MBW Shorts – “Installing a zero-clearance router table insert”

August 5, 20134 Comments

While working on the new wedding boxes for my wife’s photography business www.shuttersam.com (shameless plug I know…because I love her) I discovered that the 1/8″ diameter straight cutting bit I was using to route an important groove didn’t seem to be adequately surrounded by my smallest diameter throat plate in the router table.

No big deal really, but I didn’t want to take the risk of the material catching or splintering or tearing out or…whatever could go wrong. So better to be safe than sorry, I broke out a customizable insert plate and made one that would work perfectly for this task.

Tools featured in today’s post:

  • Bench Dog 40-300 ProMax RT Complete
  • Bench Dog Tools 40-150 ProLift Router Adjustment System
  • Bench Dog 40-136 Zero Clearance Insert for Large Bench Dog ProPlate and ProLift
  • 1/8″ Downcut Spiral Bit
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    Comments (4)

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    1. bennie blackwell says:

      I enjoyed your Bench Dog router table review. One thing you did not cover is the fit of the phenolic insert. I have problems with my Rockler system in that the round phenolic insert is about 1/64″ too thin. I shimmed it with brass shim stock and it works ok. I just replaced it with a zero clearance insert phenolic insert but my old shim does not work on my new insert because of a change in phenolic insert design. Is the Bench Dog system better? Is the insert retained by 3 screws or 6?

      • Matt says:

        So sorry for the delay responding to your question. I can’t say for sure that the Bench Dog system is better overall, but it does actually allow for some adjustment to the insert if necessary.

        There are 6 threaded holes around the opening. The extra inserts I have only require 3 screws to secure them to the plate, while the remaining 3 threaded holes could be fitted with set screws (my demo model didn’t come with them but they appear to be a standard size).

        These set screws could be adjust from under the plate to achieve that flush fit.

        Hope this helps.

        • bennie blackwell says:

          I had not thought of using a set screw for the three extra holes in the router plate. I did a quick test by putting three screws in the router plate from the underneath side. Unfortunately this did not work for my thin phenolic plate. With the set screws engaged, the phenolic plate is supported by only the three set screws and when you tighten the three regular screws from the top, the phenolic plate easily deforms. This approach might work if the phenolic plate was replaced with a metal plate.

          I asked my woodworking instructor at the local community college and he suggested using blue painter’s tape to make a shim. The excess tape can be easily trimmed with a utility knife. This approach appears to work but might be susceptible to time/temperature changes.

          • Matt says:

            I’ve used blue tape more than once for shims in various tools and it works quite effectively. Sure it needs to be replaced once in a while, but it’s cheap and easy so it saves time and money and gives you a near perfect fit.

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