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Dave's Workshop #5: ZCI for My Benchtop Tablesaw

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Blog entry by Dave Rutan posted 11-03-2014 10:01 PM 1474 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 4: Drills-Keeping Things More at Hand Part 5 of Dave's Workshop series Part 6: Updated Photos of My Workshop »

Because my table saw has one of those thin metal blade inserts, I’ve been thinking for quite a while how to make a zero clearance insert for my saw. I cut quite a few small or thin items and often, as might be expected, the thin cuttings fall down the slot between the insert and the blade. Only once did this actually result in something a bit startling, but I wanted to remedy the situation in any case.

At one time, I tried making a ZCI by dadoeing around a hunk of wood so that it would fit in the space. I had to hollow out in the location of the blade because on these saws the blade just barely goes below the surface of the table at its lowest position. I had to rig up a finger clamp to hold it in place, just for peace of mind, if not actually for safety’s sake. Eventually that experiment broke in half, so I put my old metal insert in and continued thinking about it…

...for two years.

Last week I got an idea that might solve my problem easily and cheaply. I wasn’t able to actually do it until today.

Above: I cut a piece of hardboard, the kind that is 1/8 inch thick to cover the throat of my blade insert (about 2 inches). I glued it on to the underside of the insert with hot melt glue. That way, If I need to make an angled cut, I can just snap it off ‘easily’.

Above: Then I took another strip of the hardboard that I had previously cut to fit in the throat of the insert and I glued it onto the hardboard that I glued to the underside. When it was dry, I lowered my riving knife and set the insert correct side up in its place. Because of the blade situation (read above) I had to turn on the saw and then push the blade insert down from the edge nearest to me. This is probably the only remotely dangerous part. Then I turned off the saw and brought my fence over to hold the metal insert in place. Then I turned the saw back on and raised the blade up to full height.

It didn’t come flying out and hit me in the eye or anything, so I think it will be OK. If you look at the photos you’ll notice that the area where the riving knife goes does not have zero clearance. This is because that area of my blade insert is on a different level and it would be difficult to put a ZCI section there. Also, I’d have to manually cut the slot for the riving knife and that would be a pain.

I used the saw this way all day today and it’s still working well. It’s not quite as convenient as a full ZCI, but it’s better than nothing at all and not so inconvenient as I rarely make miter cuts by tilting the blade.

-- Ni faru ion el ligno!



4 comments so far

View nomercadies's profile

nomercadies

577 posts in 1799 days


#1 posted 11-04-2014 04:21 PM

I am so glad you tackled this project. Why do manufacturers make saws that we can’t use with a zero clearance insert? The first manufacturer that comes up with a simple way for us to do what we need to do will get the business. Until then, I think you are on to something. I had a similar problem with the blade being too close to the zero insert I made so I put a smaller circumference blade on the saw to start the cut, then finished with the original blade. However, that experiment was with an old Craftsman with a honking thick area for the insert and not one of the thin ones. I do have two other saws I would love to use your idea on.

There is a lot of down pressure on the insert making me worry about the hot glue. Wouldn’t it be great to have some small flat head bolts to countersink into the metal insert? Then the smaller hardboard insert could be thicker and attached more solidly to the metal one provided. I’d try it, but I am scared I’d mess up the original insert and ruin my saw.

Thank you. I think you’re on to something. Maybe others have ideas. This is the place for them.

-- Chance Four "Not Just a Second Chance"

View Dave Rutan's profile

Dave Rutan

1430 posts in 1649 days


#2 posted 11-04-2014 06:08 PM

Nomercadies, If the glue lets loose on my, I’ll figure something out with screws.

-- Ni faru ion el ligno!

View nomercadies's profile

nomercadies

577 posts in 1799 days


#3 posted 11-04-2014 08:50 PM

I am going to find out if I can get a replacement insert for the small saw I have and try out the plan I day-dreamed about earlier. It is an inexpensive little thing I got at Home Big Box years ago. We’ll see. In the time going forward, please update us on your progress. You are a wealth of information.

-- Chance Four "Not Just a Second Chance"

View Dave Rutan's profile

Dave Rutan

1430 posts in 1649 days


#4 posted 11-04-2014 10:47 PM

Nomercadies, I did some looking around last night. I think I could get a spare insert for my saw for about $15.00. I’d actually consider that for when I want to tilt the blade.

As far as being a resource, I think that comes from using cheap bare bones tools and upgrading them as I go. Then again I’m not trying to make fine furniture with them, just projects. Most of the cuts on that recent table project were made with a circular saw and a straight edge. “Measure 12x cut once, pray, check the cut, rejoice (maybe).”

-- Ni faru ion el ligno!

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