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In this Guide of How to Make a Zero Clearance Table Saw Insert, we will discuss what a Zero Clearance Insert Is and its importance, How to Make a Zero Clearance Insert, and comparisons between Table Saw Inserts
What is a Zero Clearance Plate?
A zero clearance plate, also known as a zero clearance insert throat plate, is a piece of wood that you attach to your table saw which creates a new, safe space for the blade to pass through. The new insert should be cut so that it’s slightly smaller than dimensions of the saw.
All cuts should be made around and through this insert with the help of a hand or power saw. Once finished, you’ll want to sand it down and paint it with white wood stain before attaching it to your table saw.
A table saw insert is a device that sits on the table of a table saw to create an accurate cut. Most often, the best portable table saws doesn’t come with an insert hence this guide is more reared towards portable table saws. The insert has an opening in the back for your material to be fed through, and it has a cutting blade in front that does all of the work.
This DIY project for a DIY table saw insert will show you how to make your own table saw insert with basic tools and materials, making the use of somebody else’s more expensive tools unnecessary.
The finished product will be mounted on your saw and can be removed whenever you need to change blade size or make any other adjustments.
Selecting the Right Size of Insert for Your Saw
You’re going to be building a table saw insert because your saw doesn’t have one. Once you’ve decided that this is the project for you, you need to figure out what size you want to build it for your specific saw.
A common mistake people make is to do one of two things: they either choose a size too small on purpose so that they can use their own accessories or planers, or they choose a size too large on purpose so that they get more table space when cutting stock.
The size of your saw, the way it’s configured, and the specific accessories you have all play a role in how much table space you’ll get. So I would recommend going with the higher end of what your saw will accommodate.
In addition to this recommendation (and what follows), you’ll also want to select a size that isn’t going to limit your ability to cut stock that’s thicker than the thickness of the insert bottom. You may not be able to see this right away (unless you’re using plywood) but if an inserted piece is too thick when being put into place, it will prevent material from passing through and cutting once it’s in place.
How to Make a Zero Clearance Table Saw Insert
- Circular saw (the bigger the better)
- Orbital sander (or an electric planer with a sanding attachment)
- Utility knife
- Wood glue
- Leveling screws, set screws, regular screws
- Wood paint
- Metal brackets that fit your table saw
- Extra hardware for mounting anything
- Piece of wood, preferably plywood or baltic birch plywood, that’s the same thickness or slightly thicker than the piece you’re using to construct the insert. (This will act as a shim if necessary.)
Duration: 45-60 Minutes
Budget: $50-$100 (USD)
The first thing you’re going to want to do is build the insert. This can be done with the materials that you have on hand, but it’s also possible to make some pieces of wood that will fit perfectly in a table saw. Both options are extremely easy, and once everything is finished you won’t have anything else to worry about.
- Cut your pieces of wood as needed: The first thing you’re going to do is cut your pieces of wood so that they are the exact width and height specified in your table saw’s manual for the size of insert that you’re planning on using.
- Cut the bottom of the insert: The next thing you’re going to want to do is cut out a piece of wood for the bottom of your insert. This will be the top piece of your actual insert, so it should be cut with more precision than any other part that you’ll need to make. Clear off and set aside any excess pieces and cut your material into a square or rectangle that will be big enough for your circular saw blade to pass through easily. Make sure that the shape is square, as it should fit without being forced into place once assembled.
- Cut your middle three pieces: Using these dimensions, cut three more pieces of wood for your inserts so they fit together like a puzzle when assembled.
- Cut your locking pieces: Now you’ll want to cut your locking pieces, which will be the next largest pieces. They should fit into the slots that you cut in the middle of three other pieces of wood, as shown.
- Glue these together: Once these are all cut, place a thin line of wood glue on each corner and let it dry for about an hour. Then place clamps along each of the joints and leave them alone overnight to make sure they’re completely dry.
