Mark Harrell, Bad Axe Tool Works

1. What is the #1 most played song on your ipod/audio device of choice?


Here are two: Ramble On (Led Zeppelin) and Sheep (Pink Floyd), not necessarily in that order. I’m a child of the ‘70s.

 2. What is your favorite food?


Top Sirloin, grilled precisely at 145 degrees with perfect hatch marks. Best served with potatoes au grautin, fresh asparagus and a Bordeaux.

 3. Who is your celebrity twin?


David Lee Roth. We both lost our hair at about the same rate.

 4. When you were five, what did you want to be when you grew up?


A fighter pilot.

 5. If you could live in any time period in history or future, when
    would it be and why?


The present. Because I’m walking this Earth. . . right. . . . now.

 6. Who is your role model, and why?


Teddy Roosevelt. He was fearless.

 7. What is your “day job?” What does a day in your life look like?


Making the best damn saws on the planet. That’s my day job, and I LIKE it.

 8. When you aren’t working or making stuff, what do you love to do?


Timber-framing my dream shop. But until that happens, my annual Roubo bench build.

    What do you hate to do?


Painting and sheet-rocking. J

 9. What would your dream life look like? How do you see your life
    moving towards that dream in the next year? The next five years?


See response to question no. 8.

10. What has your greatest success in life been so far? Or, what does
    "success" look like for you and when will you have achieved it?


Watching my children evolve and rising to the challenge every step of the way.

11. Was there a mentor/inspiration that taught or guided you to become a
    maker? Or what was the catalyst that lead you to start making stuff?


No one taught me how to build—all that was self-taught. But I will say that the ethos I bring to the table was as a direct result of the senior NCOs in Special Forces who taught this very young Captain new to the trade that excellence was/is never an optional approach toward anything.

12. What’s the coolest thing you have ever made?


My off-grid, timber-framed, strawbale insulated (and plastered) home with a 200 square foot graywater greenhouse, composting toilet, superefficient appliances, water ram, raised beds and earth-bermed storage space. Both Earth First! and the NRA would have approved.

13. How long have you been seriously pursuing making stuff and
    perfecting your craft?


For about 16 years now, beginning with the period shortly before the answer I gave in question no. 12.

14. When do you have your best ideas? What inspires them?


My wife Yvonne and I have a deal. She cooks, and I do the dishes. I hate doing the f-ing dishes, but her cooking is worth it. I therefore have my best ideas while doing the dishes.

15. Who are some of your favorite makers?


Thomas Lie-Nielsen—he led the way. Tom Fidgen—he’s the soul of the industry. Chris Schwarz and Roy Underhill for being the Pied Pipers who inspired an entire market. And at the top of the list—my wife Yvonne, who though she does not make or sharpen saws, helped me build Bad Axe through her astonishing fiscal and business acumen.

16. Who is your biggest fan?


My son and daughters. They humble me.

17. What brings you the most joy? What gets you really excited? What
    makes you laugh?


My children. They excite me. Sometimes there is laughter involved. I try to expand upon the latter.

18. What do you wish someone told you when you first got started making
    stuff? (Or maybe someone did tell you and you wish you had listened)?


Measure twice, cut once. (if only I had listened. . . . .)

19. Any other advice for people wanting to follow in your footsteps?


“Better to have tried and failed, than to be counted upon those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

--Theodore Roosevelt

Posted on November 7, 2014 .