‘Annie Oakley’ Comes to Town

At the top is the Bad Axe 10" saw with a regular-sized mesquite handle and a black pearl nickel-plated back. At the bottom is the 10" saw with a brass back and smaller black walnut handle.

Two months ago, I wrote about two new saws from Bad Axe Tool Works – a 10″ dovetail saw and a 12″ dovetail/small tenon saw. I joked that that I was going to rename the “Doc Holliday” (founder Mark Harrell’s name for the 10″) to “Annie Oakley” – she was a better shot. (You can read that review here.)

But in today’s post, I received a better candidate for “Annie” – the same 10″ sawplate (with Mark’s soon-to-be-available brass back) but with a smaller handle that’s perfectly sized to fit my tiny hands. No, he didn’t make a handle just for me – Mark is about offer smaller handles as an option for those of us with wee grips, and I got my hands (literally) on one of the first examples.

While I haven’t had time to fully put Annie through her paces, I did rush out to the shop to make a few test cuts, and compare this smaller grip with the one on the other Bad Axe 10″ DT saw. First blush: I’m delighted. My only real “complaint” in my June review was that Mark’s handle was sized for probably 95 percent of our readers (which is understandable). But now, he has a handle on the other 5 percent. My palms are only 2.75″ across, and for comparison, both Glen and Bob measure in at 3.5″ (no rude jokes please). You can see in the pictures at right and below (click on them to view them full size) that the black walnut handle (the new one) is a much better fit for me.

The small handle isn’t yet available on the Bad Axe Tool Works web site (nor is the brass back) – but if you have smaller hands (or know a woodworking youngster who’s earned an excellent tool), you might want to give Mark a call and see when he expects the new options to be available. Or give me a week or so and I’ll get that info for you – I’m going to give Annie a workout this weekend, and I’ll write more about her soon.

– Megan Fitzpatrick

“Build a Sawbench” following the techniques on Christopher Schwarz’s DVD, and you’ll quickly be wielding your saws like a pro.

9 thoughts on “‘Annie Oakley’ Comes to Town

  1. Joe Barry

    Megan: Doc was my third saw from Mark. The larger saws have handles that feel like they were custom made to fit. With my 4″ wide hands, I found the handle on Doc too small. The lower horn hit right on my pisiform bone (the one that sticks out on your wrist directly below the little finger)I sent it back to Mark and I don’t believe he had it more than 24 hours before it was on the way back with a larger handle. I am very pleased with the newer, larger, handle and especially pleased with both Mark’s product and service! What a pleasure in a world full of customer service lines that go overseas to someone who will tell you that “we no longer support that product”.

  2. Fred West

    Megan, Congrats on the new handle it has to feel much better. By the way, Ed from Medallion Toolworks will also fit your hand as he customizes every saw to the user. However, it is much slower because he is working a full time job. Plus he does not have the bling that Mark does. Mark is also very quick getting out his saws and they are super sharp. Fred

    1. Megan Fitzpatrick Post author

      Ed Paik’s work is very good. We tested premium carcase saws in the Autumn 2009 issue of Woodworking Magazine and the Medallion got good marks (fastest cut in the test, in fact), but we thought the handle was a little too thick, but that because each handle is custom made, this wasn’t a big deal (i.e. you can get a handle in whatever size you want). Ed very kindly made a new handle, out of beautiful roasted maple, custom-sized for me. In fact, he insisted on doing so. So the Medallion is my go-to carcase saw.

      1. Richard Dawson

        To restate the obvious: You get what you pay for. And it pays to patronize those who are passionate about what they do. At the risk of sounding too pedantic, this is a central theme in TATC, something I wish more people outside this circle understood.

        Richard

  3. JanetB

    I started thinking a few weeks ago that custom saw makers should start offering handles in S, M, and L sizes at no extra charge. And, just like that, Bad Axe comes through! I’m a woman with average size hands. I’ve been frustrated that all the saws I own or have tried out have handles that are too roomy.

  4. Richard Dawson

    Not bragging, just saying — 3.75″

    Seriously, though, if a saw is essentially an extension of the arm used for sawing, it should fit where saw and sawyer meet. I’ve often wondered just how valid comments regarding the fit of a saw handle in the reviewer’s hand are to me. I think not of much use.

    Maybe this is the beginning of something really good; pick a handle size when ordering a saw from you favorite purveyor and get a tool that fits you, not the reviewer or 95% of woodworkers.

    We have our favorite sized planes. In part this is a result of how large, small, heavy or light they feel in our hands. Saws should be no different.

    I like the idea.

    Richard

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