Zero-clearance throat plate install

Zero-Clearance Throat Plate Install

In this article I’m going to show you how to install a zero-clearance throat plate into your table saw. Aside from the fact that a zero-clearance throat plate is going to give you way better quality cuts, the throat plate that came with this saw, which is a grizzly 0691 table saw, has served me well for about eight years, but recently when I was cutting some joinery I found that it was a little bit out of a flat and it dipped a little bit in the middle and as I was trying to fix it I cracked it. Rather than trying to fix it I thought it’s time to upgrade the saw (any excuse to buy new tools!).

Lee Valley PM-1 Throat plate

Lee Valley PM-1 Zero-clearance insert

Getting Ready

Before installing the zero-clearance throat plate it is important to verify that your saw is tuned up properly. This mean checking that your blade is set parallel to your miter slot and that the blade is set at 90 degrees to the table. I will do a post on that process soon.

When you’re working on your saw be sure to lock out your power or unplug the saw so you don’t accidentally turn the saw on.

 Old Throat Plate Removal

First thing we need to do is remove the old throat plate. In this case this zero clearance throat plate is made for a Powermatic model 66, which this saw is not, but as it states in the instructions it also fits other saws that have a 14-7/16” x 4” x 7/16” opening, which this saw does have, although I did find the opening in this grizzly saw deeper than 7/16” so I had to shim under the leveling screws to get it to sit flush with the surface.
Old throat plate removal

Removing the existing throat plate

 

One problem I found is that the position of the blade isn’t the same as on a Powermatic saw so when I go to set this in here with the blade set as far down as it will go it doesn’t sit down properly and that’s because the slot for the blade isn’t lining up with the pre-cut recess.
PM-11 Lee Valley Tools Zero-clearance throat plate

Throat plate relief position

Preparing For Installation

So what I’m going to do is remove the blade so I can use my dado stack to make a preliminary cut like this in the bottom and it will be somewhere closer to the middle. A Dado stack is generally 8” diameter, whereas a typical saw blade is 10” Diameter, so the dado stack will sit lower, out of the way of the new throat plate. I’m just going to use the two sides of the dado stack. I don’t need to use any of the chip breakers because it’s just going to be basically a little bit wider than the blade.
Table saw blade removal

Blade Removal

 

Now that the dado stack is installed we’ve got to figure out how high this needs to go so I’m just going to put something flat across the top of this and I’m going to see how many turns it takes on the handle to get that blade to come up just before it touches the bottom. 2-1/4 turns should do it.
 
As mentioned previously, this plate is a little too thin so I put 2 layers of adhesive melamine edge tape on here and that seems to have brought it up high enough. This will work for now, but I will find some longer leveling screws to fix this permanently. Now we can quickly level this close to the surface using the leveling screws.
Shimming the zero-clearance throat plate

Shimming the zero-clearance throat plate

Cutting in the new Zero-clearance Throat Plate

Before you cut through the zero-clearance throat plate you need to clamp it down so it stays in place. I readjusted that axial shim so it’s quite tight and there is no play in either direction; much better than the original throat plate. So I’m just going to take a piece of scrap melamine and put it on top of the insert. I’m going to use my fence and sit it on top and obviously I’m going to make sure that the fence is out of the way of the blade even though it shouldn’t come up that high. Next I’m going to bring that dado stack up just to create a relief on the backside of the throat plate. I’m not going to come all the way through the throat plate so I probably won’t see any dust. Remember I did two and a quarter turns so I’m going to do that now.
Blocking in the throat plate for cutting

Blocking down the throat plate for cutting in

So that created a new relief and now we can check if that is going to be enough space for the 10” blade. Unfortunately there is still a little interference so I am going to clamp the plate in place, lift it slightly, turn the saw on and lower it on to the blade. This is definitely not something I recommend doing unless you are very comfortable with the setup and safety of this cut. I was able to do this safely but I would add a word of caution, and you may want to go back to the dado stack and try to bring it up a bit higher to get the clearance you need.

Now that we have enough clearance and the plate fits well, the next step is to level and shim the throat plate every which way so that when you finally plunge the blade up through the plate it is in its final position. Once that is done I add a sacrificial piece of melamine on top clamped in place nice and snug to hold the throat plate in place. Now we will turn on the saw and slowly bring the blade all the way up to maximum height through the throat plate then drop it back down. This is sawing through plastic and can be a little smelly and smoky so I would suggest have some good ventilation when you do this.
throat plate installed and cut in

Zero-clearance throat plate installed and cut in

So that pretty much does it. You can see now there’s a nice clean slot for the blade to come up.

Final Thoughts

Keep in mind when you do this for a zero clearance throat plate you want to dedicate this to cuts 90 degrees to the table. You cannot adjust the angle of the blade. If you do you’ll lose the zero-clearance aspect and the blade will open up this slot. You definitely do not want to do that while the blade is running because that will bind up and cause a huge problem. It’s a good idea to have more than one of these around. I bought two; one that I’ll use for four dados and one that will use for ninety cuts and then I’ve got another one coming from grizzly just for regular use. Good Luck!
For a more detailed tutorial check out my Youtube video on this process: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ELklt-yGT2Y