Few questions about zero clearance table saw insert

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Forum topic by fstellab posted 01-10-2013 11:38 PM 3447 views 2 times favorited 26 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View fstellab's profile


86 posts in 2645 days

01-10-2013 11:38 PM

Topic tags/keywords: zero clearance insert r4512 table saw r4512 crosscut blade ripping blade kerf hook angle lexan tablesaw question

Hi Folks,
I need to install a Zero Clearance Insert for my new R4512 table saw.

Are the store bought ones any good ? It’s very tempting to just buy one.

Do you need a separate insert for each type of blade? I have 3 blades, the general purpose blade that came with the saw, a 90 tooth Ridgid crosscut blade and a Diablo 24 tooth ripping blade. They all have different kerfs and hook angles.

How often do they need to be replaced ?

If I make my own blade, can I use a plastic like Lexan ?

Thanks all

-- Fred Stellabotte ([email protected])

26 replies so far

View cutworm's profile


1075 posts in 3353 days

#1 posted 01-11-2013 12:43 AM

Hey Fred. I have the TS3660 and made my inserts from 1/2” MDF. I removed the metal insert and used it to trace with on the MDF. After tracing I cut them close with a jigsaw. From there you can sand or use a router and flush trim bit along with the metal insert to finish. I added a finger hole in mine for removal and a screw and washer on the outfeed end bottom side to help hold it in place. I don’t change inserts with blades but have a few for dados of different sizes that I reuse. I made about 10 while I was into it. I happened upon a piece of MDF in Home Depot that they were selling as scrap and used it. I’m thinking those 10 will outlast me.
I;ve been using this insert for about a year with 2 blades.
There is a lot of info out there on making them. Let me know if I can help.

-- Steve - "Never Give Up"

View willoworks's profile


41 posts in 3111 days

#2 posted 01-11-2013 12:46 AM

I bought the Leecraft insert and couldn’t be happier. It fit like a glove but I always use my Freud blade in it. I do need to pop it out and maybe sand out the slot a bit since I get a bit of blade rubbing. I swap it out even if I only tilt the blade a couple of degrees. I want to keep it tight. I had thought about trying to fabricate one but my shop time is limited and I didn’t want to waste it making inserts!

-- Turning A Round

View sixstring's profile


296 posts in 2803 days

#3 posted 01-11-2013 12:55 AM

One for each blade, and one for each angle (ie. 90, 45, etc…) I’d say make your own if you can. I think some folks have gotten away with using plastic cutting boards for material. I used some 1/2” maple for mine and will need to make more at 45deg. When I make angled cuts right now, I just use the original plate… Not ideal for me but it gets the job done and I just have to be extra careful making those cuts.

I dont expect I’ll ever have to replace mine. There’s really no wear and tear on them.

-- JC Garcia, Concord, CA : "It's easier to ask forgiveness than permission..."

View Brandon's profile


4152 posts in 3511 days

#4 posted 01-11-2013 12:56 AM

I’m with cutworm. I built mine using 1/2” baltic birch with a laminate top, but followed the same basic steps as cutworm described. Build many at a time and you’ll have more than you need.

-- "hold fast to that which is good"

View fstellab's profile


86 posts in 2645 days

#5 posted 01-11-2013 02:12 AM

Hi Folks,

My garage shop in FL gets humid at times, in fact I got a 12”x12” sheet of 1/2” plywood, I cut a few lengths for the boards, came back to it the next day and they were warped, slightly but noticeable.

That is when I thought of Lexan, Ridgid, clear .. and it would interesting to look at (especially with a shop light in the right place.

-- Fred Stellabotte ([email protected])

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 3530 days

#6 posted 01-11-2013 03:06 AM

I’m hearing folks talk about making inserts for the TS 3660 and others mention using 1/2” material to make the insert. I don’t think so. If you are just responding because you made your own insert, well okay, but the OP is asking about the Ridgid 4512 and it, and the Craftsman 21833 twin are a whole different thing. These saws only have a .11” ledge for the insert to drop into.

On casual observation some folks might think you could just rout out the edge to sit on the ledge. But the ledge is only .125” wide also. I don’t think any MDF, Birch, Maple, or Lexan material lip on an insert .11” thick and .125” wide is going to be strong enough to last very long in this application. Probably a good indication of why the factory inserts are made of steel and held in with magnets.

