LumberJocks

Goldilocks of Push Sticks

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Project by LittleBlackDuck posted 05-27-2017 12:25 PM 1343 views 4 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch

We, who still have 10 fingers are aware of the dangers of ripping thin stock on the tablesaw and those without are now aware through the process of elimination… medically known as self-amputation.

Jokes aside, it is a serious issue fraught with dangers. I used to cut the “veneers” on my bandsaw (and my fingernails), but what I saved in the narrower kerf, I quickly sacrificed on the thicknesser and/or drum sander, cleaning it up. Furthermore, I must admit that for thin stock… I hate using sleds… without snow.

In an attempt to minimise aggression, I tried the “off fence” cut method (or whatever the right terminology is), however, by continually having to move the fence my subsequent thinning clean up on the thicknesser often provided optimum competition for my inappropriate bandsaw efforts.

Since I migrated to thin kerf blades on my TS, the wood sacrifice between the TS and BS (doesn’t this sound like BS) was negligible and saved me a helluva lot of extra rework.

But the normal operating procedure is still dangerous so when it comes to thin stock, I now pick the “just rightPush Stick (PS) to fit the job… hello Goldilocks.

I used to use one of the many plastic PSs I’ve managed to amass in my clandestine visits to tool shops but I always found them not very friendly and they just hated getting unwanted attention from a spinning tablesaw blade. I like to picture them in an ‘X’ pattern to remind myself not to use them,

OK, the picture was posed but I just wanted to prove I had some.

I then came across the following pattern somewhere in a magazine (I think it was Woman’s Weekly) and adopted it for a while.

It was better than the plastics for timber hold down and even though it was offensive to my delicate hands, that was quickly rectified by rounding over the edges (of the PS).

Sometime later I progressed to this laser cut PS based on the above design,

but it lost out badly in the workshop popularity contest… not only that, the handle was ugh!

At the moment I have 3 PSs (I drink a lot of liquids… and I am leaving my yellow bought push blocks out of this equation… bet the “yellow” after drinks had you squirming) with 3mm, 6mm and 19mm thicknesses respectively (pic #6), loitering on the off side of my TS fence and the appropriate one is readied according to the job at hand… actually I gab the nearest and hope it’s the right one… nearly joking… 1/3 of the time I’m right and the other 3/4 is just a narrow miss. I am still toying around with the idea of mounting some sort of a cradle for them on my tablesaw fence.

My 19mm PS is made of pine and utilizes an old recycled plastic handle. This will eventually morph into an 18mm MDF PS but without the plastic handle which I should be able to recycle in a similar fashion to this (push block for jointer… same handle),

(I BS’d about not mentioning push blocks.)

Looks like we’re back to my sad old saga when mentioning that the thinner PSs are laser cut. In reality, if you just don’t happen to have a laser lurking in a corner of your workshop, take a closer look as you may find a CNC hiding behind one of those oversized Stanley FatMax tape measures. If your eyesight is failing and you succeed in finding neither… rather than continuing your search… you could hack the shape out on your bandsaw, jigsaw, fretsaw, scroll saw, hacksaw, copingsaw, Japsaw or any other type of eyesore that you have amassed in your mancave. Grab the result and attack it with a rasp or file and finish it off with your favourite sanding implement(s).
If you happen to be a “bandsawee” or one of the abovementioned “sawees”, or just a wall flower that hasn’t been mentioned, I recommend you keep your best sculpture as a routing template for all future PS’s. If you don’t have a xxxsaw (no not cussing, just replace the xxx with an appropriate saw name) and/or router… may I suggest you take up cooking… smartrrs Google informs me that most houses do at least have a stove.

You may have noticed the body has a number of holes in it and if you haven’t, go back and have another look (or save your neck strain and look at the picture below),

They are not there to make it lighter or more streamlined, but are designed for alignment dowels in case you want to laminate a customised thickness… (I need it as my laser will only cut 6mm MDF comfortably). You will notice the grips have the similar holes that align with the holes of the body.

Just ensure that the bottom of the grips clear your fence. I build up the layers in the grips from a combination of 3mm and 6mm MDF till the handle is comfortable. You may notice I don’t glue on the grips to the PS body but hold them in place by blue masking tape.

That way the grips are reusable, as I quickly wear down the body by far too many shaving cuts. I believe in re-cycling and cycling is a great source of exercise. If you look closely you will find a smearing of super glue over the back “engage lip” of the 3mm PS just to provide a bit more strength against wear.
Unfortunately the blue tape has gone to pot,

Moral of the story is… use low grip tape or better still don’t use high grip tape… you decide.
The customised grip make groping MDF a more pleasurable experience.

