Zero clearance insert



I often get asked if I recommend the Ridgid R4512 table saw and the simple answer is always yes but that’s not because it’s a perfect saw. I recommend it because it’s a great deal. If budget is no a consideration than I’d have to recommend the sawstop just for the simple fact is may save you from loosing a finger one day. Back to the Ridgid saw, One of the negatives of this saw, is you can’t easily make a zero clearance insert plate (even though you could on the old version of this saw).


The reason why it’s so difficult to make an insert plate for this saw is because the OEM plate is only 1/8” thick. Unfortunately 1/8” would be to thin to make a wooden replacement version of the plate. To over come this problem I decided to make a 3/8” plate but then hollow out the areas for the leveling pads down to 1/8” which should give me a stiff enough plate but yet still sit flush in the saw top.

I went with maple for material but in hindsight I think Baltic birch plywood would be a better choice because you wouldn’t have to worry about seasonal movement. I started with a piece of 1” thick and about 36” long board and then I re-sawed it down and milled it to 3/8” giving me enough material to make 4 plates.


I than took the blanks and ripped them down to its final width (same width as the insert) on the table saw. Next I could trace my OEM insert onto each of the blanks.

and cut out the arcs on the band saw making sure not to cut into the line. I then could take the blanks to the belt sander and bring it right to the line.

If this was a “traditional” insert blank, we would be done but now we have to hollow out for the leveling pads.

I decided the best way to cut them out would be to make a template of the leveling pads and then use a pattern bit in my trim router set to the proper depth to cut the areas needed for the leveling pads.

To make the template I first made a copy of the insert plate we just made except a ¼” smaller all the way around to allow for the lip. I had to use 2 pieces of plywood glued together for the material because my top bearing pattern bit is to long, if you have a shorter bit you could use just one piece of plywood instead. To get the layout of the levelling pads, I laid my template centered in the insert opening. Then I opened up the back of the saw by removing the 6 screws and removed the panel. Next I could trace all the leveling pads. One of the pads I couldn’t reach but I could see its locating from the top and just marked its location by eye. Next I cut out the template on the band saw, making sure to cut all the pad locations oversized, leaving lots of wiggle room.


Another great option for hollowing out the area for the leveling pads is to use a forester bit. I decided on the template because I knew I was making 4 inserts now and possible more later so I thought a template might save time in the long run.

I then could center the template onto the back of my insert blanks(making sure the template is not upside down) and use two screws to how it into place. Next let the pattern bit do all the work;)

I then glued a little wooden tab to the back to help hold the insert in place. I also glued a metal washer (.030″ thick) to the front to catch the magnet in the saw.


I also drilled a ¾” hole to make it easier to remove the insert plate.


Finally I could install the insert and rise the blade up through the insert by using a block of wood to hold the insert down. You could also use the fence to hold it down.

They turned out well! the other three will be used for different sized dado stacks.


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