Fun with hand saws #1: Bad Axe VS. Lie-Nielsen VS. Veritas

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Blog entry by JeremyPringle posted 04-25-2012 05:35 PM 30419 reads 2 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Fun with hand saws series Part 2: Sharpening LN »

So this is my first tool test/comparison. I am putting my LN progressive pitch VS. my friends Veritas 14tpi VS. other friends Bad Axe 15tpi.

Before jumping into using the tools, let’s introduce them. First my LN progressive pitch. The saw plate is 9” long, 1 5/8” depth of cut the plate is 0.020” thick with a kerf of 0.026”. The major difference is this saw has 16tpi at the toe and progressively gets more aggressive at the back where it is 9tpi. The saw come’s hand filed and set. Brass saw back with a figured maple handle.

The Veritas saw has 14tpi, 9” worth of teeth with a cutting depth of 1 9/16”. The saw plate is 0.020” thick and leaves a kerf of 0.026”, same as the LN. The website does not say, but I am thinking that the saw is machine filed and set, there are identical markings on each tooth that would suggest this to be the case, but again I am just speculating. As you may already know, the Veritas saw backs are made from stainless steel powder, glass fiber and a polymer resin. If you think it looks cheap, you are wrong, this thing is solid, has some weight to it. It like it. The handle is bubinga.

Bad Axe. This is an interesting saw, as there were some custom things done to this saw by the makers at the request of my friend, I do not have all the specifics. But the saw has a plate 10”, depth of cut is 2”, 15tpi and the saw plate is 0.018” thick. If I were guessing at 0.003” set on each side that leaves a kerf of 0.024”. This is thinner than both the LN and LV. This saw was hand filed and set, and worthy of note, this saw has a canted saw plate. Because when you order one of these saws there are lots of options, from the colour of the nuts, the handle size and species, saw back material, each one is going to be different. This one happens to have black oxide carbon steel (?) back and a mesquite handle. I love the way this looks.

Now to start using the saws. I am using some ¾ cherry for my material in this comparison. First test is the ease of starting a cut. I marked ten lines and made ten test starts with each saw and went down about ¼. When starting a cut I do a little nibble with the toe of the saw (about the first inch worth of teeth). Because the LN has 16tpi at the toe, this saw is very easy to start a kerf with. But I would not say the easiest. I would say the LN and the Bad Axe were pretty even on this. The Veritas was not as easy, not saying it was not easy, just not AS easy. I did find the Veritas had a tendency to catch a little bit, I do not have an explanation for this. I only have suspicions, and I suspect that it just might have a different feel because it is machine filed? After the first two ‘catches’ I made a slight adjust in my grip and I did not catch again.

Next was to see how aggressive/fast each saw was. I made a line 1” down and then made 5 cuts to the line. I counted the number of strokes and then averaged them out. I was quite surprised with the results. LN was 12. Veritas was 8, and Bad Axe was 7.5. Some interesting things to note with this test. The Bad Axe has a canted saw plate, the plate is also thinner and longer, all of this accounts for a fast cut, I was expecting that. What I was not expecting was that the LN was 4 strokes slower than the other two. I think I might have an explanation for this though. The BA and V have a consistent tooth patter over the whole plate, the LN does not. What I found with the LN was that when I was about ¾ through a stroke, the saw would catch and stop, and after a few strokes I found that it always stopped in the same place, at the same tooth (NO, the saw plate is not kinked). Could it have something to do with the teeth becoming TOO aggressive? And thus becoming harder to push through the material? It could be an explanation. It makes sense to me. (I did adjust my grip on a separate piece of wood and made a few cuts to see if I could make a simple adjustment with my grip to get full use, and I found that to get the saw to go past that point I had to put quite a bit more effort into the stroke and it made it quite difficult.) No matter the cause, the effect is simple. ¾ of the teeth being used over the course of 12 strokes easily accounts for the 3-4 extra strokes needed to get to the same point, where the other two saws were getting full strokes.

To be as fair as possible in this test as well…. the Bad Axe and the Veritas a both quite new, and still really sharp. My LN is getting close to three years and I have used it… a LOT! So… I am guessing that I should sharpen it. This small thing is likely a large contributing factor in how slow it cut. I fully believe that if this saw was as sharp as the other two, it would have cut with similar stroke counts.

