be timid, hesitant, or lacking in self-worth).
  • Filing pattern: brush, grind, brush.

Backsaw maintenance and pre-sharpening overview

  • Tooth a saw plate.
  • Set teeth with a 1870’s vintage hammer set.
  • Joint the tooth line.
  • Shape the teeth.
  • Hand-file the teeth overview (and how to look at them without going bug-eyed).
  • How and when to stone the toothline.
  • Why and how to flex the sawplate to determine whether a saw issalvageable or not.
  • Hammer-smith a kinked and/or bowed sawplate (demonstration).
  • Disassemble a backsaw in its entirety.
  • How to mount the back of a traditional backsaw.
  • How to mount the handle.
  • Fastener removal, cleaning & repair.
  • Sawplate cleaning methods.
  • Retension a vintage backsaw (practical exercise).
  • DIY Horn Repair (discussion).
  • Build a dynamite saw shipping box.

Sharpening and more sharpening

  • AlSharp.jpgSafety considerations (use your dust mask and goggles, always).
  • Learn all about taper files and how to size them appropriate to pitch..
  • How to Walk Like an Egyptian. Remember the Bangles?
  • How to use sight, touch, and light reflection to dial in a toothline.
  • How to hold and push the file with good tips on body english and how to avoid common mistakes..
  • How to stone the toothline.
  • Practice, practice, practice, with 1-on-1 assistance..
  • Build your own Bad Axe, with complete access to all handles, plates, backs and fasteners. Don't worry--we'll help you get it dialed in with a custom fit and look, as if we were the one's building it for you.


New for 2018 is our week-long 4-seat advanced class in January!

While our weekend seminars are great for imparting sound concepts and practical exercise for techniques we use here every day at the Bad Axe workshop, there nonetheless exists an emergent desire within the market to take saw sharpening instruction to the next level.

We have therefore developed a curriculum for the advanced sawfiler. It's a five-day course that builds upon what a student has learned at our weekend seminar, and takes it to the next level. Core terminal learning objectives include the following:

  • Hammer-Smithing bowed/kinked plates.
  • Crowding the toothline when mitigating big-tooth/little-tooth syndrome.
  • Stoning the toothline for final optimized kerf based on gauge and pre-sharpening set objective.
  • Manipulating rake and bevel to optimize softwoods and various hardwood species.
  • Identifying pros/cons and operating saw sharpening equipment.
  • Daily practical exercise under close supervision and personal training.
  • Tuition for our new weeklong course is $1000, and you'll find the link on our seminar page adjacent to our weekend seminar date listings.

Our first advanced sawfiling class is scheduled for the week of 15-19 Jan. We're limiting the advanced class to four seats only, so first-come, first serve--just click through the payment process above where you see the PayPal link.. See you in January! 




"How the heck do I get to La Crosse, Wisconsin--and is it worth the trip?"

BadAxeCty.jpg Getting here:
  • Fly in to La Crosse, WI (LSE) by way of Minneapolis/Saint Paul International Airport, a major hub for Delta Airlines.
    Back to QuickLinks.

    Recommended Place to Stay:

  • While there are a lot of great places to stay here in La Crosse, We have rooms blocked at the Raddisson right on the Mississippi River in downtown La Crosse. Contact the Hotel at 608-784-6680; or, through their toll free number at 800-333-3333; or, online using the promotional code we send in our confirmation email after receiving your payment.

  • In order to qualify for the Group Room Rate, attendees must make their reservations by the Reservation Due Date (30 days prior to arrival), and attendees must ask for the Bad Axe Tool Works rate when making their reservation. That said, we STRONGLY advise you to lock in your room just as soon as you purchase your seat for the class. Any requests for special room arrangements must be made at the time of this reservation.

    Where to Eat: There are some seriously great places to eat here in La Crosse, and below you'll find the short list of some of our favorite culinary haunts downtown. All establishments listed below are within an easy five-minute walk from the Radisson.

  • Le Chateau French Cuisine Restaurant
  • Piggy's Restaurant
  • The Freight House Restaurant

  • Digger's Sting Family Style Restaurant
  • The Waterfront Restaurant and Tavern
  • Sushi Pirate
  • Four Sisters Wine Bar and Tapas Restaurant
  • The Rivoli Movie Theater and Pizzaria

    Where Mark buys the first round Friday evening after training: The Bodega Brew Pub on 4th and Pearl--the center of the universe. Let's keep that part simple. This is the jumping-off place for the world-famous La Crosse, WI pub crawl.

    In any event, I hope that if and when you do come to one of our seminars, that you have one helluva good time. These are my favorites establishments in town--all located within easy three-block radius from any of the hotels I've listed in La Crosse's historic downtown. The Bodega is a great watering hole to start with, after a day of metal filings and crosseyed tooth counts!


    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: