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  • Making a Zero Clearance Insert

    As a complete novice to any power tool more sophisticated than a sander, I thought I'd share my experience making a ZCI for my TS3650 with others, on the basis that if I can do it anyone can.

    I cut a strip the width of the standard insert off the long edge of a 2' x 4' peice of 1/2" in MDF on the saw. This gave me enough to make 3 inserts with about 5" of waste left over.

    Carpet taped a piece to the original plate and shaped on my router table. I checked, double-checked and triple-checked the set up as I can only imagine what would happen if a router bit hit metal. Besides which, the router table scares me just to turn it on!

    Anyway got the MDF to size then went to cut the slot on the saw table with a block over the insert for safety.

    As others have mentioned, you can't lower the blade on the saw far enough for the insert to completely settle into place at first so it goes perhaps halfway down and rests on the blade, which then has to cut space for itself.

    Well, time after time I got everything ready and switched on the TS only for the circuit breakers to immediately trip. This happened so fast that the blade never made so much as a pinprick impression on the MDF, much less start a cut.

    In the end, I went to the back of the saw, held the ZCI down with my left hand and moved the drive belt with my right hand to manually turn the blade. I cut deep enough that the ZCI would go all the way into the slot.

    I'm not saying it was hard work, but I will be checking my next DWP bill for a small credit as I'm sure I must have been returning power to the grid...

    Final step was to rout about 1/16" of the bottom edge of the plate to let it sit fully into the slot.

    Then fix it down, turn on and raise the blade the rest of the way through the ZCI and I was all done...

    Simon

  • #2
    Re: Making a Zero Clearance Insert

    Originally posted by BloodQuest View Post
    As others have mentioned, you can't lower the blade on the saw far enough for the insert to completely settle into place at first so it goes perhaps halfway down and rests on the blade, which then has to cut space for itself.

    Well, time after time I got everything ready and switched on the TS only for the circuit breakers to immediately trip. This happened so fast that the blade never made so much as a pinprick impression on the MDF, much less start a cut.

    In the end, I went to the back of the saw, held the ZCI down with my left hand and moved the drive belt with my right hand to manually turn the blade. I cut deep enough that the ZCI would go all the way into the slot.

    I'm not saying it was hard work, but I will be checking my next DWP bill for a small credit as I'm sure I must have been returning power to the grid...
    I personally find it easier to start with a smaller blade to get the initial cut and make the ZCI flush with the table top and then switch to the actual blade I plan to use.

    Just my two cents....
    Still enjoying all 10 fingers!

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Making a Zero Clearance Insert

      For simplicity I usually use the same technique as wwsmith. Just put in the main blade of a dado set, if you have one. They're normally 8" and the ZCI easily clears that sitting flush.

      You can also use a 1/4" plunge bit and cut a stopped groove 3/16" deep from the blade 'area' of your ZCI. Use the stock throat plate to help identify the appropriate place. The loss of material won't affect the ZCI's integrity or performance.

      I still use homemade ZCIs for the funny angles and dado setups. But frankly, I purchased a phenolic ZCI made for the 3650 from Woodcraft to serve as my main throat plate for 95% of the time. Slick, almost indestructible, and BRIGHT white... can't miss it there, surrounded the whirring blade of doom... reminds me to keep my hands away. ;-)

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Making a Zero Clearance Insert

        I like the idea of using an 8" blade, but I don't have one. I used another method that seems safe. I removed the adjustment screws from the Ridgid plate and set it back into the slot leaving it 1/8" below the surface of the table. I lowered the blade all the way and set the new ZCI on top of the Ridgid plate. It will self align in the slot. Secure the new ZCI in place with a block of wood or something, turn on the saw, raise the blade until it breaks the surface and then lower the blade all the way. Now you have a slot in your new ZCI deep enough to to clear the blade. Finish your ZCI by making the slot to full depth.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Making a Zero Clearance Insert

          Originally posted by VegasGuy View Post
          I like the idea of using an 8" blade, but I don't have one. I used another method that seems safe. I removed the adjustment screws from the Ridgid plate and set it back into the slot leaving it 1/8" below the surface of the table. I lowered the blade all the way and set the new ZCI on top of the Ridgid plate. It will self align in the slot. Secure the new ZCI in place with a block of wood or something, turn on the saw, raise the blade until it breaks the surface and then lower the blade all the way. Now you have a slot in your new ZCI deep enough to to clear the blade. Finish your ZCI by making the slot to full depth.

