Simple cost-effective shop-made zero clearance inserts

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Project by ChuckM posted 09-10-2010 08:10 PM 3341 views 23 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Been using dado blades a lot lately and decided to make some dedicated zero clearance inserts. This cutting board cost $4 and was used to make two dado clearance inserts. Similar boards can be had at dollar stores or discount stores. They also make good runners for the tablesaw miter slots.

-- The time I enjoy wasting is not time wasted

10 comments so far

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3098 days

#1 posted 09-10-2010 08:29 PM

Interesting. How did you get them to the right thickness? Can you run them through a thickness planer?

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View helluvawreck's profile


31363 posts in 2890 days

#2 posted 09-10-2010 08:38 PM

Those are nine and I know that they help. Good job.

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View TheDane's profile


5441 posts in 3687 days

#3 posted 09-10-2010 08:58 PM

Rich—I did this a couple of years ago and wondered the same thing. As I thought about it, I just didn’t feel safe running such a short piece through my DW733, and was too lazy to make a sled.

Once I got the blank cut on the router table, I switched to a 1/2” rabbeting bit and set the height on router table to get the right thickness. Then I tapped in some 5mm set screws and I was set to go.

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View Bricofleur's profile


1445 posts in 3217 days

#4 posted 09-10-2010 09:49 PM

It is indispensable to have spare inserts ‘ready-to-go’ near the tablesaw. These cutting boards are just great for that and you can get almost any thicknesses from different stores and brands. Two years ago I was lucky enough to get several on clearance sale at the supermarket for $3 each and they are 11” X 17” and 3/8” thick. Has you mentioned, they are also great as runners for jigs since they are slick and indestructible. They also make good router template guides.

I believe the small tab at one end is to prevent the insert from lifting? What type of glue did you use?

Thanks for sharing your… good work.



-- Learn from yesterday, work today and enjoy success tomorrow. --

View ChuckM's profile


608 posts in 3690 days

#5 posted 09-10-2010 09:57 PM

Thanks TheDane for sharing your method. I’ll try your method out next time when I make more inserts.


My approach was low-tech: since only the ends of the plastic inserts rest on the mounting tabs in the saw opening, I bandsawed away just the little areas at the ends on the bottom of the insert. If I undersawed the material, I sanded it down with a file and if I oversawed (rarely happens), I put masking tape underneath to level the insert. This cutting board material may flex under weight and so I use them mainly for dado blade inserts; MDF or plywood with a splitter for the regular thin kerf blade clearance inserts..

Salut Serge,

You’re the master of the use of this kind of materials for shop projects.

Since these are dado blade inserts, I don’t have to worry about them getting lifted up. Either the sacrificial fence or the stock will keep the insert down. If I am to add a ‘hold-down’ feature to them, I’d use small rare earth magnets (as is shown in the picture for the regular insert plate), with epoxy glue or weld glue(?).

-- The time I enjoy wasting is not time wasted

View ChuckM's profile


608 posts in 3690 days

#6 posted 09-11-2010 01:34 AM

“Since these are dado blade inserts, I don’t have to worry about them getting lifted up”

Let me explain a bit more. I don’t use the dado blade at its full height (for projects I undertake) but I’ll raise the blade at its full height when I cut out the clearance the first time. When I use the blade at below the full height, there’s little worry the insert will be lifted up or kicked by any of the spinning teeth.

-- The time I enjoy wasting is not time wasted

View falegniam's profile


335 posts in 2976 days

#7 posted 09-11-2010 05:28 AM

you are smarter than me, i bought an expensive piece of poly from usplastics, and it’s still sitting in the box.

-- If you work you eat - If you don't work, you eat, drink, and sleep.

View EzJack's profile


456 posts in 3194 days

#8 posted 09-11-2010 08:40 PM

I’ve been using a chunk Corian for many years. Sink cut out scrap. Great for a lot of stuff. I even used it once for bathroom moldings.

-- Ain't better or worse than any other woodpecker in the woods.

View Kristoffer's profile


675 posts in 3240 days

#9 posted 10-03-2010 07:12 AM

Great idea! Thanks for the post! I need some zero clearance inserts.

-- Cheers and God Bless

View Abbott's profile


2570 posts in 3327 days

#10 posted 10-03-2010 07:23 AM

I have also found those cutting boards to be of use around the shop.

-- Ohh mann...pancakes and boobies...I'll bet that's what Heaven is like! ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣

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