Table Saw Inserts

Professionally made zero clearance table saw inserts are an important add-on for any table saw.  They make the cuts come out cleaner and ensure small scraps don’t get lodged inside the throat.  They are quite expensive though.  They run over 30 bucks a piece for my saw.  No more, time to make my own.  I bought a smallish piece of phenolic coated plywood for 40 dollars.  It has enough material to make at least 8 inserts.

I started off trying to make a jig that would hold the plywood and make all the blade relief undercuts and slots for the riving knife behind the blade.  It was difficult to hold everything and produced mixed results.

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Eventually I just used carpet tape to tape down one of my old store bought inserts.  A guide bushing on my plunge router let me remove all the area where the riving knife should be.

From there I printed a 7/16″ radius template for the tracing router bit.  I could have used the already taped on insert as a template, but it had a few weird features I didn’t want copied.  With a finger hole drilled in, things were starting to look right.

I need a way to level out the insert.  The pocket they go in is always deeper than a 1/2″ sheet of plywood so you can raise it up to be flush with the top.  I used brass threaded inserts for #6 set screws to give each one leveling feet.  The set screws can be adjust from above with the insert in place.

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The surface coating on this plywood is hard and very slick.  A great material for fences or inserts like this.  The phenolic chips like mad though.  I will stick with these and have left over material, but probably not buy it again.  A few coats of polyurethane and wax would be easier to work with and also reasonably slick.

Because of how high the 10″ saw blade is in the housing I had to use a 8″ dado blade to start the cut before switching back to the full sized blade.  I made 4 total, and once I got the swing of things they came pretty quickly.  Two will be for dado cuts, so they don’t need the riving knife slot.  Hopefully this batch lasts me a few years.

Nailer Cabinet

Air nailers are a pretty wonderful invention.  They can provide low visibility fastening in a lot of different applications.  I have had a brad nailer for ages, and picked up a good pin nailer when I redid the kitchen.  The cordless electric nailers are a lot heavier than their air counterparts, but for just a few quick hits, they are awesome.  I recently built up a full inventory of air and electric brad and pin nailers.  Time to put those nailers to work building a little home for all these gadgets.

I planned out a cavity to hold all the nailers up top, and a set of drawers below to keep the nails and other accessories.  1/2″ maple made up all the components except the drawer bottoms.

Once assembled I cut more plywood with a 45 degree angle on it to act as a french cleat across the back.  The electric nailers sit nicely on their own, but the air ones will need hangers.  Plus, this lets me rearrange things, or add dividers if I feel the need later down the line.

I played with the arrangements, and there are lots of spacing options that work.  Big enough to be flexible, but not so big as to waste space.

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This is a decent looking cabinet on its own, and is about where I would stop in my previous builds.  I wanted to add a little something, so I made my own maple edge banding.

The pin nailer came in handy for securing it all, and hand planing really lets you sneak those parts into a good fit.  With the body of the cabinet in shape I turned to the drawers.  I thought drawer fronts with chamfers might be a neat flare, and I had a new router bit to try out.  I cut all the end grain chamfer while it was still a solid long block, then cut the two fronts out and routed the long grain.  It completely mitigated any tear-out issues.  I finally feel like all those minor screw ups of the past are congealing into wisdom.

Everything got multiple coats of danish oil.  Not a bad finish, I like the wipe on aspect and how it looks.  Honestly though, it is just some kind of thinned linseed oil.  At probably 4x the price of basic linseed oil, I might just figure out how to thin that stuff myself.

I 3D printed organizers to keep each set of nails contained and labeled.  The drawer I had these in was a mess with different nail lengths all mixed up.  Mishaps have occurred from pulling the wrong length nail ream.  If I ditched the manuals I could have probably combined everything in one drawer.  Oh well, this provides ample expansion for new nail lengths, or other jigs/accessories I might acquire.

The final design looks pretty nice.  I will see how much dust it collects and consider adding doors later, but for now it is perfect.

