Woodworking – make a zero clearance saw table

Posted by jerry on November 27th, 2008 — Posted in Journal, Woodwork

Many of you would know I’ve been busy lately making a mandolin. Today I encountered a slight obstacle. I was cutting some thin strips for the ribs out of Tasmanian blackwood and got partway through the first cut when there was a thud and suddenly the saw was working very hard. I hit the stop button and assessed the situation. It was a classic mistake. I hadn’t considered the width of the gap between the saw blade and the table – which is quite wide on the triton mark 3, and the thin strip dragged itself down between the blade and the tabletop.

I pondered this for a bit and remembered the solution – make a zero clearance sacrificial table. I had some 3mm MDF (medium density fibreboard) and found a piece about the right size – enough to cover about half the triton saw table. I set the blade to the height I wanted for the cut, then I removed the guard – note if you do that you need to be absolutely focused on your safety. I positioned the MDF above the blade, started the saw, and with one edge braced against the riving knife I lowered the MDF onto the blade, making sure that my hands were well clear of where the blade would cut. I then stopped the saw and there was the false tabletop with zero gap between the saw blade and the MDF. I clamped cut a slot for the fence bolts, then clamped the MDF in position and set the desired gap between the fence and the saw blade.

At that point I replaced the blade guard and made a trial cut in a pine offcut before going back to the precious Tasmanian blackwood, ready to make the thin strips that will eventually become the sides of the mandolin.

zero clearance saw table

Cheers
Jerry

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