Saturday, October 3, 2015

Wadkin's Glen

There are Wadkin 'Temples' out there, from what I have heard, and there are, I'm sure, also Wadkin Shines. My aims are distinctly less grand, having just the one machine after all, so how about the image of a tranquil glen with a lone Wadkin Dimension saw sitting in the middle?

I've been putting in some hours getting the machine set up in my shop. I'm still not there yet, but have made decent progress. If you've been feeling starved for pics on recent posts here on the CW, you will likely be more satisfied with today's blog offering.

Where my last post left off, I had started to uncrate the machine:

The loose parts were retained here and there with wood screws, and it worked okay for shipping. I would have thought it better to wrap the parts separately, but it all worked out fine.

Another view:

Under the machine was a package with saw blades, with a new 400mm (16") to the left, a used but sharp 14" one next to that, and the splitter to the right:

I had asked the seller if they might be able to scrounge up a metal Wadkin nameplate to replace the cracked plastic one on the machine and they were in fact were able to find one, to my surprise:

With the plywood peeled off, and I could get a better look at other areas:

Another view:

The dust collection port had been painted in red primer and a metal shroud had been fitted, also primed in red. More on that later.

Under the machine was the miter fence extension bar along with the remaining portion of the tabletop rule:

The rule is marked 'Whittam Walkden England', and it turns out that Whittam are still very much in business and can provide custom rules. I have written them to ask about a replacement for the one on my machine. I'd like to get one full length (@74") for starters, and I'd like one graduated in both inch scale and metric. Hopefully that will be possible to achieve without a mortgage being involved. The original ruler is broken off at about 40" in length, so it is generally usable for the time being.

Here are the support legs for the extension table:

What I didn't notice right away was that both legs are in face bent at their upper threaded portion. My guess is that some mishap occurred when the rest of the machine was lifted/moved and the legs got pushed laterally too far. Who knows when that happened, but I would not be surprised if it was recent given that the machine probably didn't move around too much in the factory in which it had spent its life. In the original sales advert for the machine, it was pictured without the legs in place, and now that I see the damage to the threaded portions I understand why it may not have been convenient to place the legs in there for those photos. I'll get a machine shop to make some new legs in the future. I would think that they're pretty simple to make with a lathe.

Here are the other bits which I pulled off the pallet - end extension table, blade guard support assembly, cross cut and rip fences, along with two Suva blade guards and a box of bits:

I didn't realize that both Suva guards were included, which is really nice as I now have the guard for working with the blade at a tilt, and that guard looks to be in unused condition as well:

I loosened off the sliding table clamp levers and pulled it back to a full opening to get a peek inside:

Notice they had fitted new wood table lips, however they clearly do not employ a (fastidious) woodworker for such tasks. I pulled the strips off right away and will make new ones. I also despise slotted head screws, so those holding the strips down will be going into the trash. The lip on the sliding table side is supposed to have a 45˚ bevel on the underside, and the main table side is supposed to have three separate lip pieces instead of one, details which the installer had overlooked or are a detail of which they had been unaware.

Here's a shot to give a sense of scale for the arbor and the arbor washers and spacers:

I have big hands. It's a chunk of metal!

The flanges and spacer came off easily, as did the drive dogs for the blade which screw into the 1" spacer and one of the flanges:

The machine came with what appeared to be a spanner for the arbor nut, however, it was not even close to the right size:

The wrench was 46mm, about 3mm too large. There was also another single end open wrench in the parts box, a 17mm size, also of no use to the machine. At least my DIN894 wrench collection is growing by leaps and bounds. I'll have to shell out another $70 for a properly sized single end wrench-  the arbor nut is actually 1-11/16". Why did they bother including the completely wrong wrenches?

Another view of the sliding table pulled back and the upper blade shroud removed from the trunnion:

A closer look at the rip fence reveals a bit of booty fab welding to the main fixing arm, and the cheesy micro-adjust knob which had been fitted at some point in time:

Also, one of the locking handles for the sliding table was a non-stock item:

Here's the correct one on the other end:

I'm hoping to find some company which makes these type of locking handles so I can obtain a replacement.

I still had the machine sitting on its pallet, but the Cosmoline on the table tops made the saw unpleasant to work on, so my next step was to remove the coating. After an hour of meditation, and an exhaustive sharpening session to tune my scraper just right, I was able to take a fine shaving which might set a new standard for the Kezurō-kai:

The scraping was followed by careful measuring of the shavings, and commemorative photos of course, and then on to some other solvents and a bunch of scrubbing. The tables came up nice and clean and in good condition.

(I hope sensitive readers will understand my attempts at humor in the foregoing)

A while later I had the extension table cleaned up and had wriggled it off to the side:

As part of the clean up, I discovered that the three metal bars which fill the miter slots were frozen in place, likely due to corrosion, so after pulling the fasteners I doused the screw holes heavily with Liquid Wrench:

I was hoping the solvent would do the job, as I would prefer not to have to get into more drastic steps involving heat, cutting, grinding, etc.