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June 2018 Prints

A bountiful harvest of prints this month.  I had a lot of work going on in the shop, and that typically ends up producing different jigs and prints to help out.

First up, I reorganized all of my machine screws into one central organizer.  To help with organization and to tell them apart I printed a screw ruler and hardware guide.

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The ruler measures screw lengths of either flat head or other style.  The guide has through holes that match my common hardware styles along with examples of washers and nuts.  It makes matching a random bit of hardware easier.


I do a pretty good job keeping my eye and ear protection on when in the shop.  Dust masks are another thing.  A lot of my tools have vacuum, but certainly not all.  Most masks I have tried don’t work well with the beard and mustache, and most are pretty hot.  This one works well for me.  I built it a little home to prevent damage, and so I always know where it is.  I feel a little like bane when I wear it.

I took a photo of it on the cutting mat, then used the lines to help design an appropriate housing shape.  The hinge required a single screw and nut, and a magnet in the lid and body keep it closed.  The backplane screws down so I tucked it under a cabinet with other PPE.


I had a lot of flat parts that needed holes drilled in them in the same location.  Instead of marking every one I made a drill template with bushings.  The bushings are sized so a particular drill bit just fits inside.  It keeps the bit on location and perpendicular to the surface.  They will wear out eventually, but are easy to replace.  These all fit in a 5/8″ hole and have two screws to keep them in place.  Once built this saved me a ton of time and increased repeatability.

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Dust collection fittings never fit.  There was an article about it in one of my woodworking magazines.  The guy basically threw up his hands and told the industry to get their act together.  I emailed him with my solution.  He said it was cool, but a workaround for an issue that shouldn’t exist.  Agreed, but here is my workaround for my miter saw.

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I switched to using these small bottles from woodcraft for my glue.  I like them a lot better than the bottles that most glues come in.  The only trick is that the little red caps blink out of existence once dropped.  I did a few test prints with a segment missing to get the taper size and groove right for this one, but I think I have a winner.  It is much easier to handle, harder to lose, and is more easily replaceable.


I had kind of a failed attempt at a vacuum system for degassing epoxy.  I might revisit it at some point, but for now it is a defunct project.  I needed to tap some polycarbonate for pipe fittings and bought a pipe thread tap.  It didn’t come with any case or even pouch, so I printed one.  I sprayed it good with oil to prevent rust.  Hopefully stored this way it will not get lost, broken, or rust.

Father’s Day Flippers

These are called pigtail flippers, bbq turners, or I have also heard Texas toothpicks.  Whatever you call them, they are cool tools for the grill.  Here is me demonstrating their use on a set of serious pork chops for my father in law.

20180616_120333I wanted to try one of these tools, and my localish woodcraft had these new kits on sale.  Why not make one for myself and the dads in my life?  I picked up some thick maple dowel to make these handles.  I was building the handles for my mom’s bookbinding press at the same time, so it all worked out.


The first step is to drill out a hole for the threaded insert, and carefully thread it in.  I had an issue.  Most kits use 1/4-20 or 5/16-18 threaded inserts.  This one had an M6 insert for the metal turner rod.  I don’t have an M6 mandrel, and I couldn’t find one online.  Time to make one!  I played around, but ultimately a nut and bolt with the head cut off did the trick.

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That let me thread the brass insert into the handle, but I would normally flip the part around and chuck the mandrel up so I could spin with no tail stock.  No such luck here, the bolt is too small for all of my chuck jaws (right picture).  I could try to chuck up the nut, but it has 6 sides and the jaws all have 4.  If I did a lot of these, I would have to figure out how to make my own mandrel.


Instead of holding it by the threaded insert I turned down a shoulder to accept a brass bushing, then chucked up that shouldered section.  It marred the surface, but that will get covered anyways.

With 4 different variations turned I remembered I was supposed to drill a hole in them for their hanging cable.  This would have been a lot easier when they were simple cylinders still.  Order of operations on the lathe is super critical.  I put the whole lot of them on little sticks and went to town with the spray polyurethane.

