Wadkin Dimension Saw: Resurrection (Phase I), Part II

For Post I in this series, click here.

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I’ve been too engrossed with project work to be able to make it back up to Rees shop in NH, however he has made a lot of progress on the machining work. In fact, the work is complete after nearly 40 hours. I asked him to take some pictures as he went and he kindly obliged.

The sliding table’s upper surface was one of the first things Rees tackled, and just a few passes with the planer shows the condition of the surface quite well:

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The table was bowed up in exactly the last place where I could tolerate it, right next to the saw blade when ripping stock.

Just like hand-planing a piece of wood, you can reach a point where most of the surface is done, but the ends remain low and many passes are yet required to flatten things out:

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After about 0.023″ (0.6mm) had been sliced off, there was at last a flat table top:

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A bit more than that had to come off the underside of the table, along the runs where the linear rail assemblies are fastened. All in all, over 0.05″ (nearly 1/16″) was removed in correcting the surfaces, which was about the degree that things appeared out of whack with the table at my shop when it was on the machine.

Curiously, one of the underside rail supports was dead straight until the last 12″, where it veered off of parallel with the other rail by 0.005″. This would have of course contributed to the difficulties I found in getting the table bearings tightened  – it was not possible to get them adjusted properly, and I had to run the table such that it had too much play in the middle of the stroke and got slightly tight at the end of the stroke. Those bugbears are going to be problems in the past now, it would appear.

After the upper table was sorted Rees got to work on the support beam:

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The support beam was decently straight, yet was improved to a higher standard than before, with about 0.012″ taken off.

One of the tricky parts was dealing with the linear rail support ribs, which have a sloped top and a curved bottom surface:

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Rees also dressed the sides of the casting to clean them up:

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The sliding table casting has also been cleaned up in the same manner.

Another view of the planing work underway on a linear rail rib:

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With the two castings straightened out, the mitre fence was then worked on, and after that, the holes for the mitre fence in the table were redone. Both the main pivot hole, which had been heli-coiled previously as a repair, and the worn out detent holes for the various mitre positions were bored out, plugged, and redone. The detent holes are conical. The pivot pin threads were cut off and a Whitworth 1/2″x12TPI set screw was installed.

Here’s the primary mitre fence position after the re-working:

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I had Rees add a second position of pivot and detent holes in the middle of the table, so that when I do obtain a back mitre fence to pair with the main mitre fence, it will be much more usable tool in terms of the sliding table being able to support the work:

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In case you’re wondering what a back mitre fence is, here’s a picture from the Wadkin PP saw brochure showing it in use (see pic lower left):

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The problem with the back mitre fence, in my view, is that the back fence is situated so that only small pieces of wood could be properly supported by the table. It didn’t really make sense to me – surely pattern makers worked larger pieces of wood from time to time – but I’m hoping the revised arrangement I came up with will prove much more effective.

Here’s Rees’ jig boring mill, which places holes in the table using coordinates:

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The coordinates were worked out by myself using trigonometry, and Rees did calcs as well to confirm the numbers were correct before boring/tapping any holes.

A closer look at the renewed main pivot hole:

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After the holes were done, the accuracy of the mitre position alignments were checked by Rees, and he reported finding ‘no light’ between the square or bevel he used to check the various positions:

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I was planning to add several new positions, but in the end elected to only add one, for the 22.5˚ position. This way the saw now has presets for the most common mitres, 95% of mitre work in general I would imagine, at 0˚ (square cuts), 22.5˚ (octagon mitre), 30˚ (hexagon mitre), and 45˚ (tetragon mitre). The second position for the fence (there’s a third as well right at the lead edge of the table, at 90˚only) has the same detent positions.

I will make the trip to pick up the saw sometime after the 20th of this month. In the meantime I’ve been managing without it, using my chop saw, milling machine, or, on a couple of occasions, another sliding table saw in my building to get stuff done. I look forward to getting the table back on and completing Phase I of this rebuild project.

Thanks for visiting the Carpentry Way.

14 thoughts on “Wadkin Dimension Saw: Resurrection (Phase I), Part II

    1. Yes, it is great to come across another craftsperson who is passionate about what they do, and who works fastidiously. I’m looking forward to getting this table back on the saw and finally having a fully functional table saw (well, pending Phase II and III work on the machine…)

  1. Hi Chris

    Will it be necessary to shim up the entire assembly now that you have removed 1/16″?
    Or is there a provision to adjust it upon mounting?