There are a couple of modifications I have used in the past,

This PS has a slot to accept hardware so that I can add supplementary PS aids,

The next format is designed to finish off small pieces fed under any used fence’s feather board that will not let a normal PS slip past undetected,

The shape is so designed that after manipulating the workpiece’s tail end close to the saw blade, you use this push stick to finish off the pushing, stopping the feed after the end of the stock passes the blade and before you knuckles hit it. The narrow profile is quite fragile and that’s why I haven’t got a picture of one as it was mangled during its last engagement and I haven’t got around to it,

to making a new one.

While the design includes a dedicated grip for it, I’ve found that for a 1 or 2 use operation it was not worth making them.

There are 2 PDF’s, one using 6mm dowels and the other with the additional .35mm added on to give bigger holes. The PDF’s are in A3 format so if you don’t have an A3 printer, improvise or buy yourself a BIG magnifying glass. Feel free to use them for creating the same design as mine or at least it may give you an idea of how to customise your cherished shape (or go adventurous)... with padded hand grips it could be even more sensual… Thx tyvekboy.

If you already have your own PS’s and are happy with it, just clap your hands (over your eyes) and don’t read this article.

-- If your first cut is too short... Take the second cut from the longer end... LBD





15 comments so far

View tyvekboy's profile

tyvekboy

1656 posts in 2736 days


#1 posted 05-27-2017 02:32 PM

Good post.

I use to cut thin strips between the blade and fence but have since adopted cutting thin strips on the left side of the blade using a thin rip guide stop and a bigger pice of wood between the place and fence. Lot’s safer.

I do have a 1/4 inch wide push stick but that is the thinest I’ll rip between the blade and fence.

-- Tyvekboy -- Marietta, GA ………….. one can never be too organized

View kiefer's profile

kiefer

5380 posts in 2390 days


#2 posted 05-27-2017 03:04 PM

Good post.

I use to cut thin strips between the blade and fence but have since adopted cutting thin strips on the left side of the blade using a thin rip guide stop and a bigger pice of wood between the place and fence. Lot s safer.

I do have a 1/4 inch wide push stick but that is the thinest I ll rip between the blade and fence.

- tyvekboy

I have gone the same way and feel a bit more comfortable doing it this way even so I have to move the fence for every cut .

Klaus

-- Kiefer https://www.youtube.com/user/woodkiefer1/videos

View  woodshaver Tony C   's profile

woodshaver Tony C

5280 posts in 3076 days


#3 posted 05-27-2017 11:09 PM

Good read and nicely done Ducky! I tried to get my little shop buddy to push the stock through the saw but he said I don’t pay him enough! :(

-- St Augustine FL, Experience is the sum of our mistakes!

View LittleBlackDuck's profile

LittleBlackDuck

1084 posts in 544 days


#4 posted 05-28-2017 12:28 AM

... but have since adopted cutting thin strips on the left side of the blade using a thin rip guide stop and a bigger pice of wood between the place and fence. Lot s safer.

- tyvekboy


Kinda agree (actually agree++) about “lot safer” but a narrow push stick reduces the non-safety… if that should ever be used as an argument.

Maybe I’m doing something basically wrong, as in the past I’ve had mixed issues with the “off fence” technique. I will give it another go as I’ve seen some great post about supporting jigs.

I suppose the crux of this article is that the single faithful push stick is not enough, but one should have an arsenal of aids to suit the job… quote by that Chinese philosopher, Confusing LBD.

-- If your first cut is too short... Take the second cut from the longer end... LBD

View LittleBlackDuck's profile

LittleBlackDuck

1084 posts in 544 days


#5 posted 05-28-2017 01:53 AM


Good read and nicely done Ducky! I tried to get my little shop buddy to push the stock through the saw but he said I don t pay him enough! :(

- woodshaver Tony C

w’s’TC, become a ”woddietarian”, put the little bugger on a diet of sawdust and feed him marijuana shavings…
then put the spotlight on and control that little recalcitrant bugger.

-- If your first cut is too short... Take the second cut from the longer end... LBD

View Pjonesy's profile

Pjonesy

192 posts in 549 days


#6 posted 05-28-2017 02:31 AM

As usual a great article with an interesting story. Push sticks are always a problem and like you I have to count my fingers every time I decide to cut some thin strips of timber.
I have just recently bought a Grr-Ripper from Amazon which is a device to try to make ripping on a table saw a little safer. I have not tried it yet but I also got the adapter to be able to rip down to 1/8 inch (don’t you just hate imperial measurements).

-- Peter New Zealand

View Rick M's profile

Rick M

9936 posts in 2103 days


#7 posted 05-28-2017 03:19 AM

Push sticks don’t have to be the same width as the stock, even for thin stock. I didn’t read your dissertation so maybe you covered that.

