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Thread: I know This Probably Sounds Silly

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    S E Washington State

    I know This Probably Sounds Silly

    But I have a problem (who would have guessed). In all my years of woodworking, one of the most difficult things for me is getting a zero clearance insert perfectly level with the top of my table saw. I now use boughten ones. Use to make my own and may go back to that. I adjust the thing till I think it is just right, but if I smug the screw at the front down a little, it raises the back of the insert. If I adjust one side it changes the other side. Is there a secret I am missing? I spend more time on trying to get insert just right than any other adjustment needed.
    "We the People ......"

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Sacramento, CA
    I've found for me, the trick is to get them all close, first - don't aim for level until they're all within 1/32 or so. Then sneak up on it by dialing each one just a hair - way less than needed - until they're super super close and then dial them in individually - going around and around until they're all right and things don't wobble.

    I don't think there's a secret other than patience, though.
    Jason Beam
    Sacramento, CA

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Kansas City, Missouri
    I think Jason hit the nail on the head, patience, other than making sure all of the saw dust is out from under it first.

    To a small child, the perfect granddad is unafraid of big dogs and fierce storms but absolutely terrified of the word “boo.” – Robert Brault

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    No, not all of SoCal is Los Angeles!
    I use 1/2" BB ply and drill four 13/64" holes for four 3/8" x 1/4 x 20 set screws.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    If our stock insert doesn't use leveling screws this may not be applicable.
    Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
    - Arthur C. Clarke

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Oak Harbor Washington on Whidbey Island
    I always set my ZCI a hair low in the front & flush with the back then there is not much chance of material getting hung up on the front edge of the ZCI.
    "Forget the flat stuff slap something on the spinny thing and lets go, we're burning daylight" Bart Leetch
    "If it ain't round you may be a knuckle dragger""Turners drag their nuckles too, they just do it at a higher RPM"Bart

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Bedford, NH
    Paul, I suspect you may have already tried this, but this is how I do it.

    1. Lay a straight edge (i.e combination square, etc.) across & perpendicular over the trailing end of the insert near the set screws.
    2. Using a flash light, direct its beam towards you ,i.e. the front of the saw, while looking at where the straight edge is over the template.
    3. Use the set screws to lower both sides of the template so that light can be seen from the flashlight.
    4. Repeat for the leading edge of the insert.
    5. At this time all four "corners of the template should be lower than the straight edge.
    6. Now adjust each set screw to raise each corner until the light from the flash light "just disappears".
    7. The insert should now be flush with the table at each corner.

    Unless I'm using the insert to establish the depth of cut on a narrow/short piece, I actually prefer to have the leading end of the insert just a touch lower than the table & flush or just a touch higher on the trailing end. This prevents any "catching" as the wood passes over the insert.
    Thoughts entering one's mind need not exit one's mouth!
    As I age my memory fades .... and that's a load off my mind!

    "We Live In The Land Of The Free, Only Because Of The Brave"
    “The problems we face today are there because the people who work for a living are outnumbered by those who vote for a living."
    Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery." Winston Churchill

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Thomasville, GA
    I use 1/2" MDF and drill 5/32 holes in locations to match the factory plate. Then, I thread in M5-0.80 x 12 socket set screws with cup point (same as factory). Next, I do as Jason described to level the plate.
    Bill Arnold
    Citizen of Texas residing in Georgia.
    NRA Life Member and Member of Mensa
    My Weather Underground station

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