Zero Clearance Table Saw Insert Workshop Projects

Why buy what you can make? Especially true if what you need is nearly impossible to find, like a new insert for a vintage table saw.
I made the first one from 1/2″ Baltic birch plywood and it has seen a lot of use over the past 3 years, but it needs replacement. The blade opening has gotten too big for cutting thin stock, but I will keep it for when I make angled cuts.

I made a video showing how I did it. There’s a bit of an intro and some other work on the table saw, so skip ahead to 3 minutes for the insert only:

The old one. Still usable, but the blade opening is no longer “zero clearance”:

the old insert

After cutting a new piece of 1/2″ Baltic birch plywood to the right width, I used the old insert to mark the new one, then cut it out on the band saw:

marking the new one
cutting out the new one

A 3/4″ finger hole is drilled to make removing the insert easy:

drilling the finger hole

Then it was over to the disk sander to fine tune the fit:

sanding to the line

Since the tabs that the insert rests on are less than 1/2″ from the surface of the saw, I cut the insert thinner along the edges:

cutting the edge thinner

Prior to making the first one, I drilled a small hole at the back of the opening for a pin. The pin stops the insert from lifting at the back.
the pin hole in the table saw top

I used the old one again to line up the pin on the insert and drilled the right size hole for a 2″ nail:

drilling the hole for the pin
driving the nail in that will be the pin

I cut the rest of the nail off, just leaving about 1/8″ sticking out of the end:

cutting the nail off
cutting the slot for the blade

To cut the new slot, I lowered the blade all the way and positioned the fence over the insert. I could then plunge the blade up through as high as it would go. Done and ready to use.