So I get asked a lot—“Mark, what makes your Bad Axe saws different from the others?”

To which I reply, “Not that much from the saws of the 19th Century, and it won't require fettling right out of the box. Just put it to work, buddy.”

But most times, I simply say—“It's sharp. Really sharp.”

Regardless of what I think, however, the quality of my saws can only be underwritten by the clients I service. So on that note, I've begun collecting feedback from my clients, and here's what they have to say:

Bad Axe Tool Works™ Saw Reviews & Testimonials

Rob Porcaro, craftsman-designer in wood; website; blog RobPorcaro

"I have been using his dovetail saw this year and it has become my favorite. Mark's passion for excellence has raised the game for saw making."

—Rob Porcaro 

Widely published throughout the woodworking industry, Craftsman Rob Porcaro shares his deep woodworking expertise at

Full Review





Professional Journal Reviews

February 2011

Bad Axe: Saws with an American Accent by Chris Schwarz
Chris Shwarz

"The result of all this alchemy is a saw that attracts rabid followers. Every time I write about Bad Axe on my blog, his customers chime in with stories of their devotion to his tools. As a longtime customer of Harrell and Bad Axe, I tend to agree with them. He really does have a special saw that presses all the right buttons." read entire review. . . .

Popular Woodworking Magazine

November 2009

American 'Bad Axe' Saws
Chris Shwarz"Bad Axe Tool Works currently makes two joinery saws that are different in every way from the other premium makers' wares. You can get them with either a folded stainless steel back or a folded steel back that has been blued by a gunsmith (which is almost too sexy to write about in a woodworking publication). If you are a saw geek (hands up, people!) the sawmaker, Mark Harrell, will file the saws to almost any configuration you desire. His crosscut (saw) works remarkably well for both rips and crosscuts and might just be the first commercial all-purpose saw I've ever been happy with. All in all, the saws are A-plus work, from the teeth to the tote."

—Chris Schwarz, Editor, Popular WoodWorking and WoodWorking Magazines

Read the Full Article Here »

* * *
October 2009

Best New Tools of 2009: The Runners Up
Daddy has a saw problem. We purchased these Bad Axe saws earlier this year and I've been using the heck out of them all summer and fall. I've written a lot about these saws on my blog (here's one entry). The craftsmanship on these saws is simply incredible. When I take them to shows, people can't help but pick them up. Plus, they have a different design aesthetic than other premium saws: These tools have a decidedly American look to them with steel backs and cherry handles.

—Chris Schwarz, Editor, Popular WoodWorking and WoodWorking Magazines

Read the Full Article Here »

Woodworking Magazine Weblog

November 2009

Restore a Saw the 'Bad Axe' Way
"Mark Harrell of Bad Axe Tool Works just launched his new website this week. And in addition to pretty pictures of his new Bad Axe saws and details of his saw restoration and sharpening services, Harrell does the hand world a solid by offering free tutorials on how he restores vintage saws."

—Chris Schwarz, Editor, Popular WoodWorking and WoodWorking Magazines

Read the Full Article Here »

* * *

October 2009

Completely 'Bad Axe' Saws
"Every time I picked them up I was reminded of one of the reasons I like modern tools: They are a totem, a reminder that we can still make things in this country that are damn good."

—Chris Schwarz, Editor, Popular WoodWorking and WoodWorking Magazines

Read the Full Article Here »

* * *
August 2009

So Incredibly Spoiled: Bad Axe

"I took the Bad Axe crosscut backsaw and pitted it against the new-old saw. I took exactly 10 strokes with each saw in a piece of red oak (the other milkweed). The new-old saw made it almost 3/4" into the material. The Bad Axe plunged 2-1/8".

—Chris Schwarz, Editor, Popular WoodWorking and WoodWorking Magazines

Read the Full Article Here »

Tom Fidgen's The Unplugged Woodshop

October 2010

The New Bad Axe Dovetail Saw

A First Look

fidgetn_dovetail.jpgBad Axe Tool Works in La Crosse, Wisconsin makes some of the finest back saws on the market today and I'm very pleased to introduce the latest offering. A 12" dovetail saw; yup that's right, I said a twelve-inch dovetail saw. Some may prefer to call this a small tenon saw but in my shop it'll be a dovetail saw.

