Something that you may have heard of before in relation to table saws and other similar tools is a push stick. It is a very useful accessory that can keep you safe when sawing short or awkwardly shaped pieces.
Today, we want to cover everything that there is to know about push sticks, including how to make them.
What Is a Push Stick and What Is It Used For?
A push stick is a tool used in woodworking, and as the name implies, it is a specially shaped stick that is used to push workpieces through table saws and other similar saws. Push sticks can come in different shapes and sizes, they can be made out of wood or plastic, and they can be made at home or purchased from a store too.
The point of a push stick is to allow you to push wood that is very short or narrow through something like a table saw without getting your fingers close to that dangerous blade.
Types of Push Sticks
There are two main types of push sticks for you to know about. When you go to make your own push stick, you will need to choose one or the other.
The two types of push sticks are notched push sticks and shoe-style push sticks. Notched push sticks work really well for pieces that are excessively short, where you want to create maximum distance between yourself and the blade. Shoe-style push sticks, while also being ideal for creating distance, are also ideal for placing some downward pressure on the piece being cut.
How to Make a DIY Push Stick
What we want to do here is to provide you with step-by-step instructions on how to make a DIY push stick at home. Now, what we need to say before we start is that push sticks can come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and therefore we aren’t going to describe a specific shape or style of a push stick.
We are just going to provide you with some general instructions on how to make one.
Step 1: Choose Your Material
What kind of wood you use is fairly important for this purpose. Generally speaking, you want to use some kind of scrap wood for this, some kind of old plywood. However, you may also choose to use a solid block of wood. Solid wood will be a bit pricier and harder to form, but it will last longer than some scrap plywood.
Remember that if you are using plywood, depending on the thickness, you may need to screw or glue up to three pieces together, so that it is thick enough to make for an effective push stick.
Step 2: Choose the Design of the Push Stick
As we talked about in the section above, there are two main types of push sticks that you can make, the shoe push stick and the notched push stick. Choose the one that you feel the most comfortable with and the one that will suit your needs the best.
Step 3: Find a Plan
The next step here is to go online and to find a push stick template, more or less just a shape that you can print out on paper. Once you have printed out the specific push stick design that you want, cut it out as accurately as you can.
Then, once it is cut out, use some glue to glue it to the wood that you plan on turning into a push stick. With the plan glued onto the wood, you can then move onto the next step. If this sounds like too much work, you can always just trace the design onto the wood with a pencil or marker.
Step 4: Make the Cut
The best way to go about this is by using a scroll saw or a jigsaw because you need a type of saw that can easily cut curves and corners. Remember to always follow proper sawing and safety procedures when using any kind of power saw.
If you are going to use a jigsaw, read this guide too.
Step 5: Sand It Down
Once you have the push stick cut out, you probably want to sand it down a bit to get rid of rough edges.
If you don’t sand it down, all of those rough edges might cause splinters in your hands if you are not careful. Just give the whole thing a once over with a belt sander, or you can even sand it down manually if you have the time to spare.
Mistakes to Avoid, Tips & Tricks
Let’s go over some quick tips and tricks to follow so you can achieve the best results when making a push stick, as well as for using it:
- When using a push stick, whenever possible, use a riving knife to reduce kickback.
- One type of push stick that you need to avoid using is a “chicken foot” push stick, particularly when using a table saw.
- When using a push stick, the table saw blade should never be higher by more than 1/8-inch of the height of the piece being cut.
- Make sure that the angle between the handle and the base of the push stick (the machine base), is 45 degrees.
- Make sure that the notch on the bottom of the push stick is large enough to accommodate the workpiece in question.
- Make sure that the handle is built in such a way that it feels comfortable to hold.
Should I Buy a Push Stick?
You can buy push sticks from your local hardware or lumber stores, but for the most part, there is no point in doing so. If you already have a shop and other things that you have built, you probably have more than enough scrap wood laying around to make a really nice push stick free of cost.
As you can see, making your own push stick should only take a few minutes.
It’s a very easy task, but it’s something you want to have in your arsenal. After all, you don’t want to lose fingers because they got too close to your table saw.