Zero clearance from corian? - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 15 Old 04-02-2020, 11:06 AM Thread Starter
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Zero clearance from corian?

Since I am stuck at home, I have been making the best of it by cleaning tools, making jigs, and cleaning out my wood pile. Generally doing things that I don't generally have time to do properly.

Yesterday, I came across a piece of 1/2 inch Corian countertop and I had a wild thought--could I use it to make zero clearance throat inserts for my table saw?

I thought that before I started, I would ask if anyone has made inserts from Corian and what your thoughts were about its use.
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post #2 of 15 Old 04-02-2020, 12:37 PM
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personally, I wouldn't do it ~ it is just too hard of material
to be that close to the blade all the time.
(and mainly because I have not seen enough information on it).
1/2" plywood, plexiglass or PVC is what I prefer for myself.

.

I am a painter: that's what I do, I like to paint things.

Last edited by John Smith_inFL; 04-02-2020 at 07:33 PM.
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post #3 of 15 Old 04-02-2020, 01:04 PM
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I wouldn't use plastics

If you have ever seen Plexiglas shatter, it's scary. Very sharp pieces flying around at high speeds wouldn't be a good idea. PVC is also sharp and very hard. I'd stay with wood, either hardwood or Baltic Birch plywood.
Mine are pre-made from UHM which I got from peachtree:
https://www.ptreeusa.com/tablesaw_zero_clearance.html

They do show phenolic, a type of lamiated plastic however.
They cover most brands, models and ages of table saws.

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)

Last edited by woodnthings; 04-02-2020 at 01:07 PM.
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post #4 of 15 Old 04-02-2020, 06:48 PM
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I've got a Sawstop at work and I make inserts for ti all the time. Prefer solid wood personally, have a few made out of either oak, maple or alder. I still have the original plastic (or whatever it is) one that came with it too. If I need a really really small opening then I'll lower the blade all the way and tape a piece of quarter inch MDF down then slowly raise the blade the the height I need. I do that if I need to trim very thin veneers



-T
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post #5 of 15 Old 04-02-2020, 07:10 PM
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My Unisaw came with a Corian insert plate that was made by the former owner. I used it until I wore it out with no problems at all with it. The saw also came with the original metal insert, so since buying the saw I have used the original metal insert as a pattern to make zero clearance inserts, usually making them from Baltic Birch and HDPE, but last year I found a deal on ready made Phenolic inserts complete with leveling screws. So I now have 5 of them to try @ $5 each, but haven't even used one of them yet. Whenever I cut a new zero clearance insert I write the blade information on the back of it, and never use it for a different blade, so they last a long time. So I haven't needed to replace any of my zero clearance inserts yet. When I do I will likely try one of these new Phenolic inserts.

Charley
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post #6 of 15 Old 04-03-2020, 11:18 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone for your replies. I have been making my zeros from Baltic birch and some with hard woods. The biggest issue I have always had with these materials is that they generally warp a little over time. It isn't a big deal to make more, in fact I generally make several at a time.

I thought of using Corian because it is flat and stays true.

Some time ago, I made a router lift and used Corian as the insert plate. It has worked well but of course the router bit is several inches from the material not thousandths of an inch.

CharleyL: Glad to hear that someone else used Corian and that you didn't have any issues with it.
John/Woodn: I have never seen Corian shatter but I have shattered Plexiglas and since they are both acrylic based I have no reason not to believe Corian could shatter.

I think it would be best to shelf this idea. I'll continue make them from Baltic Birch. If I could find a deal like Charley, I might consider a purchase but at $20-$50 each I'll pass.
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post #7 of 15 Old 04-03-2020, 02:08 PM
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Quote:
Whenever I cut a new zero clearance insert I write the blade information on the back of it, and never use it for a different blade, so they last a long time.

