One Day Too Late

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Blog entry by dustbunny posted 03-23-2010 05:31 AM 1923 reads 4 times favorited 29 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I finally made myself a zero clearance insert for my table saw. This happened today only because I spent 4 hours in the emergency room yesterday to have my left palm stitched up. Yup, I have officially joined the ranks of the injured woodworkers; bitten by my own table saw. Like many, I removed the splitter to make dado cuts and did not replace it. Yesterday I ran some hard maple through the saw and noticed it was pinching on the back of the blade. Stupid thinks to herself, as she has many times before, I’ll use my 1/8” shim to hold the cut open. Now the shim I was using had 45 deg cuts on both ends, with one end in my left hand, I pressed it into the gap not realizing the blade was under the surface of the wood (and stupid did not turn the saw off this time as she always does). The shim hit the upstroke of the blade and exploded into about 50 pieces while driving the point of the shim into my palm. Ouch…without all the gory details, I have four stitches in my palm.

Here is my insert….

I traced the original insert onto a scrap of maple, cut the width on the TS and the rounds on the band saw. Sanded the ends until they fit snug. Planed the thickness to be level with the table.

I added a washer to the back of the insert to fit under the bottom surface of the table top. This holds the insert in place, preventing the upstroke of the saw blade from throwing the insert at you. I notched a groove with a carbide bur, and epoxied the washer in place. Then set the insert in position and raised the blade to saw up through the insert. I flipped the insert vertically front to rear and ran the blade up through again.

If you notice, the front of the blade is 1 1/2” from the front of the insert, and the back is 3 1/2”. By flipping the insert it extends the cut, that will be behind the blade when put back to the original position. This will allow you to put a splitter behind the blade in the saw cut.

The splitter thickness is slightly thicker than the kerf, then on the fence side of the splitter that will seat into the kerf, the slight thickness is removed. This will force the piece on the inside to press up against the fence.
I think you can see that in this picture-

Glue in place, put insert into table, and you are ready to be sawing SAFELY.
To remove the insert press the back curve down and the front will pop up.
I meant to make one of these a while ago, takes a rude awakening sometimes to get me moving.
Thanks for looking,


-- Imagination rules the world. ~ Napoleon Bonaparte ~

29 comments so far

View lightweightladylefty's profile


3285 posts in 3984 days

#1 posted 03-23-2010 05:40 AM


So sorry to hear about your injury, but thanks for the reminder to do something I should have done long ago. I need to make it this week’s priority!

-- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

View degoose's profile


7250 posts in 3626 days

#2 posted 03-23-2010 06:03 AM

Join the club… be lucky it was not the blade that bit you.
Glad all is ok now.

-- Don't drink and use power tools @

View Woodfix's profile


343 posts in 3571 days

#3 posted 03-23-2010 06:29 AM

On your birthday too. Bother.
Glad you are okay.

-- I would rather have the most memories, than the most money.

View scrappy's profile


3507 posts in 3702 days

#4 posted 03-23-2010 08:16 AM

Lisa, Sorry to hear about your accident. Glad it wasn’t any worse. Most times it’s the little things that will get you.

Be safe. Heal quickly.


-- Scrap Wood's the best...the projects are smaller, and so is the mess!

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18469 posts in 3948 days

#5 posted 03-23-2010 08:53 AM

Glad to hear it was the shim and not the blade!! Sorry for your accident. I have had a lot of stiches, but usually materials I’m handling or run into in the ceilings. Lots of sharp edges out there ;-((

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View ellen35's profile


2740 posts in 3704 days

#6 posted 03-23-2010 12:51 PM

Sorry about the accident but … necessity is the mother of invention… now you have a new ZCI with a splitter.
An incident like that makes us all a little more careful.

-- "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." Voltaire

View lumberdustjohn's profile


1263 posts in 3438 days

#7 posted 03-23-2010 01:27 PM

Sorry to hear of your misfortune.
Glad it was minor.

I do the same as you have done. I need to make a zero clearance insert also.
Still use the insert that came with the saw.

Heal quickly.

-- Safety first because someone needs you.

View Kindlingmaker's profile


2658 posts in 3798 days

#8 posted 03-23-2010 02:05 PM

Ouch! Your tribulations leave a lot of goosebumps! Thank you for sharing and reminding us all to be as safe as we can be.

-- Never board, always knotty, lots of growth rings

View SPalm's profile


5327 posts in 4154 days

#9 posted 03-23-2010 02:07 PM

Ouch, sorry. (and Ouch again…)

To make a ZCI, I rough cut the size needed, double sticky tape it to the original, and use a pattern cutting router bit to make an exact copy.

I also cut out the square in the back for access to the splitter and guard that came with the saw. It seems like a stronger splitter. If you remove your splitter too many times, it may loosen the grip.

Drilling a finger hole is a nice thing too, to allow removal.

Stay safe,

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 4571 days

#10 posted 03-23-2010 02:23 PM

Sorry to hear about your accident, especially while you’re trying to add a safety feature to your saw.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3387 days

#11 posted 03-23-2010 02:58 PM

how the %&@&%#¤%¤#W#¤%%¤@&§ so now the steam is out I can say

sorry to hear you got heart in the battle
glad to hear it´s a minor
hope you heal fast
bee safe and stay tuned


View Andy's profile


1698 posts in 4180 days

#12 posted 03-23-2010 03:08 PM

Thats a nice insert you made, it will give you confidence.
Sorry to hear about the cut, but glad it wasnt any worse.
Those are the kind that teach and not scare us off.
Your tough, you came right back and fixed the problem, I’m impressed :)

-- If I can do it, so can you.

View Karson's profile


35158 posts in 4672 days

#13 posted 03-23-2010 03:11 PM

Lisa Sorry about your injury. Some great tips there. Learned from experience.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View woodsmithshop's profile


1373 posts in 3817 days

#14 posted 03-23-2010 04:06 PM

welcome to the “club” nothing like an accident to wake up a person, glad it wasn’t worse than it is, glad to see you are back at it so soon.

-- Smitty!!!

View mikethetermite's profile


599 posts in 3538 days

#15 posted 03-23-2010 07:18 PM

Sorry to hear about your injury. Thanks for the reminder for the importance of using a splitter and a zero clearance insert. The maple insert really turned out nice.

-- Mike The Termite ~~~~~ Working safely may get old, but so do those who practice it.

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