I have a Craftsman Job-Site Table Saw (21830) and am having a very difficult time trying to find or create a ZCI for it. I've read articles and looked at plans and videos about making inserts until I'm almost blue in the face but none have addressed what you can do when you only have 3/16" clearance for the insert. My table saw has a solid rod running from front to back to which the blade mechanism is attached - this rod is only 3/16" below the surface of the table top (see attached image).
If I cut a dado for the rod, it really weakens the insert. I've thought of trying to get some 3/16" phenolic but that stuff is expensive! The original plate is steel but I don't have the capability of cutting and forming steel. 3/16" aluminum plate doesn't seem as though it would be strong enough to resist bending.
Currently I just carpet tape a piece of hardboard over the table top but that restricts the use of the miter gauge and makes it difficult to set the fence.
Does anyone have any ideas??? As far as I can determine, there are no aftermarket inserts for this saw - at least none that I have found online.
Any advice/suggestions would certainly be welcome!