Zero Clearance Insert with replaceable panel

  • Advertise with us
Project by sandt38 posted 07-30-2010 01:42 AM 8933 views 74 times favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Someone saw my zero clearance insert and asked me for some info on it, and some pics. So here it is. This particular plate is designed to fit my Ridgid TS3640, but clearly you can modify it to fit any table.

The build is pretty simple and straightforward. First, I selected a piece of 1/2” MDF, as it is the perfect thickness for my insert. I like the MDF as it is very slick, and if you decide to use it and need to skinny it up, be sure to sand only 1 side down, and leave the other side alone, as the manufactured surface is slick, but once you sand it it becomes rough. Then I used some double sided tape and hooked my factory insert to it. I simply used a pattern cutting bit and traced the factory plate, and my base throat plate is now almost done. I used a rasp to take the hold down tab low enough to fit in the factory slot, and I drilled and countersunk the plate to fit the factory hold down machine screw.

Next I had to get the insert figured out for the throat plate. So I stacked all my dado blades and shims and raised it as high as I could, then I stuck my 10 inch blade in it and raised it all the way. Be sure to do it in this order if you use a stiffener. By using the dado first, you cut a relief out for the stiffener, and if you don’t the stiffener may hit the bottom of the plate insert and not allow the blade to raise all the way. So now you have the cutout length and width, so just set up your router table to cut out just a bit more then this, or draw your square and rout it out. If you choose to cut it with a jigsaw, I suggest you round the edges, as you can use them to help support the plate. Then, set up your mortising bit (or you could use a rabbiting bit) and dig out the depth of the hardboard you plan on using for your plate inserts. Then use a chisel to sharpen the edges of your cut out, and you have the main throat plate built. Please note that I elected to run my bit just beyond my required cutout. I did this to allow for fingernail access or small screwdriver access to make removing the insert MUCH easier.

Now all you have to do is cut out the hardboard inserts, drill the holes for the 1” coarse sheetrock screws, and countersink them, and you are done. Just raise the blades with the proper inserts and you have them done. I made 14 inserts.

There are several benefits to this design. First, I can store all 14 of my zero clearance inserts in a 2” X 11” X 1.5” space, as opposed to a 4” X 15” X 7” space (huge savings). Second, now I can use a zero clearance insert and get maximum lift with my stiffener installed, instead of hitting the bottom of my zero clearance insert. Third, now any time I need to make a new zero clearance insert it is just a matter of cutting a rectangle out of a simple piece of hardboard, I don’t have to recut the whole form, or buy a new plate for every thickness of blade or dado setting that I need to use.

Hopefully some of you will see this and use this design. I find it works great and has saved me a ton of money on my zero clearance inserts.

-- Got Wood? --- Somewhere along the way the people in Washington forgot that they are there to represent the people, not to rule them.

17 comments so far

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 5168 days

#1 posted 07-30-2010 02:03 AM

Nice work!

View Dan Hux's profile

Dan Hux

577 posts in 4869 days

#2 posted 07-30-2010 02:04 AM

very nice…great instructions.

-- Dan Hux,,,,Raleigh, NC

View JJohnston's profile


1622 posts in 4786 days

#3 posted 07-30-2010 02:22 AM

This is a good idea. I’d been mulling over how to make a practical ZCI for a Sawstop. They’re expensive and have complicated machining on the underside, but they’re made of phenolic rather than metal, so with this idea, I can use the factory insert itself, with the smaller inserts in it.

-- "A man may conduct himself well in both adversity and good fortune, but if you want to test his character, give him power." - Abraham Lincoln

View jayjay's profile


639 posts in 4541 days

#4 posted 07-30-2010 03:17 AM

That’s a great design. That’s definitely something I could use. Thanks for sharing.

-- ~Jason~ , Albuquerque NM

View dfdye's profile


372 posts in 4532 days

#5 posted 07-30-2010 04:04 AM

Love the idea! I’ll have to use that.

-- David from Indiana --

View sandt38's profile


166 posts in 4403 days

#6 posted 07-30-2010 04:08 AM

Glad to have given a little something back. I am interested in seeing how you guys set yours up.

JJohnson, I am not certain how Sawstop has set theirs up. But it is certainly possible to use a thinner stock, and possibly use allen set screws as levelers. I have seen them used on a router table extension where the plate sat just shy of the table. I thought of making some of these inserts out of cherry and using these set screws to ensure a perfect set… and the cherry will look so much sexier then the MDF :-)

-- Got Wood? --- Somewhere along the way the people in Washington forgot that they are there to represent the people, not to rule them.

View TheStudent's profile


11 posts in 4385 days

#7 posted 07-30-2010 04:22 AM

Thanks for the great instructions!

View Don Butler's profile

Don Butler

1092 posts in 4890 days

#8 posted 07-30-2010 01:57 PM

You’ve solved my problem with ZCIs!
Thanks for this great tip.

-- No trees were damaged in posting this message, but thousands of electrons were seriously inconvenienced.

View Tom's profile


30 posts in 4914 days

#9 posted 07-30-2010 03:41 PM

Yes thanks for the great instructions.

-- Tom

View PurpLev's profile


8654 posts in 5143 days

#10 posted 07-30-2010 03:48 PM

very cool. looks great!

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View ElmoSr's profile


243 posts in 4521 days

#11 posted 08-01-2010 07:30 PM

this is way too cool,,,again i am going to steal the plans——-hehe reckon if they are posted it isnt stealing

-- ElmoSr,Ga. Life is Hard by the Yard,,,But a Cinch by the Inch

View Manitario's profile


2818 posts in 4378 days

#12 posted 08-02-2010 04:10 AM

great idea, thanks for the plans!

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View RexMcKinnon's profile


2593 posts in 4690 days

#13 posted 08-03-2010 07:47 PM

Nice insert. Very useful. Thanks

-- If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail!

View twokidsnosleep's profile


1133 posts in 4469 days

#14 posted 08-11-2010 06:48 AM

Oh this is absolutely brilliant!
It solves a problem with my cheapo craftsman saw that has weird tabs on the RHS of the blade and nothing on the LHS to support the insert. So my zero clearance insert wabbles to the left. Now with your design I can see how I can tighten things up.

-- Scott "Some days you are the big dog, some days you are the fire hydrant"

View rance's profile


4282 posts in 4655 days

#15 posted 10-11-2010 02:20 PM

Very Smart Design. ALL ZCIP’s should be like this one.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

showing 1 through 15 of 17 comments

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics