Functional, But Not Amazing Zero Clearance Insert (ZCI) for SawStop

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Review by jayseedub posted 12-26-2020 08:44 PM 1060 views 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Functional, But Not Amazing Zero Clearance Insert (ZCI) for SawStop No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

*Update: I happened to stumble across the instructions for the ZCI on Infinity’s website—would have been nice if they’d included them in the box (yes, I double-triple checked the box, and they weren’t in there). It seems that my intuition largely aligned with the instructions—but I wish I hadn’t had to guess so much about how to install this correctly. I also was alerted to the presence of the two side set-screws which snug up the ZCI laterally (right to left). Now the ZCI is more secure—but since I’d already cut a slot with my blade, that slot is now 1/128” or so off (since the set-screws now have relocated the ZCI by that amount left).

Also: Now it doesn’t appear that the mdf insert is any different in thickness—that “problem” has resolved itself.

Just about all of my complaints below would have been solved by including the instructions. It’s that simple. It still isn’t a 5-star product, and I’m honestly wishing I’d just bought three SawStop insert plates now.


=============== Original Review Below =================

I guess for $110 I was expecting a different level of fit and finish—and probably even some instructions (or tips, suggestions, ideas, thoughts on how best to install this and get it working!). I have the SawStop CNS175. I’ve given it four stars since I think in the long run it’ll fulfill my needs—but it’s quite far from inspiring, awesome, or even Darn Good. It’s good.

First Impressions

The ZCI frame is metal, so that’s “quality” I guess. There’s no front locking frame like the actual stock SawStop insert has—but I don’t think that matters too much (it was incorrect of me to expect it, at all, I suppose!). It’s certainly not flimsy, but it’s also not really “substantial.” It’s fine. Better than average, but not much.

The inserts surprised me a little bit. They’re made out of MDF, and the pre-cut openings (for the riving knife, I guess?) had chipout on delivery. Again, nothing that will affect performance I guess, but you’d think they’d be cutting them without chipout at the factory if I can cut laminate without chipout at home, wouldn’t you?

They’re flimsy. And the dovetail tolerances aren’t as tight as I’d have expected, either. I was expecting a snug, smooth fit but they’re loose. Not too loose, I suppose, but not as tight tolerances as I was expecting (there are my expectations, again!!). If I was making them myself (and I might), I’d make them snugger.

Oh—and no instructions. Nothing. Bupkus. Zippo. Nada. No clues on what to do other than exert my years of trial-and-error experience to guide me.

First, you have to figure out that the rear slots on the bottom of the ZCI are for the bolts for securing the rear of the insert. When I first installed it, the ZCI sat on top of the bolts, so the whole thing wasl sitting proud about 1/8” from my table saw. I tried to level it with the leveling screws, but of course that didn’t do anything. Then I figured out that I need to loosen (raise) the rear bolts significantly to get the ZCI to slip under them at an angle. (I figured it out!! Go ME!).

Now—how to level it? First, you need to go back to the hold-down bolts on the saw, and adjust them so they support it from underneath the exact right amount. Not too high, not too low. Trial and error. Then you can use the rear leveling bolt in the ZCI to adjust it up or down (which conversely tips the front of the ZCI up and down, like a lever, you know?).

Once the rear is semi-adjusted, you can turn to the front to leveling bolts in the ZCI. It’d be nice to have the ZCI level with the top—but the MDF inserts are actually a little bit thicker than the dovetailed opening they slide into—so the metal part of the ZCI actually is BELOW table level so that the MDF insert is flush and doesn’t snag my workpiece. So you have to level the table top with the MDF insert—which is at a different level than the metal plate (which now sits maybe 1/128” below the surface.

Making Your First Cut
Now fully leveled, I put in the MDF insert (the one with a precut slot for my riving knife), slid my fence over the right half of it to secure it down, powered up the saw, and started raising my blade. It went about 1/16” up and stopped—but it was lifting the ZCI and everything up higher than I thought it should. A little bit scary actually. Apparently you need to remove your riving knife to make your first cut—the riving knife was getting stuck underneath it and not allowing the blade to cut through at all.

I removed the riving knife, started again, and this time everything went well. I raised the blade enough to connect with the rear pre-cut opening so that my riving knife would have full clearance in the future.

So there. It seems like now it’ll do what I want it to do—but nothing (truly, nothing!) went as smoothly as I thought it would. None of it was intuitive to my expectations or prior experiences with other ZCIs. Honestly, at this moment I’m not sure I’d spend even $70 on it. I’ll try to come back someday to give a full review of the actual use of the product next time!

(The picture is the stock picture from the Infinity website, not mine)

View jayseedub's profile


185 posts in 2939 days

4 comments so far

View woodbuster's profile


12 posts in 2979 days

#1 posted 12-29-2020 11:27 PM

For the money, you were kinder in your review than I would have been. The MDF @ $100+ just doesn’t seem right. MDF is dulling to saw blades, so using it for zero clearance makes little sense. Lack of instructions was a fail also. Sounds like you got it sorted, but 4/5 stars seems generous.

mention is all I would have needed to

View Newbie17's profile


164 posts in 1434 days

#2 posted 01-01-2021 05:31 AM

Thanks for the thorough review and saving others the hassle and expense.

View garageking's profile


46 posts in 1424 days

#3 posted 01-01-2021 06:51 PM

Thanks for the review. I looked at this product but ended up buying a couple of the blank sawstop inserts which sounds like it was a better decision. The Sawstop inserts are 49.00 each so I don’t see a good reason to buy the Infinity product.

-- David, Kentucky

View jayseedub's profile


185 posts in 2939 days

#4 posted 01-01-2021 08:38 PM

I usually use one insert for regular, one for 45 degrees, and one for dados—at a minimum—so the $109 seemed reasonable. I did see that Infinity posts instructions on their website for the insert plate—so most of the complaints that I listed have been resolved by that. I’ll be updating the review—but I’m still not five-star impressed.

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