I pressed on the brass bushing with epoxy and threaded on the turner.  The wire cable as a hanging strap adds a nice touch.  I hadn’t broken out the lathe in quite a while, so this was quite satisfying to get these done with minimal screw ups.

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One other minor experiment that happened when I had my lathe out was to try and smooth out my 3D printed can koozie.  It turns out that you can really shine that stuff up if you go through the grits.  There are minor voids that show through upon close inspection.  Still, that is a nice shiny looking part.  You could polish up most of a chess set this way!

Bookbinding Press

During a visit to my crafty mother, I came across a good build to support her habits.  She showed me a series of bookbinding finishing presses.  I am not super familiar with how they work, but they looked a lot like a moxon vise.  I am planning out a moxon vise build of my own, so this would be a good learning experience and make a great gift.

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Traditional books have a lot of layers of material that need gluing together.  This helps keep it all clamped for various operations.  The side wings let you clamp it to a table, and with it hanging over the edge, any length book can be held.  The jaws will open to accept a 3″ thick book, and there are 13 inches between the screws, allowing for a very tall book.  5/16″-18 hand screws should provide plenty of clamping force.  The hand screws come out, so it can be disassembled and packed into a smaller space.


I started with the backbone and dovetails.  If something was going to get screwed up, it was the dovetails.  I need to cut a lot for an upcoming project and I am beyond rusty.  Mark, saw edges, fret away waste and pare the rest.

My dovetail transfer jig has already come in handy.  The pins look pretty rotten, but they should be very structurally sound.  Sorry mom!


With that taken care of I glued up two pieces for the front, and added another to the backbone.  One piece was taller than the other which eventually got planed to an angle.  That gives your fingers easier access to the book spine.

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I assembled the dovetails and put on side wings that let you clamp this jig to any table or workbench.

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When all the glue was well cured I put on a few coats of polyurethane in the hopes that bookbinding glue wouldn’t stick to it.  Felt pads on the bottom should keep it from scuffing any tables.  I pounded in some threaded inserts meant for wood.  They should hold just fine, but to be sure I sank a few screws beside them.


To run the threaded rods in and out you are going to need a stout handle.  I chopped some maple dowels down to size, drilled out for a 5/16 threaded insert, reduced the entry shoulder for a brass sleeve, then flipped it around, threaded it onto a 5/16 mandril, and smoothed out the back side.

The bare wood got multiple coats of spray polyurethane, then when cured, I epoxied the brass sleeve on the handles, and the threaded rod in place.  DSC_1276.JPG

Dovetail Transfer Jig

I have quite a few dovetails to cut in the upcoming months.  One part of the process I always felt very weak was in the transfer of markings from one piece to another.  Whether you do tails first or pints first, at some point you need to clamp the to parts together and do a transfer.

I have seen a few different variations on this idea, this is just my take.  Essentially the two boards need to be held at right angles, and up against a fence that references two sides of the boards as co-planar.  I don’t normally keep around extra big plywood because I don’t have the room to store it.  I found out lowe’s has 1/4 sheets of “lauan grade” plywood.  Not as good or as pretty as birch, but it looks stable enough for jigs, and was much cheaper.

I started by using pocket holes to join the base. together.  I relieved the edges up against the fence with a plane to make sure no dust would keep the aligned boards from interfacing with the fence.  A 90 degree cut of plywood made a fence/reference surface for the boards.  I made sure the base was good and square before nailing in the fence.  The fence only protrudes enough to act as a reliable alignment surface.

This might have been good enough, but I wanted additional assurance that it was square, and a little help lifting it up off the table.  These blocks do both as well as stiffen the jig.

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To demonstrate the use of this jig I have a (admittedly poorly cut) dovetail that needs transferring.  The jig sits on the bench top, or could be clamped down.  Adjust the two boards to be jointed until they are lined up.  When set, transfer the edges of the cut dovetail to the pin board as shown.  Because the jig hangs out over the edge, a really tall board could be dovetailed without issue.

This simple easy jig should be helpful in the months to come.  Hopefully I reference it soon with high praises.