Season of shop upgrades #4: Zero Clearance Inserts

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Blog entry by PJ72 posted 02-16-2014 10:43 AM 3284 reads 1 time favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: Cross Cut Sled Part 4 of Season of shop upgrades series Part 5: Jointer or Planer Sled - A Test »

Who’s Bright Idea Was This Anyways
I have the Rigid R4512 table saw, which is perfect for my small shop and mobility needs for storage when not in use. The only complaint I have about the saw is that the stamped metal throat insert is only 1/8” thick, which makes it difficult to produce shop made inserts for zero-clearance. Why so thin???

I have seen several people on the web creating inserts out of wood based on the intricate pattern of the after marked phenolic inserts, but was concerned with the safety of the 1/8” thick wood lip. I also wanted a more time efficient solution.

A Simpler More Efficient Solution
When I found that the cost of the manufacturers 1/8” thick steel dado insert was about the same cost as a phenolic zero-clearance insert I had my solution. I realized that with two of these dado inserts and some MDF, I could quickly and cheaply produce all the zero-clearance inserts I could ever need.

I purchased two of the manufacturers dado throat plates.
One for a dado ZCI and one for a standard blade ZCI.

Dado Insert Modifications

For dado ZCI, the insert was only modified with 6 counter sunk holes since it is already sized for an 8” dado blade. For the standard blade ZCI, the insert was modified with an elongated opening, a narrow slot for the riving knife and 6 counter sunk holes. Modifications were made with a metal blade in my jig saw and a file.

Zero Clearance Inserts for the Modified Insert Plates

I used a rectangular MDF blank and a rabbet bit to shape the MDF so it would protrude through and be flush with the top of the throat inserts. I then fastened the rectangular blank to the insert using counter sunk screws from the top of the insert.

For less than the cost of two aftermarket phenolic inserts and with this simple approach, I was able to create a mountain of zero-clearance inserts for both dado and standard blades in just a matter of hours. They work great and you can’t beat the price.

Thanks for viewing. Hopefully a few folks out there with the R4512 or other saw with thin stamped metal throat plates will find this helpful.

-- PJ

2 comments so far

View GrandpaLen's profile


1650 posts in 2294 days

#1 posted 02-16-2014 12:19 PM

Now that is a very clever and cost efficient solution for replacable ZCIs.

Thanks for sharing your ideas.

Work Safely and have Fun. – Grandpa Len.

-- Mother Nature should be proud of what you've done with her tree. - Len ...just north of a stone's throw from the oHIo, river that is, in So. Indiana.

View NormG's profile


6134 posts in 3026 days

#2 posted 02-17-2014 05:48 AM

Great solution

-- Norman - I never never make a mistake, I just change the design.

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