The making and using of push sticks.

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Forum topic by dmorrison posted 05-04-2010 06:42 PM 10893 views 2 times favorited 27 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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151 posts in 3227 days

05-04-2010 06:42 PM

This post made me wonder if other woodworkers have this philosophy about push sticks.

Over the years of using a table saw I have learned not to use plastic push sticks (PPS). The very few times that the PPS has made contact with the blade, the 1.5HP of the motor has been transferred to the PPS and forced it out of my hand which usually hurts. Of course the PPS has done it’s job and kept my fingers and hands away form the blade. But it really stings.
So I have taken on the philosophy that I only use wooden push sticks. On small pieces I may have to sacrifice the push stick to make the cut. Holding the wood against the fence and running it though the blade will result in the push stick being cut along with the piece. But as the intended wood is cut the wooden push stick is cut at the same rate as the intended piece. This results is no kickback.
I usually make the push stick out of rectangular wood and round over the edges to prevent the corners from being forced into the hand IF a kickback happens.

So what do you guys do in your shops. And have you run across this same problem with the plastic push sticks.

Now push paddles for the jointer I don’t have a problem with them. The paddle should never touch the blade on a jointer. If they do, then your doing something, or an operation wrong. And I like the large bottom surface protecting my hand and knuckles from the blade area.


27 replies so far

View Jay Neale III's profile

Jay Neale III

171 posts in 3300 days

#1 posted 05-04-2010 06:50 PM

I make all my push sticks out of wood. Usually plywood. And I have several different kinds hanging above my table saw, including one which saddles the fence, hugging both sides , with the handle up top over the fence. I’ve only used a plastic push stick a few times (the one that shipped with my table saw), and I just didn’t like the way it felt in my hand. I’ve never touched the blade with it, but I can imagine that would be unpleasant.

-- Read my amazingly insightful blog at

View JJohnston's profile


1622 posts in 3257 days

#2 posted 05-04-2010 06:58 PM

I do the same. I try to save 2×6 scraps for mine. I cut them to about 10” long, then cut parallel to one edge with a bandsaw to get a heel about 1/4” high. On a narrow rip I send it right over the TS blade without worrying that it’s getting cut; when about half the heel is gone, I rip away the mess and cut another one. I usually toss it after the second time, so it doesn’t get too short.

-- "A man may conduct himself well in both adversity and good fortune, but if you want to test his character, give him power." - Abraham Lincoln

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18247 posts in 3641 days

#3 posted 05-04-2010 07:11 PM

I don’t use me saw as much as most of you guys, but I just make them up of scrap as needed.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3040 days

#4 posted 05-04-2010 07:19 PM

I’m use nothing but homemade wooden push sticks and I am always willing to sacrifice them to get the right cut and save my fingers .

As an FYI – I always use a push stick for the last inch when resawing on the bandsaw and the push stick always goes into the blade.

I can’t think of many things sillier than buying a plastic push stick.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View Knothead62's profile


2584 posts in 2927 days

#5 posted 05-04-2010 07:24 PM

My wife, Lefty, does all the pushing for me. jk
I have a PPS but this is a good case to spend some time in the shop and make some wood push sticks. Thanks for the safety tip, guys!

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 3139 days

#6 posted 05-04-2010 07:26 PM

I agree with the scrap concept.

I make them in a fair number of shapes and sizes.

I got two or three of the orange plastic ones, with my TS. I’m really not comfortable using them. I can’t even say, for sure, why. I just … handled them once, and put them away.

It IS a truly simple thing to make a bunch of good ones. Half an hour, with a cup of joe, and you’re good for a long while !

-- -- Neil

View TheDane's profile


5399 posts in 3628 days

#7 posted 05-04-2010 08:32 PM

I prefer to make my own using plywood, or scraps of lumber. I think they are safer, and you can design them for specific types of cuts.

There are a couple of designs I like in particular … one is just a chuck of 2×4 about 10” long with a shallow (1/4”) heel sawed into both of the long sides. When both sides get too chewed up to use, I toss it and knock another one on the bandsaw. The other favorite is similar to the one you see Norm or Marc Spagnuolo use … it is made out of 1/2” plywood. I usually do a little sanding and hit them with a coat of polycrylic to keep any slivers under control.

My tablesaw came with a plastic push stick … it is still just like new (because it has never been used).

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View bob101's profile


321 posts in 3416 days

#8 posted 05-05-2010 02:44 AM

I make many different styles and all from wood.

-- rob, ont,canada

View PurpLev's profile


8534 posts in 3614 days

#9 posted 05-05-2010 02:51 AM

I agree about the hard plastic push sticks – had one that came with the saw, and not only is it pulled away from your hand- it also shatters – safER than your fingers in the blade, but not sure by how much. wood push sticks that gets cut are much safer, and you always have scraps that can be used for that. I currently use a soft plastic/composite push stick though, and it does a very good job:

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Ger21's profile


1074 posts in 3097 days

#10 posted 05-05-2010 03:01 AM

View SnowyRiver's profile


51457 posts in 3446 days

#11 posted 05-05-2010 11:10 PM

I generally use the one that Purplev has displayed. Although the front half inch or so is missing due to a kick back that drew it into the blade.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View dbhost's profile


5705 posts in 3197 days

#12 posted 05-05-2010 11:38 PM

I have a mess of push sticks. I mostly use the same one that Purplev shows above, except mine has a Vermont American sticker on it… I also have 3 or 4 that came from various friends giving me push sticks that they didn’t like. Nasty hard plastic orange ones from Harbor Freight I figure is where they came from… But I digress… I also have a couple shop made ones made from 1/4” ply that very rarely get used, and only for ripping thin stock. And they are generally sacrificial in nature… I will use a push stick anytime I have hands getting anywhere within 6” of the blade… I’m a little paranoid. I just hope I am paranoid enough…

As far as push blocks are concerned, I have the ones that came with my jointer, and that’s it… I need to make some more…

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View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 2949 days

#13 posted 05-07-2010 04:38 PM

I never bought a push stick, I have push pads that came with the jointer. I always make my own like so many others from my scrap pile. I like to use scrap 2×6 to make a long flat face with the top formed to fit my hand and have some design. I then attach a piece of scrap to the back to hook the material. When it wears out I just replace the scrap with a new piece.

-- I don't make mistakes, I have great learning lessons, Greg

View Abbott's profile


2570 posts in 3269 days

#14 posted 05-07-2010 04:59 PM

I have always cut my push sticks out of scrap until I came across this one at Harbor Freight for $2.99, it’s been working fine. I cut about an 1/8” off of one side on a narrow cut the other day but it’s still going strong. I’m enjoying my first store bought push stick so far, I’ll let you know if it goes bananas on me.

I saw one like Purplev and Snowy River like to use but it was yellow plastic and off-set. I plan to pick one up one of these days as I like the off-set from the blade.

-- Ohh mann...pancakes and boobies...I'll bet that's what Heaven is like! ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣

View Greedo's profile


473 posts in 2926 days

#15 posted 05-07-2010 05:40 PM

@Ger21, cool video but i would strongly recommend not using pine for a PS! thats how i made my first ones, but pine splits easilly when you put some force on it. and when it splits or breaks, then your hand goes flying right toward the spinning blade, plywood is the way to go and keep it thick enough so you cant break it.

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