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Forum topic by MrRon posted 641 days ago 910 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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MrRon

2715 posts in 1838 days


641 days ago

Please forgive me in advance for my comments. ZCI or zero clearance insert has been on the lips of woodworkers for a couple of years now. Not too much has been said about them other than they can reduce splintering. Many have posted how to make ZCI’s, but now pop-up ads are advertising ZCI’s for $95. You have to be out of your mind to spend $95 on a piece of aluminum plate and a wood insert. They even have the gall to sell replacement wood inserts for the ZCI. This is really taking advantage of the public. There are those who would defend it by saying “I don’t have the time to make one”, or “money is no object”. I don’t think they represent the majority, but if they do, then I’m in the wrong business. Any halfway proficient wood hacker could make one in 15 minutes. To borrow a quote from Geico; “Even a Caveman could do it”. I usually don’t bother with ZCI’s anymore because the “wobble” of saw blades destroy the zero clearance very quickly. The companies that sell these ZCI’s are out to get your dollar regardless of it’s advantages. I would rather see them pushing a saw blade that promises a fine cut at an affordable price.


13 replies so far

View HillbillyShooter's profile

HillbillyShooter

4340 posts in 887 days


#1 posted 641 days ago

Tend to agree on ZCIs, although I have no complaint about problems with blade wobble. I made 8 or so ZCIs back in 1994 and still haven’t used half of them. My experience has been that a good blade (Systematic or Forrest) eliminates the need for a ZCI except in very limited circumstances.

-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

View ajosephg's profile

ajosephg

1839 posts in 2156 days


#2 posted 641 days ago

I agree with everything you said, Ron, except “the “wobble” of saw blades destroy the zero clearance very quickly.

I’ve been using the same ZCI for years and it will last indefinitely. I use it with three different Freud blades, crosscut, rip, and combination.

Besides the better cut a ZCI provides, there is also a safety factor when cutting small pieces. The ZCI prevents the cutoff from getting jammed between the blade and the insert resulting bad consequences.

-- Joe

View NiteWalker's profile

NiteWalker

2695 posts in 1172 days


#3 posted 641 days ago

Ron, if you’re having trouble with blade wobble there’s a setup issue with your saw or excessive runout somewhere. I agree about the aluminum insert style ZCI’s. I realize they cost money to design and produce, but $95 is really pushing it. A phenolic leecraft insert for $20 and an afternoon and you can have the same thing. There’s plans out there that show you how to do so.

Unless I’m beveling, a zci is a must on my tablesaw, regardless of blade quality. The best blade in the world won’t prevent a narrow offcut from falling in the slot and causing all kinds of problems.

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

View Gerald Thompson's profile

Gerald Thompson

335 posts in 829 days


#4 posted 641 days ago

The only thing I disagree with is “This is really taking advantage of the public.” If a person wants one and buys it I do not believe he is being used. It is one’s responsiblity to find out what products suit one’s tastes and pocket book.
There is no way I would be in the market for that product.

-- Jerry

View Richard's profile

Richard

400 posts in 1286 days


#5 posted 640 days ago

I don’t know where you are shopping for ZCI’s but I just bought one for my TS at Woodcraft for under $30.

-- "It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so." - Mark Twain

View wunderaa's profile

wunderaa

179 posts in 797 days


#6 posted 640 days ago

Can’t say I agree with the sentiment toward the company “taking advantage of the public”. If there is a market for $95 ZCI’s, then more power to them for supplying the demand. If there’s not a market for them, then you won’t see them around for long.

As for side-stepping the use of a ZCI, I would caution against it. It takes the right conditions for things to go horribly wrong at the TS, so it’s best to eliminate the easy stuff like blade clearance. Even a worn out ZCI is better than utilizing a stock insert with a 1/2” gap.

My $0.02…

View knotscott's profile

knotscott

5364 posts in 1970 days


#7 posted 640 days ago

I agree that it’s silly for a hobbyist to pay $95 for a ZCI, but I do want to emphasize how critical it is to a table saw’s precision to have good insert that’s stiff and flush to the table. There’s not a TS on earth that that’ll cut well if the insert is flexing or causes the work piece to shift during a cut. I’ve made several ZCI’s out of various materials, but I really like the Leecraft phenolic inserts that are available in the $20 range….they’re stiff, last a good long time, and I can always make a wood patch if the opening gets sloppy.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View rance's profile

rance

4125 posts in 1755 days


#8 posted 640 days ago

+1 to exactly what ajosephg said(thanks for saving me the typing).

+1 to getting your wobble fixed. Your machine just aint rait(spoken in my best Forrest Gump voice).

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View NiteWalker's profile

NiteWalker

2695 posts in 1172 days


#9 posted 640 days ago

“I can always make a wood patch if the opening gets sloppy”

That’s the same thing I plan to do.

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

View MrRon's profile

MrRon

2715 posts in 1838 days


#10 posted 640 days ago

The $95 I referred to came as a pop-up on the right side of my screen and wouldn’t go away. By taking advantage, I mean that newcomers to this hobby who know very little might be convinced that a ZCI is a necessity. A year down the road, that same person might come to realize how easy it would be to make one and save the money for something more useful. I must confess that once I bought something and discovered how simple it was and could have made it just as well or better. You end up kicking yourself for not knowing better.

I would also caution others about those hockey pucks they sell as “bench cookies”.

View NiteWalker's profile

NiteWalker

2695 posts in 1172 days


#11 posted 640 days ago

A few things:
1. Adblcok plus and no more ads.
2. Most newcomers don’t jump in blindly; and even less spend $95 on an accessory without doing a bit of research. I just bought an incra ibox and a hingecrafter as well but not before spending the past 48 hours almost non stop reading what I could find on them and watching videos.
3. Bench cookies are a great value. For the time and material investment it’s cheaper overall to buy a set for $11.

For some people, time is worth more than money.

You’re not out of line though; the way you feel about these zci’s is the same way I feel about most things festool…

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

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MrRon

2715 posts in 1838 days


#12 posted 640 days ago

That’s where we disagree. Festool tools are of the highest quality, although I can’t afford them. If I had the money, I would have all Festool tools. Bench Cookies are a different story. They are just repurposed hockey pucks. A round of scrap wood with a disc of rubber glued on would be the same. You could even drill a hole in the center for a thread insert and it would only cost you maybe 25¢ each. A fool and his money are soon parted. (a very wise saying from us older guys).

View HillbillyShooter's profile

HillbillyShooter

4340 posts in 887 days


#13 posted 640 days ago

Thanks to “ajosephg” and others for pointing out the safety factors in using a ZCI. Frankly, I had not considered this and will start using ZCIs more in the future.

-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

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