    The machine work done by Rees looks like it is top notch!

    That back fence looks interesting. In case you can’t get your hands on one, I am sure that Rees could fabricate something like that for you. Based on the look of his work so far it would probably be incredibly accurate too.

    Best regards
    Jonas

    1. Hi Jonas,

      Yes, the assembly will need to be raised to compensate for the metal removed, and there is a provision for that (a sign of a machine built to last, undoubtedly). The angle block castings which carry the two tables are on two jackscrews each, so, with the locating pins removed, the angle blocks can be raised to compensate for the table height loss of the sliding table after machining. One tends to be loathe to pull the locating pins out, however I have already determined the factory ones to be out of alignment for the main table to trunnion relationship, so there is nothing sacrosanct about them really. They’re just pins after all.

    1. Hi Brad,

      well, funny enough, it is the very same person, though I hadn’t put 2 and 2 together in that regard. I’ll have to ask him about that next time I see him.

  2. That looks like some nice machining!

    I hope that the new shape is stable and won’t warp further.

    The ability to have it repaired is definitely one of the major plus points of
    old iron. Not having embedded computers is another major one, IMO. Computers
    are great at doing some things. But as an interface to machines I often don’t
    like them very much.

    How was the repair of the holes done? I would have been tempted to put
    hardened steel bushings in. Those wouldn’t wear out in a hurry.

    1. Roland,

      thanks for the comment. The machine work has definitely been a step forward with the machine, and after it is back together ans working properly I can better judge whether this is the saw I want to move forward with or not.

      He did put in bushings, not sure if specially hardened or not, as the holes for the mitre fence’s detent pin are tapered 5˚ so that’s not an ‘off the shelf’ product in the land of bushings. I’ll ask him about it next time I see him. Even if they are not hardened, I highly doubt that I’ll put significant wear on them over the course of my remaining working days.

      1. If you ever go looking for another saw, allow me to recommend Altendorf. After a decade or so I’m still very pleased with our F45. The motorized saw (height and tilt) and rip fence adjustments are very nice and accurate. The sliding table moves very lightly. The construction is very stiff. We have the optional pneumatic clamping bar, which I think is a great convenience and safety feature. It can consistently achieve 0.1 mm accuracy, although it needs yearly callibration (which you can esily do yourself). Opening the machine to change the saw is easy and has two independent safety interlocks disabling the motor. The saw arbor and fixing mechanism are still in good shape after a decade of daily use. Using a diamond-coated blade I’ve used it to cut up to 30 mm fiberglass or carbon reinforced composite without complaint. In my experience this machine is only limited by the saw’s ability to shed heat. This is only a problem with working composites, thought.

        In hindsight, I would have chosen a two-way tilting saw instead of the single way tilt, and I would have chosen the simpler controls instead of the touch screen “elmo” controller. The variable speed motor option is nice, but we don’t use it that much.

  3. Roland,

    thanks for the input. While I’m glad you’re pleased with your saw and it is working well for you, I’m not a huge fan of Altendorf’s build quality personally, preferring the saw offerings from Martin, or a mid- to late-1990’s Kölle KFS, but I’m in no position to buy any of those at present. I’m hoping that, after the rebuilding and other improvements to the Wadkin PP, that it will sufficiently meet me needs. I’ve been managing without it altogether for 4 weeks now, so it’s not a super-critical tool in my shop. The went years without a table saw in fact, though they are, when working well, very useful.

    I find the double-tilting saw an attractive thing. Martin was the first to offer that with the T-60 Prexision, and now Altendorf and SCM have it on their machines. But, so expensive! If I win the lottery, then one day…

  4. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to have a Martin T70 or T75 too! 😉

    OTOH, if the repair on the Wadkin works out it could probably last you a lifetime. It is both mechanically and electrically simple and therefore relatively easy to repair. My experience with 20+ year old machinery is that the mechanical stuff can usually be overhauled or repaired. And old wiring can be replaced. It’s the 20+ years old plc / computer controls that are hard or impossible to get. And even if you can find new old stock, electronics do not have
    an unlimited shelf life.

    1. Roland,

      absolutely, we are on the same page here in regards to valuing machines that pre-date all the electronics, for the reasons you stated and more. I’m hoping that once I get the Wadkin sorted, it does all I need it to do. It’s looking like that might be the case, but we’ll see of course. Thanks for the comment and I appreciate your readership.

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