What An Amazing Experience!

Several years ago I left my job as a surgical technologist and stepped into the field of academia. I went to work at an area technical college and taught surgical technology, both in the classroom and on the clinical site. As I was leaving the OR, many people repeated an old line, "You know, those who can't do the job, teach the job."

After I had a while to think about those exchanges, I came to realize how much of an asshole thing that is to say. I spent two years teaching a job that I have been successful at before, and once I left teaching and returned to the OR's, I maintained my abilities and mastery. Consequently I left because I found I could make the same salary and work less total hours, thus more time with my wife and children.

Never the less, I just spent three days witnessing that old asshole line be proven wrong, again. Thanks to proximity and friendship I was invited to Mark Harrell's new Bad Axe Tool Works shop to learn some techniques in saw sharpening and assembly. Mark's saws are fantastic and everyone knows that, (If you didn't know that you can read what I wrote about them HERE, and HERE, and HERE and if you don't believe me, you can look almost anywhere else where luddites toil and type)

And Yes Virginia, he can teach saw sharpening too.

I don't want to dive into specifics, this post would read like the Old Testament if I tried to recap two days of Mark's patient instruction, followed by the open house ceremony for his new shop. Instead let me hit the highlights.

1. "New Friends" For me getting to meet a couple of Mark's regular "Bad Axe Commandos" and fellow sawdust swingers and talk shop, wood, and saws for three days was incredible. In addition getting to know the guys who work for Mark in the shop was equally enjoyable. A great group of people to hang out with.

2. "Walk like an Egyptian" is a great mnemonic for keeping track of where you need to drop the file in your saw line.

3. "Brush the file, assess the facet you made, and follow through on that muscle memory" helps you get the actual sharpening correct, No wood block guides, no paper with lines to hypnotize you. Just learning what the tooth should look like, and using your eyes and your file to make it so. It sounds intimidating I know, but like many things, it's simpler than you think, maybe too simple.

4. The "Acme Automatic Saw Filing Machine" is incredibly @#$%ing cool. Mark let me play a while on this beast of a toy and man did I have fun. It makes me want to get one for myself.

If you are sorry you missed a good time. If you're feeling left out in the cold with no saw love to light your candle. If you too want to have a chance to learn to sharpen saws in a Bad Axe way, then despair not. Mark intends to turn this experiment into a regular class, and teach it as often as four times a year. As of right now I believe he's planning the first paid classes for June of this year. Keep an eye on his website Bad Axe Tool Works for future news, or better yet follow him on FaceBook and get updated regularly on what he's up to.

Thank you Mark for a great experience.

Ratione et Passionis


  1. It's all true. I was there, another very lucky woodworker.
    Al Flinck

  2. Are you sure you were there Al? I only remember Mark and Derek and myself. I'll have to check my pictures again. It was great to meet you Derek. I'll keep in touch and follow along the blog. Doug


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