starting from zero

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Project by bd187 posted 05-17-2013 01:58 AM 2771 views 3 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Okay. i bought my first table saw. Got it home,. Assembled everthing Aligned everything So i should be ready to get cracking on some DIY goodness. Right? Wrong!!!! In order to begin my first project i needed a ZCI (zero clearance insert), which i found was not gonna be something i could pick up at the local big box lumber store. So I started looking for some after market candidates. And what did I find you ask. Nothing. Nada. Nil. I couldn’t find a thing.. So, My options were: make one or return the tablesaw. So now my first project is a zero clearance insert. And after a few minutes of tinkering i was up and running. PUHLEASE!!! After 3 days i finally succeded in producing a functioning model. Of course i totally screwed up a perfect piece of red oak on two of the test peices before it dawned on me to make it out of MDF first. DUH!! Now that i have a working model, i can take the last remaining peice of red oak and make my final part. I am thinking of replacing the screws i am using to hold the insert in place with small rare earth magnets. Those things are super strong.

-- Never bite the hand that feeds you, but always watch the hand that's cooking.

15 comments so far

View MNBsr's profile


89 posts in 2377 days

#1 posted 05-17-2013 02:13 AM

An alternative that I have used is to lay a sheet of 1/8” hardboard the size of the table top and let the Rip Fence be on top of it and Cut the knerf as you did. I would use this method since it was a pain to change out the insert on my old saw.

-- Malcolm, Mobile Alabama

View Grandpa's profile


3263 posts in 3187 days

#2 posted 05-17-2013 02:16 AM

Use screws to attach the wood to the existing metal throat plate. Install the original throat plate and you are there. You just have to make the top flush with the metal and the lower side small enough to clear the table.

View jman75's profile


89 posts in 2466 days

#3 posted 05-17-2013 05:12 AM

I was just thinking about this…since I have a Lowes Skil tablesaw with the rectangular insert. Only problem I have is mine hooks n snaps so something to hold it down would be tricky.

View George_SA's profile


418 posts in 2725 days

#4 posted 05-17-2013 08:47 AM

Projects always take much longer than planned and always cost more than budgeted for :-)

-- Sometimes life gets in the way of one's woodworking :)

View bd187's profile


33 posts in 2375 days

#5 posted 05-17-2013 02:14 PM

Grandpa – i hadn’t thought of that.

jman75 – my tablesaw throat plate also snaps in. I used m6 screws and threaded them into the leveler holes. But i think i’m gonna change that. Since i hand to use washers to shim the plate level on the front i just may see if i can use rare earth magnets to secure the throat plate.

-- Never bite the hand that feeds you, but always watch the hand that's cooking.

View PurpLev's profile


8551 posts in 4160 days

#6 posted 05-17-2013 02:30 PM

nice number to start with!

good job

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

View jman75's profile


89 posts in 2466 days

#7 posted 05-17-2013 05:59 PM

Ahh I see…

View AJswoodshop's profile


1057 posts in 2788 days

#8 posted 05-17-2013 07:21 PM

I just want to say…... Thanks so much! I have the same saw and have been waiting for someone to make one., It has a weird insert shape!

View muleskinner's profile


939 posts in 2948 days

#9 posted 05-17-2013 07:58 PM

I had the same thought process you did. Make one out of MDF first for a pattern. That was 2 years ago. I’m still using the ‘pattern’. MDF makes a fine insert.

-- Visualize whirled peas

View Chris Moellering's profile

Chris Moellering

227 posts in 3160 days

#10 posted 05-17-2013 11:14 PM

Great minds think alike.

I’d stick with the screws. It gives you some measure of adjustability.

-- Grace & peace, Chris+

View bd187's profile


33 posts in 2375 days

#11 posted 05-17-2013 11:21 PM

Chris, I think i might have ripped off the idea from your post. And seeing as you are the only example I could find…I tip my “inspiration cap” to you. Thanks a heap. also, i plan on leaving the screws in the hole of the saw and using it as a leveler. and just have the magnet in the insert

-- Never bite the hand that feeds you, but always watch the hand that's cooking.

View oldnovice's profile


7499 posts in 3879 days

#12 posted 05-18-2013 06:12 AM

Since my insert plate has radiused ends I bolt the steel one to the hardboard/plywood/whatever, rout around the perimiter with a bearing piloted bit to cut the outside.

However, what makes my insert a little more difficult is that there is a step in the cutout in my saw so either I use very thin material (1/8”) which is too thin or relieve the back side. To solve that issue I have a template that allows me to make that relief in 1/4” material which is more substantial.

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View NormG's profile


6441 posts in 3515 days

#13 posted 05-19-2013 05:14 AM

Great ZCI project. I would keep the screws for safety issues

-- Norman - I never never make a mistake, I just change the design.

View keith45377's profile


6 posts in 2232 days

#14 posted 09-09-2013 04:57 PM

i’ve got the same problems looking for specifics on the ZCI, how thick was the MDF board you used? and did you cut yours by bringing the blade up through the board?
Thanks for being the guinea pig, i’ve been working on this with several tries and failures, couldnt get the left side of blade close enough.
Thanks again


View bd187's profile


33 posts in 2375 days

#15 posted 09-09-2013 05:51 PM

@keith- the first one i made was 1/2” mdf. I have made a few more. some 1/2” plywood and “1/4 hardboard.
the hardboard actually worked better. Because of the small amount of clearance to the left of the blade the zci was never really stable on that side. But once i cut my blank just a fraction wider and then beveled the edge it stiffened up considerably. Good luck with yours.

-- Never bite the hand that feeds you, but always watch the hand that's cooking.

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