Zero Clearance Inserts for Delta 36-725

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Project by EricLew posted 03-02-2015 07:00 AM 4262 views 16 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I have my Delta 36-725 table saw for about 6 months now, and I’m surprised at the lack of any aftermarket Zero Clearance Inserts. At least I can’t find any. Delta does offer one, but I wasn’t thrilled with the design, or the hefty price. I had been hesitant to try to make one myself because the factory insert is only 1/8 inch thick, and rests on a lip that is only 1/8 inch wide, below the table top. I made, and screwed up, a few prototypes in the process, but I now have a really good way to make them.

I use 1/2 inch red oak, because it’s nice and hard, and I’ve always loved red oak. A 4 foot length yields 3 inserts. I used a pattern bit in my router to match the shape, and then a rabbetting bit to make the 1/8 edge. Then there is some free hand routing needed to make the clearances for the adjustment feet, and the motor housing. I made a construction paper template to rough out the design, which works pretty well.

I had to buy a cheap 6 inch blade (that matched the kerf of my regular blades) to make the initial cut since the 10 inch blade barely retracts below the table surface. The riving knife was another issue, after I had the kerf cut in the insert, I put the factory insert back in, raised the blade all the way up, and turned the oak insert around, and set it on top of the factory insert. Using the fence as a guide I extended the kerf cut opening for the riving knife. Unfortunately, I had to make the cut so long, the insert broke because there wasn’t enough wood left at the end of the insert. I didn’t want to not use the riving knife, and knew using some type of top mounted splitter wouldn’t work because I slide my fence across the table a lot to use my router extension wing. It would probably take an hour before I busted off a top mounted splitter.

So looking at the riving knife, I decided to grind off the bulbous section on the back edge of it, I’m not sure why it is shaped like that anyway, but I didn’t foresee any issue with grinding it down a little. (see photos) That did the trick, I was able to shorten the length of the kerf cut extension and prevent the inserts from weakening. Then I took a small L bracket, cut it in 1/2, bent it to the right shape and attached it to the back of the insert for the safety catch, but these inserts are really snug, there is no slop at all, I have to yank on them to get then out.

I am going to use the other two for a 45 degree zero clearance insert and a dado insert, but I will probably make a bunch more, because it has gotten easy and fun to make these now.

-- I love the smell of coffee in the morning, and sawdust in the afternoon

12 comments so far

View robscastle's profile


3304 posts in 1623 days

#1 posted 03-02-2015 07:48 AM

Yo Eric,

I can only give you a zero for effort there!! .....sorry could not help myself.

Anybody who is anybody makes their own for all the reasons stated!

The 45 deg one isd a must for small work, take care with it though

Riving knives are made with one thought in mind $afety, regardless of practatality.

Overall assessment: ....Very well done !!

-- Regards Robert

View thelt's profile


657 posts in 2798 days

#2 posted 03-02-2015 10:30 AM

Very nicely done. I really envy you. I have made three and none of them worked. I either get the cutout area too thin or too thick then ruining it when making it thinner.

-- When asked what I did to make life worthwhile in my lifetime....I can respond with a great deal of pride and satisfaction, "I served a career in the United States Navy."

View ChipByrd's profile


146 posts in 1346 days

#3 posted 03-02-2015 01:56 PM

I’ve been needing to do this, as well. Unfortunately, old man Procrastination has kept me from it. But this re-motivates me. Great job and thanks.

View CueballRosendaul's profile


484 posts in 1559 days

#4 posted 03-02-2015 03:44 PM

Very nice, and I agree with the lack of aftermarket parts. Since Delta sold out to China, parts have disappeared. I made a batch for mine from some bamboo flooring cutoffs. Does your saw have the little hole in the back of the throat that the factory plate latches into with a little pin/nub on the back edge? I found that a small shelf pin pressed into a hole works great to hold mine in place.

Since you have a whole batch of them, good opportunity for them to double as sample finish pieces. That is, stain and finish them differently so if you want to see what Minwax dark walnut with a coat of wipe on poly looks like, you have a sample with the name of the finish written on the back. Just a thought.

-- Matt CueBall Rosendaul. I don't think I've ever had a cup of coffee that didn't have cat hair or sawdust in it.

View gtpreacher's profile


93 posts in 2684 days

#5 posted 03-02-2015 09:16 PM

I like what you’ve done. I have a similar problem with a new Grizzly saw that I just set up and will be making zero clearance inserts just as you have done. Your project has verified my concept, so I’ll be making mine soon. Thanks for the post.

-- Phil, North Carolina

View Rayne's profile


470 posts in 958 days

#6 posted 03-02-2015 09:49 PM

Nice. I just used 1/2” MDF and have made several with no issues. I used a jigsaw to cut the riviing knife area without any breakage.

View EricLew's profile


72 posts in 785 days

#7 posted 03-03-2015 01:43 AM

Thanks for the kind words guys. For those of you thinking of making them, do it, it might take a couple of tries but you will find it’s not hard.

Nice work to you Rayne.

-- I love the smell of coffee in the morning, and sawdust in the afternoon

View Rayne's profile


470 posts in 958 days

#8 posted 03-03-2015 02:10 AM

Thanks. Eric, are you planning on drilling the holes for insert adjustment or just leave it as-is? If anyone else does make it, let your first be your primary template, like write down how high your rabbeting bit should be and how deep, where the hole should be to pull it out, etc., and use a pattern bit to make more in the future with far more ease. I have one set aside for that task with a few more blanks ready for a pattern run in case I need to make more. The only thing I’ve been wanting to do is put a finish on the mdf, but I’m kind of weary it’ll bulge due to MDF’s property for absorption, so I leave it as-is. No complaints after 6+ month of usage. :)

View EricLew's profile


72 posts in 785 days

#9 posted 03-03-2015 02:36 AM

Yes, I also have one set aside as my “master pattern”. I had planned to drill the holes for the adjustment screws but when I first got the screws properly adjusted and put the insert in, it was so snug and flush with the table top, I decided to leave it as is because it looked so nice and clean.

I am planning on finishing them but haven’t yet decided on what I want to do. Stain plus Polyurethane, Johnson’s wax, varnish, etc.

-- I love the smell of coffee in the morning, and sawdust in the afternoon

View hotbyte's profile


825 posts in 2394 days

#10 posted 03-30-2015 01:57 PM

I just picked up one of these saws yesterday and will be making some ZCI soon.

For my old Craftsman 113 saw which had the thin metal inserts, I would place the insert blank into the opening before routing the edge to be 1/8”. This would leave 3/8” sticking up proud of the table top so I could not use the fence to hold it down will raising the blade. I used some length of boards across blank and clamped at front/back of the saw. You could also place fence right beside the blank and clamp a board to the fence to hold blank down. Then, I could start the kerf without changing to a smaller diameter blade, finish routing/milling the edge for tabs and then finish raising blade for kerf.

View bluephi1914's profile


45 posts in 777 days

#11 posted 04-30-2015 02:42 AM

Just got my delta dado plate for $39, currently looking for a zero clerance… I may end up making one.

-- Jack of all trades and a master of most of them.

View nickswoodshop's profile


11 posts in 744 days

#12 posted 08-14-2015 04:48 PM

I know this thread is a little old, but in case anyone comes across this in the future, Leecraft is planning on making zero-clearance inserts available for the 36-725 soon. I emailed them this morning to ask about them, and they’re adding me to an email list to be notified when they go on sale!

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