Nadal, No. 1 in the world rankings, ousted Federer 7-6 (7-4), 6-3, 6-3, gaining his 19th Grand Slam final.
He's 13-5 in major tournament title matches, including 1-1 at the Australian Open, and 12-0 -- 26-0 in sets -- in his career versus Wawrinka, seeded eighth, a first-time Grand Slam finalist.
A win in Sunday's final would tie Nadal with Pete Sampras for second-most major tournament titles with 14. Only Federer, who's won 17, has more.
Federer has only two major tournament finals appearances since he won the Australian Open in 2010. Nadal has been in 10 Grand Slam finals over that same period, winning seven times, but the only time he made the finals at Melbourne, since a tournament win in 2009, was in 2012 when he lost to Novak Djokovic.
Federer, the No. 6 seed, had advanced to Friday's semifinals having lost just one set, that coming in a win over fourth-seeded Andy Murray in the quarterfinals. The first set against Nadal was even until Nadal took four straight points in the tiebreaker for a 5-1 lead. Federer fought back to 4-5 but Nadal was able to close out the set on his serve.
The first break of the match didn't come until the sixth game of the second set when Nadal finished off the game with a cross-court forehand winner and went on for a two-set lead.
Nadal went up a break in third game of the third set but Federer didn't give in, getting his first break of the match to even the set. But Nadal recorded his second break of the set for a 4-3 lead and then his fourth of the day -- and third of the set -- to complete the win.
Nadal is 23-10 all-time versus Federer, having won the last five meetings. Federer has managed to win just one set in those five matches. Nadal is also 3-0 at the Australian Open against Federer.