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Zero Clearance Table Saw Plate...on a budget

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Forum topic by SJThrasher posted 05-03-2020 10:59 PM 1027 views 0 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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SJThrasher

44 posts in 2539 days


05-03-2020 10:59 PM

Topic tags/keywords: dado zero-clearance

I started shopping for zero-clearance blanks for my Grizzly saw. I was surprised at how expensive they are. I figured, Hey, I’m a woodworker, I’ll make my own. I started going though my stock to see if I had something the exact thickness. In lieu of that, I was just going to plane it down. Among my scraps I noticed an old scrap of plastic cutting board…exactly the thickness I needed. I’ve attached some pics here but this is pretty straight forward.

BTW, this is for my newly acquired dado blade set. The idea is to have several plates for a few ranges of thicknesses. I’ll be heading to WallyWorld for another cheap cutting board for the rest of them.

Started off with an outline for a rough cut.

Though this is far along in the process, you get the idea. Double-stick tape to hold the original to the new materia. and run it by the flush-cut router bit.

There is a pin at the back of my plate. To save some sanding time and to make the shape exactly like the original I simply flipped the template 180 degrees so the end with the pin was moved to the end I had already shaped. A quick touch up to smooth out the last rough end and it was shaped.

Final result. I used a 3/4” forstner bit for the finger holes. I used a small drill bit as a pilot and used a machinery tap to thread the adjustment holes to 1/4-20. I’lll pick up some extra sets of set screws so I don’t have to mess with them every time I swap out the plates.

Lastly, for those who noticed (probably everybody) I am not the one that “modified” the opening in the original plate. This is the way I received it from the previous owner and it’s serviceable, if not pretty.


18 replies so far

View Madmark2's profile

Madmark2

3104 posts in 1836 days


#1 posted 05-03-2020 11:12 PM

Looks good, but how many hours vs the cost of buying one? LOL $60 for the store plate, 3 hrs @ $20 / hr + materials sounds like a wash.

But good fun project if you’re self isolating and nothing wrong with saving a few bux and getting it just the way you want it.

-- The hump with the stump and the pump!

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tvrgeek

2292 posts in 2897 days


#2 posted 05-03-2020 11:42 PM

Tried some cutting boards. Messy. I prefer just MDF. You can turn out a patch in no time. Rip to sidth, bandsaw rough, then I like to sand mine to fit so they can be just snug. ( drill the finger hole FIRST) Others prefer to use a router and pilot bit Disposable dado and angles, thin kerf and thick lerf no splitter, thin kerf with splitter. Hardest part is setting up the relief cut on the underside as my saw does not retract the full distance below the table as an insert.
I use dabs of paint or glue I can sand so it sits flush. JB Weld works the best I guess.

View SMP's profile

SMP

4846 posts in 1154 days


#3 posted 05-04-2020 12:19 AM

I’ve made them before out of scrap plywood i otherwise would have thrown away. As long as its thinner you just pop screws in each corner to act as leveling feet. Takes me maybe 20 minutes to make one. Jig saw just outside the line then use belt/disc sander to sand to line, done.

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MrRon

6188 posts in 4492 days


#4 posted 05-04-2020 05:58 PM

Tip: Use one size smaller tap drill so the set screw will be a snug fit. For a 1/4-20 screw, use a #8 tap drill instead of the standard #7.

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SJThrasher

44 posts in 2539 days


#5 posted 05-04-2020 06:28 PM

Thanks for the feedback. Madmark, this took about 15-20 minutes, start to finish. Also, as a woodworker, you should know that spending $$$ of your time, vs buying something, is what we do a lot of the time…lol

tvrgeek, i totally agree about the plastic being messy. It’s what I had sitting there and I didn’t have the correct thickness MDF. Because I don’t work with MDF much, it would be a bit costly to buy a whole sheet just to make blanks. For the hole, because the material is so soft, I’ll just slowly lift the dado up through the blank, one more advantage with the plastic. As far as leveling, I didn’t think of JB Weld, but I already set it up for adjustable screws and kind of like how it’s identical to the original.

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bondogaposis

6048 posts in 3599 days


#6 posted 05-04-2020 07:06 PM

I make them in batches, using OSB surfaced both sides with plastic laminate. With 7/16” OSB they come out a perfect 1/2”. It’ll take me an hour to make five or so once the laminate is applied. I just rip them to width on the table saw then rough out the round ends on the bandsaw then use a flush trim bit at the router table to finish them up.

-- Bondo Gaposis

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SJThrasher

44 posts in 2539 days


#7 posted 05-04-2020 11:04 PM

Quick update. The piece of wood (laminated MDF) that I’ve been moving all over my garage should work perfect. It’s a scrap left over from when they did my floors. Slick, MDF, had surface, and the perfect thickness. Cool thing is I’ve got a few pieces to work with.

View Foghorn's profile

Foghorn

1301 posts in 635 days


#8 posted 05-05-2020 12:47 AM

I’ve made them from plywood and UHMW. Both work great. Drilled and tapped for set screws for adjustment for levelling and for side to side and end to end to ensure it fits very snugly. Even $30 for a store bought one is ridiculous for a hobby worker to consider. If I made those considerations then I have wasted thousands sitting in my shop and musing! :)

-- Darrel

View Kelly's profile

Kelly

3805 posts in 4192 days


#9 posted 05-05-2020 01:43 AM

I, also, make them in batches. Usually, at least ten. Because of that, I have not had to make any in over ten years. Mine are made from plywood, Corian and cutting board material.

When you figure the cost of new plates (zero clearance all, 22-1/2. dado of a couple sizes, 45, 90,....), even if you spent a day, it was a good day. More so when you figure IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT PROFIT. Like a buddy noted, I enjoy building things for the shop as much as I enjoy restoring or building a piece of furniture, making cabinets, book shelves and so on.

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SJThrasher

44 posts in 2539 days


#10 posted 05-05-2020 06:21 PM

Kelly, you said it right. I was just talking to a buddy at work about working in the garage. Lately, mostly because I’m actually re-working my work area, I do more work on things like dust collection, jigs, and arrangement than I do on actual projects.

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Kelly

3805 posts in 4192 days


#11 posted 05-05-2020 06:58 PM

Chuckle – yeah.


Kelly, you said it right. I was just talking to a buddy at work about working in the garage. Lately, mostly because I m actually re-working my work area, I do more work on things like dust collection, jigs, and arrangement than I do on actual projects.

- SJThrasher

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LesB

3103 posts in 4691 days


#12 posted 05-05-2020 07:04 PM

Corian counter top material works well for table saw inserts. Some cabinet shops will give you their scraps.
You can drill and tap it for hex head set screw as levelers.

-- Les B, Oregon

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recycle1943

5868 posts in 2870 days


#13 posted 05-05-2020 08:09 PM

I guess I’m doing it wrong – I made my inserts out of some cherry stock. However, I have access to corian but what about milling it ? isn’t it pretty hard on band saw blades ?

-- Dick, Malvern Ohio - my biggest fear is that when I die, my wife sells my toys for what I told her I paid for them

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Kelly

3805 posts in 4192 days


#14 posted 05-05-2020 09:39 PM

You did nothing wrong, if it’s working. Right?

One of my concerns about Corian or it’s equivalent is how brittle it is. If you don’t drill close to the screw sizes, it can chip out.

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LesB

3103 posts in 4691 days


#15 posted 05-06-2020 12:09 AM


I guess I m doing it wrong – I made my inserts out of some cherry stock. However, I have access to corian but what about milling it ? isn t it pretty hard on band saw blades ?

- recycle1943


Obviously there are many materials that will work and if it comes from scrap all the better. I happened to have some Corian and found it did the job.
Having installed Corian counter tops I found no problem when using carbide saw blades and routers to cut it. If you are using a band saw it might increase the wear on the blade so maybe you use a jig saw for the curves and don’t worry about the blade. In lieu of drilling and taping threads in it you could also use threaded inserts and glue them in with CA glue.
The one thing you need to take care of is the dust. Resin dust is terrible stuff. Wear a mask and use the dust collector.

-- Les B, Oregon

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