Sawstop ZCI with replaceable inserts - almost, not quite great

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Review by brtech posted 01-13-2014 08:14 PM 8514 views 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Sawstop ZCI with replaceable inserts - almost, not quite great Sawstop ZCI with replaceable inserts - almost, not quite great No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

This insert is made by ColliBeck and available direct (via Ebay) or through Infinity. I purchased it from Infinity. The basic idea here is that it’s a CNC machined plate with a replaceable wooden insert. You can swap inserts in a minute or two, and either make your own, or buy them from Infinity. I have the newer version, which doesn’t use parts from the original Sawstop throat plate.

The plate is a beast. Heavy, nicely machined, nicely anodized aluminum.

The inserts that come with it, or available from Infinity, come in two versions, and you get one of each with the plate. One version is designed to be used with the blade guard, and has a slot for the guard that is open all the way to the back of the insert. The other is designed to be used with the riving knife, and has an opening that fits the riving knife but is not open all the way back. The inserts fit into a sliding dovetail opening in the plate which retains the insert pretty well, but apparently not well enough for the blade guard version, because there are now two small wood screws that are used to hold the open arms of the insert in place. No big deal, but you have to remove and insert those screws to change inserts.

The plate has openings to allow you to adjust the saw’s leveling screws that are on the back of the saw. It has T slots that capture the screws. This means that you have to change the settings of the screws to level the plate, and that means that you can’t swap the Sawstop plate back in without resetting those screws. Probably not an issue – I think I’m gonna like this plate enough that I won’t go back to the factory plate. There are also leveling screws at the back that are in the plate. They work well. In addition there are two snubbing screws on the sides of the plate to take up any side to side wobble. I was easily able to level the plate and have it quite stable in the slot.

You cut the saw slot like any other ZCI – put an insert in with the blade all the way down, put the fence over it slightly to hold it down (although the sliding dovetail holds the insert in quite well all by itself) and raise the blade slowly to cut the slot. Works fine and I have a very tight ZCI for my main combo blade. The closed back inserts looks even easier to set up, and when I next have to use my Dado blade set, I’ll cut the slots for them on the insert.

So, there is a problem. On the blade guard, there are a set of short anti-kickback pawls. There are also a longer pair, but you usually hook those under a clip when changing things under the hood. The small ones are always down. Now, I don’t know about you, but I always change the blade with the arbor all the way down. Dunno why, but that’s the way I do it. Turns out, that won’t work on this design. The size of the slot for the blade guard is wide enough on the left side for the pawls to drop down in the insert slot. But on the right side, the opening in the insert is pretty close to the guard plate itself, and the pawls don’t drop down. The slot on the factory plate is much wider and the pawls drop down on both sides. If you raise the blade up high enough that the pawls, in their lowered state, are above the top of the table a bit, the plate slides in real nice. If you have it all the way down, you can’t get the plate into the top without holding up the right pawl. I’ll have to retrain myself to raise the blade to change it. The side of the slot is cut at an angle, so the blade tilt works, but it looks to me like I could cut the slot wider and everything would work.

I have not tried making my own inserts yet. It doesn’t look very hard – mill a board to the right thickness, cut the sliding dovetail edges with the blade tilted, cut the blade guard slot with the TS or a router and trim the back to match the curve of the plate. It will be a whole lot easier than cutting my own full size inserts, which actually turns into a bit of work—I have built one, and even if you do, they don’t fit or work as well as the factory plate or this one.

The other thing is that the factory plate has a hook mechanism that holds the front of the plate down. The back is held down by T-slots for the adjustment screws, and the front has a hook activated by a bail that drops down to the front edge of the opening in the top. The first version of the ColliBeck plate reused that mechanism – you had to take apart your factory plate to get the parts. This version has no hook, it just depends on the weight of the plate and the side snubber screws to friction fit the plate down in the front. That’s just not as good. It DOES feel solidly in there, and there is no way to get the plate to raise up by pushing down anywhere, but it’s not a positive lock. I knew that going in to the purchase.

I didn’t know if my insert was machined incorrectly or I was doing something wrong, so I called Infinity technical support. I got called back by the shop foreman who went out into their shop where they have a SS and walked through the problem with me on the phone. Turns out he always changes his blades with the arbor up, so he never noticed. I appreciated the level of support Infinity provided me.

So, I give it 4 stars. I think they could make the slot wider, especially given that they have the screws in the bottom supporting the remaining wood, but I’m still happy with my purchase and expect many years of service from this plate.

View brtech's profile


1152 posts in 4088 days

6 comments so far

View jakep_82's profile


108 posts in 3471 days

#1 posted 01-13-2014 11:29 PM

On my saw (Grizzly G1023) it would be very difficult to change the blade with the arbor all the way down. Is their a reason you lower it? I’m guessing you’re in an extremely small minority which is why they didn’t bother to make it work with the arbor down.

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 4473 days

#2 posted 01-13-2014 11:55 PM

Interesting…I need to check these out on the Infinity website. I bought three extra inserts when I bought my SawStop..I use one for 90 degree cuts, 45 degree miter cuts, one for Dado and an extra that I haven’t used yet. This might be more practical.
I have always changed my blades with the arbor raised almost all the way up…What advantage do you see in lowering it?

View TheDane's profile


5987 posts in 4828 days

#3 posted 01-14-2014 02:04 AM

I was one of Jack Colliflower’s (ColliBeck) first customers. I did a shop-made version that was okay, but this one is far better.

Full disclosure: I have never used the ColliBeck with the riving knife. I use the stock ZCI that came with my saw, so the ColliBeck plate is used for dado setups. I have had no problems, and have made a half dozen or so inserts for different dado widths. I have been planning to cut slot for the riving knife in some of my blanks on the router table, but life and other projects keep getting in the way.

FWIW, I think the blade/cartridge change is a little clumsy with the blade elevator all of the way down.

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View Will Stokes's profile

Will Stokes

267 posts in 4519 days

#4 posted 01-15-2014 08:30 PM

Interesting. I was thinking the other day that it was annoying my “ZCI” isn’t zero clearance at all when I use my dado stack since I’m often making a smaller dado and not the full width. I might have to try this setup some day. FWIW, I go out of my way to raise the blade to the top when changing the blade/break. Changing it in the lower position is far more difficult when I get lazy and try to do it.

View pneufab's profile


131 posts in 4245 days

#5 posted 01-17-2014 01:07 AM

Not to spoil the review as I sure this is an awesome insert! I almost purchased one myself, but found a more economical option, especially since I already owed it!

View mbs's profile


1694 posts in 4105 days

#6 posted 01-18-2014 03:09 AM

Pneufab – good idea.

I have the same infinity insert as shown above. It works well.

-- Sorry the reply is so long. I didn't have time to write a short reply.

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