|Project by McLeanVA||posted 01-06-2009 05:48 PM||12537 views||10 times favorited||15 comments|
I purchased a 10” Craftsman Table Saw back in 2004 and quickly realized the frustrations of not having a zero-clearance insert (throat plate). The saw came with 2 inserts: a dado plate and a standard plate that had at least a 3/4” opening. This proved to be problematic when fine-tuning boards as they would fall into the throat, causing the board to get hung up. Watched a few nice pieces of wood get burned. I looked all around the Web for replacement inserts to no avail. As you can see from the photos, Craftsman decided to create a very unique and non-standard shape (3 rounded corners…HUH???). I was very tempted to sell the entire saw and start over with a hybrid of better quality, until I decided to give one last-ditch effort to create my own.
I took the existing metal insert and laid it on top of some 1/4” MDF and traced it. I wanted it to fit snug, so I anticipated my final cut being a bit proud. After all, I could always sand it to get the perfect fit. Because I couldn’t use the actual table saw to cut my MDF, I used a very non-conventional method of a metal ruler and a razor blade. I scored it about a hundred times before I was able to cut through. I rounded 3 of the corners with sand paper and finally got it to fit.
What I discovered was that 1/4” was too deep, because of a metal support bar running the length of the throat (also pictured). So, back to the drawing board. I needed to recess a narrow channel down the length of the insert so that the top of the plate sat flush with my table. I measured the support bar location and made some pencil marks and got out the old rotary tool with a drum sanding head and went to work digging a narrow trench. After laying the trench, I’d check the fit and hit it with the rotary tool again until it was the perfect fit.
After all of that, it turned out that the blade wasn’t able to recess down low enough to allow the 1/4” MDF to sit flush. So, a new challenge presented itself.
What I ended up doing was taking a few more measurements to figure out exactly where the blade was hitting the insert and scoring some lines along the bottom and switching the rotary tool head to a 1/8” plunge router bit. I ran the bit down my “blade line” until I was sure it was deep enough to allow the blade to fit into it. Last step was to fine tune the insert so that it was flush with the table top. I used a few pieces of cardboard, glued to the bottom and then added some thick cardstock until it was perfectly level.
This is my first project posted in LJ, and I’m sure most of you are thinking that I should have just bought a new saw. However, I wish someone would have shown me that a zero-clearance insert was possible for this saw years ago. Would have saved me a ton of fear and wood.
-- Measure, cut, curse, repeat.