Acrylic zero clearance throat plate?

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Forum topic by babaraccas posted 01-30-2015 02:34 PM 897 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2 posts in 636 days

01-30-2015 02:34 PM

Hi everyone. First post on this forum in honor of my new Ridgid R4512 table saw. I haven’t aligned it yet but I’ve read a lot about zero clearance inserts and I was wondering if I could make one out of acrylic. I have access to a laser cutter and I could make a bunch really easily. But I’ve never cut acrylic with power tools and I’m not sure if it’s even safe to try and raise the blade through it once installed. Has anyone done this or have any feedback? If so, would thin acrylic be strong enough on its own or would I have to back it with a thicker material? I’m vey much a novice woodworker so any suggestions would be appreciated. This is my first good table saw and I don’t want to screw it up. Thanks.

6 replies so far

View JayCop's profile


35 posts in 1857 days

#1 posted 01-30-2015 02:56 PM

As long as you use Cast acrylic it should be plenty strong and not melt when you first raise the blade through it. Extruded will make a mess. Also you may want to make sure there is a tab at the back of the plate so it doesnt get kicked up at you should it vibrate.

View HornedWoodwork's profile


222 posts in 637 days

#2 posted 01-30-2015 08:44 PM

When raising the blade through the zero clearance make sure you have a sacrificial piece on top of the insert pressing down. This is the safest way to go about raising the blade. As Jay said, Cast acrylic is the best choice.

-- Talent, brilliance, and humility are my virtues.

View gwilki's profile


119 posts in 896 days

#3 posted 02-01-2015 06:51 PM

When you say “thin” acrylic, how thin are you talking about? It will need to be thick enough to make it level with your table top. In my case, a Ridgid 3650, this is 1/2”. I use 1/2” mdf for mine. If your acrylic is not 1/2” thick – or whatever your saw requires – you will either have to install levelling screws, or laminate something to the acrylic to beef it up. If you use levelling screws on thin acrylic, I would caution against warping.

-- Grant Wilkinson, Ottawa ON

View babaraccas's profile


2 posts in 636 days

#4 posted 02-01-2015 10:40 PM

Thanks for the tips. Now if only I could get my blade aligned with the miter slot. I’ve read about many problems with this saw and it seems I’m a victim as well. I’ll be on the phone with customer service this week I guess. Hopefully I’ll get to the zero clearance insert soon.

View macatlin1's profile


78 posts in 2366 days

#5 posted 02-02-2015 01:33 PM

My Craftsman table saw had a insert that was only .090 thick and a huge opening for the blade. I priced .090 aluminum and considered making a ZCI from that until I saw some .093 Lexan in the local Home Depot. I thought “why not?” First I made a template from some scrap ply and then I made an insert on the shaper table. I located the holes in the template using a hinge countersinking tool and then transfered the holes to the ZCI. It took 5 minutes of sanding to get the insert to fit the opening and then another 5 minutes to put a chamfered edge on the insert to account for the .003 difference in thickness. I clamped a board across the insert and raised the blade fully expecting the teeth to catch and have the whole thing explode. Everything worked fine.

This image shows the new insert installed along with the old insert and the template

This image shows the new insert installed with the attaching screw and finger hole. (yes, you will need a finger hole)

At first I thought I would need to stiffen the thin plate but I haven’t felt the need as deflection doesn’t seem to be an issue. Since then, I have made a similar ZCI for a dado stack and also had no problems with deflection.

View crank49's profile


3979 posts in 2394 days

#6 posted 02-02-2015 02:07 PM

I have the Craftsman 21833, same saw as the Ridgid 4512 and the throat plate is very thin. I used 12 ga aluminum for mine. Would have worked well but the blade twists and turns when raising and lowering on this saw so the zero-clearance opening is not very close to zero.
May you have better luck.

-- Michael: Hillary has a long list of accomplishments, though most DAs would refer to them as felonies.

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