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Super Glue for Wooden Threads

I use a lot of wooden threads with machine screws/bolts and have never had one fail. That said, people often suggest that I could improve the strength by soaking those threads in super glue. I didn’t really think it would make too much of a difference, but since the suggestions kept coming in, I decided to put it to the test.

[Watch the Video]

Let me just answer this at the beginning and save you some time: It DOES make them stronger, and pretty significantly (about 1/3 stronger). Now, if you want to hear about my reasons for building the test the way I did, read on.

Since posting the video, a lot of people have suggested that I didn’t need to buy a 2nd scale to perform the test, and that I could have done it with leverage. The technique they’re suggesting is to place the jack on top of a scale, and position it far enough away from the joint that the force at the joint is greater (through the principles of physics), and the force at the jack/scale combo is lesser.

Let’s say we’re trying to break a joint, and let’s say for example the force required to break that joint when the jack is 1″ from the joint is X. Well, the force required to break the joint when the jack is 10″ from the joint would only be a fraction of X (using physics, we can see that fraction is 1/10 of X). Check out the image below, and then let’s imagine some things about the diagram. Imagine that the base of the lever is bolted to the ground, and imagine that the pivot point is actually a solid wooden joint. Let’s say the strength of the joint is such that if we put the jack 1″ from the joint, we’d have to apply 400 lbs of force in order to get it to break.

Now, if at 1″, X was equal to 400 lbs you wouldn’t be able to measure that with most bathroom scales because they simple don’t go that high. But remember, at 10″ from the joint, the force required would only be a fraction (1/10) of 400 lbs. That’s only 40 lbs, and can easily be measured with any regular old bathroom scale.

Now let’s reimagine the diagram above and consider that the pivot point actually is a free moving pivot point (a type of hinge, basically). That means you could set 400 lbs on that lever at 1″ from the pivot point and lift it up by using only 40lbs of force! That’s pretty amazing…you wouldn’t even need a jack to achieve this, you could do it by hand! Just think of all the things you could easily lift using a method similar to this.

There are a variety of ways these principles could be applied to the test I was doing in order to reduce the load required on the scale while still achieving the high forces required to break the threads. For example I could have the apparatus that was pushing up on the threaded test blocks (see video) sitting just 1″ from a pivot point on a lever designed exactly like the one shown in the diagram. That would easily break the threads, and never exceed the capacity of my bathroom scale.

The reason I decided against this method (as awesome as it is) is because I wanted to test the DIRECT pull strength of the threads, and that meant that the force had to be applied VERY directly. Any amount of off-angle force would allow for different types of forces (like shearing forces) to come into play, and those would skew the results. Now, a lever actually swings around a pivot point in the shape of an arc (see diagram below). That arc changes the “jack-to-pivot point” distance, AND the direction of the force being applied. This introduces a variety of problems and new variables, including those off-angle forces, which makes the lever method inappropriate for this test.

You could use a modified version of this lever idea that actually pulls up on the thread being tested, and includes a smaller secondary arm with another pivot point. That would sort of fix the “jack-to-pivot point” distance problem (it would actually just shift the variable distance issue to the new arm), and you still wouldn’t achieve the direct pull force required for a true thread strength pull test (see diagram below). As the arc of the main lever swung, the direction of the smaller secondary arm would not remain perpendicular. It would smoothly change several degrees as the action was performed, and the forces would be all over the road. The red arrows show how the direction of the force would change as the lever swings and the smaller arm shifts out of perpendicular.

So again, if you really want to test direct pull forces, you either need a simple test with greater force measuring capabilities (like the test I did), OR you need a test that’s more complex than I’m willing to describe here. All that aside, the new scale was cheap, and my old bathroom scale was due for an upgrade anyway, as you can clearly see in the video. 😂

I often find in these posts that I’m answering the most frequent “you shoulda done this instead…” comments from YouTube, and this one is no different. It just makes it easier the next time someone asks “why didn’t you just….?” in the comment section. I can then just post a link to this article instead of re-writing all the reasons in the comment section. 😉

People have also suggested that super glue will improve the durability of wooden threads, meaning that you’ll be able to screw and unscrew a bolt more times before the threads wear out. I suspect that is true as well, but I’m not going to test that one. I don’t want to build an apparatus that screws and unscrews bolts until failure, and I’m certainly not going to sit there and screw/unscrew them by hand. If you want to test that one, knock yourself out! 😂

Well, this was certainly the most work I’ve ever put into one of these posts…I hope you enjoyed it, or at least didn’t fall asleep while reading it!

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Super Simple Clamp Rack

I often find myself thinking about doing something, and then getting the urge to look on YouTube to see how other people have done it. And as a YouTuber, I also find it important to create fresh content, and show methods for solving a problem that are not already out there.

So lately, I’ve been fighting the urge to look at what is already on YouTube, and have instead been trying to solve the problem on my own. This way, it makes it to where I come up with unique solutions. Another benefit to thinking my way through each problem is that I often times come up with solutions that are either simpler, cheaper, easier, more efficient, or just plain better than what’s already accepted as mainstream. I guess the point is this: Critical thinking works!

[Watch the Video]

So with this clamp rack, that’s exactly what I did (meaning, I thought my way through the problem), and I’m glad I did. Now, I had already seen some other methods for clamp racks, so I already had some of this preconceived notions of what it should be. I thought that the clamps needed their own cubbies, and that stacking the clamps by size outward from the wall was just obviously the most space-efficient way to build a rack. While that can be true, it’s not necessarily true.

In my case, based on the types and quantities of clamps I had, stacking the clamps away from the wall would have made MUCH less efficient use of space, the build would have been more complicated, and it would have been more time consuming. While putting extra time/effort into something is sometimes a worthwhile investment, in this case, it would have been wasted. This rack is actually more efficient, functions beautifully, and all with a bare minimum of effort involved in building it.

There are subtle details that separate this rack’s performance from some of my prototypes: allowing the front pad of the clamp some void space at the back of the rack (by elevating the front edge of the rack) was really a breakthrough in getting the clamps to hang correctly. Another was making sure the face of the rack was tall enough that it provided a flat surface for the clamps to stabilize against. And finally, the top edge of the rack being flat so that the top portion of the clamp had a flat surface to rest on (as opposed to using a pipe, which has a curved surface) was critical for keeping the clamps from “rocking” around from side to side.

While it’s true that I did have to think my way through the problem (and that takes time) to come up with this design, I did so using “low resolution” prototypes. Meaning, I just used general shapes (without building complete racks) to find a mix of ideas that would make efficient use of space AND function nicely. As it turns out, that mix of features was able to be obtained from a very simple design.

Luckily, if you’re not in the mood to do any critical thinking of your own, you don’t have to – you can just use my design 😉 And when you’re ready, you can tackle it again, thinking your way through the problem, and hopefully come up with something even better!

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Vise Mounted Jigsaw Table

I made this jigsaw table mostly because so many viewers requested it. It does add some functionality to my shop though, and I probably wouldn’t have built it if it didn’t. Most people want a jigsaw table as an alternative to a bandsaw. While it can do a decent job of standing in for a bandsaw, it’s not quite as good as one. That said, it does add some functionality to your shop that a bandsaw doesn’t.

[Watch the Video]

[Buy the Plans]

A bandsaw is superior to a jigsaw table for making most of the same cuts you’d use it for, however, a jigsaw table can be used to make “internal” cuts. Since a bandsaw’s blade is a solid band, you always have to start cutting from the outside edge of the material and work your way into whatever cuts you’re making. With a jigsaw table, you can drill a hole in the part, then set the jigsaw blade into the hole and cut out whatever shape you like.

This makes it a perfect tool for cutting slots, windows, holes, or any other odd-shaped internal cut you may need to make, while still leaving the perimeter of the material intact. For example, if you look at the free push-stick template I offer, you’d be able to cut out that internal handle shape much easier than if you were trying to do it with a jigsaw that’s not mounted in a table like this. The part is so small that if you clamp it to a table, you’d barely have enough room to maneuver the jigsaw around while making the cut. I actually did have some difficulty while making that push-stick, because I made it prior to making this jigsaw table.

So again, while most people will use this as an alternative to a bandsaw, you might consider making one of these, just for the added benefit it gives you of being able to cut internal shapes. Oh, and last but not least, the fact that it is vise-mounted means that it doesn’t take up a lot of space in your shop. Rather than building a giant box that holds the jigsaw in place, this style makes it to where you could store it in a (relatively small) drawer. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this – feel free to let me know what you think in the comments on YouTube!

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Custom Tool Board

People either love it or hate it. Well, maybe that’s not 100% fair. Most people love it. Some people are so die-hard about French cleats that they hate anything that isn’t a French cleat system. Some people are French cleat aficionados that can still appreciate the benefits this wall provides, while saying that they’ll stick with French cleats. One thing that seems to be universally true among all these people is that they all pretty much agree that pegboards are the worst! Sorry if you’re one of the few people that prefers a pegboard ?

[Watch the Video]

In fairness to pegboards, they’re a lot better than not having any quick access tool storage system at all. That said, I think French cleats are a major step up from a pegboard. Now, I know I’m going to get in trouble with the French Cleat Mafia for this next one, but….I think my tool board is BETTER than French cleats. There, I said it! So if you’re one of those French cleat people that thinks it is a better system than anything else out there, allow me to try to explain the added benefits of my system, and at the same time try to overcome some misconceptions about it.

One benefit is building the holders. With French cleats, you not only have to build custom holders, but you also have to build in the ability for them to hang on the wall. With my system, I build a custom holder and then just nail it to the wall anywhere I want – no special hanging apparatus necessary.

Another benefit for my system over French cleats is simplicity. It only requires a single flat surface, instead of the bulky, dust-collecting slots on a French cleat wall. Not only does this make it easier to build, but it’s also cheaper to build. Since there are no slots to collect dust, it’s also easier to maintain.

You say “Okay, Tommy, but what happens when you buy a new tool and need to rearrange them?”, and you think this is where you’re going to prove to me that French cleats are better. Well, this is actually the biggest misconception about my tool wall. People think that because the holders are nailed to the wall, that they’re more difficult to move than French cleat style holders. In reality, the pin nails I use to secure these (and the way I use them, which is firing them at opposing angles) holds all the weight necessary and more, but with a good firm yank, they come right off. I did include an example of this in the video, but people must not be watching that part, because they always cite being able to rearrange the tools as a flaw with my design.

So the benefits of rearranging the tools on my wall doesn’t just stop at being able to pop them off the wall easily. Again, this is another area where I’d argue that it’s better than French cleats. With French cleats the wall is not infinitely rearrangeable within its border. Instead you have to stick to the cleat slots. So French cleats suffer from one of the same problems that pegboards do, and that is that you are confined to the predetermined hanging areas. With pegboards, it’s their holes. With French cleats, it’s their slots. With a tool wall like mine, you can rearrange them any which way you desire. Tools are unusual shapes, so having the ability to put them anywhere within the border means you can achieve much more efficient use of the same space. This is because you can “Tetris” them into that efficient arrangement.

So there you have it, my reasons for doing this instead of French cleats. As always with the One Minute Workbench mindset, I wanted something that was as simple, cheap, easy, and efficient as possible, all without sacrificing performance. I think it’s a pretty darn good system for no more than the price of some plywood and screws ? I know the die-hard French cleat fans won’t have it, and will insist that cleats are better….and that’s okay! So if you’re in that population, don’t worry; I’ve got nothing but love for you! There’s not always one solution that works best for everyone, and I’ll be the first to admit that you’ve gotta do what makes sense to you. After all, as they say, variety is the spice of life! If you’ve got any ideas that you think are better than either method, I’d love to hear it – just send me an email!