With a 12" saw plate .02 thick and filed at 14tpi, it's a great saw that's thin enough for precise dovetail work but stout enough for thicker stock applications. I can't tell you how many times I've needed to cut dovetails in material 1" and up in thickness and my other saws just wouldn't make the cut. Having the 12" plate also means fewer strokes and you'll never run the blade out of the kerf while in use (something I've been prone to do in the past with shorter saws)."

Read the Full Article Here »


July 2010

Backsaws: this is what you need to know!

Bad Axe Tool Works

fidgen_testdrive.jpg"Last week I received some samples of the new line of Back Saws from Bad Axe Tool Works in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Mark sent me two of his new 14" Sash saws, two of the new 12" carcase saws as well as 'The Beastmaster'&mdash his new and even larger 18" rip saw that comes with a thicker saw plate (at .0315) and has a full 5" under the back. This is a big saw for big work and I'm planning on bringing it home to Cape Breton with me for some timber frame joinery this summer. The rest of this nest has been a joy to 'test drive' all week and I'll be sad to see them leave to be quite honest. These really are truly incredible saws."

Read the Full Article Here »

August 2009

Every Once in Awhile
Tom Fidgen"The saw dives (not bites) down into the wood fiber and with the extra length and heft of the plate burns through the wood cutting straight as an arrow. To be completely honest, the larger size did seem a little foreign at first but after 15 minutes of getting used to them I was able to not only cut deep tenons in 2" white Oak but turn around and rip a thin strip off of some hard Eastern Maple 1/8" wide. These are not special purpose hand saws...they're daily users that will make large deep cuts in heavy hardwoods yet still perform well enough to cover smaller scale joinery that needs to be precise and accurate. Think of them as a 'Jack Saw' (as I've nicknamed them), especially the hybrid cross-cut Mark is making available."

—Tom Fidgen, Professional WoodWorker and Author, The Unplugged Woodshop

Read the Full Article Here »

Disstonian Institute

August 2009

A Saw that Henry Disston Would Have Put His Name On
"The quality of the materials and workmanship on the Bad Axe saw is excellent. This is a saw that looks, feels, and cuts like a new 19th century saw did. Bad Axe Tool Works has put a lot of effort into making a saw with traditional features that are like no one else's on the market. The result is a saw that both appears and functions like a saw that Henry Disston would have put his own name on."

—Erik von Sneidern, Author/Webmaster,

Read the Full Article Here »

Pete Taran, Founder, Independence Tool

January 2010

A Dead Ringer for a 1900 Era Disston #4
"I recently came into the possession of an 18" Backsaw made by Bad Axe Tool Works. Since in a former life I was the cofounder of Independence Tool, a company that began the custom saw making craze back in 1996, I feel I can provide an objective view of not only the quality, but also the form and function.

When the package arrived, I was immediately drawn to the packaging. Bad Axe has spent significant time in packaging their saws in an efficient and environmentally responsible manner. I didn't dwell too long on such things as I was in a hurry to rip the package open to get to the contents inside.

What I found was a beautifully executed saw that was a dead ringer for a 1900 era Disston #4. The saw screamed attention to detail and was perfectly executed. The traditional closed tote handle was finely crafted of cherry and was beautifully finished. This handle showed no traces of tool marks or other chatter. Additionally, it was not the standard "router bit" carved handle...this handle has complex curves and lines that could only be done by hand. I have average sized hands, and it fit like a charm. Not too roomy or too tight.

Turning my attention to the business end of the tool, I was pleased to see a highly polished blade, complete with custom etch. Unlike some modern etches this one was deep and will not wear off with any amount of sawing. I chuckled to myself as I saw the crossed arrows which I recognized as the branch insignia of the Special Forces. Breaking out my 10X loupe, I looked at the teeth. They were perfectly set with bright shiny points. They were regular and even. No problems there I thought. The blade was held in a traditional folded steel back which was nicely blued and polished. Sighting down the blade, it was perfectly straight.

