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


Additional 2023 Dates Now Available

Weekend Seminars: $375*

5-Day Intensive Seminar: $1500 Total
Down Payment)**

Available Seminars
Lunch Preference (on site)
Transportation Sponsorship


All seminars are still taught personally by Mark, founder of Bad Axe. Clicking on the SawSharp icon above takes you to seminar scheduling for remaining classes available.

** $500 Down Payment for the 5-day Adv. Seminar is non-refundable; Remaining balance due of $1000 to be collected 30 days prior to seminar.


Once a quarter, we'll gather together up to a half-dozen woodworkers for an intensive two-day saw tune-up and sharpening seminar at our shop in Superior, Wisconsin. For an additional charge at 15% off, you can even go home with your own Bad Axe that we've helped you build to spec.

Prefer something more intensive? We also offer quarterly week-long seminars for those of you who choose to go the extra mile. Here, you get to build two Bad Axe saws under my oversight and inclusive with the tuition that you'll take home with you.

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. Our advanced seminar will enable you to 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.



Travel & Lodgings

Where to Fly In: Duluth International Airport

Where to Stay: Duluth, MN or Superior, WI. Both cities sit astride the mouth of Lake Superior, an international Harbor.

Our recommended place to stay on the Superior side of the bridge is Barker's Island Inn and Marina, a quiet and reasonably priced resort located on a harbor next to Lake Superior offering a great restaurant, pub, tennis courts and pool. You'll need a rental car to get around (our shop is 2.5 miles away)

For those seeking a more touristy locale on the Minnesota side of the bridge might take a look at the Inn on Lake Superior in Duluth, located next to a diverse array of restaurants, local brew pubs and bustling shopping—all less than 10 minutes away from our Superior workshop on the Wisconsin side of the bridge.

Another great motel on the Superior side of the twin ports is The Superior Bay Botique Motel, less than five minutes away from our shop, where you get a great little suite for less than $80 per night.

For the budget-conscious seeking to get around on foot only three blocks away from our shop is a no-frills hotel called Superior Inn, with a steakhouse and pub on the premises.

Showtime for our weekend seminars is Friday Morning 0800 sharp. We'll kick things off with a cuppa joe at Bad Axe Tool Works, 69 N. 28th St., Suite #31 Superior, WI 54880 . Ph: (715-586-0233). Just key that address into Google Maps, and you'll find our shop.

Weekend Seminar Schedule & Program of Instruction:


  • openDoor.jpg0815: Showtime and coffee at Bad Axe Tool Works, 69 N. 28th St., Suite #31 Superior, WI 54880 . Ph: (608) 520-0729. Just key our address into Google Maps, and you'll find our shop located at the Mariner Business Center. 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 1300.
  • 1300-1615: Sawfiling theory review, & practical application.
  • 1615-1630: Day One review, and release to quarters and dinner. Volunteer mission: pub crawl across the bridge in Duluth's Canal Park District.


  • 0830-1500: Sawfiling 1-on-1 practice & application. Demonstrations & round-robin classes on hammer-smithing, file sizing techniques for crowding a toothilne & Henry Disston story.
  • 1500-1530: Course review and Q&A, followed by release.
  • 1530-1600: Stay-behind assistance; door close at 1600.



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 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.




Attend one of our three Advanced 5-day Seminars available in 2023--and bring home two Bad Axe saws you built under our oversight

While our weekend seminars in Superior are great for imparting sound concepts and practical exercise for techniques we use every day here 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 soup-to-nuts course for those who want to master the skill well beyond the basis. It's an intensive five-day exercise covering an array of toothlines from dovetail saws up to full-blown hand and panel saws; there is no need to have attended the basic weekend class beforehand. During the course, you will build your own Bad Axe backsaw and panel saw (inclusive with tuition) under Mark's personal oversight.

Payment: Total cost for the 5-day Seminar is $1950, with a $500 down payment in the payment link on this page to reserve your place. We'll bill you for the remaining balance due 30 days prior to your class.

Three Available Course Dates for 2023:

  • 13-17 Feb 2023.
  • 17-21 Apr 2023.
  • 12-16 Jun 2023 

Lodgings: Visit our Travel & Lodgings link to locate what suits you. The Duluth/Superior Twin Ports area is a popular tourist attraction, so don't delay in setting up your lodgings.

Limited to 4 Students per advanced seminar.

Student Equipment List:

  • Safety goggles and dust mask.
  • Bifocals as required to see up close (must be able to wear with goggles).
  • Carcase backaw filed 13 – 14 ppi
  • Tenon backsaw filed 11-12 ppi
  • Panel Saw filed 8 ppi x-cut.
  • Handsaw filed 5 ½ ppi or 6 ppi rip.
  • Note about saws: bring vintage saws in reasonable shape. No restoration projects, as that will impede the pace of learning and practical exercise.

Download the Curriculum: for a detailed overview of terminal learning objectives, just click on the link for a .pdf version of the curriculum list below.


Day One: Mastering Tools of the Trade, Nomenclature, and Common Practices

  • Is my saw worth saving?tools.jpg
  • Nomenclature: heel, toe, spine, toothline, sawback, etch, open/closed handles.
  • How to saw using backsaws, panel saws, & hand saws.
  • Saw Accessory Use and Design: bench hooks and saw benches.
  • Make your own saw maintenance and sharpening system.
  • Cordless Resawing with kerfing planes and frame saws.
  • How to release a frozen fastener set.
  • Use a simple array of common workshop tools to completely disassemble a backsaw (including removing the back) & reassemble.
  • How to de-rust and clean a sawplate without ruining the etch.HammerSmith.jpg
  • Selecting, handing and using saw sharpening taper files and three-square needle files
  • Adopt proper filing safety practices (sawfiling dust is dangerous).
  • Sawtooth geometry angles: what’s important and what’s not.
  • Understand the advantage of hammer sets over plier sets.
  • Practical Exercise: Hammer-set and joint an 8 ppi toothline.