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Wall Mounted Chisel Rack

I have a confession to make. Before I built this chisel rack, I had my chisels in my workbench drawer. When I shot video of the drawer, I always carefully organized them so they looked good on video. In reality, they were a mess. Every time I opened or closed the drawer, they would roll, get jumbled, and be out of order. They would also mingle with all the other tools in there. I know….it’s embarrassing.

[Watch the Video]

So this isn’t exactly a mind-blowing project, but it has made a huge difference in my shop, and in how I feel about my chisels. Even though they were tucked away in a drawer, just knowing that they weren’t in order, and possible even becoming damaged by rolling around with other tools, always caused some anxiety. And a feeling of guilt that I wasn’t taking proper care of my tools. Tools are expensive, and deserve being taken care of! I considered building an in-drawer solution, but since I was working on the tool board anyway, and because I use my chisels very often, I decided to add them to the board.

The thing that sets this holder apart from the other ones I’ve seen is that it protects you from being cut on the tips, while simultaneously holding each chisel in a position where its size can be seen. In fact, most of the ones I’ve seen out there online allow the chisel to turn freely in the holder, which means unless you purposefully think to straighten each chisel out every time you put it away, you won’t be able to see which is which next time you need to use them. So you’ll wind up having to fish around to find the one you want. This holder instead forces you to place the chisel in just the right position as you put it away, which means you’ll be able to see if you’re grabbing for a 3/4″ versus a 1/2″, etc.

As I’ve mentioned just briefly, the chisel holder protects you from the tips of your chisels. I keep my chisels RAZOR sharp. I can literally shave the hairs off my arm with my chisels, and in fact, that is my test to see if I’ve sharpened it enough. If it doesn’t shave, I keep at it until I get it there. All that said, serious injury with these chisels is a real possibility. Most of the chisel holders I found online, especially wall mounted ones, had no built in safety feature. They all just allow the chisels to hang down haphazardly. Imagine reaching up to grab something off the board and catching the back of your hand on one of these razor sharp bad boys! Yikes!

At first, I pictured a box that would conceal the tips, but then I realized that I wouldn’t be able to see which chisel I was reaching for. So with that design, I would still have one of the main problems that other wall mounted holders have. That’s when I came up wit the idea to seat them so that they were close enough to the back wall of the holder that it would be near impossible to strike the tips. Then adding the small strip at the bottom just further made it unlikely that you could accidentally make contact with the tips. The only challenge was getting them that close, and having them stay upright, balanced, and secure. The video does a better job of showing how I managed that part of it, so if you haven’t seen it yet, be sure to check it out!

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Shop Towel & Shelf Combo

This is one of the simplest things I’ve made for the shop, and one of my most favorite things to date. I’ve always kept paper towels in the shop, but I’ve just had the roll free floating. That’s been okay, but this is much better. The problem with the free-floating roll is that I have to look around to find it, and then when I need a paper towel, I have to find a way to hold the roll while I tear one off. Many times though, I have one hand that is occupied with what I’m trying to wipe in the first place (like glue, paint, etc. on my hand). So I always ended up having to try to tear a towel off one-handed, and many times that resulted in the roll rolling across the shop floor…sometimes unrolling itself.

[Watcht the Video]

[Get the Free Plans]

So what I’m describing isn’t exactly a new concept. Obviously, almost everyone has a paper towel holder in their kitchen, for all of the same reasons I just described. It gives you a single place to know where the towels are, and stabilizes it for you so you can more easily operate it with one hand. That said, I could have just bought one off the shelf, but as I mentioned in the video, paper towel holders that are cheap don’t have a nice shelf built into them. And ones that have a shelf built into them (even the ones with a pretty bad/weak shelf) are surprisingly expensive.

The other side of this coin is that I never found one that had exactly the type of shelf I wanted. I wanted a large shelf that takes advantage of the fact that it has to hold a paper towel roll. A lot of the ones I saw when shopping online had a shelf that was smaller than the overall footprint of the paper towel roll. What’s the point in that?! I mean, if you have to take up that much space for the roll anyway, you might as well make the shelf that large, right? Finally, I wanted a small lip to help reduce the chance of things sliding off, and most of the ones I saw didn’t have what I would consider an effective lip, or at least not an effective “lip-to-shelf” ratio.

The thing I love most about the shelf is that it gives me a place to keep a small squeeze bottle full of water, close to the paper towels. Since I don’t have sink in the shop, this has become my go-to arrangement for glue squeeze-out clean up. I take a paper towel, fold it over twice, squirt some water on it, and then set that on my workbench. Then anytime I get glue on my fingers and don’t want to smear the glue all over my workpiece, I simply give them a quick wipe on the wet paper towel. The water makes it stick to the workbench top so as I drag my fingers across it, it stays put. Obviously, the water also helps wipe the glue away. Since this method requires very little water, I only every have to fill my water bottle once every week or so. So not only has this method simplified my glue clean-up experience, but it actually saves water compared to rinsing my hands in a sink.

Based on the popularity of this design (it gets downloaded…A LOT), it seems like I wasn’t the only one looking for something like this. If you have any ideas for improvements or just want to share your thoughts on this design, feel free to send me an email, or let me know in the YouTube comments for the video! Happy building, Everybody! Let’s keep it clean!

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Track Saw Update

I updated the track saw design based on feedback I received from viewers. A lot of people suggested making the entire bottom out of plexiglass or polycarbonate, but when I looked for pieces that were big enough, they were all really expensive. Instead, I just added plexiglass at the sight hole locations. That did the trick and was much more affordable.

[Watch the Video]

And really, the only reason to add plexiglass is to maintain zero-clearance at the sight hole locations, which helps to reduce tear-out at those locations. I didn’t find that tear-out was bad on the first version, but it’s certain better on this version.

The thing I think I like most about this newest version, is that I used higher quality plywood, which means it’s flatter, and has a more premium feel. Since the plywood is higher quality, I decided to use a thinner piece as well. So this time around, I used 1/2″ instead of 3/4″ plywood. That didn’t exactly make it lighter though (as some people have suggested would be a reason to use thinner material). In fact, it’s probably right about the same weight because this plywood is so much more dense.

However, it was never really very heavy to begin with. One of the main discussions regarding the original track saw in the YouTube comments was about how to make it lighter weight. No-one ever asked me if it was heavy though – it’s really not. I would say just a few pounds, and I’ve never felt strained when lifting or maneuvering it around the shop.

As I mention in the video, another thing people wanted me to try was making it out of masonite, and the reasoning was that I could use a thinner piece and it would be lighter. As you see in the video, I tried making it out of masonite, and that didn’t work. One thing I failed to mention in the video though was that the masonite was actually very heavy especially for how thin it was. That said, even if the masonite had worked out, I don’t think it would have reduced the weight much at all.

I guess the other reason for wanting to use thinner material would be to increase depth of cut. I find the depth of cut to be very good, especially when considering most of the other DIY options for a track that captures your saw in both directions. Most of the current designs involve attaching pieces to the bottom of your saw that then go onto of the track. This creates a reduction in the depth of cut equivalent to two material thickness – double what this design affords.

I’m pretty happy with how the track(s) are working now, and the videos have done very well. People really seem to like the idea of this track, and I think that’s because it’s very simple to make, yet still has really good performance. All that said, I’m still open to more suggestions. If you have any, send me an email, or post them in the comments on YouTube to let me know what you’ve got!

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Jointer Push Grips

When I first got my jointer, I was pretty impressed with the pads that came with it, especially for the price. When I made the video review for the jointer, I indicated that I’d probably make my own push blocks for it at some point. As time went on, I found the grips very reliable, and never really wanted to take the time to make something more substantial because they were actually pretty darn good – for most cuts.

[Watch the Video]

[Buy the Plans]

Fast-forward a couple of years and lots of boards jointed later, and I received a comment from a viewer saying that one of my techniques for jointing boards was out-dated. He noticed that as I passed a board over the cutter-head, I had my hands placed flat on the face. When I learned to use a jointer, I learned that this was acceptable because the thickness of the board protected my hands from the blades. That viewer let me know that even though that’s the way it was taught, it had over the years become known as something that wasn’t as safe as possible because the cutter-head could catch a knot or something else in the wood and project it backwards. In that case, it could so happen that your hands would remain over the blades as the board was thrown out, and your hands could then be injured. I did a little bit of reading, and as it turns out, this has happened. Yikes!