- Sand the pieces: When they’re dry, you can sand the bottom of all of your pieces and make sure that they fit together perfectly. Remember, these pieces will be on your table saw for months or years at a time (depending on how well you treat it), so you don’t want to have any rough edges or scratches. The more smooth areas there are, the less likely it’ll be that your insert will have any problems in the long run.
- Make the holes: Now is when you’re going to cut out holes in your insert for the blade guard and for the miter slot on your saw. You’ll want to measure these out and mark them. They should be the same width as your table saw’s manual says for both of these items, but a little smaller than the recommended height so that they can be easily removed if necessary.
- Attach the insert: The last thing you’re going to do is attach the insert to your actual table saw, and this is where you’re going to have to determine what size you want it based on how much space you got for your expected blade guard and miter slot pieces. Get the perfect fit for your blade guard and then trace the piece onto your insert and cut it out with a hand saw or power saw that can fit.
- Sand: Once you have these pieces done, take them to your sander and go over any rough edges that you can find on them, while also roughing up the surface of the insert itself to make it as smooth as possible. When this is finished, you’ll want to sand down any areas that are still slightly rough or uneven so they don’t cause problems when the insert is put together.
- Paint: Lastly, take your inserts to a paintbrush and paint them with a good quality white wood stain. This will give the insert an attractive shelf-like texture that will blend in well with the rest of your desk.
- Attach the insert and enjoy: Once this has dried completely, you’ll probably want to attach the insert to your saw in any combination of screwing it in or using some kind of glue (which is what you’d use if screws weren’t available). Once it’s secure, you’re ready for some serious work!
How to Make a Zero Clearance Table Saw Insert Video
What Is a Zero Clearance Table
This is a table that has a lip on the inside, so any material that goes in will be contained. There are some benefits to this, such as not having to worry about any materials spilling out onto the ground.
However, there are also various disadvantages to this type of table which include the fact that it’s small and can’t be adjusted easily. You may have difficulties getting your materials in and out if you work with many different types of stock.
This type of table is best suited for those who work mainly with one kind of material for their projects or people who only need a partial size of their material cut down.
Zero Clearance Throat Plate Vs
Standard Throat Plate
The two types of throat plates are zero clearance throat plates and standard throat plates. A standard throat plate has a smaller slot for the blade to move through and a larger opening on the bottom that is used for the cut off piece to be slid out from.
The bottom opening in this case would need to be larger than the saw’s housing so that it would have room to come back out when done with all cuts.
A zero clearance throat plate has no slot opening other than the one on top, it has an insert at its base level where all cutting happens-and these two elements create an extraction port, which allows stock pieces to be slid out from behind.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is a Table Saw Blank Insert?
Can I use a zero clearance insert with a Miter Gauge?
Can I use a zero clearance with a Riving Knife?
Can I use a table saw blank insert for something other than my table saw?
Can I use a zero clearance insert for Unisaw?
Can I use a zero clearance insert for Dado Blade?
You can also customize the zero clearance insert to a dado throat plate to match your dado blades.
Can I use a zero clearance insert for Miter Saw?
Can I use a zero clearance insert for Router Table?
Can I use a zero clearance insert for Flush Trim Bit?
Can I use a zero clearance insert for crown molding?
Do I need push sticks if I have a zero clearance insert?
How to Make a Zero Clearance Table saw Insert – Final Thoughts
This ends our How To Guide of How to Make a Zero Clearance Table Saw Insert.
We hope the knowledge you gained here will help you in the future with your DIY or Professional Woodworking projects. We want you to be sure of that what you get from us are 100% facts, so please don’t hesitate to ask for advice or to advise us in return with accurate facts.
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Henry is a long time Trade Instructor at Dunwoody College of Technology. Henry has been teaching the trade of carpentry for over 15 years and is excited to share his knowledge with the next generation of builders. With his posts you will explore some general terms, tools, and techniques that are helpful for the beginning DIY Enthusiast!. He’ll also provide a list of all the best tips needed to start your building journey right away!