Day Two:

  • A picture containing person, man, music, indoor  Description automatically generatedUnderstanding the 8 ppi x-cut panel saw.
  • Sharpening Dry-Fire:
    • Correct filing stance and file placement (dry-fire). Types of Cut: Rip, X-Cut & Hybrid.
    • Why dedicated x-cut only serves to slow down a cut at the expense of edge retention and accuracy.
    • How to track a toothline with visual cues.
    • Filing facets to maintain rake angle and consistent symmetry.
    • Hybrid-Filing principles.
    • Filing pattern: brush, sharpen, brush.
  • Sharpen an 8 ppi toothline
  • Hammer-smith a kinked and/or bowed sawplate (demonstration).
  • Sharpen an 8 ppi toothline.
  • 8 ppi sharpening review & 1-on1.


Day Three: 

  • A person wearing a hat and glasses  Description automatically generated8 ppi Sharpening Dry-Fire.
  • 8 ppi Sharpening Test.
  • Understanding how plate gauge and pitch work together to deliver the action you want.
  • 6 ppi Rip-filed Handsaw Overview.
  • Dry-fire the 6 ppi toothline.
  • Sharpen a 6 ppi rip toothline.
  • Stoning the toothline for final optimized kerf based on associated plate gauge.
  • Sharpen your own 5 ½ ppi or 6 ppi Handsaw.
  • 6 ppi rip sharpening Review & 1-on-1.


Day Four:

  • A group of people in a room  Description automatically generated6 ppi Handsaw Sharpening Dry-Fire.
  • 6 ppi Handsaw Sharpening Test.
  • 11 ppi tenon saw (overview).
  • Crowding the toothline to mitigate big-tooth/little-tooth syndrome.
  • Dry-Fire the 11 ppi toothline.
  • Sharpen the 11 ppi tenon saw toothline.
  • Sharpen your own 10-11-12 ppi tenon saw.Tenon Saw Sharpening Review & 1-on-1.


Day Five:

  • A picture containing person, man, indoor, table  Description automatically generated11 ppi Tenon Saw Sharpening Dry-Fire.
  • 11 ppi Tenon Saw Sharpening Test.
  • Understanding the 14 ppi carcase saw (overview).
  • Dry-Fire the 14 ppi toothline.
  • Manipulating rake and bevel to optimize softwoods and various hardwood species.
  • Sharpen the 14 ppi tenon saw toothline.
  • Graduation Exercise: Set, sharpen, and build your own Bad Axe Precision carcase saw using a needle file (cost included with tuition).
  • End of Seminar Review
  • Graduation and Closing



Need Files? Of course you do!

Bad Axe now distributes the best needle and saw files we've encountered, manufactured by Freiederich Dick in Germany.

You won't need to buy files as part of your training during the seminar--we'll provide our own supply for that--but you're likely going to want to go home with a few of your own, so here's the link to our file page.

Here's a look at the chart we reference for which size applies to the toothline you'll want to work with.

Note that we like to use needle files for our finer pitches--needle files make a deeper, more clearly defined gullet, longer cutting edge, and because of this enables a really fine tooth to take a clearly defined bevel when hammer-setting.

We also sell Skrooz-On handles made by Lutz in Maine.

Wait to purchase any of these until we run you through the training--by then you'll know exactly what you'll need for your requirements back home.




Get a 15% discount on any Bad Axe saw(s) through your enrollment.

You are entirled to a 15% Bad Axe saw discount by enrolling in any one of our seminars, and for as many saws as you wish to purchase that weekend.

In fact, let us know which or how many saws you want to order at least three months beforehand, make the down payments, and we will have them ready for you to take back with you.

We can even blend you into he building process itself. It's a lot of fun!




Where the first round is on Mark!

Mark buys the first round Friday evening after training, because now it's time to have fund after a hard day of sawfiling. Right across the bridge from Superior is Duluth's famous Canal Park district, loaded with great places to eat, shop and drink. We'll kick off the evening at The Lake Avenue Cafe for a libation of your choice and an orientation to some seriously fun places to visit, such as:

IWe hope that if and when you do come to one of our seminars, that you have one helluva good time, and we'll make sure you find a restaurant to suit your palate and other entertainment while you're here with us.

Cheers! ~ Mark and the Bad Axe Team


All Bad Axe Tool Works Saws are highly customizable, and Feature the Following:

  • Highly-figured 19th-century patterned hickory handles, also available in cherry and walnut.
  • Three handle sizes available: Small, Regular & Large.
  • Flush-face slotted sawbolts/nuts in brass or carbon steel finished in optional black-oxide or niter-blue with 13/16" deep-dish decorative medallion.
  • Traditional Folded Carbon Steel sawback.
  • Standard black-oxided or optional titanium-nitrided (TiN)-plated finish on saw backs.
  • Premium-grade Swedish Spring Steel Sawplates, RC50-52.
  • Traditional hammer-set toothline, sharpened to joint.
  • Bad Axe saw re-sharpening rate $15 nominal fee.
  • Lifetime guarantee against all material defects.

Learn more about our material choices and saw design rationale.

Other Top Selling Bad Axe Saws and Accessories: