mdf or sande plywood for sled and zc insert?

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Forum topic by Octavius posted 10-07-2009 12:15 AM 1893 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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60 posts in 3201 days

10-07-2009 12:15 AM

Hi folks,

Well, I’m really enjoying the 10” Craftsman table saw – just been using a dado set to cut some 1/4” grooves.

Before I do some ripping, I’d like to make a zc clearance insert with built in hardwood splitter. And before I do some cross-cutting, I’d like to build a sled.

It seems Baltic Birch would be the best bet for both applications but I can’t seem to find a local source.

The Borg has 1/2” mdf, sande or arauco plywood. The plywood is not void free and I’ve never used mdf (Norm thinks highly of it, though!).

What do you think?


5 replies so far

View lew's profile


12102 posts in 3783 days

#1 posted 10-07-2009 01:37 AM

I think a problem with MDF will be if you try to incorporate any leveling screws into the insert. Even though the surface is tough, the interior may not be strong enough to keep the leveling screws from vibrating. I guess you could use T nut but they may vibrate out, too.

I use oak or poplar for my inserts. Drill an undersized hole and thread the leveling Allen screw directly into the wood. The screws cut their own threads and seem to hold securely.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Julian's profile


880 posts in 3553 days

#2 posted 10-07-2009 01:38 AM

I don’t know where you live but the menards near me has actual baltic birch plywood in 4×8 sheets. It’s perfect for making jigs and whatnot . I can get 5×5 sheets from a local hardwood dealer but their prices are higher than menards, but the quality is better even though they are both BB grade.

-- Julian, Park Forest, IL

View papadan's profile


3584 posts in 3396 days

#3 posted 10-07-2009 01:47 AM

I like to use MDF for most jigs. When you need to tap it for things like leveling screws, drill the pilot hole and then soak the hole with CA and let dry. Then tap the hole. The CA seals and hardens the mdf to better hold threads.

View ChunkyC's profile


856 posts in 3282 days

#4 posted 10-07-2009 02:55 AM

I build a lot of my jigs from MDF. It’s cheap, it’s easy to work with and stable. Not a durable as BB ply but a good choice.

For my ZCI I just use regular old good one side 1/2 ply (I have a 1/2 sheet left from something.) I purchased a bag of #10-32×1/2 set screws for like $7 at Amazon. I just drill a hole and use the setscrew, with some wax on it, to tap the hole. I can make a whole set of ZCI’s in a couple of hours and each one has it’s one leveling screws and set up ready to rock when called upon.

-- Chunk's Workshop pictures:

View Innovator's profile


3584 posts in 3441 days

#5 posted 10-07-2009 04:02 AM

You wont need much for the ZC insert here is a link to get it online.

Birch Pllwood

-- Whether You Think You Can or You Think You Can't, YOU ARE RIGHT!!!

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