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Crosscut saw to Rip wood?

A cross cut saw that can rip a 36", 2" thick plank of walnut? Only from Bad Axe Tool Works.

So earlier this week I was working away in the wood shop and dimensioning some big planks of 2″ walnut for the second project in my book. I had just finished cross cutting the 13″ wide behemoth when my son yelled down with some pertinent information about a vomit flavored jelly bean he was testing!?! Anyhow, I set up the plank and accidentally grabbed my Disston crosscut saw and started ripping the wood. “Ripping with a cross cut saw you say?” Impossible. Yes, that’s the general consensus but this particular crosscut saw was sharpened by Mark Harrell at Bad Axe Tool Works and for some crazy, almost magical reason, it’s extremely capable when ripping wood as well. Go figure.

I always told students that you can cross cut wood with a rip saw but ripping wood with a cross cut saw is a definite no-no. Well, I’d better revise that statement. You can cross cut wood with a rip saw ( leaves a jagged edge but works just fine ) but ripping wood with a cross cut saw seems to only work well with a saw sharpened by one of our modern day masters. I tried to rip wood before using other cross cut saws and they failed miserably. Slow going- no where fast. This time I went through this 2″ walnut that was about 36″ long in no time at all. Mind boggling information eh?

So, the moral of the story?

I’m not really sure. Maybe this- if you only want to buy one saw? Get a rip saw to tackle both operations -OR- get a cross cut saw from Bad Axe! ( I hear that he’s working on panel saws this year!!) hmm…..not that I need one.  ; )



  1. Posted by Rudy Desjardins on Jan 18th, 2012

    How did you get Mark to file the saw? I know he takes pride in filing for customer’s specific needs, and he talks about his ‘hybrid filing’… perhaps this saw doesn’t have a full blown ‘traditional’ crosscut profile but rather something more in the middle/closer to a rip? Is the fleam angle fairly low, for a crosscut saw? I’m just guessing here – I’m still too much of a rookie when it comes to joinery/too poor to afford a Bad Axe saw, so I can’t speak from experience… *yet* ;)

    Interesting post!

  2. Posted by tom on Jan 18th, 2012

    thanks for the comments. This is one of Mark Vintage saws he sells on his website. I bought it last summer and I’m really not sure how he filed it. It must be like you said with his ‘hubrid filing’ like he does with his Jack Saws.
    What ever he did I’m liking it!

  3. Posted by Mark on Jan 18th, 2012

    Interesting. I’ve had the exact same experience with a vintage crosscut I bought from him as well. He’s a master all right.

  4. Posted by Joe McGlynn on Jan 20th, 2012

    I have 3 old saws that have been sharpened by Mark. I also have very little experience in hand sawing. I had to crosscut both ends of my workbench top, and rip it to width. It’s 5″ thick doug fir. It was painless. The saws cut straight and tracked well. It wasn’t even tiring, loads easier than using my jointer plane.

    I didn’t know Mark was working on panel saws, I’m already avoiding his website because his Roubo tenon saw is calling my name.


  5. Posted by Andy Spicer on Jan 20th, 2012

    Tom, you gonna let us have a full look at the new sawbench? I’m days away from building a new one and would love to see what you ended up with.

  6. Posted by tom on Jan 20th, 2012

    Sorry Andy- the vault is sealed until the new book comes out-;)

    if you look you may find a shot of a similar design I made last year!

    thanks for the comment.

  7. Posted by Andy Spicer on Jan 20th, 2012

    :) fair enough. Can’t blame a guy for trying! You may have posted this somewhere and I didn’t see it, what’s the eta on the new book?

  8. Posted by tom on Jan 21st, 2012

    Thanks Andy-
    The new book is due out Dec. 2012.

  9. Posted by Steve Bennett on Jun 12th, 2012

    Looking forward to reading it, hope it’s coming along as nicely as a Bad Axe saw thru Walnut!!

  10. Posted by Joe Freeman on Apr 21st, 2014

    Interesting. I’ve always found a cross-cut will rip, albeit inefficiently, whereas a rip-saw is hopeless across the grain. It may SMASH its way through but won’t really cut. Obviously down to the qualities of each saw.

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