I have the Ridgid TS3650, and just made my first zero clearance insert. I intend to make more, for a dado set, but just used a regular blade for this first one. I followed advice that I found in various woodworking magazine articles, and the method I used is detailed below. Comments and advice on what I did right or wrong would be appreciated.
I used 1/2-inch poplar. It turned out to be almost perfect, though once I fit it to the saw, I should shave it down just a little - about 1/32 to 1/16 of an inch. I will probably use my random orbit sander on it, and check it until it is right.
I traced the 3650 insert and rough-cut the piece with a jig saw. I then used double-sided tape to attach the stock plate to the wood, and used a router and a flush-trim bit to finish the blank. One thing I had to watch out for was the metal tab on the back of the stock insert. I cut up to it, then had to turn the plate around, line it up, and rout the end. This worked, though was a bit of a hassle, and I was a little nervous with the router bit coming close to that tab.
I put the stock plate back in the saw and adjusted it all the way down. The wood blank fit in the small inset, above the stock plate. I clamped boards over the ends of the wood blank, turned on the saw, and slowly raised the blade until it scored the underside of the blank about 1/4 of an inch - it did not cut all the way through.
I took the stock plate off, put the wood blank in (the groove fit over the blade, so it seated completely), turned on the saw, and slowly raised the blade through the insert.
I also drilled a countersunk hole for the mounting screw.
I believe I did everything as correctly and safely as possible, though doing non-standard tasks on the saw always makes me a little nervous.
Thoughts and comments?
I made some inserts out of oak a couple of weeks ago, but they're more prone to expansion and warping than some other materials....had to sand them down to get them back in after a couple of days. Next time I'll consider using something more inert like laminated hardboard or Corian, etc.
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