          HA! Now that is a great idea! This is why I love these forums. ;-)

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Making a Zero Clearance Insert

            Hey Blood Quest! Thanks for sharing your ZCI-making experience. It was a trick for me the first couple times, too. Now that VegasGuy has explained how to do the blade slot, I might have to do a couple more.

            My main plate these days is the phenolic one that Wood Junkie uses. I like the slippy-ness of it, and the bright white NO HANDS HERE DEAR GOD STAY AWAY thing works!
            I put it all back together better than before. There\'s lots of leftover parts.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Making a Zero Clearance Insert

              For all the 2400 owners, here is a tutorial I put together for making ZCIs using scraps of laminate flooring. http://www.hoistman.com/HoistMan/ZCItute.html
              info for all: http://www.hoistman.com http://www.freeyabb.com/phpbb/index....wwtoolinfoforu --- "I like long walks, especially when they are taken by people who annoy me."

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Making a Zero Clearance Insert

                Nice presentation Papdan. Concise, easy to understand and follow.
                there's a solution to every problem.....you just have to be willing to find it.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Making a Zero Clearance Insert

                  I can't believe I never thought of either the smaller blade or putting in the original insert.

                  Will certainly try that for the next couple - I have two more blanks.

                  Thanks, everyone!

                  Simon

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Making a Zero Clearance Insert

                    You can also use hot glue to temporarily tack the new ZCI exactly on top of your existing plate, and then raise the blade to cut through it. Or better yet, while you have it attached to the ZCI after routing it...

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Making a Zero Clearance Insert

                      One last remark. Much to my surprise, the arbor diameter on my circular saw is the same diameter as the one on the 3650. Since the blade diameter is 7.5" using the circular saw blade on the 3650 makes making the initial cut a piece of cake.

                      Blind Bill

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Making a Zero Clearance Insert

                        when making a ZCI for my 3650 I used the existing throat plate as a template and cut a piece of poplar to the right dimensions after jointing and planing to match thickness... I then moved my fence to the right side of the throat opening, put the original plate in and ran the new one through the blade about 2/3 of the way. I took a piece of cherry that i had ripped a strip, the thickness of my blade. I glued that in the back side of the slot and trimed it flush with the edge so that it didn't have an open kerf out the back... put some set screws in to adjust height if needed and whala... once in i just ran the blade up under power with the fence sitting over the insert and a wedge beneath to hold it down....

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Making a Zero Clearance Insert

                          Sorry for the complete 101 question, but what is the benefit of a Zero Clearance insert?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Making a Zero Clearance Insert

                            Hi Paulbes. Mainly (at least IMO), a ZCI will reduce chipout that occurs on the downcut side of the blade. Since there's a solid surface directly to each side of the blade, that surface will help to support the wood fibers on the down-side of the blade cut, which is where most of the chipping occurs.
                            I put it all back together better than before. There\'s lots of leftover parts.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Making a Zero Clearance Insert

                              Originally posted by paulbes View Post
                              Sorry for the complete 101 question, but what is the benefit of a Zero Clearance insert?
                              You also are able to rip stock to very narrow dimensions without it falling through the throat plate and into the blade housing area.

                              One other benefit is that if you raise the blade to full height through your ZCI you get a really nice kerf line extending about 2 inches in front the blade at normal height (assuming a cut for 3/4" material most of the time). This gives you a very nice lining-up mark in case you do a cross cut and are unsure of exactly where the cut will occur.

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