One of the downsides (ok, let’s be honest, the only downside) to writing tool reviews for a magazine is keeping mum about what you’ve written until it’s in print. Most of the time this isn’t terribly difficult, but there are certainly times when you want to shout from the mountain tops of Instagram about how mind-blowing a tool is and you just have to wait.
A few months ago I was very pleased to take delivery of not one, but two Bad Axe saws. The new Bayonet carcase saw, which you can read about in the upcoming issue of Popular Woodworking here, and a tricked out version of the Stiletto dovetail saw. I was only asked to review the Bayonet for the magazine, but Mark wanted me to experience it in tandem with the Stiletto because he feels that they compliment one another well (and they do).
The Bayonet is extraordinary. I am admittedly partial to carcase saws over sash saws and the like, and to me this is the archetypal carcase saw – the platonic “form” for everything a good bench saw should be. I knew as soon as I held it in my hand that I would be sending Mark a check because I would never be able to bring myself to pack it up send it back. It has become the saw I reach for 80% of the time I need a backsaw. (The other 20% being the times I need a dovetail or larger tenon saw)
I won’t say much more about it. I stand by the review.
The Stiletto is also a great saw. It came decked out with a little more bling than I would have chosen, but maybe that’s the point. Just like when you have that one outfit you put on when you really mean business, the Stiletto is dressed to come out and play.
I’ve been able to compare the Stiletto to offerings from Vertias and Lie-Nielsen (both excellent saws) and it really is in a different class than most saws on the market. It starts smoothly and tracks effortlessly. I’ve used it on a variety of tasks (not all dovetails) and it performed equally well on walnut desk drawers and Eastern white pine carcase joinery.
The .018 sawplate (same as the Bayonet) is, in my opinion, the perfect thickness for this sort of saw. It’s thin enough to blast through dovetails, but thick enough that you feel confident you’re not going to accidentally kink it on other joinery tasks (something I’m not always 100% sure about with my .015 thin plate Lie-Nielsen)
If I’m being honest, I know that the primary selling feature of the Stiletto is the extra length, but I am of two minds about this. On one hand, it is well suited to gang-cutting dovetails (which I almost always do) and it is also certainly capable of pulling this off in anything up to 4/4 material (8/4 combined) with ease. It also makes for fewer strokes and less time in any one kerf. In this way it inspires the same confidence that the Bayonet imparts.
However, unlike the Bayonet, which feels perfectly balanced in my hand, the extended plate of the Stiletto at first felt a little toe-heavy for me. It may be because I start my dovetail kerfs on the near side and level out. It may be just that I have come to expect the weight and response of shorter saws. Either way it took my wrist a while to find the natural balance point of the saw. This is easier in 3/4″ or greater stock. I still prefer my thin plate Lie-Nielsen for material that is 5/8″ or thinner.
Honestly I’m nitpicking here. I sent Mark a check for the Stiletto too.
One thing that was exceptional about both saws is the way that they fit in my hand. Mark took the time and care to size the handle for my larger hand and even adjust the plate depth slightly to balance each saw.
It’s hard not to sound like a fanboy when writing about these saws. I approached them with a very critical eye, but Mark is meticulous in his work and the saws deliver exactly what he promises of them. On top of the dynamic duo above I ended up ordering a large tenon saw as well to complete the holy trinity of Western backsaws. I know I blew the tool budget for the foreseeable future there, but the way I look at it, I probably just bought the last back saws I’ll ever need.