Zero clearance insert - odd table saw opening

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Project by Oldtool posted 08-05-2013 12:00 AM 5496 views 12 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I have a very inexpensive table-top table saw, with an insert stamped from thin sheet metal, which it flexes or bows down with any weight on it, not to mention the permanent 5/8” wide opening around the blade, making this saw difficult & somewhat dangerous to use on small, narrow, or short parts.

In order to fill some of my afternoon, I decided to improve this situation by making a zero clearance insert. The first problem is the fact that the insert mounting pads don’t allow for any material thicker than 1/16”, see photo number 3.

I decided to just strengthen this plate, using it for mounting again, but with an epoxied 3/4 oak attachment, as the table offered no other option for mounting of anything thicker. I first needed cut the additional insert material to fit the opening, and then create a rabbit for the existing insert.

After using epoxy to adhere the oak to the thin plate, I needed to find & use extra long screws to secure the plate in place over the blade, which when taken completely down was only 1/8” below the table top, as shown in photo #2. I secured it at this height using two squeeze clamps, photo number 5, and slowly ran the blade up through the oak.

With the new assembly now secured with the original short screws, you can see in photo #1 that this created a good flat and zero clearance opening for delicate work. As far as flex, there is none, and I’m more comfortable with the closed up 5/8” opening.

I hope this helps any others that are suffering with a similar situation on a saw of this type.

Thanks, and I’ll be glad to answer any questions.

-- "I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The point is to bring them the real facts." - Abraham Lincoln

12 comments so far

View woodworker59's profile


560 posts in 3482 days

#1 posted 08-05-2013 02:08 AM

Looks like a working zero clearance insert to me… must be doing something right over there… I agree, that it makes for a much safer saw, and you will notice the difference in chip out on your hardwoods as well… Papa

-- Papa...

View kiefer's profile


5852 posts in 3948 days

#2 posted 08-05-2013 02:47 AM

Great heavy duty solution the kind I like !!!
Well done .

-- Kiefer

View HopBoy's profile


5 posts in 3179 days

#3 posted 08-05-2013 12:34 PM

I have almost the exact same situation with my new/used Sears table saw. I was heading down a different direction, trying to make an insert to cover the whole opening. Tried using plexiglass… but quickly dismissed that… thin enough but much more bendy than the original plate.. not to mention the little shards that like to stick in skin (had to cut a 45 degree angle on the left side)

I really like this idea. The bulk sits down below the table top once the original screws are replaced.

Thanks for sharing!!

-- Ed "I cut it twice, and the dang thing is still too short."

View DonDA's profile


193 posts in 4512 days

#4 posted 08-05-2013 01:07 PM

Innovative and very workable. Enjoy.

-- Don, Saginaw Mi

View 03roadking's profile


16 posts in 3216 days

#5 posted 08-05-2013 01:25 PM

Thanks for the post! I have been in need of this for a while.

View BBF's profile


144 posts in 3120 days

#6 posted 08-05-2013 01:34 PM

Nice fix.

-- I've never been disappointed buying quality but I have been disappointed buying good enough.

View 7Footer's profile


2575 posts in 3229 days

#7 posted 08-05-2013 05:27 PM

Favorited! I have a very similar insert on my Hitachi, and after like 5 failed attempts at a ZCI I gave up, but never thought of adhering the wood to the original insert, might be time to try again! Well done sir!


View exit116's profile


140 posts in 3073 days

#8 posted 08-05-2013 06:46 PM

thank you for sharing

-- Money: if you do not have fun earning it, have fun spending it, I do not enjoy spending it so I have fun earning it.

View Oldtool's profile


3351 posts in 3471 days

#9 posted 08-05-2013 07:33 PM

Hey guys, thanks for the comments, much appreciated.

I need to make sure those who might try this should know that this will be a dedicated 90 deg. insert. If I were to tilt the blade, this insert must come out, or the blade slot will be recut & no longer a zero clearance device.

As I use this saw only for ripping and crosscuts, I didn’t mind dedicating the factory insert to this application. If I ever have to tilt the blade, I’ll do so with the insert removed, assuming I’ll be mitering long pieces.


Thanks for looking.

-- "I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The point is to bring them the real facts." - Abraham Lincoln

View Mauricio's profile


7168 posts in 4432 days

#10 posted 08-05-2013 08:51 PM

Brilliant idea OT! I need to do this to my saw.

-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

View Boatman53's profile


1085 posts in 3477 days

#11 posted 08-05-2013 10:51 PM

Just remember that with that thick of a plate not to tip the blade for a miter or you will bend a blade before you realize it. A good solution none the less.

-- Jim, Mid coast, Maine home of the chain leg vise

View Kevin's profile


575 posts in 3580 days

#12 posted 08-12-2013 06:38 PM

Good solution, I had a table saw with that problem that now belongs to a friend, I’ll pass on your solution to him, he’ll appreciate it.

-- Measure twice, cut once, then sand a whole bunch

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