-- http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

View EarlS's profile

EarlS

468 posts in 2071 days


#8 posted 05-28-2017 11:23 AM

Is it a sign that I’m too lazy, or have excess folding money, to tell you that I have, not one, but two of the “yellow bought push blocks” (grripper)? Even so, I tend to go with the left side for ripping long thin strips. The incremental setting on the Wixey digital fence read out comes in handy.

I tend to prefer a wide, low push block that I can snug up to the fence and push down on while pushing the piece along the fence. I’ve also had problems with the typical push stick design causing the front end to come up as I try to push the wood from the back with the push stick before the back edge of the wood reaches the front edge of the table.

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

View GR8HUNTER's profile

GR8HUNTER

2499 posts in 436 days


#9 posted 05-28-2017 01:24 PM

this is what I use…... cost is free…........ in an hour can make 12 of them…........ good for at least a year …..........plus when they get to cut up…..... I just take an inch off then I got a new one again…... for me it is the best control and the easiest way to go :<))

-- Tony Reinholds,Pa. REMEMBER TO ALWAYS HAVE FUN

View  woodshaver Tony C   's profile

woodshaver Tony C

5280 posts in 3076 days


#10 posted 05-28-2017 03:39 PM

I do what Tony does!

I thought I would show off my wood pusher! Each time I make one I change the handle angle.. I’m trying to find the best feel! I think this one is not tipped downward enough. It’s even ugly! LOL!
Adjustments are in the works!
.

-- St Augustine FL, Experience is the sum of our mistakes!

View LittleBlackDuck's profile

LittleBlackDuck

1084 posts in 544 days


#11 posted 05-29-2017 12:53 AM

P’j and E’S, I also have a pair of Grr-Rippers which I swear by when I mill wide stock, and the 1/8” finger is great for thin strips, however at times the block wont fit on the stock and I’m too lazy to fit the outrigger to stabilize it. For stock wider than the Grr’s, it is my first tool of choice. Unfortunately, one of my 1/8” fingers is now 1/16”... might need a replacement :-(.

woodshaver, like you I do like push sticks with a long leading bases to assist in stock hold down. I recall one time I had a 2” long one in my arsenal.

Since I started toying with T & J models, I’ve just found that one push stick will not fit all and the more I have to choose from the less I have to manipulate the workpiece.

-- If your first cut is too short... Take the second cut from the longer end... LBD

View Belg1960's profile

Belg1960

1047 posts in 2788 days


#12 posted 05-29-2017 10:55 AM



I have gone the same way and feel a bit more comfortable doing it this way even so I have to move the fence for every cut .

Klaus

- kiefer


I have started using this method and feel it really helps me. And I never have to move the blade once I set it to the right thickness. I added a small slot at the end to move the stop if needed.

-- ***Pat*** Rookie woodworker looking for an education!!!

View LittleBlackDuck's profile

LittleBlackDuck

1084 posts in 544 days


#13 posted 05-29-2017 04:09 PM


I have started using this method….

- Belg1960


That is a neat idea Belg1960, I like it.

-- If your first cut is too short... Take the second cut from the longer end... LBD

View htl's profile

htl

2847 posts in 883 days


#14 posted 05-29-2017 09:48 PM

Great post and love all the different ideas on the using of a PS.


this is what I use…... cost is free…........ in an hour can make 12 of them…........ good for at least a year …..........plus when they get to cut up…..... I just take an inch off then I got a new one again…... for me it is the best control and the easiest way to go :<))

- GR8HUNTER

This is the one I use the most, not quite as tall but love the feel and control of it.
The one thing I’ve done away with are the horns, they seem to get in my way a lot.

I have gone the same way and feel a bit more comfortable doing it this way even so I have to move the fence for every cut .

Klaus

- kiefer

I have started using this method and feel it really helps me. And I never have to move the blade once I set it to the right thickness. I added a small slot at the end to move the stop if needed.

- Belg1960

Really like the looks of this for thin stock but wondering how it would work for thick stock? thinking, thinking,

-- There's a hundred ways to do anything, alot depends on the tools at hand.

View LittleBlackDuck's profile

LittleBlackDuck

1084 posts in 544 days


#15 posted 05-30-2017 12:12 AM



This is the one I use the most, not quite as tall but love the feel and control of it.
The one thing I ve done away with are the horns, they seem to get in my way a lot.

- htl


I used to use one very similar as you and GR8’, #4 (probably made from the same plan)... I also de-horned mine.

Me being vertically challenged and my TS up on wheels, when I reach over as I approaching the blade I feel that I have to twist my wrist (like we did last summer… made me think of Chubby Checker) unnaturally to maintain force on the final few centimeteres (now I see why you Yanks use imperial… inches is shorter to type) with the PS. I eventually found the “vertical” handle/grip more comfortable (for me) when leaning over the table.

-- If your first cut is too short... Take the second cut from the longer end... LBD

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