Once I had done all my test cuts, I looked at the pieces of wood and checked to see if there was any real difference in the appearance. None. I repeat, there was NO noticable difference in the end product. All three saws achived the same result.

Bad Axe. Everything about this saw screams awesome! I love the size, the weight, the handle is comfortable. I can easily say that this is the nicest saw that I have ever used. This comes in at somewhere between $200-300.

LN. I really like the classic brass back and the shape of the handle, it has classic curves and it s really nice figured maple. The progressive pitch does really work, the toe makes starting the cut really easy and it does cut aggressively. (just not mine, as said before, it needs to be sharpened). I paid 135? USD for this saw.

Veritas. With the new technology for the spine, and the dark bubinga handle, I like the way it looks. I really feel that once you have used this saw, and gotten a good feel for it, you can do everything the more expensive saws do. And at $65, you cannot go wrong.

Conclusion: With the BA being around 4x the Veritas, and the LN somewhere in between, you might be thinking that it’s not fair to test the saws from such a huge price range. But I think it is fair. Here’s why, a saw is a saw is a saw, except when it’s not. I am not talking about big box store saws, they suck. I’m talking about your ‘premium’ saws. Saws that were made to be used seriously. Just because the Veritas is less expensive, that does not mean it is not a ‘premium’ saw, it is. I have no qualms about throwing the Veritas against the other makers. It really does belong in this group of saws that are much more expensive.

There was nothing on any of the saws that I did not like. There were some things that I liked more, and those things come with a price tag. So it all comes down to how much you want to spend.

So whats next for me? Well, step one is sharpen my saw!


14 comments so far

View Bertha's profile


13529 posts in 2746 days

#1 posted 04-25-2012 05:45 PM

That BadAxe is sweeeeeet! The LN is pretty handsome, too. The Veritas, well…. This is one of the best handsaw reviews I’ve read in a very long time. I think I’m digging your vibe and I agree that the price tag does not a good tool make by default. All three of these are nicer than what I own. I use throwaway dozukis for most of my work. Like any tool though, I like looking at the nice ones:)

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View dbray45's profile


3320 posts in 2830 days

#2 posted 04-25-2012 06:41 PM

Jeremy – There is a difference between the BA saw and the Veritas saw (which I have both the rip and crosscut). What you say about how they cut and the comparisons that you make are very good – there is one thing that I have found and thought it was in my head but your pictures tell the story – the angle of the totes are different. The Veritas has not been comfortable for me when I am sitting. I have an old dovetail saw (no name on it) that has the angle of the BA saw – and that is comforable for me. To use the Veritas saws, I have to stand while cutting dovetails.

One thing to note – these really thin blades and high tooth count saws are not real good with stock over 1/2” – just sayin -

-- David in Damascus, MD

View JeremyPringle's profile


321 posts in 2527 days

#3 posted 04-25-2012 07:40 PM

David: very intersting note you made, I did not notice the difference in the angles until you mentioned it. But I admit, I have never cut a DT while sitting.

As to your comment about these saws not being good for material over 1/2, I disagree. I have never had an issue cutting in thicker stock.

View ShaneA's profile


6971 posts in 2652 days

#4 posted 04-25-2012 07:51 PM

Thanks for posting! I look forqward to acquiring one or three of these bad boys.

View thedude50's profile


3603 posts in 2531 days

#5 posted 04-25-2012 09:44 PM

Thanks for the review I like the testing you did but I think I would ask you to rank the saws 1-3 so we know how the review came out. I know Ba has a huge wait time and a good reputation. I also know I like the LN as I own two of them. I did not go with the progressive plate i went with the 15 tpi configuration. I am able to cut stock easily and quickly or 2” and thicker no problem and my saws are sharp .The rip saw is harder to start than the crosscut saw and they are wonderful tiger maple totes. I love my saw s that said I tend to use my antique saws the most. i have a sweet Simmonds dovetail saw that cuts twice as good as my ln and I also have a disston That i also prefer the tote just feels better than the LN. I don’t know if I will buy a veritas or a BA I am thinking of buying a nice saw kit from Gramercy it is a lovely kit and the price is good. I want a holly wood tote that stuff looks awesome and I think i will also get a set from Rob Cosman sash saw and dovetail saw who ever said saws were not as addictive as hand planes was wrong great review thanks for taking the time I also want to know how much your saw speed changes once you sharpen the saw

-- Please check out my new stores and

View tirebob's profile


134 posts in 2907 days

#6 posted 04-25-2012 09:54 PM

Bad Axe… Phhhhtttttt! Who would want one of THOSE??? I would rather save the money by spending hours on e-bay finding an old Disston, getting it shipped to me, spend a bunch of hours straightening the saw plate, a bunch more cleaning it up and a bunch more still filing and sharpening the teeth. That’s what a real woodworker would do…

Kidding! I love that saw!

