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Level 3 Tablesaw Push Stick

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Review by DougRog posted 606 days ago 5183 views 0 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Level 3 Tablesaw Push Stick Level 3 Tablesaw Push Stick Level 3 Tablesaw Push Stick Click the pictures to enlarge them

I saw a recent project entry of a novice’s new home made push stick, the kind that is essentially a stick with a notch on the end. Though I’m the first to admit that any push stick is better than none, there’s some issues that new woodworkers should discover about the correct use of push sticks.

So to begin, I’m going to grade three levels of push stick design. The first (and lowest) is the push stick described in the first paragraph, a simple stick like tool that pushes wood with some kind of notch (whether wood or plastic). The main problem is that wood, especially shorter pieces (say less that 18”) want to jiggle around as the wood is being cut and this push stick design leaves a rough cut. Also, woodworkers will experience in certain situations that the back side of the tablesaw blade wants to lift the wood, and this can create a ‘throw the wood back at you’ situation. That’s a couple of the main issues with push stick Level 1.

Level 2 (more developed design) push stick is made in some sort of model that has a body that SITS ON THE WOOD, plus a handle, and usually has some sort of step down on the bottom back end to actually grab the wood. This design is far superior in function AND safety, as the wood is held in place by the push stick body as it is pushed through the saw. This design is what most experienced woodworkers make for themselves. It makes for a cleaner cut, and prevents the wood from lifting, thus much safer than Level 1.

But there is a third design that seems to be almost unknown, though I bought mine almost 10 years ago, and this model I rate at Level 3, so please see the photos. This design not only sits on the wood, but has a pin in the back that hides up in the body of the push stick, and then pops down at the end of the board (spring loaded). This has several advantages, as you can sit the push stick FLAT on any board long before you reach the end since the ‘pushing pin’ is risen in the body and out of the way.

I’ve also found that you can cut extremely short pieces of wood, say 2 or 3 inches long, with complete safety with this type of Level 3 push stick, especially with the friction pads. A home made Level 2 push stick without a rubber friction pad can also do short pieces, but not as safely because wood can slide on wood. You must have some kind of rubber tread to grab your wood firmly.

So I recommend to all woodworkers, make your FIRST home made push stick at least a Level 2, but if you ever try this Level 3, you’ll never go back to previous models. This push stick in the photo doesn’t shatter when cut, but is made of some type of poly that cuts like the wood itself. I found it online at http://www.tablesawpushstick.com though I bought mine somewhere else long ago.

Hope this helps and best of safety in your shop.

-- The Higest Art, the Highest Science, and the Highest Religion is the same thing.




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DougRog

12 posts in 657 days



13 comments so far

View Everett1's profile

Everett1

208 posts in 1137 days


#1 posted 606 days ago

This seems kind if fishy like the guy posting it is the guy actually selling this product

Looks like a good push stick

But this looks more like a way to get people to click on your site

-- Ev in Framingham, MA

View Tootles's profile

Tootles

681 posts in 1105 days


#2 posted 606 days ago

It looks like a good and useful push stick. I like the idea of a retractable pin for different thickness wood. Also that it can be used at an angle, as the pictures show for the router table, could be useful – that is of course assuming you can find the interchangeable traction thread when required (not my strong point).

However, I’d like to suggest that:

  • In my opinion, it is too short. If you really want to prevent the wood from lifting, then the longer the better. My home-made one is somthing like 450 mm (18”) long.
  • The web site claims that it forces you to rip wood correctly. How is that? It doesn’t indicate what “the” correct method is.
  • The web site claims that “While working with the table saw, all fear vanishes.” Really? Doesn’t that vary from person to person? And isn’t a little fear, or at least trepidation, perhaps a good thing to make you think and cross check that you are working safely?
  • The web site says that “Your hand is kept a full four inches above the blade.” That may be the case in the picture shown, but the blade is not raised very much. In fact the blade is probably too low for safe cutting. The one thing that does bother me with my push stick of this style is that my hand is forward of the rear edge of the wood, and so must therefore be pushed in line with the blade to complete the cut. If my blade is raised high and I were to flex my fingers open, they could contact the balde. I overcome this concern by having a blade guard in place – somthing that is not shown in the photos on the web site. By the way, I do not have that concern with a European style, or what DougRog terms a Level 1, push stick, though all of DougRog’s other comments about that style of stick are fair.
  • Given that I do use a blade guard, there are some cuts that are too narrow for me to get that push stick between the fence and the blade. And I’m not talking really narrow, even 50 mm (2”) can be a problem. It is in those cases where the European style stick works better for me.
  • While the idea of holding the push stick at an angle along the edge of the wood is okay, it is better to use a featherboard to hold the wood against the fence and then use the push stick in an upright position.

Look, as I said up front, it does look like a good and useful addition to your safety equipment. I just think that some of the statements on their web site are stretching things a little. And I don’t think that this is the one and only solution to all of your safety needs.

-- I may have lost my marbles, but I still have my love of woodworking

View Tomj's profile

Tomj

204 posts in 985 days


#3 posted 606 days ago

I have seen shop made versions of this push stick. Most recently a in a tip I was e mailed from woodsmith shop tips. It also had an adjustable pin whether it was spring loaded or not I don’t remember but I will build myself one. I do like that it has a 45 degree notch.