After pulling the table lips, I cleaned the mounting holes with a 1/4-20 tap:

The new fasteners are all stainless with allen head broaching:

Now onto  the task of getting the saw off the pallet. Here's where a Johnson bar can be handy, however the one in the shop was nowhere to be found so I had to improvise. Eventually, I got the pallet out of there and the machine on some tall blocks:

Sitting too high for the moment but it's on its way.

At this point a couple of hours had passed since I sprayed the Liquid Wrench and I checked to see if any progress had been made - yessirree!:

 The film of rust dissolved, the infill bars could be removed without too much blood spilled:

As this machine likely came new without the optional miter gauge which rides in those slots, it is likely that the infill bars had seldom, if ever, been removed from the table tops. There was absolutely zero slop in between the bars and the slots, a sign of no wear.

I cleaned the rust film off with some rust-eating chemical and rust erasers:

Here's a view of the sliding table in its rearmost position, infill bar refitted:

The projection to the forward position is about the same. This machine has the longer sliding table option, which allows a full 48" width to be cut at 1" blade projection, certainly enough for almost any solid wood board I might be looking to cross cut.

At this point I decided that I had been in suspense long enough. I felt like I needed to know if the machine would run. Did I get a runner or a dud?

I pulled the cover off the electrical box and discovered that it has an electric motor brake fitted. This was a little more complicated a scene upon which to connect, but a little analysis and perusal of a factory wiring diagram led me to conclude that only three connection points were likely the ones to use, and I temporarily wired the cord to the machine to see if my suppositions were correct.

With the last terminal screwed down, I turned on the main safety switch, and then the dedicated fused safety switch for the machine, which would mark the first time that power was shunted to the machine. Nothing happened, which was good. I then thought it might be interesting to film the very first test of the 'on' switch. This could have turned out to be an exciting video where things cooked and fried, or a boring one in which nothing at all happened - or somewhere in between.

You be the judge:

I was pleased to have that result - the spindle even turned the correct away on the first go. All that rigamarole over the past couple of weeks to put the transformer in and sort out the wiring correctly is proven to have worked out well. The buzz from the transformer seemed loudest on that first run. Every time I've turned it on since - note the much shorter buzzing interval in the second part of the video - the buzz has been a lot less intense and much shorter. I wonder why that is? It's almost as if the transformer needed a short break-in period or something. Perhaps it has to do with whether there is a blade in place or not, as this would change the loading on the brake and how energy was dissipated(?).

It's interesting to have the electric brake as the machine also comes with a foot brake. The foot brake, when applied, disconnects power and pulls on a (bicycle type of) brake cable to a brake shoe around the spindle. The seller fitted a new brake cable and shoes, however with the electric brake I suspect I won't be using the foot brake very often at all.

I was thinking it could now be time to bask in contentment, but many more tasks lay ahead.

The trunnion tilt mechanism works smoothly - here, the blade is right over at 45˚, and it looks in fact like the blade will tilt over to about 47˚:

The blade raise/lower mechanism is a bit stiff, however this is likely to be congealed grease somewhere in the mechanism. I'll get to that next time.

After two days, I have the machine down on the floor, leveled out and the extension tables, along with rip fence, fitted:

The extension table legs are sorta useable, however I am inclined towards replacing them in the near future. The overarm blade guard assembly can not be fitted yet as the machine came without the bolts to mount it to the table. Someone forgot those. Also, the screws to mount the ruler were missing so that part cannot go back on yet.

The back side of the machine:

You can see that I have removed the metal plate the seller had fitted to the exhaust port. It was poorly made in general, non-flat, and rubbed on the port extension piece as it swung past. Not sure why the seller bothered with that frankly. I need the plate out of the way to connect the dust hose on properly, and it sure ain't going back on afterwards.

As it is, the overhead blade guard itself has a dust port, so I will need to add some more parts to my collection system to accommodate that. Why... did I just hear the sound of a cash register again?

From this side the machine tables look like an aircraft runway:

72" rip capacity.

After the initial work to get the machine into the shop and onto the floor, cleaned off, assembled and put under power, the next phase before any wood gets cut will involve checking the alignments of various parts.

In the last few minutes before I packed it in for the day, I decided to take a preliminary look to see how parallel the sliding table was to the main table. Here's the near end:

And here's the other end:

Holy cow, that's quite a difference - 1/32"!

I initially suspect that the main table is out of alignment with the slider, however further checks will be in order to get to the bottom of it. The main thing is that nearly everything on the machine is adjustable and rebuildable, so I should be able to put the tables and fences back into good alignment. I'll save that task for next time.

Thanks for your visit! Enjoy the weekend.


  1. That saw looks to have enough cast iron to make a couple of tanks.
    I've got to ask - why the dislike of slotted screws? I feel that way about phillips and I prefer square drive, then slotted, skip phillips, and then nails.

    1. Ralph,

      good to hear from you.

      As for screw heads, I agree that Phillips are the absolute worst and I have largely banished them from my shop. They were originally designed for the automotive manufacturing industry, and were meant to strip out when too much torque was applied. The idea was that it prevented the over-tightening of fasteners.

      Slot-head screws are next on my list of undesirables as they offer weak registration between the blade and the slot and can start to cam out if the fit between the blade and the slot is not excellent. Laser-etched screwdriver tips can be helpful in that regard. Once someone has used an undersized screwdriver on them, they begin to disfigure and become sloppier - like virtually every slotted head machine screw on the Wadkin. They provide no lateral registration for the screw driver and thus in situations where the screw head is hidden or difficult to access the screwdriver blade can easily slip off sideways, or worse, slip partially out and then when torque is applied the slot is readily damaged.

      Also, slotted screw heads encourage some OCD folks to 'clock' the screw heads to as to all be aligned to one another, which is absurd to me, and this leads people to aim for a nebulous aesthetic ideal with the fasteners instead of properly tightening those fasteners.

      One advantage of slotted screw heads over most others is that if packed with paint or some other coating, the stuff can be readily chiseled out until the blade can be inserted.

      My favorite fastener head is the most mechanically efficient, namely Torx head, followed by square drive. I then avoid the other two (slotted and Phillips) like the plague. Glad you like square drive, a Canadian invention (aka Robertson head) that was rather slow to be taken up in the US. They are more common these days than they were 10 years ago even.

      I'm pleased to see in recent months that the US decking fastener manufacturers have all gone over to Torx now, dropping those hateful Phillips head deck screws. Unfortunately, the range of Torx head fasteners is still somewhat limited in the US, especially when you are looking for particular head types or materials like stainless.

      An interesting aspect to Phillips head screws when using an impact driver to set them is that the Phillips driver bits more readily shatter after a while, something you never see with Square Drive or Torx drivers. I think the Phillips head design creates stress risers in the driver as well which cause it to break more easily.

      Nails are fine when fastener ductility is an asset.


  2. The saw looks amazing...."a couple of tanks" is an understatement.
    Interesting that the threads are 1/4-20 and not either metric or british standard. Are all the threading SAE?
    For the legs could you make a threaded plate, mounted securely and with a little heat ...straighten/re-bend the ends of the legs using the leg itself for leverage? Would be far cheaper than having a shop make up a set (even though it would be an easy part to make). Thanks again for keeping us up to date with your posts.

    1. Joe,

      that might be worth a try, and I do have the means to heat the metal bar up, but I suspect that the thread will be stretched or otherwise deformed and the nut won't spin properly afterwards. The thread is some sort of coarse Whitworth thread and a die to clean up the threads would probably be expensive. Possibly a file would be sufficient for the task however. Thanks for the suggestion - I think it is definitely worth exploring.


  3. Hi Chris,

    I just stumbled upon your blog and was quite amazed by the amount of info.

    I live in Hakodate and am hoping to have a house built in the near future. I met a pretty serious Daiku with great wood work designs and reasonable price. When I asked about carpentry he told me that although it was not clear-cut, as far as insulation goes 在来工法 is better than 2x4 but worse than 2x6.

    What is your opinion? I apologize if you already dealt with it on your blog.

    Thank you,


    1. David,

      thanks for your comment and question. The question is a good one however it is well off topic in relation to the blog post, so perhaps you could email me to discuss further?


  4. Hi Chris,
    even if I'm not very familiar with machinery this is an interesting post and nice to read.
    The saw is really impressive.


    1. Stefan,

      it's a beast of a machine alright. Glad you enjoyed the read and thanks for your comment!


  5. That's one sexy chunk of metal!

    Regarding the stianless screws, wouln't normal steel be a lot better? No fear of galling threads and stainless is a smeary kind of steel, so I'd be afraid of a stripped driver slot anytime.

    But overall, it looks like you got something truly amazing in your shop.

    1. Thanks Kees.

      While stainless can indeed gall in steel, there's no way I'll be getting remotely close to torque levels which would cause that as these screws simply fasten down the wood table lips. If I tighten the screws up beyond a modest level, the screws will start crushing the wood and burying themselves, so the wood itself serves as a simple torque limiter. And I doubt I'll be able to strip an Allen head without a concerted effort. If they were Phillips, the opposite would be more nearly true.

      Most of the steel screws I have pulled from the machine are well worn by this point, so they had to go.


  6. It was just a comment of course. I had put a lot of stainless fasteners on my motorbike but had quite some trouble with them. Ruefully replaced them with galvanised 8.8 nuts and bolts. But that is quite another environment of course.

    1. Your comments are gladly received Kees. Fasteners are kind of a case-by-case sort of thing, as I'm sure you'd agree.



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