Zero-Clearance Top

Most table saw inserts have wide throat openings around the saw blade. This makes it all too easy for narrow cutoffs to fall in the opening and possibly bind against the blade. Also, since the throat opening isn't supporting the workpiece, you'll often end up with chipout along the bottom face of your board.

To solve these problems, I made a zero-clearance insert from ¼" hardboard. But as you can see in the drawing, the one I made doesn't replace my standard table saw insert, it's simply a large piece of hardboard that I lay over my table just before I'm ready to make a cut.

Here's how it works.
1. Set your rip fence for the desired width of the cut.
2. Lower your saw blade below the surface.
3. Place the hardboard on your table, flush with the fence. Use carpet tape to hold it in place.
4. Turn on the saw and slowly raise the blade. 
5. Position your workpiece and make the cut.

To make another cut at a different width, simply re-adjust the fence following the steps listed above. The large-size board will provide you plenty of room for making a variety of cuts before it needs to be replaced.

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