Zero Clearance Inserts From Cheap Cutting Board

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Project by TObenhuber posted 12-31-2016 03:02 PM 6513 views 14 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This was a long awaited project. I have needed to replace the Zero Clearance Insert that I bought the saw with for years now. I guess learning the table saw and what I wanted out of it was more important that the insert. Well, I have built some skills now and have been slowly improving the saw for the last few months.

This isn’t an original idea but it is a good one. Also, not exactly a wood project but used for wood projects. What I used was a $12.97 cutting board 15”X20” from Wally World. It’s approximately 3/8” to ½” thick. I was able to make 5 Inserts at about $3 each. I might have been able to use some ¼” ply but I didn’t have any scrap around and found this idea interesting. Hopefully long lasting as well.

To make it, it went very much like you would expect. I ripped the board to width. Cut the curves on the bandsaw. Then I finest to fit with some concussive persuasion. The plastic is pretty soft and sections that didn’t want to fit shaved off very easily as I tapped it in. Then with a following rabbeting bit I shaved off about 1/8” to ¼” off the bottom to fit around the inside lip. Overall, the plastic board milled much better than most other wood I’ve used. It is a little gummy if you don’t cut at a decent speed. If you start to see melting, just push it through the blade faster.

The original Post was from Popular Woodworking Magazine. Link Below.

I hope you enjoyed this little tip that I stumbled across. I found it interesting. Please visit my page. If you like what you see please like:
Creative Woodworks Hybla Valley

More pictures and less side ways:
Zero Clearance Inserts

Popular Woodworking Magazine Article:

-- Travis, Virginia,

16 comments so far

View GR8HUNTER's profile


9327 posts in 2053 days

#1 posted 12-31-2016 03:24 PM

good idea … nice and cheap ….also sturdy …... GREAT JOB :<)

-- Tony---- Reinholds,Pa.------ REMEMBER TO ALWAYS HAVE FUN :<))

View Boghog's profile


34 posts in 1852 days

#2 posted 12-31-2016 03:46 PM

I will try this as well, great job

-- Justin Young, Kentucky

View luv2learn's profile


3148 posts in 3643 days

#3 posted 12-31-2016 04:12 PM

Zero clearance inserts are a must for the table saw and you have found a creative way to make them. Thanks for sharing. Nicely done.

-- Lee - Northern idaho~"If the women don't find you handsome, at least they ought to find you handy"~ Red Green

View TObenhuber's profile


185 posts in 2933 days

#4 posted 12-31-2016 04:16 PM

Thanks guys!!! No need to apply shellac or poly either. They are already pretty slick.

-- Travis, Virginia,

View jasoncarpentry's profile


149 posts in 3994 days

#5 posted 12-31-2016 05:55 PM

Good idea! I keep meaning to make some inserts for my Grizzly saw, and this might be the answer. However, I notice that you’re not adding any leveling screws. Why is that? Maybe these aren’t necessary, but every factory-made insert I’ve owned has them.

-- Jim in Tennessee

View woodify's profile


351 posts in 3412 days

#6 posted 12-31-2016 06:25 PM

I like this idea. I’ll be keeping my eyes open for a cheap cutting board

-- Woodify ~~

View LesB's profile (online now)


3249 posts in 4783 days

#7 posted 12-31-2016 06:27 PM

Beats paying for those $30+ commercial inserts.
I have used left over pieces of resin counter tips, like Corian. The material is solid enough to drill and tap holes for leveling screws.
I have also made inserts for dado blades and shaper blades using 1/2” apple ply with small screws on the bottom side to level them. It is also a good idea to put a couple of “washer” head screws (at the far end) on the under side that over stick out and hook under the top of the table edge to hold it down against the upward rotation of the saw blade and the air flow it creates.

-- Les B, Oregon

View Gbonawitz's profile


10 posts in 1859 days

#8 posted 12-31-2016 08:38 PM

Good idea. I need to do this myself.

View recycle1943's profile (online now)


6253 posts in 2962 days

#9 posted 12-31-2016 08:40 PM

Great idea with the cutting board, thanks for the tip(s), I guess I’ll be making a trip to wally world Monday

-- Dick, Malvern Ohio - my biggest fear is that when I die, my wife sells my toys for what I told her I paid for them

View TObenhuber's profile


185 posts in 2933 days

#10 posted 12-31-2016 08:42 PM

Jim from Tennessee, I addressed that by measuring and routing a rabbet on the back to right depth. This way it drops in past the lower lip/shelf/thing. There is the possiblity of adding the set screws later or a simple paper shim.

Les, B Oregon, The snug fit takes care of the insert flying out so far. I haven’t put it through its paces yet but if I do have a problem I’ll have to think of a way to address that. Screw or nail in the far end behind the blade.

-- Travis, Virginia,

View bushmaster's profile


4164 posts in 3623 days

#11 posted 12-31-2016 10:49 PM

great idea, so much better than the wood ones I have. Will try and make inserts for my bandsaw. they cost 12$ for 3 here. Just replace the cut up ones in the kitchen and let your wife use the new one. I have tried running the old ones through the planner to give another smooth surface. Just use these in the shop instead.

-- Brian - Hazelton, British Columbia

View TObenhuber's profile


185 posts in 2933 days

#12 posted 12-31-2016 10:56 PM

Brian, LOL!!! I probably should have done that as well. New inserts and happy wife. Just brilliant!!!

-- Travis, Virginia,

View Pointer's profile


465 posts in 2451 days

#13 posted 12-31-2016 10:57 PM

Cool idea. I am concerned though about the flex of the plastic. Is there any? I have been making mine out of baltic birch ply and then I reinforce the bottom so that there is no flexing allowed.

-- Joe - I am not entirely worthless, I can always serve as a bad example.

View TObenhuber's profile


185 posts in 2933 days

#14 posted 12-31-2016 11:32 PM

They are pretty ridgid on first impression. They are new and I haven’t done any major ripping yet. I know I have a tough time bend plastic cutting board when they are whole. Much less one in smaller pieces.

-- Travis, Virginia,

View 1garageman's profile


5 posts in 3674 days

#15 posted 05-09-2017 07:42 PM

Very good idea. I have a quick question, if you use the saw a lot does the heat from the blade effect it in any way??

-- Tomorrow hopes we have learned something from yesterday. John Wayne

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