Woodworking Safety Aids
(A special Bladerunner Supplement)
Nearly all of us have a good supply of push-sticks for the tablesaw, bandsaw or router table. However we may not have or use push-blocks to their full extent. A push-block is simply a square or rectangular block of wood, with a handle, that is used on top of the wood - as opposed to a push-stick which is used primarily to push a piece of wood from the rear. In many applications, the push-block is more versatile than the push-stick. A push-block allows the woodworker to apply substantial downward pressure while also applying forward pressure. This is especially helpful on the jointer, where a traditional push-stick provides little value. A push-block is also useful on the router table when cutting edge profiles. The good news is an entire set of push-blocks can be made in less than an hour. The secrets to a good push-block are a comfortable handle, a solid block and most importantly, an anti-slip surface. The block is the simplest to make, usually rectangular shaped, about 3" wide and 6" to 8" long. The handle can be shaped on the tablesaw by machining coves into two sides of a block of wood. Using scrap wood about 3” wide, it’s easy (AND a lot safer using long boards) to make ample amounts of handle material once your saw is setup for cove cutting. Alternatively, a bandsaw shaped handle is pretty easy to make and refine with a rasp. The final step is to glue an anti-slip router pad to the bottom of the block. Contact adhesive like 3M’s 77 can be sprayed on the blocks and the anti-slip material cut flush with the block’s edges after the glue has dried.
In case you’re in need for push-sticks as well, on the backside of this insert are a couple of full-size outlines, which can be copied and traced on hardwood. Make your push-sticks from solid hardwood or cabinet grade plywood and round-over all the sharp edges. After all, if that thing starts coming back at you, the last thing you want is a sharp corner!