As good as it looks, the true test is in how it cuts. Since I've sharpened countless thousands of saws, I was excited to see if Bad Axe got it right, or if there were problems. I chucked up a piece of 4/4 cherry in my vise and scribed a pencil line along the grain. Since the teeth on my saw were rip teeth, it is meant to cut along the grain. A quick start on the push stroke and I was off to the races. I found the saw had just the right amount of room in the kerf, tracked perfectly and allowed me to follow the line all the way to the back. At over 4", this is no small feat. This saw would excel for cutting deep tenon cheeks or even smaller scale timber framing tasks.

It's very exciting to see a modern maker with an attention to quality that not only equals, but perhaps rivals those of the old makers. Just Excellent!"

—Pete Taran, Founder of Independence Tool,

The Renaissance Woodworker

February 2011

No Buyer's Remorse Here

"I first used one of Mark Harrell's new tenon saws at the hand tool olympics at the Woodworking in America design event last August in St Charles, IL. At the time my dovetailing skills were actually better than my tenoning skills because I had spent more time practicing dovetails. Needless to say I was shocked when I cut my tenon so easily and based on the measurement, I was vaulted into 3rd place in the competition (at the time anyway, and there were many more than 3 competitors for you jokers).

No question that tools do not make the craftsman, but they sure do help. I blame the TSA and baggage restrictions from keeping me from buying one of those saws right then and there. Then in October at the hand tool rendition of Woodworking in America, I cut some tenons again using the same saws. I was not competing this time since I was helping out at the SAPFM booth and therefore ineligible. (Pro tip: this is a great way to get out of a competition, 'I'm ineligible!') I got the use the saws a lot more while hanging out at the booth and let's just say I had an identical experience. I walked away and vowed to contact Mark and place my order. And order I did. I have been the proud owner of rip and crosscut Bad Axe saws now for 3 months and have had a lot of time to work with them. No buyer's remorse here and I just love these saws. Let's take a look at some of the features that make them so great and what it means for your work."

—Shannon Rogers, The Renaissance WoodWorker,

Read the Full Article Here »

The Oldwolf Workshop Studio

March 2011

"I'm Your Huckleberry."

"One evening, while having a few beers with a neighbor and fellow saw-degenerate Mark Harrell of Bad Axe Tool Works, and he let slip that he was in the process of designing some open handle dovetail saws. Now, if you talk saws with Mark for even five minutes you will find that there is likely nobody on this earth more knowledgeable about the factors that go into what makes a saw work and work well, and if you've ever had the opportunity to use or own a Bad Axe Saw then you know that knowledge and obsessive attention to detail result in a saw that is an experience to use. When Mark said he was working on open handles, I knew I this might be the best chance I could ever have to find my dovetailing huckleberry. . . ."

—Derek Olson, The Oldwolf Workshop Studio

Read the Full Article Here »

MattCianciMatt Cianci's 'The Saw Blog'

February 2011

BE WARNED: Mark Harrell is a dangerous character.

"Before I share with you my impressions of the saw, I should make a full disclosure: At first, I wanted to hate this saw. I really wanted to find things wrong with it. I wanted to use it and dislike it from the first moment I let it cut wood. Why? Because maybe as a born skeptic, when I hear nothing but positive things about a product, or person, or theory, I think that people are just being duped. So, I wanted to be the guy that bunks the collective impression. Call me a subversive.

Well, damn if I wasn’t duped too. Upon the first moment I held this saw I was sold."

—Matt Cianci, The Saw Blog

Read the Full Article Here »

The Norse Woodsmith

September 2009

Review: Bad Axe Tool Works 18" Tenon Rip Saw
"The Bad Axe saws are of truly serious quality, and are a contender against any—and I mean any—modern hand saw made of similar style today. The quality is as good as any premium vintage saw I've seen—and is actually better than most. I think any vintage manufacturer would be proud to have had such a quality saw in their line-up. For me, this saw is as good or better than any I've seen."