So why not just use the push grips that came with the jointer, and abandon the “hands-on-the-board” technique? Well, this goes back to the original push grips being pretty darn good….for most cuts. It turns out that when face-cutting a larger board, the rubber grippy surface of the stock push grips can sometimes start to slip. Which is why I used my hands for cuts like that in the first place; my hands have better grip than the rubber sponge on the bottom of the stock grips.

So when I set out to make these grips, the first thing I wanted to do was use something that provided more grip than the rubber sponge on the stock grips. I performed a bunch of tests with materials I had available in the shop to see what worked best, and (at least from the stuff I had on hand), the bicycle inner-tube worked the best. Next, I thought about other weak points in the design of the stock grips. I realized that near the end of a cut, especially on longer boards, the downward pressure had to be increased in order to keep the board flat as it goes over the cutter-head. This means two things: #1, there is less force being applied in a forward motion to complete the cut, and #2, there is more friction between the board and the tables. So it’s a double-whammy! Not only do you have less power to push the board through, but it’s also harder to push it through because of the increased friction.

If you’ve seen the video, the answer is now obvious. The drop-down pegs make it to were you are able to apply much more forward-directed force than you ever could with just the grippy surface of the grips. Before, it was always a contest between the tables’ friction and the rear-directed force of the blades, and the friction of the grippy surface and the forward force it was capable of transferring. With the pegs behind the board, you have a solid object pushing the board forward. So you can press down as hard as you need to to keep the board flat as you finish the cut, and at the same time, rest assured that you enough oomph to push the board through without having to rely on friction alone to do the job.

And the last part of this design was to make sure the drop-down pegs would not damage the cutter-head or increase the likelihood of an injury. So, it would have been much easier to use bolts in the drop down slots, but if they ever come in contact with the blades, it would be catastrophic for the blades, and dangerous for the user. So while it is a little more trouble to make the pegs, they are well-worth the effort! Anyway, I hope enjoyed this article – REMEMBER TO BE SAFE OUT THERE!

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Vise Mounted Router Table

For a very long time, I’ve had an inexpensive, fixed-base router. For almost as long, I’ve wished that I had one of those fancy (…and expensive) plunge-style routers. I always imagined that I could do so much more with one that has the plunging feature, and while that may be true, I was neglecting the fact that there is really a lot that can be done with the one I already had – I just needed to build a table for it!

[Watch the Video]

[Buy the Plans]

I can’t tell you how happy I am with this build. This has changed the way I work in my shop for the better, and I’m never going back. If I were to eliminate all of the things this router table is good for, except for round-overs, it would still be worth it. Before, I did all my round-overs with sanders, sandpaper, and/or files. This thing makes rounding edges over a breeze, even on smaller parts that would have been impossible to do while using the router “freehand”.

I can also use this router for doing dados, which is something that my table saw can’t do (it doesn’t have enough room on the arbor to add a dado stack). And while this is a very small table, and the fence doesn’t allow for much depth, the fence can be removed. If you watch the video, you’ll notice that if the fence is removed, the only thing behind it is my workbench. This means I can clamp a temporary fence at any distance I like, as long as it doesn’t exceed my workbench’s length. This provides more than enough room to make just about any dado you’d ever want to make.

The other thing I love about this router table is the compact size. As you are probably aware, I’m very big on making efficient use of time and space. The fact that this router table is vise-mounted makes it to where it doesn’t need all the bulk that that regular router table has. Normally, a router table has to allow room for the router to sit inside, provide feet to hold the table up, and basically just a huge empty carcass around that. That sort of setup takes up a lot of space on a shelf, or under a workbench, but this thing will actually fit in a relatively small drawer!

