In Tricks of the Trade

Zero Clearance Relief Cut
by Brad Holden

A zero-clearance throat plate is a must-have for every tablesaw. It prevents small offcuts and thin strips from dropping down alongside the blade which is really annoying. Some manufacturers sell blanks specifically for their saws. If not, you have to make your own. It’s pretty easy. You just raise the blade through the blank, and you’re done.Here’s the problem. On some 10″ tablesaws, the blade doesn’t lower far enough to allow a shop-made insert to drop all the way into its recess. The prospect of lowering the insert onto a spinning blade is one that shouldn’t even be considered, for obvious reasons.

To get around this, I cut a groove on the underside of the blank throat plate deep enough to allow the insert to drop all the way into the recess. I cut two passes, making a 1/4″ wide groove, so there’s side clearance as well as clearance above the lowered blade. That way, I can slide the fence over the insert’s edge to hold it down, and safely raise the blade through the blank. Make sure you don’t raise the blade into your fence!

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