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July 25, 2014

Zero Clearance Table Saw Inserts

“Intuition will tell the thinking mind where to look next.”
Jonas Salk…American medical researcher and virologist.

Shopmade zero clearance table saw inserts greatly improves the safety and efficiency of the table saw. New table saws come with an insert. However, are the factory inserts always the best option for the woodworker? The gap alongside of the saw blade of the original table saw insert is wide which can lead to tear-out and also cause more sawdust to fly. Also, safety concerns arise when wood debris falls into this opening next to a spinning saw blade. Have you considered a zero clearance table saw insert yet?

Table Saw Zero Clearance inserts

Vairous sized Table Saw Zero Clearance inserts

Zero clearance table saw inserts can easily be bought or the woodworker can simply make the inserts in the woodworking shop. Either way you choose is the right way and you’ll be glad you made the choice. Once you begin the habit of using a table saw insert you will wonder why you didn’t use them previously. You will also feel like your level of craftsmanship went up a few notches and you will soon see improvement in the quality of your work. (When making a crosscut on the table saw with a sharp blade and a zero clearance table saw insert you will prevent tear-out.)

Phenolic zero clearance table saw inserts can be purchased inexpensively. Some inserts are already sized to fit the throat of your specific table saw model. Then there are phenolic inserts that are purchased oversized so that with a little work you can fit it to the throat opening of your saw.

Some woodworkers choose to make their own zero clearance table saw inserts from material they have readily available in the woodworking shop. Baltic birch plywood, solid wood, or MDF can be used. The choice is yours. When you have zero clearance table saw inserts, you will be working more confidently as well as more safely.

Table Saw Zero Clearance insert with a splitter

A Table saw splitter safely keeps the saw blade kerf open.

A Table Saw Zero Clearance insert

A splitter on a zero clearance insert.

A Finish nail keeps the zero clearance table saw insert flat in the table saw.

A finish nail will hold the zero clearance insert from lifting out of the throat.

If you make your own zero clearance table saw inserts:
1.) You will want a good snug fit in the throat opening of the table saw.
2.) Make sure the top surface of the insert is adjusted so it is even or just slightly below the table saw surface.
3.) Make sure the insert does not have a tendency to lift out of the throat opening. Add a small finish nail to the end of the insert farthest from the operator.
4.) If you make a zero clearance table saw insert for a single table saw blade that will be used for ripping material be sure to always have a splitter in place. The splitter keeps the saw blade kerf open and helps to prevent any binding or table saw kickback.

An assortment of zero clearance table saw inserts can prove to come in handy. If you work with dado blades it’s a good idea to have a number of table saw accessories already made. This way you will have an insert to use with various dado blade combinations. Also, if you work with a dedicated dado sled for the table saw you will be glad to have different sized zero clearance table saw inserts.

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