How to Make a Push Stick
Keep your hands away from blades and cutters, and hold work securely with this vital shopmade accessory.
One of the most useful tools in my shop is the push stick. It keeps my hands away from the sawblades and cutterheads and allows me to hold the workpiece securely when passing it over a variety of machines. I use the same push stick on the tablesaw, bandsaw, jointer, and router table. The push stick that I find to be the safest and most efficient is one I make myself. I first came across this push stick when I was a furniture making student at the North Bennet Street School.
I make my push sticks from 3/4-in. Baltic-birch plywood—which does not have voids—so when I cut through the push stick I don’t run the risk of the heel breaking off. I will cut through a push stick a few times and once the heel starts to get compromised, I throw out the push stick and get a new one.
Unlike push sticks with a short beak, the long hook of this one allows me to hold a board securely when ripping at the tablesaw, and it really holds the wood while I drive the piece into the fence when making ripcuts. The heel of this push stick supports the wood and allows me to push the workpiece through the blade or over the cutterhead. The sacrificial heel is long and has substance, allowing me to cut narrow pieces to width safely since I can run the push stick through the blade of the tablesaw.
The shape of the handle is important, too. It keeps my hand well above the blade and allows me to drive a board into the fence when ripping on the tablesaw. When I point my index finger on top and wrap the rest of my hand under the handle, the push stick becomes an extension of my hand and I can better control how and where I direct the pressure.
I can usually get two push sticks out of one piece of scrap Baltic birch. I make sure I cut the long hooks for the two push sticks first on the tablesaw before doing any bandsaw work. Once the tablesaw cuts are done, it is safe to finish cutting out the rest of the push sticks on the bandsaw. I always have a bunch made so I can keep them at different machines. Once you start making—and using—this simple but mighty push stick, you can throw all the others in the trash.
You can download a template for Ellen’s push stick below
More on FineWoodworking.com:
- Staying Safe on the Tablesaw (Part 1) – Ripping and crosscutting
- Tune Your Tablesaw – A few key adjustments get your saw cutting smoothly
- The Physics of Machine Safety – To cut safely, stay focused on the forces exerted by the spinning blade or bit
Everyone's design for a shop made push stick is different. And as long as they perform the necessary function of applying the force needed to keep the stock in position while moving through the blade while keeping your hand (and the force it applies) out of harms way, they're all good.
I prefer my handle to be upward and towards the blade so that the front part of the push stick tends to prevent the upwards force of the blade from raising up the stock.
Also, for thin stock, I prefer a 1/4" heel with a slight hook. This allows more contact, and prevents the push stick from being in contact with the stock in only 2 places and easily gives more 'fenceward' force.
I, like you, learned my push stick design early in my working days, in my case, at the opera scene shop.
Ahh yes the Will Neptune push stick. This a great push stick and one I highly recommend as well.
Excuse me but at 13 seconds in I believe the push stick is in the incorrect position it should be between the fence and blade not on the outside of the blade. Potential kickback situation and there are lots of folks that may watch this video and not realize the situation.
I see you confusion there. At :13 she is making the push stick, doing a stopped cut, turning off the saw as she gets to the line.
You need to get current with the times. Go out and spend (Or get your editor) to spend the money (Yes, they're $70, and most people buy two) on a Micro Jig Grrripper. It does everything yours does, plus much more and MUCH MORE SAFELY. I do not work for or receive compensation from Micro Jig. I use mine on nearly every Table and Band saw cut I make. Spare (expendable) components are available at Woodcraft, and other woodworking related dealers.
Sorry, no insult intended, but I would not waste the time making one of yours when I have a pair of Grippers.
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