Bad Axe Tool Works 12" Dovetail Saw, aka 'Stiletto': $275
(Delivery: 8-12 weeks)

Build Your saw and populate our queue with a $100 down payment * to be applied against the total cost of your order

Type Filing
Desired Pitch
Plate Gauge
Sawback Preference
Handle Species
Hand Size (how to measure)
Preferred Fasteners
Make Deposit
* Please note that your down payment is non-refundable. It may, however, be transferred within the Bad Axe product line if you wish to amend your order or change your order to a different saw.

docColt41The symbolic fighting knife for Special Operations Forces worldwide is the stiletto
--such as the WWII-era V-42 below, adopted by the joint US/Canadian 1st Special Service Force, aka 'The Devils Brigade.' The V-42 was the quintessential combat knife designed for thrusting, its length and stiffness capable of penerating even the toughest of barriers, yet light to wield with confidence and very comfortable to hold, melting into the palm of your hand with surety and purpose.

Likewise, the new Bad Axe 12" dedicated dovetail saw--our very own Stiletto for serious dovetailing requirements--will likely be the last dovetail saw you'll ever own. The additional two inches of throw, light weight, exquisite balance and results-oriented action will give you the kind of accuracy you want with unmatched precision. And because we size our handles, the Stiletto WILL fit your hand.

stiletto"I already own a dovetail saw--why would I want this one?"

Because you've never tried a 12" dedicated dovetail saw before, have you? You're going to love the way a longer toothline in a lighter, yet longer saw makes for a far more accurate cut with fewer chances of dithering off course—not to mention the biofeedback you get with that horsefly buzz running up your arm as the hammer-set toothline bites into the wood like a serrated razor. Put a Stiletto in your arsenal, and find out how easy it is to gang-cut dovetails up to 8/4 combined thickness, craft sliding dovetails, or simply minimizing your cut to just 3-4 strokes on 3/4 stock--you can even rip smaller tenon cheeks in thin stock. the Stiletto is in short a highly efficient tool that promotesng accuracy and efficiency with long-rifle precison.

Design Rationale:

  • Bottom line up front: We designed an open-handled, thin (.018) plate dovetail saw 12" long with just enough real estate below the back to facilitate longer, more precise dovetail cuts with fewer strokes to promote accuracy and efficiency with long rifle precision.
  • Traditional 1876 Wheeler-pattern open handle, available in standard quartersawn white oak, or optional QS cherry, QS walnut, & QS hard maple. Three sizes--small, regular and large--will fit virtually any hand. Read more about how we make and finish our handles.
  • Traditional folded sawback finished in gunsmith-blued black-oxided carbon steel, or optional bright nickel-plated and copper-plated steel. Read more about this critical component for any backsaw, and why Bad Axe promotes the enduring traditional folded sawback over commonplace static-backed saws that that disallow retensioning the toothline with heavy use.
  • Fasteners available in standard brass or optional black-oxided, niter-blued, bright nickel-plated, or copper-plated steel.
  • Plate Thickness, Length and Depth: 1 3/4" under the back at the heel, canting to 1 5/8" at the toe for the .018 plate. The .015 plate cants from 1.5/8" to 1 1/2". The shallower, longer 12" plate for both thicknesses enhance rigidity while at the same time spreading cut friction along a longer path, greatly reducing plate distortion due to heat buildup in thin plates.
  • Swedish Spring Steel .018 or .015 sawplates are hammer-set & sharpened at 15 and 16 ppi respectively. Read more about how Bad Axe's hammer-setting technique and obsessive dedication to sharpening excellence here.
  • Innovative Design:My good friend and acclaimed Canadian unplugged woodworker Tom Fidgen and I have kicked around the notion of a longer dovetail saw for the past several years—toma subject that never failed to populate the blizzard of emails we’veexchanged when discussing accuracy of cut and why on Earth to begin with dovetail saws have historically always been so danged. short. Sub-par. Limited! The more I thought about these discussions, the more I realized that longer is better. It’s why a long rifle shoots more accurately than a carbine, for instance. The extra rifling a longer rifle barrel  spins the round it discharges is akin to how Aaron Rogers’ longer reach wallops an accurately-thrown ball deep, deep, deep into Viking territory. Now for some of the more practical details.
  • And then there's the Stiletto's phenominal cutting action. . . . About the closest thing I can equate the action to is when I bought Ford’s redesigned F150 with the ecoboost engine a few years ago. They’d just come out on the market, and I was toodling around the local country roads getting used to a truck significantly larger than the Toyota Tacoma I’d been driving for the previous decade—and it was time to pass the slowpoke ahead of me. I had just pressed the pedal toward the floor—wasn’t even halfway there—and felt my head snap back against the headrest, my eyes getting wide, and Yvonne yelling ‘Slow down!!!’
So apart from Mark's hyperbole. . . .

