Zero clearance inserts are a safety feature!

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Forum topic by lumberjoe posted 06-12-2012 06:55 PM 1788 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2899 posts in 2487 days

06-12-2012 06:55 PM

I picked up one of the Leecraft ZCI’s for my Ridgid R5412 a few weeks ago. I have been procrastinating on installing it and it cost me money last night. I was trimming the bottom of some table legs on the table saw. The legs are only 1 1/2” thick, and I was taking off about 1/4 of an inch. After the cut finished I saw that the off cut lodged itself between the throat plate and the blade. I said to my self “that’s coming back in my face!”. I shut the saw off and moved out of the way. Sure enough, as the blade was decelerating, the piece launched – right through the garage window behind the saw.

This confirmed a few things for me:
1 – I’m glad I am familiar enough with my saw to recognize a dangerous situation and do my best to avoid it, however some things are unavoidable no matter how closely you are watching.
2 – Even though I wear glasses, I’m glad I wear safety goggles – as annoying and uncomfortable as they are
3 – I shouldn’t procrastinate

My next cut was sending the blade through the ZCI and got it leveled. Also of note, I’m pretty sure this confirms my saw does not have the dreaded alignment issue. I raised the blade to about 2 1/2” through the ZCI. It does not make contact at all. When I lowered the blade to about 7/8”, still no contact, and again no contact at 3/8’’.

Today I got another ZCI and cut it for some 45 degree miters I will be doing soon where the off-cuts will be thin and short.


13 replies so far

View Bob817's profile


675 posts in 2621 days

#1 posted 06-12-2012 06:58 PM

Glad you didn’t get hurt Joe!

-- ~ Bob ~ Newton, N.H.

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2170 posts in 3089 days

#2 posted 06-12-2012 08:25 PM

Was the offcut between the blade and the fence?



-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View lumberjoe's profile


2899 posts in 2487 days

#3 posted 06-12-2012 08:32 PM

No. This was a cross cut, no fence. Whenever I rip, I always put the widest section between the blade and the fence and I have often questioned this method.

For example, when ripping said table legs, I ripped them down to 1 1/2”. Rather than set my fence to 1 1/2”, I move the fence in that amount after each cut. Is it safe to have the bulk of your material as the off cut? Working that close to the blade means no guards, and I do not like to work without guards. It would be so much quicker that way instead of re positioning the fence an inch and a half after every cut


View Steve Peterson's profile

Steve Peterson

395 posts in 3321 days

#4 posted 06-13-2012 09:11 PM

I’ve had a similar issue cutting tennons. I ended up with a few 1” square by 1/8” pieces of maple launching at the garage door behind my saw. Luckily there are no windows and there is 1.5” of insulation to absorb the impact before denting the door. In my case, the solution was to take out the zero clearance insert and replace it with the stock insert with a 1/2” wide opening. This let the dust collector safely suck them out of the way of the blade. Each situation is different. There would have been a certain size that would get trapped between the insert and the blade.

It is good that the only thing hurt was the window.

-- Steve

View JSilverman's profile


89 posts in 2852 days

#5 posted 06-13-2012 09:17 PM

I would not rip my table legs as you described. I would set the fence at the desired width (1.5 inches) and rip from the wider stock. The legs would then all be the exact same dimensions. Having the offcut be larger and to the left of the blade does not pose a safety issue.

View lumberjoe's profile


2899 posts in 2487 days

#6 posted 06-13-2012 09:29 PM

The safety issue for me is 1.5” from the blade means no guards. At that point the fence almost touches the guards, so I have no hope of getting even a thin push stick through there.


View jmos's profile


905 posts in 2608 days

#7 posted 06-13-2012 09:41 PM

Not to sound like a commercial, but for those types of cuts I go for my Grr-rippers ( They are perfect for that sort of cut; guides the cutoff as well as the thin piece between the fence and the blade, and keeps your hand away from the blade as well since you can’t use the guard.