The dust collection is pretty good too; especially when compared to what it was like using my router before it had any. It was the single worst tool in the shop when came to how much dust it put E-V-E-R-Y-W-H-E-R-E. Now, depending on the operation I’m doing, my vacuum collects between 75% and 100% of the dust produced – quite an improvement! I’ve got some ideas on how to make it even better, but I’ll have to explore those in a future video ?

I’ve had some time with the router table now, and as I mentioned, I’m already very pleased. That said, I’m still learning about it and look forward to finding more and more ways to use it. If you’ve got any ideas, feel free to share them!

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Non-Flexing Zero Clearance Insert

Some people have said that the saw I have isn’t for fine work or small pieces. I respectfully say that is now! While it’s true this saw is marketed primarily as a contractor’s saw, DeWalt knows (as do the outlets that sell these saws) that these are purchased by home woodworking hobbyist probably as much, if not more than actual contractors. Now I’ve also encouraged readers not to be upset at DeWalt, they have made a fine saw here. It is compact, versatile and powerful. I’ve had *almost* no complaints with this saw in the 4ish (I think) years that I’ve owned it. For the money, it’s done a very impressive job. It cuts straight and true, and that’s pretty much the most important aspect of a table saw. As I mentioned, it also has plenty of power, so I’m not unhappy about that either. The only two things that have ever bothered me about the saw are:

  1. Flexing allows small pieces to get caught, which is dangerous and uncomfortable.
  2. There is no dado stack ability.

[Watch the Video]

While I can’t really do anything about not being able to add a dado stack, or at least I haven’t figured out anything yet, I did think of adding a steel band to the zero-clearance insert to keep it from flexing at the end. I do get some comments and questions about this insert though; sometimes people don’t understand why I couldn’t have used a more conventional approach, so I’ll try to sum it up.

The main problem with a conventional insert, in other words an insert that doesn’t accommodate the riving knife, is that it would require me to remove the riving knife every time I wanted to use the zero-clearance insert. Some have said “That’s no big deal, when you need zero-clearance (when cutting very small pieces), you don’t need the riving knife.” While that’s true, having the riving knife there while cutting small pieces won’t hurt. So I say, if I can skip the extra step of removing and adding the riving knife every time I have to switch from cutting a small piece to a larger piece, I’ll gladly do so.

The next idea that’s brought up is just leaving the bit of wood connected at the end, so it wraps around the riving knife and removes the flex from the insert. While this will work on some saws, it won’t work (or at least it probably won’t work for very long) on the DeWalt 74xx series of saws because there is less than an 1/8″ of gap between the riving knife and the slot wall. So that leaves very little room for material back there to bridge a connection between the two sides of the insert. Using a small steel strap, even only .060″ thick is much stronger than leaving somewhere around .080″ to .090″ of wood back there, and will last MUCH longer.

Now, this insert doesn’t work for all situations. I have not made this insert capable of accommodating angled cuts, so for those, it’s back to the old insert. If I have to make an angled cut that is ALSO a small piece that could get caught on the old insert, I’ll have to make another zero clearance insert that works for both. Luckily, I haven’t encountered that situation yet, so hopefully I’ll get a break from making custom inserts for a while. ?

I’ve also heard some really great suggestions in the YouTube comments. Here’s a quick list of my favorites:

  • Use hot glue to more easily set the depth of the insert flush with the table.
  • Add set screws to the insert to control the depth, just like the original.
  • Add a threaded hole to one of the tabs that support the insert, and add a lock screw to keep the insert from coming out on accident.
  • Use MDF for future inserts because it’s stable, easy & cheap to replace, and easy & cheap to make multiple versions for different cutting scenarios.
  • Use plywood; for similar reasons as MDF…it’s not quite as cheap, but still pretty inexpensive and has a lot of the same good stuff going on for it.

So if you have a saw that has a couple of inches between the riving knife and the slot wall, you can achieve the same (non-flexing) results by just leaving some wood back there, but if your saw is limited on space like the DeWalt 74x series saws are, then you can use a method like this, and maybe pickup some benefit from the suggestions above. You might even think of your own! If you do, be sure to share what you come up with!