by James McConnell
Making a good handsaw is difficult; making great handsaws at a production level seems darned near impossible. The new D-8 handsaws (based on the Disston D8 and Simonds No. 72) from Bad Axe Tool Works somehow invoke all of the best things about the golden age of sawmaking in America while setting a new benchmark for quality.
Bad Axe offers the D-8 in 24″ and 26″ plate sizes in dedicated rip or crosscut configurations, and I had the pleasure of testing a 26″ ripsaw (5.5 ppi) and a 24″ crosscut saw (9 ppi). I put them straight to work breaking down 50′ of 6/4 Southern yellow pine and the ripsaw powered through 10′-long cuts with ease while the crosscut performed with precision and speed. Both tracked impeccably in both hard and softwoods.
These saws are taper ground, which means there is less metal in the plate toward the spine; this keeps the saw from binding in the cut. Heat introduced to metal during taper grinding can lead to a floppy saw plate, but thanks to a proprietary wet-grinding process, the Bad Axe saw plates feel as substantial and well-tensioned as my favorite vintage Disstons.
Starting at $375 each ($435 to $445 as shown), there are plenty of options to customize handles and hardware for an additional cost.
Let’s face it, at these prices, these saws aren’t for everyone. Unless you’re a committed hand tool user the cost may feel prohibitive. On the other hand they’re a bargain compared to a quality table saw, and with a little care you’ll be able to pass them down to your grandchildren. These saws are an investment, but for a hand-tool centered shop, they’re a good one.
From the February 2018 issue