Recently I was corresponding with Derek Olson about his latest adventures in woodworking, and mentioned in passing my need/desire for a petite dovetail saw. I have a standard Bad Axe dovetail saw but given the scale of most of my work I wanted one that had a thinner and narrower plate, with much finer teeth. The BA saw that I had was simply too aggressive for the work I often undertake which includes finer cuts in thinner stock, so I was spending more psychic energy on holding the saw back than I was concentrating on the cuts being executed. I’d made a small dovetail saw myself but was ot satisfied with that one either, but I will keep on trying.
Next thing I know I’m getting an email from Mark Harrell of Bad Axe, informing me that Derek had passed along my off-hand comments and indicating that he would be delighted to make me such a saw. I bit on the hook.
After extensive correspondence and a long phone conversation discussing my need/desire, he emailed me a summary of what we thought I wanted. One of the reasons for the lengthy phone call was that he was picking my brain about the saws and sawing techniques Roubo wrote about, and I was delighted to share my thoughts about that. It was nothing “insider,” I would gladly provide the same thoughts to any saw makers who asked (and I have).
I gave him the go-ahead on my dovetail saw and soon thereafter a package arrived at the post office. I opened it up and it was precisely what I had wanted, a baby brother to my other saw, and took a short minute to try it out on a piece of scrap wood. Magnificent. Just the right feel, just the right kerf, just the right cut.
Mark indicated his pleasure at me pushing him into territory he would not have otherwise gone. The plate was too thin for his taste, and the teeth too fine. I think the spacing is 17 tpi and the plate thickness is .015 or so. Still the challenge of providing what I sought was precisely the kind of problem solving that keeps folks like Mark and his crew fueled up. But it is perfect for my needs.
There is one flaw to the tool, however, and it is a serious one I will have to learn to deal with. It cuts so precisely and easily that I will not be able to blame any poor workmanship on the tool. It will be all mine.
Curse you, Bad Axe Toolworks.