Newbie here, working with my first table saw. I took a class on how to
use it safely, but I'm not terribly satisfied that I'm doing it
While viewing one of Swingman's recent posts, I saw a picture of one of
the push sticks he was using.
This stick is similar to the design my teacher used. However, it seems
to me like the operator's hand still gets behind the blade at the end
of the cut, which the teacher described as, well, it was described as
"a bad thing."
Would it not be better to use a longer stick and put the "wood hook"
further forward of the handle? This way there would still be
sufficient leverage to hold the wood down, but at no time would the
operator's hand get above or behind the blade.
Any help would be appreciated...particularly from you, Swingman...how
do you like your design?
"Would it not be better to use a longer stick and put the "wood hook"
further forward of the handle? ..."
In my opinion (if that counts at all) one point of safety when ripping
on the TS is to push the wood all the way past the blade. In fact, I
like to make sure I push it all the way past the insert in the table.
So how are you going to push the piece that far, withouth having your
hand pass the blade? You would have a push stick about 2 feet long.
Having good control and down pressure, while minimizing the possibility
of any slipping is what is needed. Down pressure to avoid climb and
kickback and no slippage to avoid disaster.
That'll work ... whatever is comfortable for you, and on your particular
The design of which you speak works well on my table saw with most of the
rip cuts I do because the splitter I use with pawls won't allow it to go far
enough past the blade to upset either your teacher, or me, on narrow rips.
If the wood is wide enough, I don't worry too much as neither the push stick
or my hand is in my personal comfort/danger zone.
> Any help would be appreciated...particularly from you, Swingman...how
Obviously, yes! ;)
That said, I have many different designs of push sticks and blocks, as well
as variations on each one with regard to thickness, length, etc to cover any
situation that may arise.
If I don't have one that I feel will work with a particular cut, I stop and
design and make one.
I still play music (bass) professionally, take great delight in doing so,
and will take any precaution I feel necessary to protect that ... even going
to measures that others may feel extreme .... so be it.
That reminded me of this old chestnut.... you've likely heard it,
Swingman, so this is for those who haven't:
An anthropologist decides to investigate the natives of a far-flung
tropical island. He flew there, found a guide with a canoe to take him
up the river to the remote site where he would make his collections.
About noon on the second day of travel up the river they began to hear
drums. Being a city boy by nature, the anthropologist was disturbed by
this. He asked the guide, "What are those drums?"
The guide turned to him and said "Drums OK, but VERY BAD when they
Then, after some hours, the drums suddenly stopped! This hit the
anthropologist like a ton of bricks, and he yelled at the guide: "The
Drums have stopped, what happens now?"
The guide crouched down, covered his head with his hands and said,
I use one very similar. I patterned the handle after the one on my
hand plane and placed the 'handle' just forward of the hook at the
bottom. This gives me good leverage to push down and forward at the
IMHO the key to this type of push stick is to raise the blade only as
high as is necessary to complete the cut. I normally raise the blade
just high enough so the bottom of the gullets will be at the top of the
piece to be cut.
Nobody asked me, but ... I prefer to use at least (2) push-sticks.
Typically thin-section ply, about 2 x 12 in, with suitable notch(es)
cut into one end.
With work to rt of blade, stick in left hand holds piece down and
against fence; right mainly pushes.
Nothing too fancy, so hitting stick with blade is no big deal.
Certainly nothing to prompt any reaction. This is important- let the
sticks get hit, which they will, and stay calm while cutting more.
Keeping paws at least a foot from blade while pushing towards anywhere
in its vicinity is a great idea, as you and your teacher seem to opine.
Of course, you can use combo of side- and down-pushing featherboards as
you desire. Very beneficial for safety, if done carefully.
I have a variety of pushsticks and blocks.
The one I prefer if cutting thin stock is one that straddles the fence.
That in combination with side featherboards gives excellent control for
pushing short length through the saw. Short being 1.5 - 2 times the
distance from blade front to rear of splitter.
For longer boards push through from the front then walk around saw and
pull through from back.
As a relative novice, I had thought about this technique but avoided it
because it "seemed" risky to leave the workpiece unattended while I
walked around the saw (yes I have roller supports for the outfeed). I
hadn't really thought it through, but as a novice I am EXTREMELY
cautious, maybe too much so in this case.
Is this a commonly accepted practice. Any tips to make it as safe as
Nope ... and a decidedly risky one, IMO. Not only is it something I would
never consider doing, I would never recommend it to anyone.
AAMOF, in my many years in the shop I don't think I've run across a single
situation where it was ever necessary... then again, YMMV
I burn maple without walking around the saw. I use a mix of pushing
jigs including one the rides the rip fence for 1/2" strip cuts.
On 4 Aug 2005 13:02:41 -0700, tom email@example.com wrote:
Thanks for the quick replies everyone.
So what I'm hearing (or at least *think* I'm hearing) is that it's not
necessarilly a bad thing to let your hand get slightly behind the axis
of the blade if you're doing a wide-enough rip using a push stick?
The thing I'd always heard was that, if your hand got behind the blade,
a kickback could pull your hand into the blade, which was described as
"a worse thing."
I would say that certainly depends upon how close your hand is to the blade,
and sometimes on whether you use a blade guard or not.
It's not a bad idea to mark a "red zone" on your TS where you don't want
your fingers under ANY circumstances, but it boils down to a personal
decision and an individual comfort level.
Uncommon sense should rule the day when using any sharp tool ... besides, my
comfort level is pretty narrowly defined.
Swingman and I use a very similar design but mine has a handle that curves
more to horizontal. The important thing with a push stick of this type is
that you also have the leverage to keep the wood down on the table surface
should the blade catch hold and want to lift the wood.
This type push stick helps keep you hand away from the blade as well as hold
the wood down.
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