I don’t use them a lot, but love them when I need them.

-- John

View ShipWreck's profile


557 posts in 3991 days

#8 posted 06-13-2012 11:05 PM

+1 for the Grr Ripper. One of the best safety related tools I have ever used.

View lumberjoe's profile


2899 posts in 2487 days

#9 posted 06-14-2012 12:37 PM

That thing scares the crap out of me, and maybe needlessly so. At a very young age, my dad taught me to use a table saw. One of the unbreakable cardinal rules was you only support/apply pressure to ONE SIDE of the piece you are cutting; with the exception of a cross cut sled. He told me this every single time I turned my little table saw in the corner on for 4 years straight.

To me, it looks like there is a risk of pinching the blade between the kerf when using something like this – epecially on shorter cuts when the jig actually rides on the table. So essentially you have a fence on one side, and the Grr-ripper on the other, both applying pressure toward the blade.

This picture demonstrates what I mean:

I do use feather boards and I realize some will say it is the same principle, but feather boards always go BEFORE the blade, never at or past the blade. this jig goes directly over and past the blade.


View jmos's profile


905 posts in 2608 days

#10 posted 06-14-2012 12:53 PM

Yes, it does take a bit of getting used to, rather strange to be running you hand directly over the blade too. But it does work well. The gripper rides on the fence, and the gripping surface holds the wood well. As shown, with the riving knife in, it’s not really an issue.

With my saw the splitter has to come off with the guard, but even so, I’ve done long cuts hand over hand with a pair of grippers and never have any issues. (that issue will go away when I get my Shark Guard) It’s the best, safest, solution for thin cuts I’ve seen. There are a lot of reviews out there on this, and I’ve never seen a bad one; counter-intuitive perhaps, but effective.

I’m not entirely sure I understand the tip your Father instilled in you; if you use a feather board you’re pushing toward the fence on the off-cut side while you push the work between the fence and bade, thus pushing on both sides, and I don’t think anyone would say that is not safe. Even when you cut by hand, you usually push from the off-cut side toward the fence to keep the price registered properly. I would agree you should never push on the off-cut side even with, or past, the blade for fear of pinching the kerf and causing kickback.

edit – just saw your comment on feather boards after the picture. If you use the hand over hand method you never have to run the gripper past the blade until the very end of the cut.

-- John

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2899 posts in 2487 days

#11 posted 06-14-2012 01:03 PM

That still make me nervous. I’ve had some relatively short pieces of oak (15”) that I’ve had to back off and use “kerf keepers” (that’s what I call them, little wedges to keep the kerf open) because right after the cut, the wood SLAMS shut and cannot even be pulled open by hand.


View MonteCristo's profile


2099 posts in 2427 days

#12 posted 06-16-2012 03:08 AM

Hi lumberjoe:

When the kerf “slams shut” you’re dealing with a piece of wood with a bunch of stress in it, often caused by bad kiln drying.

I have a Gripper but don’t use it much. I think you are focussing too much on the pressure being put on the wood as you guide it. The thing that you really want to concentrate on (IMHO) is making sure you keep the wood tight to the fence and tracking dead parallel to it so you don’t bind the blade in the cut. And use a splitter or on a newer table saw a riving knife.

Zero clearance throat plates are not just good safety. They help reduce chip out, especially on crosscuts.

-- Dwight - "Free legal advice available - contact Dewey, Cheetam & Howe""

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2899 posts in 2487 days

#13 posted 06-18-2012 01:34 PM

Thanks MC. This confirms the wood I bought is junk. I will not be returning there again. The first issue was even after it was planed to 3/4, I have very large areas that ran the full width with saw marks. These marks where still about 1/8+ inches deep. Every piece I cut did the same thing. I actually thought something was wrong with my saw because it has never struggled like that before. Looks like it’s back to waking up early and heading to the trusty ole’ lumber mill and buying directly instead of using re sellers and their more convenient hours.


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