Making a Zero-Clearance Throat Plate

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This article is from Issue 42 of Woodcraft Magazine.

Making a zero-clearance  throat plate

A zero-clearance throat plate on a tablesaw leads to cleaner cuts because the work is supported right up to the blade, minimizing exit tear-out. It also prevents small offcuts from jamming between the blade and slot. Commercial blanks are available, but it’s easy to make your own. You can use plywood or straight-grained hardwood, but I find that 1⁄2"-thick MDF faced on both sides with plastic laminate provides the best flatness and stability.

To make a throat plate, rip your stock to fit the opening exactly, trace the rounded ends from your stock throat plate, and bandsaw and disc-sand to the lines for a perfect fit in the opening. Also drill a finger access hole. Next, level the plate to the saw table. If it’s too thick, rout away the areas that contact the opening’s support tabs. If it’s too thin, shim with tape. Alternatively, tap the plate for Allen screws, which allow fine adjustability.

Cutting the blade slot in a plate blank can be tricky because a full-sized blade won’t retract enough to allow the blank to seat fully. To do the job, fully retract the height-adjustment screws in your stock throat plate, and then place the blank atop it in the resulting shallow recess. Clamp a hold-down board across the blank, and raise the spinning blade partially through it. Finish the cut after placing the blank fully in its recess, again clamped down for safety.

—Paul Anthony, senior editor


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