I used the Kreg plate levelers. They screw to the bottom of the top and have Allen screws that project up to support the plate. I couldn't find anything negative online about them, and they seemed like they'd make it easier.
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I am currently testing some cherry as well. I used some iron acetate on a piece, and within 15 minutes it was a little darker than you sun-exposed piece. I used a thin coat of amber shellac to make it redder, but I like how your Danish Oil turned out.
Just curious. It looks like your cut all the way through the top. What holds the plate from falling through? Usually you route a ledge in the opening for the plate to sit in. Like I said, just curious.