—Lief Hanson, Author/Webmaster, The Norse WoodSmith

Read the Full Article Here »

Customer Testimonials

Rick Erickson"Mark, I got a the saws a few days ago (the mug yesterday).  I just tried them out and have to say they are freaking unbelievable.  I wouldn't consider these a 'runner up' to anything (I think you got shortchanged on that one).  I was laying some oak bullnose trim on the kickplates of my kitchen cabinets today and used the x-cut saw and the bench hook for that (I know - probably not a worthy task for the saw :-).  All I can say is wow - 4 or 5 strokes and I was through the wood.  My 12 year old actually cut most of the pieces including the mitres.  He was loving it.  It was his first time using a hand saw.  I didn't even break out the powered miter saw (man was that refreshing).  I also bought 2 lie-nielsen panel saws that came the same day.  While these are nice saws they don't hold a candle to yours (I say that in all sincerity).  All I can say is THANK YOU!"

—Rick Erickson, Fayetteville, GA

Brian Hayner"The back. LOVE the back !!!! But I'm blue collar, and it just takes a more serious look than the brass boutique style saws that are out there. No disrespect to them because they are sweet looking saws that work very well. Yours just has a more bad ass, er bad axe look to it. Tougher looking. Cooler looking. Looking like what a serious woodworker or craftsman that would have put food on the table with would want in a saw. The other saws...look very nice as well, but they are sort of the Suzukis, Hondas, and Yamahas out there, and yours are the Indians and the Harleys. Nobody notices when a rice grinder whizzes by but when somebody cruises by slow with open pipes, heads turn. You feel it in your chest. That would be me dropping you into that group of makers. You're definitely in with good company, but I think you'll stand out because you're a bit different, as well as old school. Which is what I personally like."

—Brian Hayner, Glens Falls, NY

Josh Parker"AWESOME! Best saw out of the box that I have ever used. I have or used a saw from almost every maker on the market today. The fit and finish is excellent. I love the blued back with the stamped logo, something new on the market, yet also something historical. In my antique searches I have found many more steel backs than brass backs. Your commitment to green packaging is awesome, the cherry tooth guard was an excellent touch. Thanks for the great product and I hope to continue to hear great things from Bad Axe in the future."

—Josh Parker, Forest, VA

Read Josh's complete review on WoodNet Forums here»

Geoff Brandenburg"The first word that comes to mind is purpose. Dedication to a sense of purpose that is dead on target. I hope this doesn't sound goofy, but your saw has a soul in it, a kind of intelligence that I believe the best toolmakers can imbue in their creations. The second word that comes to mind is trust. I trust this tool deeply. The more I use it, the more I love it. It was built so that I would do well. That is a great feeling. The third word that comes to mind is power. I feel that you have something in your life experience that is being transmitted into this tool. Obviously, you have based your life on getting results. That seems to translate into this saw as a deep sense of confidence and perspective as to what works, as well as a "can do, must do, will do" sense of power. I have always believed that the best Japanese sword makers created swords that gave the Samurai power. Your saw has that same kind of power in it."

