Table Saw Insert

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Project by Krisztian posted 08-03-2008 04:17 PM 7844 views 32 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Table Saw Insert
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If you need to do precision woodworking one of the necessary tools is a zero clearance tablesaw insert. The reason these are so important is because they help prevent tear-out on the bottom of the board that’s being cut. They are simple to make and you should have one for each of you saw blades and different width dado cuts.

Here’s what you’ll need:

A piece of wood as thick as you tablesaws metal insert.
Dial or digital calipers.
6’’ Digital Caliper
Digital caliper has 50% larger display, giving you easy-to-read numbers and .0005” accuracy. Can be used for inside, outside and depth measuring. Inch or metric display can be easily converted at ..
Band saw or scroll saw
Router with a flush trim pattern bit
Pattern Flush Trim Router Bit
Double back tape

Cut a piece of wood about three inches longer than the metal insert and about 1/4” wider. The extra length will allow for any snipe you have from your planner.
Using a dial caliper measure the distance from the top of the tablesaw to the top of the pads that the insert sits on.

Measure to get the thickness for the wood insert

Plane down the piece of wood to that thickness.
Place the metal insert upside down on the wood and trace around it leaving about 1/16” to 1/8” clearance all the way around.

Trace about 1/16” to 1/8” wider than the insert

Cut out the insert staying just outside the line.

Cut close to the line but on the outside

Double back tape the metal insert to the cut out piece of wood.

Three pieces are plenty

Using a flush trim pattern bit in your router copy the metal insert to the wooden one. You can do this with either a top bearing or bottom bearing bit.

Pattern match the metal insert

Remove the metal insert and see how it fits in the tablesaw. If it’s too tight just some light sanding should make it fit.
If you find that the support tabs for the insert on the tablesaw are not even you can use countersunk screws in the bottom of the wood insert to level it.
Put the insert into the tablesaw with the blade turned all the way down. I put my fence over part of the insert to help hold it in place.

Raise the blade through the insert

Slowly raise the blade through the insert until you get to the desired height. Go a little beyond and then back it down to where you want it.
For ripping blades it’s a good idea to put a spreader into the insert. Cut a slot the width of the saw blade into the out end of the insert. Cut a piece of hardwood the thickness of this slot.

Glue in a spreader to prevernt wood buning

Radius the end that is toward the saw blade and glue it into place. This will help reduce any burning if the wood tries to close up after it’s been cut.

Make a zero clearance insert for every dado with combination you plan to use and mark each insert with the with or blade combination.

That’s about it. I hope you liked this project.

-- Krisztian VA My website:

13 comments so far

View Karson's profile


35295 posts in 5737 days

#1 posted 08-03-2008 04:57 PM

Nice tutorial. Great job.

I didn’t knotice a finger hole to get the wood out. Do you crawl under the table and push it up?

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View Dusty56's profile


11868 posts in 5025 days

#2 posted 08-03-2008 05:25 PM

This was a great way to do it : ) I also would add the fingerhole as Karson mentioned .

The only issues I’ve had with wooden table inserts is seasonal swelling and shrinkage .

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View northwoodsman's profile


695 posts in 5083 days

#3 posted 08-04-2008 12:18 AM

What a coincidence. I was just out in the shop making some of these. I came in to cool off and to take a quick minute to check out LJ to see what everyone was up to this weekend and here was this project. Thanks for the photo’s Kristzian. Nice job too!

I used 1/2” Baltic birch plywood so they won’t shrink, expand or warp. I made 6 out of a 10” x 30” piece of plywood in about 60 minutes. I was just reading an article on Friday someplace about making these. I bored a 3/4 hole for a finger pull. I made the first one using the original steel template for my Delta saw. I made the other 5 using the first wood one as the template. In the “template” I used a #8×3/4 wood screw where the finger pull would be to fasten this template to the other blanks. I then calculated where the safety guard slot would be cut on the opposite end and placed another wood screw in this “waste” are. This way the finished ones won’t have scars. I used this wood template and screws for three reasons: 1) I get nervous using a piece of steel for a template around an expensive router bit, 2) I kept re-using the 2 screws over and over instead of wasting a lot of double-sided tape (I made 6 of them), and 3) the little “knob” on the back end of the original insert was in the way.

I also was looking at some phenolic blanks that Rockler sells for this purpose. The reviews all agreed that you needed to purchase the special drill bit and router bit because the material was so hard to work with. I got to thinking, if the phenolic is that hard, do I really want to break the teeth of my blades and dado set when I go to cut the blade slot?

Another note – many saws (including mine) won’t allow the blade to drop far enough below the surface to allow the insert to be set in place with the blade in place before the slot is cut. In this case, put the original insert in place, secure it, and drop your blade down below the tables’ surface. Put your newly made zero clearance on top of the insert (match it up exactly!) and either secure it with double -sided tape or use another creative method. Turn your saw on and slowly raise the blade up until the teeth come through the insert about 1/4”. Turn the saw off, lower the blade, remove the wooden insert from the original insert, place the wooden insert into place and secure, it. Again turn on the saw and raise the blade to cut your desired slot. I know have one for my 2 most commonly used saw blades and one four each of the 4 most common sized dados.

-- NorthWoodsMan

View motthunter's profile


2141 posts in 5136 days

#4 posted 08-04-2008 12:41 AM

great advice.

-- making sawdust....

View Dominic Vanacora's profile

Dominic Vanacora

508 posts in 5206 days

#5 posted 08-04-2008 02:21 PM

Great advice lumberjocks. I need to make another one since mine is warping. I make it out of cherry.

-- Dominic, Trinity, Florida...Lets be safe out there.

View TheCaver's profile


288 posts in 5176 days

#6 posted 08-04-2008 06:55 PM

I would like to add that it might be wise (and only take a minute) to add a retaining pin from a nail or thin screw in the rear of the insert to prevent the blade from grabbing it and throwing it forward…..

Look at the back of your commercial or included insert and you will find a small pin that fits into a slot/hole in the saw top. Drive a small nail into the same position and cut the head off with clippers or Dremel and you’re done!


-- Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known. -Carl Sagan

View marcb's profile


768 posts in 5010 days

#7 posted 08-04-2008 08:16 PM

I use plywood like northwoodsman. I then use 4 tiny wood screws to create leveling feet, its easier than shimming. My insert is 1/2” and 1/2 plywood is too thin.

I also take small pan head wood screw and put in where the bump in on the back of the original insert. Thats what keeps the insert from flying out if something makes the blade contact it.

Then wax the heck out of them so they’re nice a slippy.

View Callum Kendall's profile

Callum Kendall

1918 posts in 5040 days

#8 posted 08-05-2008 08:43 PM

Great job!

Thanks for the post


-- For wood working podcasts with a twist check out

View relic's profile


344 posts in 5273 days

#9 posted 08-06-2008 02:15 AM

Awesome tutorial and explanation, the spreader is a great feature.

-- Andy

View TomFran's profile


2964 posts in 5331 days

#10 posted 08-06-2008 03:49 PM

Very much appreciated!

-- Tom, Surfside Beach, SC - Romans 8:28

View Bud's profile


191 posts in 5275 days

#11 posted 08-17-2008 05:38 AM

Good job and write up.

-- Bud -

View lowbike1's profile


19 posts in 4898 days

#12 posted 09-20-2008 06:35 AM

I need to build one of these so bad, My table saw’s dips down about 1/8” ! why would they design it that way? Not too mention the 1/2” slot for the blade…

View Richforever's profile


757 posts in 5057 days

#13 posted 09-21-2008 04:52 AM

I’ve been looking for this info. Thanks for the post!

-- Rich, Seattle, WA

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