Zero clearance throat plate for band saw.

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Forum topic by ferstler posted 11-10-2013 04:34 PM 9266 views 1 time favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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342 posts in 4027 days

11-10-2013 04:34 PM

Topic tags/keywords: tip bandsaw scroll saw sander refurbishing

Hey! Many of us have made or purchased zero-clearance throat plates for table saws and even miter saws. I certainly have made those items for those particular tools that I own. A tight throat plate reduces tear out with miter crosscutting and also keeps large items from falling down into the blade housing area of a table saw when ripping off small sections.

However, I wonder how many of us have created plates of that kind for our band saws. My Ridgid unit has a plate with enough clearance to allow for bevel cuts (this is one reason why miter and table saws also have factory plates with wide openings), and so it was not unusual at all for really small pieces cut from workpieces to tumble down into the lower wheel area and have the potential to get snagged between the band and the wheel. I rarely do bevel cuts with my saw, so the wide opening of the factory plate had no advantage for me at all.

My solution was to cut a throat plate from a piece of 1/8-inch Masonite, notch it and then, after carefully marking the line I wanted to cut, use the band saw (with the factory plate installed) to cut a groove that would deliver really tight clearance around that blade. To do the circular cut, I used the original plate to draw a circle on the Masonite sheet and then used a scroll saw to cut it down to approximate size. (This could also be done with a band saw if it had a skinny blade, but I normally have a 1/2 incher in my unit; and I have a scroll saw.) I then used my bench-top sander to carefully work the diameter down to the exactly the right size and used the scroll saw to also cut a proper alignment notch.

Actually, with my Ridgid unit a 1/8-inch thick Masonite piece is a tad too thick, so I had to use my sander to carefully reduce the thickness around the edge area. This is tricky to do and in most cases the recess might either be a bit too deep (making the plate sit too low in the recess) or somewhat irregular (making it tend to be a bit tippy).

The solution was to mix up some two-part epoxy and coat the cut area on the underside of the new plate all the way around. Then, after the stuff hardened about 75 percent and was no longer seriously tacky (and putting some rubbed out paste wax or talcum powder into the recess on the cast-iron work table) to put it into the recess, push down just hard enough to get it absolutely flush with the cast-iron work surface, and then remove it so that it could finish hardening. The result, after the drying was completed, was a throat plate that is flush and free of space that would the cut chips to fall through.

Two photos are attached. One shows the original Ridgid plate, and I should note that I had drilled some breather holes in it some time back to allow it to draw dust into the lower chamber more easily; a move that really was a waste of time, I think. The second shows the new plate, installed. I made several other plates and keep them on hand in case the new one gets damaged down the line.

I’ll keep the original plate, of course, just in case I want to do some bevel cuts.

Howard Ferstler

19 replies so far

View PaulDoug's profile


2163 posts in 2210 days

#1 posted 11-10-2013 04:45 PM

That sounds like a plan. I’m wondering if that same method would work for a homemade table saw insert. One of the most difficult things I have found to do is get a table saw insert flush with the top of the table saw. And when I do, if I remove it, and later use it again, it seems it is on longer flush and I have to go through the process again. Same thing with the boughten inserts. Yes I clean the accumulated sawdust out of the hole.

-- “We all die. The goal isn't to live forever; the goal is to create something that will.” - Chuck Palahniuk

View b2rtch's profile


4892 posts in 3555 days

#2 posted 11-10-2013 06:19 PM

I always make my zci for all my saws, including my band saw
I also made a large table for my band saw, which really helps a lot

-- Bert

View amagineer's profile


1415 posts in 3104 days

#3 posted 11-10-2013 06:32 PM

great idea, I will be making one tomorrow. I always have small pieces jamming the blade with the wide slot. Thanks.

-- Flaws are only in the eye of the artisan!

View Bogeyguy's profile


548 posts in 2575 days

#4 posted 11-10-2013 06:40 PM

PaulDoug, On my TS I use set screws in the 4 screw holes that are used to anchor the metal insert. Adjust as needed to level the new ZCI. If they loosen on you a drop of loc-tite will cure this.

-- Art, Pittsburgh.