—Geoff Brandenburg, Truckee, CA

Aemilius Pretorius, Pretoria, South Africa"I received my saw on Friday afternoon and got to use it a bit on my current project over the weekend. Let me immediately say that it has proved to be just what I was hoping for. As close in looks to a high-end rifle as a flat strip steel with a wooden handle screwed onto one end can reasonably get. The RSM on parade. That blade guard could have come out of the coachwork of one of those luxury British saloons of yesteryear. Crosscutting in pine stock of varying hardness went fast with very smooth edges right round the cut. In the hands of a good sawyer (which alas I am not) this saw could put many a shooting board out of work. The quality of cut came as close to the results of my Nobex mitre box with Japanese crosscut blade as I have ever been able to get freehand. I am talking 12" cuts here, for much narrower stock I would probably still go with a good shorter tenon saw (are you planning anything in this direction Mark?) although the weight and size never troubled me at all. To my hand the opening in the handle felt somewhat dainty but nothing to complain of really. Will soon get used to it. My real surprise came with ripping a fairly narrow 30" long workpiece down the middle. This I had clamped over the gap between two 7'long 5" high torsion boxes, sitting on on a solid surface. I sawed with the toe pointing down about 20 degrees. With the cut started right that saw seemed to find the line all by itself with every stroke! The deep blade allowed fast, efficient working strokes without digging into the solid surface just 5" below, nor any interference from the back. Once again with smooth edges all round and very little cleanup required afterwards. Unconventional use of a backsaw, I know and I do have the proper tools, including a very nice bowsaw with Japanese style blade. But I wanted to see what this saw could do if workholding was a problem and no other saw was at hand. I was not disappointed. Yes, calling it the "jack" of saws might not do justice to its looks and more specialized abilities, but it would not be far out. Me, I think I will just call it my "bad ass saw from Wisconsin". And that would not be far out either. Thank you very much Mark, and every success in your business!"

—Aemilius Pretorius, Pretoria, South Africa

John Tashjian"The saw truly is my favorite, and that's not bull. I find myself picking it up for everything. One thing to note is that the smell of the linseed oil just screams traditional woodworking and that is the first sense that is affected when you open the box. You smell the saw before you can unwrap it. I found that I can rest the toe on the work piece and make a few short push strokes to start the saw. It feels like it is cutting wood and advancing not just moving back and forth. As far as outperforming other saws- I can say that the saw has a unique feel that impresses upon you that you are advancing in your cut on every push and no other saw I own does that. The tracking is incredible and I still can't believe how quickly it cuts. It's always a pleasure to work with a well made tools and this is no exception. I like the contrasting color of the black steel back. It's nice, and different. It stands out and isn't lost like brass-backed saws. I went out and looked at the back again and I have to say there is no substitute for hot caustic salt bluing. The packaging was top notch and the saw itself is a work of art."

—John Tashjian, Brick, NJ

Bart Hovis"I am a guitar maker, and I purchased a Bad Axe saw primarily for one tricky cut: to saw through the width a guitar neck board at a 14 degree angle which is then flipped over, and glued back on as a scarf joint to create the angle of the guitar head. I found that the Bad Axe saw was easy to keep aligned straight through the 3 1/4" cut, cut easily, and left a smooth surface - a distinct improvement over the saw I had been using. Congratulations to Mark Harrell on this saw - it is a tool that is a joy to use, and inspires good work."

—Bart Hovis, Kirwood, MO

"Mark, I got the saws a few days ago (the mug yesterday). I just tried them out and have to say they are freaking unbelievable. I wouldn't consider these a 'runner up' to anything (I think you got shortchanged on that one). I was laying some oak bullnose trim on the kickplates of my kitchen cabinets today and used the x-cut saw and the bench hook for that (I know - probably not a worthy task for the saw :-). All I can say is wow - 4 or 5 strokes and I was through the wood. My 12 year old actually cut most of the pieces including the mitres. He was loving it. It was his first time using a hand saw. I didn't even break out the powered miter saw (man was that refreshing). I also bought 2 Lie-Nielsen panel saws that came the same day. While these are nice saws they don't hold a candle to yours (I say that in all sincerity). All I can say is THANK YOU!"

—Rick Erickson, Fayetteville, GA

"Mark, these (Bad Axe) saws completely blow my mind. I thought those vintage saws you rebuilt for me were incredible...words can't even explain these. They cut through 16/4 walnut and white oak like I don't even know what. No clogging or choking on 6x6 SYP(both PT and the reclaimed heart pine stuff I have). They cut everything I could find to try them on with absolutely no problems. Dead nuts straight without even trying, quieter than a skil saw and faster too I swear. At least I was done quicker since I didn't have to drag it out and deal with a cord. I could have cut that stuff all day and not even broken a sweat, that's how easy using these are. The 16"xcut really did do a good job with rip cuts. I was surprised. But no way I'm putting down that 18", that bad boy cut me some tenons smooth as glass and as perfect as can be in no time. Keep up the great work. and keep me posted on new saw offerings as they are available."

