Miter Saw Zero Clearance Insert




Introduction: Miter Saw Zero Clearance Insert

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I was surprised to see the number of Instructables tutorials on table saw inserts but none for miter saw inserts. While I'm sure there are many zero clearance tutorials out there, I thought I'd share the video I made documenting the process of how I made my very own zero clearance miter saw insert using just a $2 piece of wood.

Step 1: Reduce Tearout

If you’re wondering why do I need a zero clearance insert for my miter saw? I have just one word for you: tearout. Ever noticed that the wood fibers seem all frayed along the cut when using your miter saw or table saw? That’s tearout. The wood fibers get ripped away by the blade because of the small gap around the blade. You can easily fix that by making your own miter saw zero clearance insert.

Step 2: Check Out the YouTube Video

The zero clearance insert made in this video is for a RYOBI TSS101L 10″ compound sliding miter saw, but you can easily adapt this method to fit any miter saw.

Watch the video for step-by-step instructions for this simple tutorial or read on in the next step.

Step 3: ​Remove the Existing Insert

Start by unscrewing the existing insert. Make sure to note which piece goes on which side ;)

Use this opportunity to clean out any debris with your shop vac.

Step 4: Measure & Cut

Measure the width and length of the cavity for your new insert. Be precise! In my case, the measurements were 2-1/16" by 13-3/8".

You'll need a piece of hardwood that matches the depth of your existing insert. In my case that was 1/4". I bought a 1/4" hobby board made of poplar at Home Depot for under $2.

Use the table saw or miter saw to make your cuts.

Step 5: Sand Down the Edges and Bottom for a Perfect Fit

The piece you just cut may not fit, bu that's ok. Actually, that's good. You want a snug fit.

Lay a piece of sandpaper flat on a surface and sand the edges of your new insert. Keep trying to fit it and see where needs to be sanded until the fit is perfect.

Check that the surface is flush. If not, sand the bottom of the insert until the fit is flush to the surface.

Step 6: Mark and Drill Countersunk Screw Holes

Use the old insert to mark the screw holes on your new insert. I used a screwdriver to mark the wood then made the holes using a drill press.

In order to determine which drill bit to use, find the one that matches the hole size on your existing insert.

Finally, use a countersink bit to ensure that the sure the screws will sit flush with the surface.

Step 7: Cut the Kerf

Screw in your new insert using the old screws and make sure the surface is completely flush, with no screws protruding.

Check your blade for square (use a carpenter's square) before you make your cut. I started with a shallow pass, then fully plunged the blade to make the kerf in my new insert.

Step 8: Apply Finish Such As Linseed Oil

To give the new insert some protection and durability you'll want to apply a finish. I simply wiped on 2 coats of Linseed Oil but other finishes can work just as well.

If you haven't already, watch the entire step-by-step video here.

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    20 Discussions

    Great Idea and excellent video. I Plan to use it this summer when cutting my MANY door moldings. I have about 6 doors to replace. Thank You,

    Dan Miller, Buffalo NY


    1 year ago

    Zero clearance also gives safety, since small parts won't get jammed under plade and shoot out. This is more likely with table saw but possible with miter too.

    Been there, done that, through away the T-Shirt. It should be pointed out that you'll need to remove it if you're doing any bevels. Nice tutorial though.

    6 replies

    I'm sorry if I offended you. I agree it is a nice tutorial. I said absolutely nothing negative on the tutorial, I was simply adding additional constructive information. If that was taken as negative, I apologize!

    I'm mostly offended by the use of "through" for "threw." ;)

    LOL ... I guess college didn't teach me everything!

    Even better would be to make a second insert at 45 degrees - assuming that's a common angle for whoever is using the saw... great idea

    I understood exactly where you were coming from, and appreciated the extra info about bevel cuts.

    great instructable; thanks for including the info about what the need was for 'zero clearance' I figured it was probably to reduce fray, but couldn't understand why other ibles I looked at offered not even a hint of an explanation for that.

    1 reply

    My pleasure! There was a time when I myself didn't know what the point of a zero clearance insert was, so just thought I'd pass that info along. Thanks for your comment!

    Wonderful Instructable! I just bought a 10" Sears Craftsman Contractor for $10.00 at an estate sale! It's a little rusty but I'm going to clean it up with another Instructable on how to remove rust. The motor works great and I have a decent saw blade. Your Instructable has given me another way to make this miter saw better!

    Great tutorial! I need to do that to mine. Probably could use the same material for a zero clearance back fence.

    1 reply

    Yep, great idea. That was my first thought when I finished this project: I need a zero clearance back fence. Maybe I'll make a new tutorial about that!


    1 year ago

    I've done this before with HDPE instead of wood. In a really humid climate it seems to work better. On my older sliding compound miter saw that doesn't have a replaceable insert, just an open trough. This saw needed a different approach for zero clearance. Since there was no place to bolt an insert I ended up filling the gap with body filler. It can be refilled as it wears or if you widen the kerf cutting bevels. However you end up creating the zero clearance insert the results will always be worth the effort.

    thanks for a great idea

    Yes I can't get videos. Don't have the download capability so can't play them

    2 replies

    Sorry about that, I've reviewed the instructable and have now detailed the step-by-step instructions including lots of pictures. Hope this helps!

    Awesome, great tutorial! :)