Zero Clearance Insert (Table Saw) Question

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Forum topic by LonelyRaven posted 03-31-2009 05:10 PM 4263 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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54 posts in 3328 days

03-31-2009 05:10 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

So I’m pretty much done “tuning and trueing” up my early 80’s Craftsman table saw. I’ve got it leveled with the (lumpy) floor, replaced the motor that burned out (found a whole ‘nother saw a few years newer for less than the cost of the motor!), I’ve trued up the blade to the slot and the cheap arse fence to the slot. And I picked up a Forest Woodworker 2, Rockler Zero Clearance Insert, and one of those drill in kerf splitters.

My question is; Now that I’m seeing how wonderful and accurate my table saw is with a good blade and all tuned up properly, I’m wanting to do more miter cuts on it…so, how do I do that with a Zero Clearance Insert?

Do I make a whole series of cuts at different angles? Do I need to buy different ZCIs for when I miter? Do I just put the stock insert in and have at it? I’m not sure where to go from here, and none of the table saw books I’ve picked up have anything about ZCI except that it’s great to have them to avoid tear out.

Oh, and since I love photos show much, I just want to make some of you router jocks jealous with my Estate Sale find of the week…I was actually looking for a router table and found a huge woodpecker router table with legs that would fit my Incra positioner perfectly, and while I’m there picking it up, I see this cast iron Bench Dog TS Extension that the host of the Estate Sale is using as drink table…..So yeah, I picked it up for $50!

So a bit of sanding and polishing and waxing, and I’m going to have a hell of a top for my old Crafstman that cost me probably $350 to setup over the past 15 years.

7 replies so far

View marcb's profile


768 posts in 3638 days

#1 posted 03-31-2009 05:59 PM

For beveled cuts I tend to use the stock throat plate. If its super critical that I keep a sharp edge I use a backer board to prevent chipping.

You can use ZCI if you make a new one for that angle, and the blade goes low enough to fit the ZCI in place with the blade down. many saws they don’t go down far enough, but perhaps a relief cut in the bottom would help that.

I found it more of a bother than it was worth, and just put a strip of hard board under the wood.

View LonelyRaven's profile


54 posts in 3328 days

#2 posted 03-31-2009 06:19 PM

OK, that follows what I was thinking. My saw barely went low enough to clear the Rockler ZCI which does have a relief cut in it, so I doubt I’ll be able to do an angled cut.

That said, I can always try it by doing the relief cut with a nice dado blade and see how it all works. I’ve already picked up a second ZCI off eBay made from that ultra dense plastic stuff that I intended to use with my 1/8” kurf blade…but maybe I’ll see if I can use it for a miter ZCI.

Thanks for that info, Marc!

View Francisco Luna's profile

Francisco Luna

943 posts in 3358 days

#3 posted 03-31-2009 06:23 PM

Zero clearance inserts are only for cuts with the blade at 90 degrees. By accident I tilted my blade with my zero clearance insert and both pieces were damaged ($70 blade).

-- Nature is my manifestation of God. I go to nature every day for inspiration in the day's work. I follow in building the principles which nature has used in its domain" Frank Lloyd Wright

View lew's profile


12017 posts in 3720 days

#4 posted 03-31-2009 08:22 PM

You can make the zero clearance inserts, as marc pointed out. Make the relief cut in any manner you feel comfortable- dado blade is a good option.

Make yourself a bunch of hardwood blanks (cheaper that ebay) that fit into your saw- create a method of leveling the insert (screws, inserts, wedges) make the relief cut on each one. Set your saw blade at the angles that are typically used- mine are at 45, 15 and 7 degrees and make the cut in the insert. Label the insert blade angle with a Sharpie. Save a couple of uncut blanks for future use (special angle or replacing worn inserts).

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

View LonelyRaven's profile


54 posts in 3328 days

#5 posted 03-31-2009 08:46 PM

Lew, that’s exactly what I was thinking. Part of why I got the Rockler and the eBay ZCIs was that I was having issues making an insert from scratch. Now that I just finished a router table, and I have two good inserts to copy from (well, one good one and one that needs touching up), I’ll be making my own from here on out. Though I have to say, I really like the Rockler one…which surprised me as I find much of their stuff really cheap.

View PurpLev's profile


8534 posts in 3613 days

#6 posted 03-31-2009 08:57 PM

Nice SETUP! and nice score on those router tables :o)

as lew said – you could have one ZCI for each angle that you normally use (make sure you mark the insert with the angle, and blade that was used to make it), or you can use a piece of hardboard under the wood to be cut to keep it from ‘falling in’ as marc mentioned.

Another option is to make a cutoff sled, which will always give you zero clearance cuts regardless of which insert you’re actually using in the saw – food for thought.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View JPBatts's profile


41 posts in 3342 days

#7 posted 04-02-2009 05:55 PM

Here is a tip…don’t buy any more zero inserts. Instead run over to the closest store that sells kitchen stuff and buy several of those plastic bread boards. Using your insert, cut it to shape with the router and for far less than you can buy those ZCIs you can make several out of one bread board. If they are not thick enough, put some leveling screws on the corners and adjust them.

-- If she asks please tell my wife that I can sell my tools for what I paid, okay?

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