Great Tip! This is the kind of thing I love to see on this forum, it's so simple but so effective. Thanks CharleyL
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post #8 of 15 Old 04-03-2020, 02:23 PM
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I have a sawstop, too. How do you do the lift/lock mechanism?
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post #9 of 15 Old 04-03-2020, 05:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Retir3d View Post
I have a sawstop, too. How do you do the lift/lock mechanism?
For my Unisaw, I just drill a small hole in the back end of the insert, and then drive a small 1" long roll pin about 3/4 of the way in. The roll pin fits in the notch under the table of my Unisaw and prevents the blade from lifting the insert. I also always put a finger hole in the front end of each insert, off to the left of the blade, so I can easily lift the zero clearance insert out when I want to. The hole size is about 3/4", but it can be whatever your finger fits in easily. I also drill and tap the 4 places in each insert and install 1/4-28 set screws for leveling the insert. Yes, you can thread Baltic Birch with standard machinist metal threading taps. The threads aren't as strong as in metal, but are more than adequate for leveling the insert. I keep a box of 1/4-28 X 1/4" set screws around for this purpose and use 4 for each insert that I make. A magnetic tool holder is located on the front of the saw cabinet below the table, and I keep my blade wrenches, an Allen wrench to fit these set screws, and a telescoping magnetic wand for retrieving the blade nut and washer when I drop it into the sawdust inside my Unisaw. It saves looking for these when I need them.

I'm not familiar with the SawStop insert, so I can't suggest a method for keeping your insert in place. Just look at the original insert and figure out how they keep the blade from lifting it, and come up with a way to do a similar design on your DIY inserts.

Charley

Last edited by CharleyL; 04-03-2020 at 05:38 PM.
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post #10 of 15 Old 04-03-2020, 05:42 PM
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I am using a zero clearance insert from Infinity Tools on a SawStop cabinet saw. It is made from aluminum, with an easily replaced MDF inner throat plate for the blade. I bought it ($110) when I saw the price of genuine SawStop zero clearance inserts ($50 each). Infinity Tools sells a wide range of similar inserts for many brands of table saw, left and right tilt. You can buy additional inner throat plates or make your own. For my saw, throat plates are 4 for $14. I bought one set with my order, but plan to make my own after that. The specs are on their website. Here is the model I bought for my SawStop:
https://www.infinitytools.com/sawsto...o-inserts-4756

Before I bought it, I thought about making my own insert plates. SawStop has a thin hook-shaped lockdown on the front of their inserts. At the time, I was not sure whether a homemade insert without the lock would stay down. I did not realize it when I ordered it, but the Infinity Tools product does not have a front hook. They must assume that the aluminum plate is heavy enough on its own. (In retrospect, I have seen other table saw inserts without lockdowns in the front, and they work fine.)

It is great to have different inner throat plates for different dado widths. I have them for regular kerf and thin kerf blades. I have them for different blade angles as well. I mark the back of the throat plates to remember which is which.

I like the Infinity Tools zero clearance insert and use it, but there are very annoying issues with it:

* Anti-kickback Pawls Snag and Leave Sharp Points
The anti-kickback pawls on my table saw guard snag on the powder coated aluminum when you lower the blade. When that happens, it can leave sharp raised points that can scratch your wood. You must raise the anti-kickback pawls before lowering the blade. When I forget, I use a small file to knock down the sharp points and smooth the surface. I can live with it, but I don't have to like it. I wrote to the inventor, and he knows about the issue but says that he does not have a solution. To me, it indicates that the design focus was on dados, not regular blades. Dumb.

* Slot "Fingers" Have a "Pinch" Issue
If you use the insert with standard blades, you will need to extend the slot to the end of the throat plate so that the riving knife fits. The problem is that the throat plate has "fingers" of MDF on each side of the extended slot are thin and not well supported by the zero clearance insert. They want to curve in at the tips and potentially "pinch" the blade. That statement reads far more alarming than it really is. The aluminum zero clearance insert frame includes two screw holes underneath the ends of the fingers. In theory, you can anchor the fingers in place with screws from underneath. In practice, the MDF is too thin to take the screws, and MDF doesn't take screws very well anyway. In practice, I have found that I can ignore the issue, and it seems safe. Once the blade is raised, it holds the MDF fingers apart and keeps them in their slots. The MDF is soft enough that any rubbing goes away quickly and it doesn't interfere with the cuts.

* Included Screw Was the Wrong Size (!!)
Infinity Tools includes a single screw for holding down one of the "fingers." Unfortunately, the screw they provided was too long and it protruded through the top of the throat plate "finger". The "finger" broke off, ruining that throat plate.

Summary
I like having lots of zero clearance inserts for individual table saw blades and uses. The Infinity Tools zero clearance insert is a heavy, solid replacement for the expensive SawStop inserts. The removeable/replaceable throat plates make it economical to have as many different zero clearance inserts as you want. The throat plates are inexpensive to buy and easy to make.

