Table saw insert (Creating Custom Dado & Zero Clearance Inserts)

Creating and Installing Zero Clearance Inserts on Your Table Saw

Every woodworker knows the heart of any workshop is the table saw. Integral to its operation are a table saw inserts or throat plates. But did you know making your custom inserts can significantly improve your work?

If you’re passionate about woodworking, you know that a table saw is a cornerstone of any well-equipped workshop. The insert or throat plate is a vital part of the table saw, which helps guide your wood during cuts, providing precision and safety. You might be surprised that you can create custom table saw inserts, allowing for more versatility and accuracy in your projects.

In this guide, we’ll delve into the importance and advantages of custom-made table saw inserts, distinguish between the types of throat plates, namely zero clearance and dado inserts, and explain their specific uses.

Differences between a dado blade, zero clearance plate, and throat plate

Dado Blade: A dado blade is a specialized type of blade used for making wider cuts in wood, typically for creating dadoes, grooves, or rabbets. It consists of multiple blades and chippers stacked together to remove a wider portion of material. Dado blades are adjustable, allowing you to set the width of the cut according to your needs.

Dado Inserts :  On the other hand, Dado inserts are designed to accommodate a Dado blade—a specialized tool for cutting wider grooves or trenches in wood. With a custom-made Dado insert, you can ensure a perfect fit and smoother operation.

Zero Clearance Plate: A zero clearance plate is an insert or plate specifically designed to support the workpiece being cut and reduce chip-out or tear-out. It is called “zero clearance” because the opening around the blade is minimized to match the width of the blade or the dado set being used. This close fit helps to prevent small offcuts from falling into the gap around the blade, reducing the risk of kickback and ensuring cleaner cuts.

Throat Plate: A throat plate, also known as an insert or table saw insert, is a removable plate on the table saw’s top surface surrounding the saw blade or dado set. It offers a flat, uniform surface on which the workpiece can move while being cut. Throat plates typically have a wide opening to accommodate the standard saw blade width. They might not, however, offer as much support and protection against tear-out as a zero clearance plate.

The Importance of Custom Table Saw Inserts

Custom inserts ensure a perfect fit for your table saw and allow for versatility, catering to specific projects or cuts. From enhancing safety to improving cut quality, the benefits of making your own table saw inserts are numerous and rewarding.

Table Saw Safety with Custom Inserts

Safety is paramount in any workshop. Here’s how custom inserts contribute.

Creating your own table saw inserts is a step towards safer woodworking. The right insert minimizes the risk of kickback, prevents small pieces from jamming the saw, and ensures better control over your workpiece. It’s a win-win for both your safety and your project’s quality.

Without the right insert, your table saw can become a safety hazard. Inserts that are too loose can slide or tilt, which can result in erroneous cuts or, worse, accidents. Thus, it’s vital to choose a high-quality, well-fitting commercial insert or make your own.

Choosing Your Table saw Insert Material

Let’s get down to business and talk about the supplies you can use to make your own inserts.

Wood: Plywood is a popular choice due to its ease of cutting and shaping. However, it may not hold up as well in the long run.

Plastic: Durable and easy to work with but might require extra equipment or expertise.

Metal: Extremely sturdy but requires special tools and skills.

We recommend starting with plywood or a similar type of wood for DIY table saw inserts. It is easily available, simple to use, and affordably replaceable when worn out.

DIY Guide to Making Table Saw Inserts

First, gather your tools. For a template, you’ll need a piece of plywood or chosen material, a saw, a router, screws, sandpaper, and your existing table saw insert.

Step-by-Step Process for Creating Your Own Throat Plates

Creating a Template: Start by tracing your current insert onto the plywood.

Crafting the Inserts from Chosen Material: Use your saw to cut along the traced lines, then use a router to carve out the blade slot.

Adjusting Insert Height: Install screws at the corners of the insert to adjust its height. Sand until it’s perfectly level with your table saw.

Installing Your Custom Inserts

Fit your new insert into your table saw, ensuring a snug fit. Take your time here—safety and precision are crucial.

Common pitfalls include securing the insert correctly or sanding it once it’s level. Always take your time and never rush the process.

Enhancing Your Woodwork with Zero Clearance Inserts

Zero clearance inserts can significantly enhance your woodworking projects.

Zero clearance inserts provide tighter support for your workpiece, resulting in cleaner, more accurate cuts. No more ragged edges or splintered wood.

From increased safety to improved precision, zero clearance inserts on your table saw can elevate your woodworking to new heights.

Advancing Your Skills with Dado Inserts

A custom-made dado insert can ensure your dado set works flawlessly, providing smooth, wide cuts for joinery and other woodworking tasks.

Whether creating shelving or cabinetry, customizing your Dado inserts allows you to cater to specific project requirements for ultimate precision and efficiency.

Maintenance and Replacement of Table Saw Inserts

Like any tool, your homemade inserts require care and eventual replacement. Inspect your inserts regularly. If they show signs of wear or damage, it’s time for a replacement. Remember, your safety comes first.

Making a new insert is as simple as returning to step one of our DIY guides. Keep spare materials on hand, so you’re always ready for a quick swap.


As we’ve explored, investing time in making your table saw inserts can revolutionize your woodworking. A well-made insert enhances safety, improves cut quality, and provides versatility for various projects. It’s an essential component in any woodworker’s toolkit.

So, keep honing your skills, keep learning, and don’t be afraid to experiment. After all, every piece of wood holds the potential for something extraordinary—just like your table saw, equipped with your expertly made custom insert.

Trust your skills and craft, and let’s continue this exciting woodworking journey together at


  • Hina Hassan

    Hi there! I'm Hina, and I'm passionate about woodworking tools. I've got plenty of experience in this field, and I'm here to help you make smart choices when it comes to table saws and circular saws. I pay close attention to all the little details, and I've spent years getting my hands dirty to understand these tools inside and out. Whether you're a professional or a DIY enthusiast, you can count on me to steer you in the right direction. Trust my recommendations for the best cutting-edge solutions in the industry.

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