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Thread: Table Saw Zero Clearance Insert (ZCI)

  1. #1
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    Table Saw Zero Clearance Insert (ZCI)

    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!

    Thanks.

    JimC
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Table Saw Throat.jpg  

  2. #2
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    On my old C-man I used 1/4" Melamine covered hardboard and routed out the areas that needed to be thinned. For mine this was the four adjustment screw points and the rear area to clear the retention tab. I had to duplicate a slotted screw hole for the front retention screw as well. This was a 3/16" issue as well. Where your rod is I would just run a shallow dado to clear.

    This is the only shot I could find of it and a poor one at that: http://www.sawmillcreek.org/attachme...4&d=1150771873
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  3. #3
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    Table Saw Zero Clearance Insert (ZCI

    Jim,

    I would think that a piece of 3/16" aluminum plate would be sufficiently stiff enough for this application, especially if you can leave a solid plate surrounding the blade entirely. Your photo of the steel insert plate shows it split open on one end. That of course weakens it some. If you can just cut the blade slot in an aluminum insert it will work fine. Some grades of aluminum are just about as stiff as steel.

    Aloha, Tony
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  4. #4
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    Jim, from looking at the picture, I can see that with the rod where it is in relation to the blade, it makes a tight fit for anything, Buuuut....a possible solution "Might be" as follows:

    Make a thin, (maybe 3/8" thick) piece of solid wood, (or whatever material) that would fit under your present metal insert and butt it "nearly against" the rod and cover the rest of the insert to the right side of rod, (blade side). You would need to rout/plane/file a little off the top except where the opening is now in the insert so that the new add on would come up through that opening so it was flush with the top of the metal insert. You could then drill two or three holes and countersink them through the metal insert to be able to put screws through the metal insert into the added wood insert, and maybe also use double sided tape between the wood and the metal as well. Then you could raise the blade through the wood and have a ZCI.

    Let us know if you try this and if it works or not, as I know it sounds like a crazy idea, (and it probably is).

    Good Luck
    PS: I agree with Tony above as a possibility also.
    Last edited by Norman Hitt; 02-17-2008 at 11:24 AM.

  5. #5
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    Jim,

    That's exactly why I abandoned my first table saw. Tried everything to make a zci, nothing worked. When the blade grabbed my push stick, and pulled it down into the gap, durn near pulling my hand in there with it, I gave up on that saw. Never made another cut on it. It just wasn't worth it. Turned out to be an expensive lesson, but way less expensive than getting another hand...

    Thanks,

    Bill

  6. #6
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    A tip I read somewhere might work but, will not allow you to make multiple ZCI's for your multiple blades . .. put a piece of packing tape over the slot from underneath and fill the slot with epoxy, remove the tape when set, then saw through the epoxy. This seemed like a real pain to me so I never tried it but, perhaps in this situation it is just the trick.
    Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
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  7. #7
    I, like Glenn went to all the trouble and made a fancy smancy "ZCI" (as you called it) but didn't cut the slot deepenough the first time and one time I lifted the blade higher that the slot allowed and when I turned it on... (no need to discribe the lump in my shorts )

    Ever sense then I just use a piece of Formica Laminant and 2 sided Carpet tape to cover the original insert (have to lower the set screws to allow for the thickness. (and drill access holes to do the screws that hold the original in place.)

  8. #8
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    Maybe I am missing something but I would just cut the dado and not worry about it. Or make it out of some plywood. Add a strip underneath if it sags or is to flimsy. Doesn't really look like a problem to me. But as I said maybe i am missing something.

    Maybe you could route a groove, that radius would make it bit stronger.
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  9. #9
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    I think there could be some concern with a flimsy panel if you are cutting some short stock that is narrow and you need push down on it with the push stick and it drops down at the tail end due to the shortness of the piece.
    When I need a zero clearance I will often times just set my fence, drop a piece of baltic birch 3' long down onto the blade, wide enough to run my piece past a clamp holding down the baltic birch to the saw.
    Shaz
    Oh, and by the way I do also agree with Tony's assessment of the aluminum plate. Hopefully you could keep it as a solid donut without a cut through.
    Last edited by Robert Schaubhut; 02-18-2008 at 12:38 AM.
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  10. #10
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    Zero Clearance Insert

    The aluminum plate sounds like a possibility. I have read that you can cut aluminum with on a table saw with a carbide-tipped blade. Anyone have any experience with this at 3/16" thickness?

    JimC

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