Video: How To Make Zero Clearance Throat Plate Inserts For Table Saws
Learn how to make zero clearance throat plate inserts for you table saw. A zero clearance insert or throat plate is one of the best upgrades you can make to a table saw. If you’re having trouble with tear-out on the bottom edge of your table saw crosscuts, or experienced the sudden shock of a narrow piece of drop-off wedging in between the saw blade and the opening in your saw’s throat plate, then you should get a zero clearance throat plate or insert.
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Video: How To Make Zero Clearance Throat Plate Inserts For Table Saws - Video Transcript
Speaker: Zero-clearance throat plates are easy to make for table saws with common, oval-shaped throat plates like this. In this video, I’m going to show you how to make one.
You can make throat plates from a variety of different materials, but you want them to be strong, flat, and easy to cut. Rockler sells throat plate blanks made a phenolic. It’s a slick, hard synthetic material that will last for a long time. Good quality plywood, ordinary MDF, or even a piece of stable hardwood like this poplar will work fine, too.
I think the easiest way to make them is to start with something that’s the same thickness as the depth of your saw’s throat plate opening down to these tabs that support it, or start with something that’s overly thick to begin with, because you can always trim it down on the back side to get a flush fit.
I’m going to use this piece of 3/4-inch Baltic birch plywood. Start by cutting a blank that’s a little larger than your master throat plate all around. Now, trace the throat plate’s shape onto the blank and cut it out at a band saw or with the jigsaw. Either way, cut just outside your layout line by about 1/16 to 1/8 of an inch. You can trim off the rest of this waste using a bearing-guided flush trim bit and your master throat plate as a template. We’ll do that over at the router table.
To do that, use a few strips of double-sided carpet tape to stick the face of your master throat plate down to your blank. Press the two together to make sure they’re firmly adhered. Now, raise the router bit so the guide bearing will roll along the edge of the master throat plate and route away the extra waste. Feed the two counterclockwise against the bit to make the cut. Now, separate the two and clean off the tape, and see if your new throat plate fits the opening. Mine fits a little bit tight here. If yours does, too, sand the edges slightly to improve the fit. Then drill a hole through your new throat plate to make it easier to get in and out of the saw.
Now, my new throat plate is still thicker than the original, so I need to trim off some of this material on the bottom face so that it will sit flush in my table saw’s opening. To do that, I’m going to flip the new plate upside down and set it into position, and then trace all around the plate with my pencil. This is the amount I need to remove, and I’m going to do that over at the router table.
If the tabs on your table saw’s throat plate opening are a half-inch wide or less, you can use a rabbeting bit like this to trim away the waste because most rabbeting bits will cut to a half-an-inch wide. Just raise the bit to meet your depth of cut and route all the way around the plate. The tabs on my saw are too wide for a rabbeting bit, so I’m going to use a straight bit instead, and trim the waste off of my throat plate with it standing on edge against the router table fence.
Next, we need to cut the blades slot. If you’re going to use this throat plate with your standard blade, you may have a problem getting it to fit over the blade in order to make that first kerf cut. That’s because some saws don’t allow you to drop the blade down low enough to get the clearance you need.
Here’s a simple solution. Use the outer blade of an 8-inch dado set instead. Install the dado blade and lower it as far as it will go. Now, set the throat plate in place and slide the rip fence over it to hold it down for the cutting step. Position the fence close to the blade, but be sure it won’t cut into the fence.
Now, start the saw and slowly crank the blade up through the throat plate. An inch or so of height should be all you need. Then switch to your standard saw blade, then repeat the process to cut the kerf slot to full length. Now, if you were going to use this new throat plate for a dado set like this, you’d be done as soon as you cut the slot for the wide blade. If you’re going to use your throat plate for a standard blade, there’s still one more step you have to do.
You have to extend that slot behind the blade in order to accommodate the splitter assembly for the saws guard or a riving knife like this. To do that, I use a simple crosscut sled. I stick a couple of pieces of carpet tape to the sled, then flip my plate upside down and set it down in place over the blade. Make sure the blade spins freely, and then press the plate down to the sled. This way, I can start the saw and just push the sled forward to extend the kerf cut in my throat plate. It’s a quick and easy way to extend the blade opening for my riving knife. Once that’s done, my new shop-made zero-clearance throat plate is ready for action.
Now, if your standard throat plate has a little pin on the back, you can add that to your throat plate with a short piece of metal rod, a little nail, or a screw if you like. These shop-made throat plates are one of the best performance enhancements you can make for your table saw, and if you use scrap, they cost you next to nothing. Once you try them out, you’ll probably want to keep one on your saw almost all the time. Be sure to make a few for all your blade options. Thanks for watching.