View ferstler's profile


342 posts in 4027 days

#5 posted 11-10-2013 09:27 PM

PaulDoug, attached are shots of the zero-clearance insert I made for my Ridgid 4510 series jobsite saw. It is made of 3/8 inch particle board that just drops into place. To keep the back from rising due to the upward rotation of the blade it has a tab on the back (held in place by both glue and a screw), but gravity takes care of the rest of the arrangement. I made several of the things and to keep then flush with the table surface it has some thin pieces of tape stuck on the underside of the edges. I still have the stock insert for bevel cuts. Over time, working action and high-speed dust will widen the front of the slit, and after a while a new one would have to be used in place of the existing one.

The making of the thing was tricky, because to get the cut just right you are supposed to lower the blade all the way and then, as the machine runs, crank it slowly upwards as the insert is held in place with one hand. The problem is that the blade with this saw will not quite lower far enough, so the initial start with the cutting operation has to be done VERY carefully.

The circular holes are finger grabs that make it easier to lift the thing out. The one in the rear was probably not needed.

Note also the outfeed extension at the rear of the saw that I added shortly after purchasing it. This unit has a nice-sized table in front of the blade, but the outfeed depth is a bit on the short side, so I built the extension to deal with that. There is an explanation of several of the mods I did on this saw somewhere on our site.

Also shown is a Ryobi jobsite saw that I had for a while and sold to a neighbor. I made a zero-clearance insert for that one, too, but it was tricky, because the recess for the plate was shallow. I ended up using 1/8-inch Masonite that was finished smooth on both sides for maximum stiffness. The stock insert has a clip in the back and one screw up front. The replacement has no clip, but I tapped two screw fittings into the motor mount at the back and custom cut two screws to hold the rear of the insert in place. After carefully countersinking the screw holes in the new insert the thing worked very well. I did have to slightly sand the underside edges of the insert a tad to get it to sit flush with the table top. At least with this project the blade could be lowered enough for the screws to be tightened and the blade raised slowly to do the cut I wanted.

Note that neither saw has a blade guard or other safety devices, because both (including the Ryobi as now used by my neighbor) are used to cut small items and the guard and anti-kickback pawls just get in the way. Yep, it is a dangerous saw when run this way, but my neighbor likes it that way, as do I. To do bevel cuts with either saw the old inserts can be used in place of the zero-clearance jobs.

Howard Ferstler

View PaulDoug's profile


2163 posts in 2210 days

#6 posted 11-10-2013 10:40 PM

Howard, When I make the slot in the insert, I clamp a board across the top of the table and over the insert then raise the blade. My hands are no where neat that blade. My blade does not go down inside quite far enough to clear the insert either. so I put a 7” blade in first and bring it up then out the 10” on and go the rest of the way.

The thing I just found out about my saw the other day, I can’t do a 45’ cut with the blade fully up and an insert on. The place where the blade guard mounts hits the insert and raises it up. Can’t remembering it being that way on my old contractor saw, but maybe it was.

-- “We all die. The goal isn't to live forever; the goal is to create something that will.” - Chuck Palahniuk

View Illinoiswoodworker's profile


36 posts in 2396 days

#7 posted 11-11-2013 12:52 AM

Thanks for the information. I bought a used band saw and it does not have a throat plate. This might save me from getting hurt as I’m dividing my attention between the blade and the part that is going to fall through the opening.

-- I love the smell of red oak in the morning..........

View ferstler's profile


342 posts in 4027 days

#8 posted 11-11-2013 01:31 AM

PaulDoug. Thanks for the info. Very helpful when the time comes for me to make another insert.


View MrRon's profile


5715 posts in 3750 days

#9 posted 11-11-2013 05:35 PM

Howard Ferstler, Please tell me how to make the cut in the insert for a bandsaw. I have to make the initial cut on the BS, but how do I position it so it is lined up with the hole in the table? Table saws are different. There, the insert is in place and you raise the blade up through the insert. You can’t do that with a BS.

View a1Jim's profile


117721 posts in 4084 days

#10 posted 11-11-2013 05:38 PM

A simple but good idea.

