Push Blocks for Safety and Accuracy The Push Stick.
A push stick usually resembles the handle of a paint brush with a small notch cut in the bottom edge where the bristles of the brush would start.
The notch is small about a quarter of an inch up from the bottom and a half inch back from the end. This notch hooks on the end of a board you might be ripping on a table saw.
The problem with this type of push stick is that you can push far word and down at the trailing end of a board, but there is nothing to hold the leading edge from lifting up or moving away from the fence.
This kind of push stick works well for ripping on a Radial Arm Saw but can be out and out dangerous on a table saw.
A better and safer type is a push block.
The Push Block.
A push block is easy to make and I have always made my own. I have blocks from less than an eighth of an inch thick to three quarters of an inch.
I like to make my blocks about six inches tall and about twenty four inches long. The block I use ninety nine percent of the time is made from quarter inch plywood.
First I cut a piece of plywood down to six inches by twenty four inches. Then I set the fence on the table saw to trim a quarter inch off one of the long edges. When I make this cut I try to stop the cut about an inch or so from the end. I stop the saw a couple of times to check how far I have to go. After the cut is done I take a hand saw and cut from the bottom up to the end of the previous saw cut. Then I just clean up the corner with a sharp knife or chisel. Now I have a tab sticking down about an inch long and a quarter of an inch tall.
This is all you really have to do to use the block.
How it works.
After I set my table saw fence to the desired width I need. I lay the board I am going to cut on the saw and against the fence. Then I position a feather board , See Feather Boards just in front of the saw blade on the opposite side of the board from the fence. This will hold the board up to the fence and all I have to do is push the board forward.
If the board is short enough so at least a foot of the push block is over the saw table I will use the block from the start. I put the block on the board and slide it forward until the tab hits the end of the board. I turn on the saw and push the board through the blade with the push block. I keep forward pressure on the block as well as downward pressure on the board. This will keep the leading edge of the board from rising up as shorter boards some times have a tendency to do. I hold my hand on the block a few inches forward from the back of the block. This gives me leverage to push down as well as forward.
The reason I make the block twenty four inches is to give me this leverage. The reason I make the block six inches tall is to keep my hand and fingers above the fence and out of harms way.
As I mentioned above you can make push blocks different thicknesses as well as lengths. I have one block like the above made from a one by six piece of hardwood. I also have one made from a thin piece of Plexiglas. On the thinner push blocks I make handles to go on the top edge. This adds the needed rigidity, especially for blocks a quarter of an inch or less like the Plexiglas block.
To make the handles I use a one by two out of what ever wood I have available. I cut them as long as the push block. I like to round over the top edges and cut shallow coves down both sides with a router. It provides a comfortable grip. Then I cut a groove (or dado) along the bottom of the handle about an inch deep. This allows me to put screws through the handle to hold the block in place. This let's me remove the handle if I happen to mess up the block. I have done this while cutting thin strips in the past.
On the one by push block I just rounded over the top edge and cut the shallow coves along the sides about an inch down from the top of the block.
Be sure to sand the handles to prevent splinters.
Submitted by Darrel Vickers