View NiteWalker's profile

NiteWalker

2709 posts in 1180 days


#4 posted 606 days ago

Doug, that’s a nice pushstick and I’ve wanted one of those for a while now, but the price is too high for what it is. It shouldn’t be more than $15-$18.

The cost is probably why a lot of woodworkers, myself included, make our own.

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

View ChuckV's profile

ChuckV

2380 posts in 2130 days


#5 posted 606 days ago

One of the things that I like about cheap shop-made push sticks is that I don’t have to worry about cutting through the heel or even the whole length. If in the process of a cut, I realize that the stick will be cut, there is no panic or attempt at readjustment. This is the kind of mid-cut correction that has the potential to cause trouble.

I certainly try to plan things so that this does not happen, but it has happened nonetheless, especially to the heel.

The push stick being reviewed here is nice. But, if I realized mid-cut that it was heading for damage, the $25 price would flash through my brain!

-- “That it will never come again / Is what makes life so sweet. ” ― Emily Dickinson

View nailbanger2's profile

nailbanger2

952 posts in 1746 days


#6 posted 606 days ago

I agree with ChuckV, I don’t care when my wooden push “shoe” is in the path of danger. It would seem to me a pin may cause some problems in that situation, also. My last one was made specifically to be cut as I was making a 45 bevel. That one has the handle angled back, away from the blade, and has 80 grit sandpaper double sided taped to the bottom. Excellent control. To each their own, of course.

-- Wish I were Norm's Nephew

View davidroberts's profile

davidroberts

1002 posts in 2089 days


#7 posted 605 days ago

I finally made a rabbet with a nice 1/8” groove down the side of an older store-bought push stick. One of those thin black ones with a scale on the side. Was wondering when I would catch it on the blade. It does seem the website’s promotion is a little over the top, gorilla marketing – but I like the design, the rubber foam? pad for traction, and the retractable pin, which is a real bonus. With a frugal eye on the never-ending woodworking paraphernalia competing for my wallet, I’d probably wait for the novelty pricing to drop a bit. This would make a great Black Friday sales item.

But to be fair, anyone who has researched, designed, patented, manufactured, marketed, and distributed highly specialized products will understand that $25 for a “next generation” product, even a push stick, is not excessive. You have to consider that the universe of potential buyers in today’s world is relatively small (compared to most everything else), and the cost to make small quantity production runs is high.

So kudos to ADS Tool Designs for taking the risk to bring a new design push stick to the market. God Bless America and Capitalism, and the people that make it work.

-- God is great, wood is good. Let us thank Him for wood......and old hand tools.

View RibsBrisket4me's profile

RibsBrisket4me

1376 posts in 1108 days


#8 posted 603 days ago

I have used the massive orange push stick for many months. It is hands down the best push stick I have ever used. I need my fingers for my profession and this push stick keep my finger far away, higher than the blade.

I feel it’s a really inexpensive, but high quality safety device.

-- http://www.PictureTrail.com/gid6255915

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

13346 posts in 941 days


#9 posted 603 days ago

I make my own. I don’t feel as bad when I accidentally cut it. When you make 100’s to 1000’s of cuts, sooner or later it seems to happen.

-- Mother Nature created it, I just assemble it. - It's not ability that we often lack, but the patience to use our ability

View Sandra's profile

Sandra

4151 posts in 678 days


#10 posted 600 days ago

I bought the same push stick from Lee Valley when I bought my table saw. It was pricey, but I love it. I also bought the more traditional one, and it’s been used a grand total of once!

-- No, I don't want to buy the pink hammer.

View bondogaposis's profile

bondogaposis

2446 posts in 954 days


#11 posted 597 days ago

Why spend $25 bucks when you can make one from a scrap piece of plywood. My homemade push stick looks very similar to the one pictured and works just as well and when the bottom gets worn and cut up I just rip it on the band saw and glue a new pusher on the back. Every couple of years I make a new one.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View CyberDyneSystems's profile

CyberDyneSystems

106 posts in 791 days


#12 posted 594 days ago

Me = Woodworker.
Woodworker = Someone capable of making all the push sticks I could ever need. And I do.

I have four different basic designs,. two I use most often. One is similar to the reviewed stick, but has a superior handle design allowing more downward force up front.

For some tricky operations, the only safe way to use a pushstick involves it being “sacrificial”
Not a heart breaker when you made it out of wood scrap.

If your going to buy something, and you have a cast iron table, grab one of those magnetic feather boards!
I make wooden feather boards too, but the ease of set up for the magnetic ones is worth the investment. Besides, if you ever trash the plastic feathers, you can re-use the mag switches in your own shop made feather boards.

View Woodsurgin's profile

Woodsurgin

30 posts in 1214 days


#13 posted 531 days ago

I use this design of push stick on my Craftsman table saw. I cringe when I see the usual push sticks used that merely push the back of the board. This pushstick give a lot of control. I also use a magnetic “Grip-tite” to hold boards in place. In my experience, this design of push stick is by far the best.

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