Unfortunately the design has several very annoying flaws, which should have been addressed before putting the product on the market. Despite the design flaws, I like it and use it because it is way more economical than buying many SawStop inserts. Knowing what I know now, I might have considered making my own SawStop inserts out of hardwood (or Baltic Birch?) without a front lockdown instead, but this one works for me.

Photos

* Infinity Tools ZCI Top:
Note the tiny filed-off shiny aluminum dings from the anti-kickback pawls. I cut the end of the slot using a stopped cut and the rip fence (... and a different insert). Notice how the long slot leaves only a tiny structure on the right side to keep the throat plate from "pinching" together.

* Infinity Tools ZCI Bottom:
Note the two "white" screw holes on the left side, for anchoring the throat insert "fingers" and prevent pinching. Frankly, the MDF is soft and the blade itself fills the space and keeps the "fingers" in their slots, preventing pinching from becoming a real issue, in my opinion.
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post #11 of 15 Old 04-03-2020, 08:25 PM
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No insert for my old Craftsman saw .......

I struggled for years without a zero clearance insert on my old Craftsman table saws with the 1/8" thin throat plates. There are times I thought about making one from thicker material and routing a thin edge all the way around. That never happened.
Then one day the light went off in my crowded an dim brain and I came up with a novel concept ... an insert for my insert!
Of course, such a simple idea I wondered why hadn't I thought of it before? A few issues were obvious, but some experimentation solved them. Here's the thread I started:
https://www.woodworkingtalk.com/f27/...-insert-10147/

Easy enough to pop a new one in when changing to a different width saw blade. I use Diablo thin kerfs exclusively so that's not an issue for me.





The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)

Last edited by woodnthings; 04-03-2020 at 08:28 PM.
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post #12 of 15 Old 04-04-2020, 06:37 AM
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I have always used plywood with a plastic laminate (Formica) top and make several at a time since I used my Dado set a lot.
I never pre-cut the Dado slots till I had a need for them since some sizes I never used.
Here is a link to my Album on this site. I never could get the photos to show up in the order that I want them to be but you can easily figure that out https://www.woodworkingtalk.com/memb...e-saw-inserts/

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Retired woodworker, amongst other things, Sold full time cruising boat and now full time cruising in RV. Currently in Somerville, Tx
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post #13 of 15 Old 04-06-2020, 12:34 PM
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Thank you for your post! I'm going to copy you and get the infinity insert. I don't think I would have discovered it otherwise.
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post #14 of 15 Old 04-06-2020, 01:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Retir3d View Post
Thank you for your post! I'm going to copy you and get the infinity insert. I don't think I would have discovered it otherwise.
You're welcome. I re-read my post a couple days ago, and wanted to write a disclaimer. Your reply is my excuse to get it done.

DISCLAIMERS:

* I have no affiliation with Infinity Tools. I am a customer who bought one of their products.

* The post above reads too enthusiastic, and too much like a "fan promotion." My goal was a fair and balanced review. I am not sure I did enough to emphasize the drawbacks of this solution.

* The real value of this product to me is the cost savings. It isn't the quality of the design. I bought it because I like having zero clearance inserts for many different blades and configurations, and it is cost effective for that purpose. Inserts don't stay pristine forever; they get chewed up and need replacement every once in a while. That is another reason that this solution is cost effective for me.

* If I were doing it over again, I would give serious thought about making my own insert without a locking front, to see how it works. I feel that the rotating blade and workpiece hold the front down, and have seen other inserts without locking fronts. At this point, the Infinity Tools insert works for me, and there is no reason to go back now.

* The manufacturer is aware of the design flaws, but continues to sell them. That says something, too.

Last edited by Tool Agnostic; 04-06-2020 at 01:54 PM.
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post #15 of 15 Old 04-06-2020, 08:56 PM
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The front (or end facing you) is not where you need a saw insert hold down. It's the rear of the insert, because the blade teeth rising up through the insert can grab and lift it, then throw it at you. If you aren't installing screws to hold your insert in place, you really want a pin or something sticking out of the rear (end away from you) to hook the bottom of the saw table and keep the blade teeth from lifting it. Good tight fitting blade slots are more likely to throw an insert than one with a well worn blade slot, but it still can happen.

Charley
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