"Okay—the Stiletto is not really a fast truck with a turbo-charged V6, but it does have the kind of smooth, positive action I like most in a well-tuned toothline: fast and precise. We're told often that our saws cut like they’re on rails—you have our dedication to the hammer-set method of setting teeth to thank for that—but think about it: this design presents less metal under the hood in depth, but makes up the heat-sink differential by adding two more inches to the toothline in length. The result? An incredibly rigid plate with extra throw that won’t quail before thicknesses more than a paltry half-inch. Have us file it at 15 ppi rip for the .018-gauge plate and you’ll wonder why anyone ever made a dovetail saw less than 10 inches. Ever. You’ll get the same action with the .015-gauge plate filed 16 ppi, only with an even thinner kerf."

~ Mark's typical summation at the trade shows why longer is better for dovetailing.


Hand Measurement

Sizing Handles:
Here's my hand: it measures about 3 3/4" across. That's what I'm calling size regular, and it will work with a range from 3 5/8" and start getting tight at 3 7/8." Bigger hands just under 4" and on up will require the size Large handle. Going the opposite direction, if the span of your hand measures 3 1/2" and below, then we're looking at a size small handle.

(return to sizing menu)


"This will be my first dovetail saw, and you present a lot of choices--which configuration do you recommend?" Bottom line up front: I personally lean toward the .018 gauge plate filed 15 ppi rip, followed by choice of wood species, fasteners and sawback finish per your personal taste.

Which plate gauge do I want?

It’s all in the manner of your woodworking style, or how robust your joinery requirements are. If your dovetailing falls primarily between ¼” up to 4/4” thick, then consider the .015-gauge plate filed 16 ppi . . . and balance that choice against your personality as well. If you like taking things a little slow, prefer classical music over rock, and reach for a fine Bordeaux rather than jack and coke, I’d lean toward the .015-gauge plate. Remember--this is a refined plate, only to be used in the refined world of 4/4 and below. More than that, and you're asking too much of a saw with practically no heat sink.

If your stock falls between ¼” up to 6/4”, then you’re better off with the .018-gauge plate filed 15 ppi, a far more flexible and durable plate overall. I personally prefer this gauge, because I like a more robust plate with the way I work wood. And besides--.018-gauge is incredibly thin to begin with. This plate is more akin to a Stevie Ray Vaughan track—aggressive, precise, and a bit on the edge. You want to rock the blues with a shot of tequila, yet reel it back for slow dancing mellowed with Merlot whenever you want—then .018-gauge is for you.

So there you have it: Winston Marsalis vice David Gilmour. Kenny G. vice Stevie Ray Vaughan. You decide.

The furniture-maker's perfect brace of saws: a Bad Axe Stiletto DT Saw and Bayonet Precision Carcase Saw

Like Brass on your saws? Then you're really going to like our new Titanium Nitride-plated sawbacks.

Have you purchased enough brass-backed saws already to know that they just don't age that well? It's a great look, but it doesn't take long for tarnish to set in, and over time a brass-backed saw deforms with hard use, wreaking havoc on your toothline. But it's traditional, right? And conveys a traditional, warm look we all like to see.

But form only goes so far before substance sets in. You very seldom see brass-backed saws longer than 12" or 14", because brass just isn't a strong enough an alloy for larger saws. Steel on the other hand presents superior strength and durability. So--we at Bad Axe made the hard choice a couple of years ago to phase brass out of our product line, since it's difficult to work with (it has a 'springy' quality to it), doesn't form well, tarnishes, and at the end of the day, just doesn't measure up to carbon steel, which can take a variety of platings for aethetic purposes.

Enter Titanium Nitride (TiN). Long a favored finish for high-end firearms, titanium nitride presents stellar corrosion and wear-resistance, Titanium-Nitride hits the sweet spot when it comes to form following function. The tone falls between the look you get between brass and bronze, so it certainly scratches that aethetic itch you get when wishing you had a little more brass love in the Bad Axe world. And the really cool thing about it? We can apply Titanium Nitride on our largest sawbacks, where the strength and durability of a steel-backed saw is paramount.

So what are you getting for the $75 upcharge? It's obviously not cheap--because it's not a cheap plating process for us to apply. But what you get is corrosion and wear resistance, along with that deep, brass/bronze look that retains its golden lustre over time. Give it a shot--this is a drop-dead gorgeous plating that will retain its deep, rich look for the generations to come.


All Bad Axe Tool Works Saws are highly customizable, and Feature the Following:

  • Highly-figured 19th-century patterned white oak handles, also available in cherry, walnut and hard maple.
  • Three handle sizes available: Small, Regular & Large.
  • Flush-face slotted sawbolts/nuts in brass or carbon steel finished in optional black-oxide or niter-blue with 13/16" deep-dish decorative medallion.
  • Traditional Folded Carbon Steel sawback.
  • Standard black-oxided or optional titanium-nitrided (TiN)-plated finish on saw backs.
  • Premium-grade Swedish Spring Steel Sawplates, RC50-52.
  • Traditional hammer-set toothline, sharpened to joint.
  • Bad Axe saw re-sharpening rate $25 nominal fee.
  • Lifetime guarantee against all material defects.

Learn more about our material choices and saw design rationale.

Other Top Selling Bad Axe Saws and Accessories: