Updated : Apr 20, 2020 in Uncategorized

F. Wesel Printer’s Saw

I have dubbed this “The Coolest Table Saw Ever”. Here it is where and when I found it, in mid-2008.

Yeah, it looked pretty sad. Which is why I had to save it. I had no idea what it was when I bought it, but (1) it looked very old and very cool, (2) the price was right ($75) and (3) it needed rescuing from the junk emporium where it was sitting, forlorn and unloved on a broken-up pallet outdoors and exposed to the elements.

I have since learned that it is a printer’s saw, made by the F. Wesel Manufacturing Co., and was used for precisely trimming printing plates. The F. Wesel Manufacturing Co. made very high-quality machinery for the offset printing, lithography and electrotype industry, starting in the late 1800’s and well into the 20th Century.

When I discovered this saw, it prompted me to do some research into the history of the F. Wesel Manufacturing Co..

This saw was made around 1890. I found this illustration in a book on stereotyping, printed in 1892.

It might not show up too well, put lettered across the front it says “The Cabinet Saw” and it has some very nice pinstriping and details. It is identical to my saw.

Printing at that time mostly was done by letterpress either from handset type or linotype. If the printed piece contained an illustration, the printer would make a photoengraving by exposing a negative on a sensitized thin metal sheet which was etched and mounted on a block of maple about ¾” thick. This engraving had to be trimmed to size dead square to lockup accurately with the rest of the type form. This saw was used to make those dead square cuts and which is why it cannot make any beveled cuts. It originally would have had a blade that would cut both wood and metal.

That drawer on the left is the dust collection. It’s under the blade and obviously is for catching the shavings.

The crank on the right raises and lowers the table, which is hinged at front and raises and lowers at the back for adjusting the depth of cut.

Here is one of two areas of damage – a crack on the bottom cross-member, which plan on getting brazed.

Here’s the rear, showing where the flat belt originally would have come in.

Here is the other side, showing the table raising mechanism and also where someone cut a hunk out of the side to admit a modern motor (not included) and you can see the motor mount, and the other damage, where the barbarian cut the bottom cross piece to drop that board in there as a motor mount.

The fence is unbroken, amazingly, because the casting is somewhat thin and delicate.

It is adjustable to fine-tune its alignment. The first of the two parellel grooves across the table is just square in cross section; the rear one is a sliding dovetail. When the knob is tightened, it pulls the fence down and locks it in place. When I took the picture. the fence didn’t move at all due to rust. And as can be seen in the photo, someone along the way used a torch to cut a hole through the table top for who knows what reason.

I took these pictures as I first dug into the saw and discovered what, exactly, I had bought. Here’s where it starts getting really good.

It included the original, unbroken miter gauge.

And the miter gauge had on it the original sliding stop block, which surprisingly was not completely rusted to the miter gauge.

It also came with this very cool side shelf, for holding the miter gauge or other odds and ends when not in use – and which is shown in the old engraving above, so I know it’s original to the saw.

The side shelf hangs off the crank rod of the table raising mechanism on these lovely cast brackets.

So then I had a look-see under the hood. The top alone must weigh 150 lbs at least; maybe 200. It’s one massive casting. I propped it up with an old broken hammer handle.

Here’s the table raising mechanism.

A couple of very cool features – on this carriage bolt is a cast table prop and an arbor lock.

Here’s how the arbor lock works. It’s basically just a big wrench. Just flip it over 180 degrees, and it sits on a big fat hex machined into the arbor, holding it in place so you can undo the arbor nut on the far end.

The arbor itself is quite beefy and rides in large, babbitt bearings.

The table prop is missing the fitting or fixture that attaches it to the underside of the table, so I’ll have to fabricate something. But if it were there, here is how it would work – there is a little hook at the end that rests on the carriage bolt at bottom to hold the table up.

When I wrestled out the dust collection bin, I discovered several things in there. Here’s where it continues to get even better.

First thing I found in there was a spare arbor.

One arbor is 1″ diameter; the other is 5/8″.

Then I pulled out this scuffed up oak board. At first I wondered why there was this random old chunk of oak in there. But I noticed some marks on its face.

Yup! It’s the door for the front!

Then I pulled out what looks like a bunch of jigs for making specific cuts. And they show plenty of use.

Then there was this little piece that I haven’t figured out where it goes yet, if it does go with the saw. It’s clearly meant to be some sort of little fence or stop that can raise and drop out of the way.

Then I found the original arbor wrench.

There also was this nice double sheave for the motor (although there was no motor included):

And then, at the very bottom of the dust bin, in amongst the sawdust:

Yeah! The original door hardware! Whoever had this before didn’t throw away anything!

And then I also found the bit that holds the table prop onto the bottom side of the table:

It looks like it broke off, but also looks like I can either make another one or repair this one. So I should be able to get that table prop working again. But I must admit, that table prop seems a bit thin and delicate to be holding up that massive cast iron top while my head is under it.

It also came with this overarm blade guard, which I’m not so sure is original to the saw – it looks newer, and the basket is all aluminum. It also doesn’t exactly match the one shown in the engraving above.

Up until I pulled it out from under the saw, there was a trapezoidal pieceof glass in that front opening of the aluminum basket. The glass broke as I pulled the assembly out from under the saw. No biggie – I figure it’s not a good idea to have a piece of glass as a blade guard anyhow, and it will be easy enough to replace it with lexan.

A short while later, I started the cleanup and restoration.

Leave a Reply