The Basement #42: Building ZCI's with a homemade pin router for the '113 TS

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Blog entry by JL7 posted 05-21-2014 10:07 PM 5955 reads 13 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 41: Moddin' the Table Saw..... Part 42 of The Basement series no next part

This has been on the list for awhile now. I’ve built ZCI’s in the past from Oak and Masonite but overtime they have issues. I got my hands on a Leecraft ZCI for my Craftsman 113 TS and was blown away at how nice it was. So all the design credit here goes to Leecraft, here’s a picture:

The Leecraft doesn’t use the front hold down screw that comes standard on this saw, rather, they use 2 horizontal screws (one in front and one on the right side). You tweak these screws to get just the right fit in the opening. They also use the 4 set screws to adjust the height.

My LJ buddy William has been using Corian for different stuff and he was gracious enough to give me a stack of rough cut pieces:

First step was cutting the corners off and then flush trimming using the Leecraft as a template:

This is a REALLY messy process…..You must where a mask!! I did capture most of the dust even though the photos would suggest different…..

Next up is drilling the holes for the horizontal screws – I used 8/32” countersunk screws, so you first drill the small hole to be threaded, then follow with a larger hole so the screw head will have clearance once you machine away some material later. You may have to study the photos down the line to understand:

Then I drilled a tapped the 4 holes for the set screws:

Also used a 1/2” spiral bit to carve a relief for the blade on the bottom of the insert. This also provides clearance if you run a stabilizer on your saw blade. In hindsight, not sure I would carve this deep on future versions. In order for the blade to clear the insert prior to cutting it through it, there is only about 0.060” left. That’s a little thin! I would still cut the relief in the bottom, but not as deep, then use an 8” dado blade to start the cut, when cutting through…..Make sense?

I set up a homemade pin router on the router table. It use’s a 1/2” spiral bit with a 1/2” steel pin fixed above. This allows tracing the Leecraft insert (underside) exactly:

A couple of things to note here – the Corian is 1/16” thinner than the Leecraft so you can’t set the bit height from the Leecraft – you need to check it and make some test cuts. The dust collection works much better here from below the table. Just take it slow….takes 10-15 minutes to cut these shapes.

There is a locking feature at the back of the insert and I used a pull saw and chisel to open this up:

This is a bit over the top, but used the mini CNC to carve the intended purpose in the bottom of the inserts:

The Corian is brittle, so I covered the entire insert with a tubafore before cutting through, and clamped it all down of course.

One of the problems with the 113 saws is the inserts are not really long enough to put a splitter in them safely, so I am going to have an insert (with a splitter) for cuts up to 1-1/4” and will have to switch out for an insert (without a splitter) for taller cuts.

For cutting the 1-14” insert, you need to count the number of turns when raising the blade….

I found these Grip-Tite splitters on Incra’s website ( for really cheap ($8?) so going to give them a try. Includes both thin and full kerf in the same package:

Parting shot:

I built four of them, plus have the Leecraft, so hope they last awhile….I did read a tip online somewhere that said when the insert starts to open up from blade drift or deflection, you seal the top with tape and pour epoxy in the bottom and start over again…..I will be trying that some day.

An interesting challenge…...thanks for looking.

-- Jeff .... Minnesota, USA

14 comments so far

View lanwater's profile


3113 posts in 3985 days

#1 posted 05-21-2014 11:21 PM

Great Job Jeff!

I have been looking for corian locally to make template out of it but not luck. Maybe I did not look hard enough.

I love the blog. Very Detailed as you always do.

And that home made pin router, I am stealing the idea.

Thanks for sharing.

-- Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

View SPalm's profile


5338 posts in 4933 days

#2 posted 05-22-2014 12:01 AM

Nicely done Sir.

Looks like a nice adventure in Corian and pin routing too. Neat.


-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3741 days

#3 posted 05-22-2014 12:20 AM

Those look so professional! You better start marketing those as there are a lot of those old Craftsman saws out there.

Love the pin router!

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View firefighterontheside's profile


21388 posts in 2908 days

#4 posted 05-22-2014 12:27 AM

I was thinking “nicely done” and “those look so professional” but those are taken, so I’ll just say good job.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

View Doe's profile


1437 posts in 3881 days

#5 posted 05-22-2014 12:33 AM

Well done and excellent description. I’d like to know what you think of the splitter.

-- Mother Nature talks, I try to listen

View William's profile


9950 posts in 3893 days

#6 posted 05-22-2014 12:47 AM

I’m glad to see it worked for you jeff.
I agree with Doe, we need a review of the splitter. I have some kind of doodad splitter thingys I used long ago. I can’t remember the name exactly since they were crap and got thrown into a drawer a long time ago.


View JL7's profile


8786 posts in 4016 days

#7 posted 05-22-2014 12:50 AM

Hey Abbas….good luck on the Corian search…’s out there…...and steal away!

Thanks Steve – you da man…....

Andy – you’re right – lot’s of them saws but not my design… is a good design though for sure….once you get it dialed in, the insert just snaps in sweet…..

Thanks Bill!

Doe and William – I will let you know how the splitter works…...I still have one of the MJ Splitters in the package, but seemed like a pain to install…..might try it later…..Thanks!

-- Jeff .... Minnesota, USA

View DIYaholic's profile


19921 posts in 3726 days

#8 posted 05-22-2014 02:43 AM

Another great JL7 instructional blog!!!

Great work and fantastic documentation.
You always make it look so simple and easy to do….
Well, now that you did the hard part, all we have to do is copy your process!!!

Thanks for the tutorial!!!

I too, am interested in the splitter review.
If you do one for Doe and William, can I look over their shoulders at it??? ;^)

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

View Dave's profile


11435 posts in 3891 days

#9 posted 05-22-2014 02:56 AM

Did I see hand saws and chisels.
Jeff is that u?
Jk kidding my friend.
I love to see your precision and work.
It is truly good.

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are."

View JL7's profile


8786 posts in 4016 days

#10 posted 05-22-2014 03:00 AM

I suppose you can Randy…..but William might not appreciate it….....thanks!

Hey Dave….I do break out the hand tools now and again…...this was a case where I couldn’t do it better without them for sure….....thanks man.

-- Jeff .... Minnesota, USA

View Roger's profile


21054 posts in 3855 days

#11 posted 05-23-2014 11:37 PM

These are thee fanciest zero clearence inserts I have ever seen. These should last you a lifetime. Wow!

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View tool_junkie's profile


331 posts in 3580 days

#12 posted 05-24-2014 07:58 PM

These ZCIs look great. You have great craftsmanship!

I do have a question; how did you route that small tear drop shaped (for the lack of better description) locking feature using the pin routing technique. I am not very well versed in pin routing but if I understand correctly, it allows you to create that lip all around the blank by choosing an appropriate height of the router bit as well as an offset distance between the pin and the bit, correct?


View JL7's profile


8786 posts in 4016 days

#13 posted 05-25-2014 02:38 PM

Thanks Roger!

tool_junkie – the pin (for the pin router) is the same diameter as the bit and is centered above the bit. The pattern (which is the Leecraft insert) is attached using carpet tape to the top of the blank to be milled. The pin router will follow the shape of the pattern exactly, so any shape (including the tear drop) will be reproduced. There is no offset involved.

Let me know if this doesn’t make sense.

-- Jeff .... Minnesota, USA

View tool_junkie's profile


331 posts in 3580 days

#14 posted 05-25-2014 07:02 PM

Jeff thanks for the explanation. I think need to read up more on pin routing techniques.

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