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5849 posts in 4092 days

#11 posted 11-11-2013 06:17 PM

I have replaced made a throat plate for my very big bandsaw as needs arose.
It is a little time consuming but not really difficult.So easy does it, is the byword slicing grinding a little at a time until it fits perfectly.Actually mine is square and deep about two inches by two inches by about one inch thick and goes into a slightly rough tapered hole.The smaller bandsaws just get turned on the lathe till they fit perfectly and install.I have no such plate on my sliding saw as the table comes right up to almost meet the blade and is completely exposed when using ,it looks a bit frightening but all is covered within by a hinged door so safe really.Have fun Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View ferstler's profile


342 posts in 4027 days

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


I used the factory insert plate as a guide to draw a circle with a pencil on the Masonite material from which I was going to cut the new plate. I then freehand cut the new plate out with my scroll saw a tad larger than the drawn circle. (This could also be done with a band saw that had a narrow blade; using something like a saber saw would be impossibly awkward.) I then used my large (6×48 inch) bench-top sander to gradually mill the new plate down to just to the edge of the penciled circle I had drawn on the Masonite sheet. To do this, the belt should not have a coarse sanding surface. I used 120 grit.

Once I got the new insert plate close to the size I wanted (I could easily compare it to the factory insert by just holding them up against each other), I overlaid the original to the new insert and drew a mark where the alignment notch would be and cut a small notch with the scroll saw. I then placed the new and old inserts together and drew a short pair of lines on the new plage right in the middle of the large cutout opening in the factory plate laying over the new plate. I then used a ruler to lengthen the line and make it straight, making sure it was not to much to either side. After that, I re-installed the factory plate and did a freehand cut with the band saw down the exact middle of the line I drew in the new plate, taking care to not cut the groove any longer than necessary. I did not mention this in my initial write up, but I have a 1×30 inch tabletop belt sander in addition to my bigger sander and I used that sander to very slightly widen and clean up the cut I made in the new insert. To do that I just let the small belt squeeze into the groove as it ran, doing both edges of the cut, smoothing it nicely, and making it wide enough to not squeeze the band-saw blade once in use.

I then tried to fit the new insert into the cutout and if it did not fit or was a bit too tight around the perimeter I used the bigger belt sander to VERY carefully mill off a bit more from the round edge. Eventually, the thing fit and that took care of that.

As I noted, the thing would then be too thick, so I used the edge of the belt sander to machine off a bit of the thickness at the edge to get the insert down to flush with the cast-iron table. With one of the later inserts (I have now made several) I used a bench-top tool sharpening machine (with its slow rotating disc) and that seemed better than the sander.

With some of the inserts I sanded off a bit too much, and my previous comments explained how I built the thickness back up to where the insert fit flush.

Hope this clarifies.


View MrRon's profile


5715 posts in 3750 days

#13 posted 11-12-2013 11:34 PM

Thanks Howard. Actually, I don’t need a zero clearance insert plate; just a smaller gap so small bits of wood don’t get down and wedge themselves between the wheel and the blade.

View bobkberg's profile


439 posts in 3580 days

#14 posted 06-13-2016 04:45 AM

Well Howard, I was all ready to post my complete set of photos and instructions to the site. Then I thought – “What if somebody has already done it?” Sure enough, a quick search turned up your article, so I’m just adding my own thoughts to your excellent piece.

- I am a big fan of garolite (cloth embedded in resin – like the stuff circuit boards are made of, but without the copper) and it comes made from a variety of fibers and resin – I generally use linen or cotton in phenolic. It’s tough stuff, but can easily be worked with woodworking tools – especially carbide bits.

- I started by measuring the diameter of my Rigid throat plate and selected a hole saw with an I.D. a little larger. Cut out two circles. Then mounted them with an arbor on the drill press, and used a bastard file clamped in a vise to keep it at the right angle



-- Bob - A sideline, not how I earn a living

View MrUnix's profile


7478 posts in 2706 days

#15 posted 06-13-2016 05:22 AM

Well, since this ancient thread has been dragged up from the dead…

Here are some inserts made out of wood, and some from recycled laundry detergent bottles (HDPE melted in the oven, using an old tin can as the form):

The same insert fits both my band saw and scroll saw. All you need is any material that you can get to proper diameter, then just slice off as many inserts as you need. I have a lathe, but there are plenty of other methods as shown above. Thickness adjustments can be done with a sander, or a router if you want a lip around the edge with the middle a bit thicker. With a blank just a few inches long, you can make a bunch of ‘em for free.


-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

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