Introduction: Blade Height Winder for an Old Triton
In an earlier article I discussed adding a new ripping fence to an old Triton saw bench. In my quest to improve its efficient functioning, I've also added a blade height winder. You can't buy replacement parts for Triton Mk 3 saw benches, at least not affordably, and I could not afford a new saw bench just because it didnt have a height winder. Being a fixer of all things broken, dysfunctional and needing improvement I didnt see why I couldnt apply the same principle as the arrangement of pistons and crank arms in an engine, to my saw. And with typical gung-ho spirit and after many hours of of seeking inspiration from clever people on Youtube and Instructables, this is what I succeeded in doing. Go to the following link:
for his simple ideas and instructive videos.
Nothing purchased. I used recycled plywood and scrap timber, old 12mm copper pipe, scrap 12mm threaded rod, nuts and washers , an old brass door knob, a bolt and some recycled drawer runners.
Step 1: The Handle Block
The saw is an old Hitachi hitched to the Triton plate supplied with the bench. I decided I wasnt going to use the saw in the alternative position. This arrangement of crank arms and a sled on runners would mean that the saw would remain in the position I needed most with the saw blade in its top position on the upper bench. I could utilise the saw's own blade height mechanism in combination with the saw and sled assembly and also build a dust collection system beneath the bench. I will discuss this in a later article.
The first step was working out where to attach the crank arms, so I made a template from cardboard by tracing the inner space of the handle where the switch is located. I glued and screwed two pieces of 16mm plywood together and cut them out with a jig saw to the right shape, with a bit over, so I could sand them into a press fit inside the saw handle.
I centered a 12mm hole for the copper pipe hinges at the lowest position in the handle block.
Next, I had to work out the highest position possible beneath the bench for the sled and runner assembly so that I could calculate the length of the crank arms. These would have to approximately equal the distance between where they attached into the saw handle block and where they swung on the block attached to the sled. I also wanted the cranking handle to be as high as possible so I didnt have to bend too much to change the height of the saw. I was also aiming not to drill large holes in the Triton bench end walls.
Step 2: Sled and Rail Assembly
I then built the sled that would carry the crank arms back and forth along the supporting rails. The rails are simply a couple of lengths of rough sawn 50x25 hardwood that are screwed to two end bearers that are bolted to the legs of the Triton at about 200mm apart. I estimated this would be enough to manoueouvre the various parts into place without being too wide.
The sled is attached to the inner slide of a pair of drawer runners, the outer slides are attached to the rails. It houses the crank arm block on top and below, the block that carries the threaded rod, that acts as a screw to wind the sled back and forth. Thus by lengthening and shortening the distance of the arc traveled by the saw, it rises and falls on its pivot. The threaded rod is turned through its helical movement, via locked nut embedded in the front bearer, by means of a crank handle outside the bench. I think the blade looks like the sun rising and setting over the orange bench top.
The sled is constructed from a small piece of 12 mm plywood, the crank arm block from a solid lump of ironbark and the threaded rod block from more plywood laminated to the right dimension to allow plenty of room for a 13mm clearance hole, through which the threaded rod passes horizontally.
It does take a bit of fiddling with lots of marking out and eyeballing. I had to move the runners, because on my first attempt I'd put them too far back along the bearer with one slightly out of alignment. Some guess work on my part, but I finally I managed to wing it to the next step.
Step 3: Cranking It Up
This was a relatively simple task. With the sled in place directly beneath the saw, I simply measured the vertical distance between the centers of the hole in the handle block and the one in the crank block attached to the sled.
I then rustled up some more plywood scraps and cut two/40 mm x approx. 200 mm strips ( the distance between those centered aforementioned. I drilled two 12mm holes at each end and eased them to accept two cut offs of 12 mm copper pipe, not too tightly fit, so I could easily take the whole unit apart or put it together. I trimmed the corners, and sanded the ends to a rounded shape. I placed a screw in each end to lock the copper pipe into place, but actually there is only one screw in place. Because the pipe pieces are slightly too long, they don't seem to move out of their positions during use. They still have a slight curve from being rolled up so perhaps the curve is keeping them in place.
It's just a matter of pushing the components together with the handle block in its position in the handle and directly above the crank block. This is because the crank has to be vertical or at the beginning of the saw's arc with the blade as far as out of the slot as possible. As the sled moves towards the front of the saw bench by winding the crank handle anti clockwise, the blade descends, and vice versa. The whole assembly can be set to go the other way, but that uses a longer piece of threaded rod and it seemed unnecessary to waste material. In any case it seemed more logical to make the blade move up on the clockwise rotation of the handle and down with the anticlockwise motion, like turning a tap on and off.
Step 4: A Screw Loose
The screw is a length of 12mm threaded rod that is pushed through a hole in the screw block on the base of the sled. I calculated its length by manually working the saw up and down through its full range and marking the farthest extent of the sled's travel on the outer runner.
The threaded rod was a scrap end and far too long. The excess length meant I could pass it through the screw block and the hole in the front bearer, leaving the excess outside the saw bench for marking where the handle would go when it was fully forward in the saw's down position and fully backed up in the up position. I threaded a couple of nuts either side to lock the sled into position. I left the locked position slightly loose so they could spin.
I cut the rod off at the front of the bench allowing for maximum travel both ways, including checking that the crank handle would wind without crashing into the end of the bench. Next a M12 nut was embedded and epoxied in the front bearer. Then I attached the crank handle with three more nuts, two of which served to lock the arm of the crank handle into place while still allowing it to spin.
Step 5: Handling a Pair of Cranks
The crank handle is the whimsical part of this build. I have a little drawer full of brassy treasures gleaned from the local transfer station recycle metal piles, secondhand shops or where ever else I find them. I like to repair broken locks or build new ones from unbroken parts and I often upcycle the bits and pieces into interesting useful items to give away or use around my home. I also have a drawer full of bolts and washers from take apart projects, bits of broken machinery that can be a boon when you need to fix something.
The crank handle, which is another scrap of plywood, needed a knob. I soon found an old brass door knob, suitably dented and tarnished to look like it belonged on an ancient Triton. I also had a bolt with enough clear shank to go through the ply arm into the knob. A couple of washers became spacers and gave the knob some bearing against the wood. Center popping the appropriate position of the set screw hole, I hand drilled a requisite sized small hole to take a small metal screw, since I didnt have a set screw. The metal screw cut a light thread into the hole. All I had to do then was cut off the metal screw to the correct length and the handle had a knob that winds just as smoothly as a bought one. I also tapped the dents mostly out with a small rod polished smooth.
Subsequently, I went back to the drawer and took out the other brass knob and used it to repair the broken crank handle on my cheap chinese drill press. It's not a bad CCDP, just that plastic handle which had snapped off about 15 years ago soon after I purchased it new. I had never bothered to repair it, simply using what was left to rather awkwardly wind the drilling platform up and down. It now works much to my relief after putting up with the broken stub for so long.
My workshop is starting to take on a somewhat steam punk attitude with all these little bits of brass and copper, but as long as it works, I'm fine with that.