—John Szalkai, West Caldwell, NJ

"Mark has been sharpening my handsaws, so it didn't take much persuasion to buy one of his 18" backsaws in 10 ppi rip. I got it a couple of weeks ago and it is a great saw. My standard operating procedure is to take a new saw into the shop and make featherboards until I have the saw figured out. That took less than 10 cuts before I was burying the saw up to the back and splitting the line. I have never gotten that good, that fast with any other saw. My hands are on the large side and the handle really works for me. As far as being sharp, Mark Harrell is a master at sharpening any saw. I don't work for him, but he did bribe me with a new coffee cup."

—Darin Darr, Westport IN

"Bad Axe saws rule! The saw cuts perfectly and was well packaged. Beyond that, it is a feast for the eyes. The nicely shaped and finished handle, blued spine, brass saw nuts, and etch make for a beautiful tool. Having said that, it isn't "dainty" like most of the other premium saws on the market and has the presence of a tool to be used AND cherished."

—Jim Svensson, Port Orchard, WA

"...with your attention to the teeth and all the filing subtleties, you've offered what I'm looking for in a handsaw. In the little sawing I've done so far I really like how it cuts a beautiful kerf and has a dynamic feel. It's got personality and will be fun getting to know."

—Tico Vogt, Saratoga Springs, NY

Bad Axe Restoration Services Testimonials

Woodworking Magazine Weblog

September 2008

Completely 'Bad Axe' Saws
...this saw graduated from the shelf of the damned to a prized position above my workbench. The sawplate is near-perfect. The teeth are razor sharp, perfectly formed and set. It cuts fast and tracks straight. I doubt this saw has been in this good of condition for 100 years."

—Chris Schwarz, Editor, Popular WoodWorking and WoodWorking Magazines

Read the Full Article Here »

Tom Fidgen's The Unplugged Woodshop

"A professional touch from a truly incredible craftsman. If anyone out there is troubled about finding a 'new' hand saw, or may have some old treasures lying around collecting dust, for a little less than $100. you can have something you'll be able to use on a daily basis which will far surpass most new saws on the market today."

—Tom Fidgen, Professional WoodWorker and Author, The Unplugged Woodshop, Canada

"For one third the price of a new saw Mark will you with a saw you can't put down. If you use handsaws you have got to let Mark rework one for you."

—Dean Brewster, Lenoir City, TN

"I have both saws back, and they are sweet! Both cut smoothly, quickly, and exactly where I want them to cut, leaving a very nice finish behind. With these two now excellent saws, I may actually learn to cut tenons by hand."

—Michael Dyer, Louisville, KY

"I sent Mark two Disston saws that had been gathering dust in my shop because of their condition. He did a great job. The saws look great and more importantly they cut smooth and straight, a real pleasure to use. He does excellent work and gives you prompt and courteous service, a rare thing these days."

—Gregg Counts, Suwanee GAM

"I recently sent him a cherished 10" Harvey Peace backsaw that was only marginally useful. Mark did a terrific job straightening and sharpening it and touching up the finish on the handle. Now it works like the little champion it was when it was new."

—Rick Yochim, Purcellville, VA

"The saw tracked and cut perfectly. It has made me a better hand tool woodworker overnight."

—Russ McLean, Uxbirdge, MA

"This guy is amazing. This thing works better than my Lie-Nielsen saw."

—Deborah Chalsty, San Francisco, CA

"WOW! I can't tell you how pleased I am with the saws! They're wonderful! And thanks, too, for all the extra information you provided. I don't see how you do this for all your customers...but I certainly appreciate and value it."

—Allan Brown, Lubbock TX

"The formerly bent blade is now arrow straight, the teeth are resharpened beautifully, and it cuts wood like hot knife going through butter."

—Bill Zeman, Janesville, WI