Zero Clearance for Circular saw

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Project by Rick posted 08-08-2010 05:43 AM 10617 views 7 times favorited 23 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I lowered the base plate of the circular saw until the blade didn’t stick through. I used heavy duty double sided tape to adhere a 3/16 inch scrap birch ply piece. I then turned on the saw and lowered it through the birch ply creating the zero clearance.
As you can see in the last picture I needed to cut apart some large sheets in my garage. Normally my circular saw will leave all kinds of tear out behind in its wake with plywood. This time it didn’t. I should have done this a long time ago.

23 comments so far

View dustyal's profile


1322 posts in 4818 days

#1 posted 08-08-2010 05:53 AM

should help reduce tear out.. but be careful, blade guard will not work. Have you tried a plywood blade? Or, using masking tape (blue painter tape) along the cut line to reduce tear out? Both of those options have worked for me to reduce tear out…

-- Al H. - small shop, small projects...

View davidroberts's profile


1027 posts in 4829 days

#2 posted 08-08-2010 06:32 AM

I upgraded my circ blade to a Freud, but there is still some amount of fuzz and tearout. I like your idea alot. Especially since it is straight forward and easy to make. I was wondering how you affixed the ZC baseplate. Double sided carpet tape is another good idea. It is also a bear to remove. I stuck 2 pieces of 1/2 inch plywood together and almost broke one piece in half when I separated them.

-- Better woodworking through old hand tools.

View Manitario's profile


2818 posts in 4226 days

#3 posted 08-08-2010 07:15 AM

really interesting idea; as dustyal mentioned, have you tried any plywood blades for your circular saw? I have a 60 toothed blade on mine and have very little tear out.

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

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 4458 days

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

I have used several diferent kind of saw blades with minimum 48 teeth
and white painter tape on everykinds of sheedgoods with absolut min of tearout
when you saw the blade must only go a few mm thrugh both sheedgoods and regular wood
but your idea have something ,but you deffently need to have a splitknife as minimum to
avoid kickback and be very carefull when you can´t use the bladeguard
you have to develop your idea so the cleance is very easy to take of or
ells it is a too dangerus tool to have around

just my 2cent
take care

View Don Butler's profile

Don Butler

1092 posts in 4738 days

#5 posted 08-08-2010 12:47 PM

The blade you’re using looks dangerous all by itself. Allow me to echo the advice of others, get a plywood blade and make it a good carbide one. You’ll never need another blade for sheet goods.

Your idea for ZC is a good one.
Thanks for sharing it.


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

View DaddyT's profile


267 posts in 4853 days

#6 posted 08-08-2010 04:05 PM

I must agree with Don. That looks like a rough framing blade. A good plywood blade and tape are the way to go for the best looking edges. I usually take a measurement first, lay down the tape so that I can draw a line in the middle of it, then cut. Helps save on tear out on both pieces.

-- Jimi _ Measure twice, cut [email protected]#%#[email protected]!!!......measure twice, cut....

View Ryan's profile


238 posts in 4272 days

#7 posted 08-08-2010 04:29 PM

It’s a great idea.
Can you load the photo for cut section of plywood(top portion)?
I know it’s definitely smooth but just want to see how good it is.

View ChefHDAN's profile


1849 posts in 4192 days

#8 posted 08-08-2010 04:35 PM

Concur with the above, right tool for the job, right technique for the task! I also score my cutline with a sharp utillity knife when cutting $$ Veneer ply.

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

View jcees's profile


1079 posts in 5142 days

#9 posted 08-08-2010 04:48 PM

Schweeeet! Kind of a “duh” but then again I’ve never made one so, BRAVO for getting it done. Ditto on replacing the blade. I’ve had great luck with the newer Freud blades.


-- When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. -- John Muir

View Bureaucrat's profile


18341 posts in 4995 days

#10 posted 08-08-2010 07:40 PM

For 1 or 2 cuts in plywood, I have used blue painter tape on the shoe of the circular saw much the same as you have used the plywood. It’s reduced tear out each time I’ve done it. A very temporary solution tho and the blade guard issue remains.

-- Gary D.

View Rick's profile


367 posts in 4553 days

#11 posted 08-09-2010 02:20 AM

Hey guys, I appreciate the concern. I hadn’t really considered kickback with this particular circular saw. Not much for power at all. It came with a 5 tool Ridgid set and is battery powered.

I also hadn’t considered getting a different blade. I suppose I would have but I don’t really see it reducing tear out that much. I have a Freud fusion blade on my table saw and if I don’t have the zero clearance plate on it still tears out. So how much of a difference could a Freud blade make in this instance?

As for the tape. Every instance before this I’ve used blue painters tape for circular saw cuts on sheets. It’s never worked that well. At least not well enough to really please me and not nearly as well as this did.

I cut through these sheets of plywood in 1/8 inch increments. Cuts were very very clean and worked like a charm.

Has anyone had a circular saw kick back on them? If so what were you cutting, how were you cutting and how did the saw react?

Thanks everyone.

View sedcokid's profile


2738 posts in 4941 days

#12 posted 08-09-2010 03:38 AM

Be Careful Out There….

-- Chuck Emery, Michigan,

View jack1's profile


2168 posts in 5370 days

#13 posted 08-09-2010 03:55 AM

I have had a circ saw kick back on 3/4” oak ply. No damage except to peace of mind… be careful as all are saying stand to the side when you cut if at all possible.

-- jack -- ...measure once, curse twice!

View Rick's profile


367 posts in 4553 days

#14 posted 08-09-2010 04:00 AM

I’m still not terribly sure what danger this presents. I surely wouldn’t cut “free hand” this way and that’s the only way I could see a danger. I always use a securely fixed straight edge for the saw to follow while breaking down sheets and the sheets are secure in place before, during and after the cut.
Do any of you use your blade guard on your tablesaw? I use a splitter on my tablesaw but that’s because the wood is moving. While breaking down sheets the wood is not moving. Has anyone had a circular saw kick back on them? If so what were you cutting, how were you cutting and how did the saw react? I am interested in any evidence and/or experience.
Maybe I would really understand what all of you are so concerned about if I had a powerful circular saw. As I said, this one is pretty timid(battery powered). But it gets the job done for me the few times I actually need a circular saw. So I haven’t bothered upgrading.

Thanks Jack. Were you using a secure straight edge or cutting free hand? What exactly did the saw do when it kicked back? Did it want to climb back at you?

View Rick's profile


367 posts in 4553 days

#15 posted 08-09-2010 03:22 PM

I think I’ll go get a new blade for it today. I didn’t realize they were so cheap.

Also, I can easily cut out a slot for the blade guard to slide back down through the zero clearance plate. I think I’ll do that when I get a chance and update the pictures on here. If this really is a very dangerous thing to do I wouldn’t want someone to get injured for doing this as well.

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