I made my own insert for my Cman 21833 from a sheet of .10” aluminum. It is held in with a 1/4 turn spring loaded clip.

PS: this POS saw can’t use the insert very well because the lifting / tilting mechanics are so crappy the blade never stays in the same plane and alignment after the height is changed, so I just pitched the insert in the trash after wasting 3 hours building it.

I wish you good luck with your efforts, but I’d just buy one; it’s cheaper than the time required to make one.

View derosa's profile


1597 posts in 3395 days

#7 posted 01-11-2013 03:24 AM

I spent a long time avoiding making an insert for mine Hitachi which is designed like the Ridgid however I finally got around to doing it and it was worth the surprisingly little effort needed. My insert is something like 3/32” thick, can’t remember exactly but less then an 1/8” and I made it out of oak. The factory insert used 4 screws to keep the insert level so when I made mine I drilled the matching holes but used the screws to keep it down since the wood seemed so thin and flimsy. I used the factory dado insert as a template and went carefully around with the flush trim bit after sawing close to the line on the bandsaw. Hardest part was countersinking the holes without drilling through, once done though it works great. I made mine in the middle of a project and only had time to make 2, I need to quickly make a few more for angles and other dado combinations.

-- A posse ad esse

View nwbusa's profile


1021 posts in 2846 days

#8 posted 01-11-2013 03:32 AM

I’ve made ZCIs for my R4512. I used 1/8” hardboard (masonite). Here’s a pic for your viewing pleasure :)

-- John, BC, Canada

View oldnovice's profile (online now)


7511 posts in 3927 days

#9 posted 01-11-2013 03:52 AM

nwbusa you did exactly what I do!

I double side tape the factory insert to the melamine coated 1/8” Masonite/hardboard (I have also used baltic birch plywood but I need to relieve the back to clear some casting parts) and cut the perimiter with a pattern bit in my router table. Before I remove the factory insert I drill the two holes with a self centering bit. Mount it in my TS with the blade completely down, turn on the TS and slowly raise the blade.

After the insert gets worn too much I save it for my next Dado cuts!

I don’t really know how many of these I have made for my 45+ year old Craftsman 10” TS.

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View nwbusa's profile


1021 posts in 2846 days

#10 posted 01-11-2013 04:26 AM

oldnovice, yep that is exactly how I make mine.

And to be honest, I don’t make a ZCI for every blade I use. For example, I have three thin-kerf blades that see heavy rotation and they are close enough (for me) in kerf to use the same ZCI. The main benefit of a ZCI (again, for me) is to keep thin offcuts from falling into the throat plate. With sharp blades, I don’t have any issues with tearout on most woods.

Edit—you can buy a 1/8th sheet (2’ x 2’) of 1/8” hardboard from HD for a few bucks, and it supplies enough material to make a good half dozen ZCIs.

-- John, BC, Canada

View Richard's profile


400 posts in 3251 days

#11 posted 01-11-2013 04:45 AM

Woodcraft sells ZCI's. I have one for my TS and it was an exact fit. No complaints.

-- "It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so." - Mark Twain

View LeChuck's profile


424 posts in 3622 days

#12 posted 01-11-2013 05:44 AM

Hmmm, personally, I’ve been using my 4512 for a few months with a thin kerf 50 tooth Diablo blade and have yet to feel the need for a ZCI. Very little tear out, if any, including on plywood, and I feel the dust collection from below the table is better this way…

-- David - Tucson, AZ

View oldnovice's profile (online now)


7511 posts in 3927 days

#13 posted 01-11-2013 05:56 AM

I would buy them if I could but my TS is too old and the opening is larger than most off the shelf plates available!

But, on the other hand, if you include shipping making them myself it actually cheaper than buying them!

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View jeff's profile


1184 posts in 4024 days

#14 posted 01-11-2013 06:43 AM

i have the rigid 4512.i purchased zci’s from Leecraft one for my thin kerf blade and one for my dado blade.they both work very well,fit perfectly and appear to be well made.also more dust stays below the zci’s.cuts are much cleaner…

-- Jeff,Tucson,Az.

View me5269's profile


43 posts in 2727 days

#15 posted 01-11-2013 11:42 AM

+1 on Jeff’s comments. I’ve had no problems with them in 6 months. If you buy both, Woodcraft will give you $2 off each. If you order online, you may have to call them to get the $2 off as the shopping cart doesn’t show it.
Shipping to MA was about $10.


-- Mike

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