My Third Project... Zero-clearance tablesaw insert plate

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Project by rivox1 posted 05-08-2013 06:10 PM 3862 views 11 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I wanted a ZCI for my new R4512, but before spending $30 on a store-bought one, I decided to try it and build one myself.

I was inspired by another Jock to make this ZCI. I just made a couple small modifications to his design. The ZCI is made out of MDF.

The plate that came with the saw had a snug fit, so all I did was cut The MDF to rough size, then stick the original plate with double sided tape to the MDF and trace it with a bottom bearing straight router bit. As you can see on the main picture I made a small mistake on the front of it, but functionality-wise it’s perfect.

The new ZCI didn’t have enough clearance underneath to sit on top of the blade, so using a flat top bit in the plunge router made a groove large enough to accommodate the blade.

I used a drill press and Forstner bits to make the finger hole and the holes for the table plate supports to fit. After making sure that the ZCI sat perfectly level with the table, I gave it a few passes through the thickness planer to make sure it was perfectly flush with the table.

In the picture it seems as if there is a gap, but the table saw has a rounded lip that makes it look this way, the fit is actually quite snug.

When it was time to make the blade slot I took the riving knife off; however, I wanted to use the knife that came with the saw, so after making the blade slot, I made it a bit longer using a jigsaw to accommodate the existing riving knife.

Start to finish it took me about 45 minutes to complete. The cost of the materials was probably around $0.38 (I came up with this figure by calculating that I paid $15 for the MDF and it has enough material to make around 40 of these. 14/40=0.375) So If I know anything about finances, spending $0.38 beats spending $30 to get the same result any day of the week!

I’ll be re-making this one to avoid the mistakes I made, and I will be making some more for 45 degree cuts, as well as my dado cuts!

As always, questions, comments, and constructive criticisms are always welcome!

Thanks for looking!

-- Cheers and Safe Woodworking!

12 comments so far

View Sanding2day's profile


1015 posts in 2383 days

#1 posted 05-08-2013 06:20 PM

Very nice… Time to make it “dirty” :)

-- Dan

View lepelerin's profile


495 posts in 2862 days

#2 posted 05-08-2013 07:08 PM

How did you “secure/attach” it to the table?

View Litrenta's profile


25 posts in 2659 days

#3 posted 05-08-2013 07:14 PM

Nice insert! I have the same saw and I find they’re a pain to make ZCI plates for because of the incredibly small profile between the plate rest and the top of the saw. I really like the way you hollowed out the slots with a forstner bit, for mine I used a rabbeting bit on a router table but I found it hard to really accurately gauge how much stock to remove so it was a lot of trial and error.

Just a tip though if you are going to be making more, what I did was create an MDF template of the stock plate that way you have a bit more material to run a flush trim bit across as the original plate is very thin. Also, if you have some laminate flooring, that’s what I used. I found it nice because it’s flat, has a nice finish and you don’t need to route out the groove for the blade. Took me a couple tries to get a good method of creating a handful of inserts but pretty happy with the results now.


View mariva57's profile


666 posts in 2541 days

#4 posted 05-08-2013 07:14 PM

Very useful project, I built one myself with some

-- The common man thinks. The wise man is silent. The stupid man discusses.

View rivox1's profile


30 posts in 2393 days

#5 posted 05-08-2013 07:50 PM

LITRENTA: Thanks for your comment! I know what you mean about the thin profile, it makes it hard to make these ZCIs! Your idea of using laminate flooring is great! If you’re making a thin ZCI, it would be the way to go. I would definitely not recommend making a thin ZCI out of MDF for this saw. I don’t think it will be strong enough!

I will definitely make a template to be able to make them easier and faster… That way I can also avoid the mistakes like the one in the picture.

Thanks again for the comment!

-- Cheers and Safe Woodworking!

View rivox1's profile


30 posts in 2393 days

#6 posted 05-08-2013 07:53 PM

LEPELERIN: I forgot to take a close up picture of it, but at the back of it there is a 1/8 inch lip to secure it to the table.

Thanks for the comment!

-- Cheers and Safe Woodworking!

View Train_Wreck's profile


3 posts in 2381 days

#7 posted 05-08-2013 09:18 PM

I’m never quite as sure about how much money I save by doing it myself. 38 cents sounds like a bargain until I start factoring in the lost time I could have spent making something else. Then I begin thinking about the wear and tear on tools, especially those planner knifes. And of course, now I have a bunch of MDF scraps to store. In the end, I still end up making my own ZCIs but not without some reflection and a bunch of rationalization.

View NiteWalker's profile


2739 posts in 3114 days

#8 posted 05-08-2013 11:00 PM

To get around the thin plate issue, you can use a scrap between the plate and mdf blank as a spacer. Just make sure the spacer is smaller than the plate. This moves the thin edge away from the mdf blank and you can center it on the bearing for routing. Works great.

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

View Bsmith's profile


330 posts in 3207 days

#9 posted 05-09-2013 05:11 PM

Great job. I made one for mine also. That lip around the edge was thin and a little challenging but turn our fine.

-- Bryan

View rivox1's profile


30 posts in 2393 days

#10 posted 05-09-2013 06:22 PM

BSMITH: yeah that lip is very thin! That’s why I made the mistake you see, the plate actually squeezed between the bearing and the cutting edge while I was routing the ZCI. I guess I have to pay more attention on the next one.

A great idea is what LITRENTA said, just make one thick template and use that for making more plates instead of using the plate that came with the saw!

Thanks for commenting!

-- Cheers and Safe Woodworking!

View whitebeast88's profile


4128 posts in 2727 days

#11 posted 05-10-2013 01:27 AM

very nice work,this is on my short list to make for my 4512 also.thanks for sharing.

-- Marty.Athens,AL

View rivox1's profile


30 posts in 2393 days

#12 posted 05-10-2013 05:40 AM

WHITEBEAST88: you should definitely make them! If you make them in batch, you can make 4 or 5 in a short period of time and they’ll last you a long time!

Thanks for commenting!

-- Cheers and Safe Woodworking!

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