English Square redux

The first english square I attempted didn’t turn out too well.  The problem was that I cut all the half laps joints before I glued the two legs together, and I didn’t glue it *exactly* in the same position as it was when I marked everything out. So the stretcher was in a little bit of tension when fitting it. This caused the legs to bow, which caused me to overreact with the no8, and it quickly became a wall decoration.

I decided to make a batch of them.. I figured they would make good christmas presents, but obviously didn’t finish them in time. Maybe they will make good 4th of July presents.

Here’s the first one off the production line. I’m not going to go into construction details, I believe I’m exactly the 32,533 person to build one of these in the past year.

I think it came out ok.  All this walnut came from the same tree, but I could have matched it a little better.

– Matt

A Bad Axe Restoration

After spending a couple an hour or so cutting paper thin slices of wood with my newly restored miter saw, I sent Mark @ bad axe toolworks an email thanking him for doing such a nice job. Mark promptly replied (like always), informing me that it wasn’t actually him who had restored and sharpened my saw!!  WHAT?!  But it still cut so well!  How could anyone else have done such a good job?

Well, that mysterious sharpening-savant is Phil Jones, who joined Mark a couple months back at Bad Axe. Phil is an Army guy (like Mark), and has a background in Aviation mechanics. Which I assume means that he’s spent a long time working on things a lot more complicated than saws.

Mark sent me an email detailing all that they did for my saw; I hope he doesn’t mind, but I’m just going to paste the email here, he explains things a lot better then I.


Your saw required retoothing. There are two ways of doing this; one is via Foley retoother, an automated punch and die process that completely establishes a brand new toothline. It also eats up between 1/8” and ¼” of real estate, so this is a retoothing by last resort. The other (preferred) method is to retooth with different kind of machine and by hand. We do this with an Acme Handsaw filer, which mechanically gives us a consistent rake, bevel and gullet; however, the ability to crowd a larger tooth to bring it in symmetry with a smaller tooth, and the amount of depth pressure as the file slides through the gullet is controlled entirely by hand.

Setting follows the retoothing procedure, and we do this via hand or foot-operated trip-hammer set (the most accurate form of setting).

Then we lightly joint the new toothline.

And that’s followed by a finesse sharpening entirely by hand. This is what you’re seeing in the shot of Phil using the Acme Handsaw Vise with it’s 28” span. Seriously cool piece of gear.

After exhaustive test-cutting to ensure that there is just the right about of set, that the saw cuts with no drift, and that every trooper on the firing line is pulling the trigger (all the teeth are the same height), the saw is ready to box up and ship.

So—this is not your average mechanical retooth and run through a Foley automatic saw sharpening machine, you find done on so many vintage saws (you can always tell when this has been done by the bow along the entire toothline that wasn’t hammer-smithed back into true). Ours is an involved process that usually takes about two hours to do right, sometimes three.

At any rate, this is the level of work Phil did to your miter saw, and I felt that a bit of the story and the man behind it was due. Phil has started up his own company under Bad Axe training and sponsorship, and is standing by for orders. Just go to the ‘Sawvival’ guy.

– Mark


Here’s a picture of Phil Jones doing work.

And here are a couple more pictures of my saw:

And a nice, clean cross cut:

And let me just say, the level of customer service you get with Bad Axe is out of this world.  I’ve only got one Mark’s “new” saws (I ordered one of his 16” tenon saws way back when that was all he offered), but it is one of my favorite tools in the shop. I’ve ordered tools from other custom makers, and Mark provides communication, feedback, and advice that is far beyond what you get anywhere else.

Hopefully I’ll be able to order some more saws from him in the near future… I probably drool over his saws more than most people (a stainless steel backed “doc holiday” w/cherry tote is steadily working it’s way to the top of my “buy” list).

Anyways, thanks again Mark!  And a big thanks to Phil Jones for doing outstanding work on my miter saw.

– Matt