Zero Clearance, Make my own?

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Forum topic by Tommy posted 02-14-2011 03:59 AM 8761 views 0 times favorited 33 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Tommy's profile


138 posts in 3343 days

02-14-2011 03:59 AM

I’m looking for some input on what materials make good zero clearance inserts and where I can buy that material. I’d like to make them for my table saw (hitachi) and bandsaw (craftsman). I recently bought new blades for each and want to maximize my benefit from those. Any help or advise on how to create these or what material to use is appreciated. Thanks in advance to all you Jedi Woodworkers who know these answers.

-- Tommy, ---- It's Never Crowded On the Extra Mile.

33 replies so far

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 4162 days

#1 posted 02-14-2011 04:29 AM

I use hardboard usually but sometimes I make a more elaborate insert
out of voidless plywood like baltic birch or Appleply. The hardboard tends
to be very close to 1/4” thick and pretty stable in all directions so it
makes a good insert material. Most 1/4” plywood is no good for inserts.

View cutmantom's profile


407 posts in 3549 days

#2 posted 02-14-2011 04:29 AM

solid wood, plywood, mdf, or some synthetic material will all work, each probably has different durability ratings but for me availability dictates what I use, when you make one you might as well make several while you are at it

View David175's profile


101 posts in 3203 days

#3 posted 02-14-2011 04:31 AM

I made mine from purple heart and curlly maple

-- Dave..Pensacola Fl.........In GOD we trust

View Kevin's profile


507 posts in 3719 days

#4 posted 02-14-2011 04:58 AM

I usually make mine out of baltic birch plywood 1/2” thick. Solid wood could change due to humidity. Here is a pretty good video on how to make a zci in general.

If it’s for a miter saw or something that requires a 1/4” thick stock I usually use 1/4” HDF. Actually I have a lot of scrap laminate flooring that i’ve kept for that very reason.


-- Williamsburg, KY

View Glen Peterson's profile

Glen Peterson

556 posts in 3570 days

#5 posted 02-14-2011 05:16 AM

They are very easy to make. Like Kevin I usually make them from 1/2 inch baltic birch ply. I also use mdf. I use the insert that came with the saw as a template. I use double stick tape to affix the insert to the stock. I cut it to rough size on the bandsaw and then bring it to final size on router table with a pattern bit. I put set screws around the perimeter of the insert to adjust the height. I usually make several at a time. One for regular sawing, some for making joints, and some for varous dado thicknesses. For regular sawing I cut a kerf behind the back of a blade and glue in a piece of hardwood to act as a splitter.

-- Glen

View rwyoung's profile


412 posts in 3986 days

#6 posted 02-14-2011 05:18 AM

For my particular table saw, 1/2” ply works great. I drill four holes to add the ajusters I need for that last little bit of height. And a bit of paste wax on the ZCI works wonders.

-- Don't sweat the petty things and don't pet the sweaty things.

View LarryDNJR's profile


209 posts in 3608 days

#7 posted 02-14-2011 05:34 AM

What about making a zero clearance insert for an old craftsman 10” saw that uses a flimsy sheet of metal for the plate?

-- ~Larry Columbus, OH

View DHaden's profile


77 posts in 3173 days

#8 posted 02-14-2011 05:35 AM

I used hardboard for mine and am very happy so far. A little tape on the bottom to get it flush works very well for me.

-- Measure once, cut twice.

View GregU's profile


20 posts in 3314 days

#9 posted 02-14-2011 05:48 AM

Larry: I’ve got a Craftsman contractor’s saw that uses the thin plates, and I always wondered that too. Don’t know where I read it, but some have made them out of thicker material, then rabbited around the insert so it fit flush. I haven’t studied my saw/plate yet to see how that will work out. I bought a General cabinet saw since I read that, so I might not go ahead with the C man since it won’t be my main saw. Greg

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 3688 days

#10 posted 02-14-2011 06:10 AM

The last one I made, I made out of UHMW … bought in the form of a Wal-Mart cutting board.

I can get a couple out of it, which works out to about $4/ea.

The wood ones I’ve made get a bit chewed up by my anti-kickback pawls, which … over time … tend to get stuck IN the wood.

-- -- Neil

View rogerw's profile


262 posts in 3204 days

#11 posted 02-14-2011 05:00 PM

My ridgid contractors ts, don’t know the exact model, insert is only about 1/8” thick and have not seen any blanks that thin. Do they make any? I haven’t seen anything that thin that I could use either. Any ideas?


-- >> my shop teacher used to say "do the best at everything you make for your mom because you're going to see it for the rest of your life!" <<

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 3688 days

#12 posted 02-14-2011 05:04 PM


Got planer ?
Thickness sander ?
Bandsaw that will capably re-saw thicker stock ?

-- -- Neil

View rogerw's profile


262 posts in 3204 days

#13 posted 02-14-2011 05:11 PM

got none of those yet. :(
a bandsaw is on the list though… someday.

-- >> my shop teacher used to say "do the best at everything you make for your mom because you're going to see it for the rest of your life!" <<

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3673 days

#14 posted 02-14-2011 05:23 PM

Ditto what Glen said. It’s actually quite easy.

-- jay,

View steliart's profile


2895 posts in 3202 days

#15 posted 02-14-2011 05:28 PM

For 1/8 thickness try acrylic (perspex)

-- Stelios L.A. Stavrinides: - I am not so rich to buy cheap tools, but... necessity is the mother of inventions !!!

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