Thursday, August 27, 2009


Every Once in Awhile

Every once in awhile a new hand tool comes along and changes the way you work. Yes, that's usually due to superior manufacturing and flawless attention to detail but every now and then someone steps things up a notch and not only brings the quality of craftsmanship to a new level but actually inspires the work that you do. This experience has only happened to me a couple of times before and has happened again.
A few weeks ago I got a call from my local post office in Cape Breton that a parcel has arrived for me. This was a little strange because it's our summer home and our mail still comes here to Toronto. I jump in the car and motor down to find a 100% recycled cardboard package sitting there with little Bad Axe Tool Works logos all over it. My saws had arrived.
Back in the wood shop I tear into the package to find two of the nicest back saws I've ever seen. Seriously, not the kind of flash and whistles you sometimes get fooled by in some 'boutique' variety products but a hand saw that gleams of a history somehow brought back to life and is waiting patiently and proudly to work with you.
Here in my wood shop I don't have the luxury of testing countless saws and reviewing endless wood working products like other on-line wood working writers may but what I do have is two hands, a heart and the desire to practice wood working using only hand tools. Mark Harrell has just made my life a hell of a lot easier by fabricating a product that works so well that you wonder why this level hasn't been achieved before.
Since meeting Mark through his work over the past year and a half and discussing his approach to saw making it's no surprise they perform as good as they do. My old nest of antique handsaws he reconditioned last year are still my daily users and have ripped through a pile of hardwood over this past year. Now he has his own platform to stand on with a product that will stand the test of time and take the hand saw market to another level altogether.

Over this past month I've managed to put these two saws through some of the hardest and most challenging wood cuts I would regularly attempt in my work and it always goes a little something like this:
I take most of the weight of the saw in my arm and lightly push the saw forward an inch. Then an equally delicate back stroke is all that's needed to begin the cut. 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. I'm not going to get into all of the specs and saw terms here because I really don't understand most of them! What I do know is I have two new hand saws that will make my work more enjoyable, easier and get far more accurate that I say Cheers to Mark Harrell and Bad Axe Tool Works.

Please don't take my word on any of this...this is my own opinion- go and find out for yourself and come to your own conclusions. Do some more searching and read what others are saying- you won't be disappointed.
For all of the specs I mentioned go to
One last thing, I mentioned this happened twice before with a hand tool bringing my work to another level...the first was when I tried out a Lie Nielsen hand plane and the second was when I received my smoothing plane in the mail from James Krenov a few years ago. It arrived in a nice little recycled sneaker box all wrapped up in California news paper! Perfect.

No comments:

Post a Comment