I rely on my table saw for everything from crosscutting and ripping boards to cutting joinery like dadoes and rabbets. No matter what the operation is, a clean, splinter-free cut is a must. The trouble is even if your saw is tuned up, you can still end up with a ragged edge. Thankfully, the solution is simple and inexpensive — a shop-made, zero-clearance insert.
The reason you get better cuts with a zero-clearance insert is that the opening in the insert exactly matches the thickness of the blade. This fully supports the workpiece as it’s cut so fibers can’t tear away.