Zero Clearance Inserts for Craftsman TS

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Project by Radu posted 09-20-2010 05:32 PM 4290 views 10 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Finally I got some ZCI for my TS. I have a Craftsman TS that has a thin insert. I used hardboard (masonite) to make the insert. I thought the hardboard would not be stiff enough so I decided to add a piece of 1/2” MDF to fit the inner recess. I cut the two inserts to fit in, then I put the top one in, set some double sided tape on the MDF one and inserted it from the bottom. I got them stuck together and the pulled out. I put some screws in. Then I took them apart, removed the tape and glued them together. I put the screws back in to fit them in the original place and clamped. Once the glue was dry I took the screws out and filled the holes with wood filler (I was going to leave the screws in but I thought it might be better not to have any metal in the vicinity of the blade) and gave it a coat of wax. For the splitter I used a couple of arborite (formica) samples from HD glued together. I cut the insert on this one using the 7 1/4” blade (that’s what I’m using to cut MDF) but even for the 10” blade I need to start with the 7 1/4” blade. I haven’t decided yet if I’ll use set screws for leveling or just some shims. I have 5 sets done – I should be good for a while.

11 comments so far

View GabrielX's profile


231 posts in 3338 days

#1 posted 09-20-2010 05:56 PM

Cool addition; crafty and useful…be safe!

-- GX

View Albert's profile


532 posts in 4096 days

#2 posted 09-20-2010 05:58 PM

Looks great, should work very well.
To shim mine I just used several layers of duct tape to bring the height up.

View Mean_Dean's profile


6994 posts in 3654 days

#3 posted 09-20-2010 08:08 PM

Looks good!

I have the same type of saw, and am wondering, how did you mount your splitter to the insert?

Thanks alot!

-- Dean -- "Don't give up the ship -- fight her 'till she sinks!" Capt James Lawrence USN

View Radu's profile


333 posts in 3550 days

#4 posted 09-20-2010 08:58 PM


Here is the process (this is what I will do next time):
- take your old insert and blade off
- put the new insert on and raise the arbor until the flange is just a hair below the insert (the MDF piece in my case)
- take the insert off
- put the blade in (if you’re using the insert with the 10 blade put the 10” blade in without screwing the nut
- take a 2×4 that you will use later to hold the insert in when you cut the slot and mark the max height of the blade (the 2×4 will need to sit on the 2” (1.5”) side)
- either put a 7 ¼” blade in or you need to carve some of that MDF off because the 10” blade hardly clears the bottom of the original insert.
- put the new insert in
- secure it with a 2×4 clamped on top (set it as close as possible to the place were the blade will come out; again, set it on the side so you see your mark)
- turn the saw on and raise the blade up to the mark (when I cut mine I didn’t do all this marking process and at one point something was smelling like burnt wood – it was the flange touching the MDF)
- turn the saw off and take the new insert out’ put the old one in
- set the new insert over the blade and set your fence beside it
- take the new insert off, turn saw on and cut a slot in the new insert until it meets the one previously cut
- put the new insert on and mark were the 10” blade exits the insert at its max height (just to make sure you don’t cut into the splitter)
- make up your splitter (I used a couple of arborite samples from HD glued together; the thickness of the splitter should be just a hair under the kerf thickness; there are different thicknesses of arborite; use as many as you need; I cut a couple of pieces of paper out of a business card and glued them on the sides of the splitter)
- finally I glued the splitter in the insert and trimmed the paper shims.

Kind of a long process but it’s not that complicated. I hope it makes sense. You might find some shortcuts.

Here is a discusion on this topic

Here is a video that LJ Bob #2 posted (Thanks Bob; good video, eh!)

View twokidsnosleep's profile


1106 posts in 3480 days

#5 posted 09-21-2010 02:49 AM

My Craftsman saw has a number of little tabs and weird insets on the RHS of the blade and no supports on the LHS that make fab of an insert difficult. I have made a couple, but they took me forever.
A zero clearance insert is a huge help in avoiding tear-out and greater safety.

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

View Skylark53's profile


2712 posts in 3567 days

#6 posted 09-21-2010 08:50 AM

That’s really good work on a project you’ll enjoy and benefit from everyday! Time well spent!

-- Rick, Tennessee, John 3:16

View Radu's profile


333 posts in 3550 days

#7 posted 09-21-2010 04:00 PM

That setup is pretty strange, but every saw is different. If you really want and you think it helps you could glue a metal strip to form a ledge for the insert using JB Weld.

View Tim Self's profile

Tim Self

15 posts in 3312 days

#8 posted 09-21-2010 04:15 PM

I’ve made one similar to yours and used thin wood strips to shim the height. Works great and sure beats $30 for a prefab from Woodcraft.

-- Tim

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 4180 days

#9 posted 09-21-2010 04:33 PM

Neat idea.

View steiner's profile


284 posts in 3857 days

#10 posted 02-04-2011 05:31 PM

Just getting around to seeing this. Nice insert.

-- Scott

View dpark's profile


13 posts in 3165 days

#11 posted 02-17-2011 09:42 AM

Hi, Radu. I’ve been trying to figure out how to build a zero-clearance insert for my table saw (r4512, also a very thin insert), and your design looks very promising. Did you use 1/8” hardboard for these? And have you had any problems with flex?

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