View JeremyPringle's profile


321 posts in 2527 days

#7 posted 04-25-2012 11:40 PM

Dude, I choose not to rate the saws from 1-3. Reason being, all three saws are great choices, and depending on financial situation, I would not hesistate to buy any one of them. I plan on sharpening my LN in the very near future and I will post about it.

View antkn33's profile


55 posts in 3496 days

#8 posted 04-25-2012 11:55 PM

Look… no doubt the Bad Axe is a an outstanding saw. But for me, the bottom line is I have seen people cut dovetails with a $50 Japanese saw that are so air tight you would swear they are machine cut.
So for me, it simply isn’t worth it to spend that much on a saw. But, that’s what makes the world go around… everyone is different.

View molan's profile


142 posts in 2275 days

#9 posted 04-26-2012 02:13 AM

Good comparison!
I currently have the veritas saw and have to say I love it. It works great!
But who wouldn’t want a badass saw if you had the money!

View lysdexic's profile


5256 posts in 2676 days

#10 posted 04-26-2012 02:19 AM

Very timely review. I took delivery on a BA Carcase x-cut saw a few weeks ago and very happy with it. I just let go of a Veritas DT saw. The difference in the kerf is noticable. Now that the V saw is gone I may go with the LN saw.

Again, very timely review. I appreciate you taking the time.


-- "It's only wood. Use it." - Smitty || Instagram - out_of_focus1.618

View JeremyPringle's profile


321 posts in 2527 days

#11 posted 04-26-2012 03:38 AM

Scott, if you have sawing experiance and are not worried about kinking your saw plate, check out the thin kerf saws. They saw really nice and are incredibly fast. Just not something that I would suggest for someone just getting started.

View dbray45's profile


3320 posts in 2830 days

#12 posted 04-26-2012 11:47 AM

Jeremy – Could be a “me” thing. I refurbed an old dovetail saw that has a thicker blade and gave it a touch more set and it goes through 3/4” stock like butter where the Veritas binds a bit. Again, probably a me thing, I’ll be working on this soon – making drawers for a cabinet.

-- David in Damascus, MD

View JeremyPringle's profile


321 posts in 2527 days

#13 posted 04-26-2012 01:19 PM

David, the thicker the plate and the more set you have… whats you tpi count? To me it sounds like you have set your saw to be more aggessive, so it is going to cut faster. I have heard that the Veritas can be catchy when its new, but it should get better after its ‘broken in’. With more use, the burrs that are created during the sharpening stage will dissapear. You can speed this up by taking say, a 1000 grit stone (slip stone) and really gently running it along the side of the teeth from back to front, once on both sides. If that does not work, then try using some wax (not beeswax) and rubbing some on the saw plate (should be doing this anyways). Again, if that does not work then I would suggest checking your sawing mechanics to make sure your arm is not twisting in the stroke. If your arm is twisting it will cause a bind, and the thinner the blade the more exaggerated it is.

One thing I have forgotten to ask, do you have the 20tpi or the 14tpi? If you have the 20, then yes, I would not be using it on anything larger than 1/2 either.


View dbray45's profile


3320 posts in 2830 days

#14 posted 04-26-2012 02:22 PM

I think its the 20. The old saw varies between 12 – 18 tpi – kind of depends which inch you count. It was this way when I bought it, and sharpened it as it was. When I got it there was no set and the blade was is bad shape – straightened it out and sharpened it and it works really nice on the thicker material, too aggressive on thinner stock.

The Veritas issues I have are probably all in the angles. I bebur the teeth with a 6000 grit stone, 1000 is just too course for my liking but thanks.

-- David in Damascus, MD

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