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Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Chop Chop!

In accordance with my policy of ‘if I wouldn’t use it in my own workshop then it doesn’t go on the website’, I thought I should treat myself to an Atkinson Walker industrial blade for my mitre saw - and a very satisfying piece of engineering it is too!

The industrial blades are all heat treated at the factory and cooled under pressure, forcing the crystalline structure of the steel to form flat. They are smithed and tensioned by hand (see picture above) to fine tune the internal tensions in the steel. The result is a blade that is not only very flat and very round to begin with, but stays that way when you generate frictional heat around the perimeter but not in the middle.

Huge chunks of carbide are then trifoil braized onto it and ground by some seriously clever machines to a tolerance of one hundreth of a millimetre, before it goes back to the Smithing shop for a final fettle and inspection.

The saw is listed as requiring a 254mm blade but Chris Walker informed me that almost without exception a 255mm will fit. The whole 254mm thing started out as a marketing ploy to try and restrict customers to buying blades from the equipment manufacturer. Sure enough the standard 255mm fits just fine and the performance is out of this world.

It does take a little bit more grunt to get it spinning (it’s nearly twice the weight of the CMT blade I took off) but once it’s moving the blade runs soooo sweetly, it produces beautiful, almost planed, surfaces with barely a whisper of fluff left behind on the exit side, absolutely marvellous!

The thing that continues to astound me is how the Italians and Americans have managed to gain such a strong foothold in the UK market when we make sawblades of this quality in Sheffield. What's more, I can post it back to the factory to have it resharpened up to ten times for a fraction of the price of a throw-away blade.


  1. I can also vouch for their Pro-Trade blades which are fantastic! Such a difference over the Bosch equivalent. Wish I'd known about the 255mm thing... Do they re-sharpen the ProTrade blades too?

  2. Hi Tom,

    You might squeeze one re-sharpening out of a ProTrade if you are lucky, they are really designed to be thrown away and replaced.

    I was quite surprised at the 255mm thing too, but now I think about it, it's only another 0.5 mm on the radius.



  3. Tom, when your blade does eventually reach the end of its life, do not throw it away - one way of recycling would be to turn it in to a workshop clock! ;-D