How to use push sticks to cut wood safely on a table saw.

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Cabinetman

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This is after somebody asked on another thread how to use push sticks and so I looked online to see what there was and was a bit horrified at some of the contraptions that are being promoted.
First off, this might not be 100% to the letter of the rules and I’m sure it will be pointed out to me! But it is a million miles better than the dangerous things you see on YouTube.
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if your push sticks don’t look like this – ( can be wood or plastic or ply) they are probably dangerous, particularly if they have a handle on them and your hand passes over the top or to the side of the blade or you have to remove the crown guard to be able to use them, throw them in the bin. Push blocks American style are in my opinion inherently dangerous and there are 10 amputations on average every day in America using table saws – the Americans don’t tend to use wooden push sticks as in this demonstration.
I hope the following pictures demonstrate how to use them, it doesn’t matter if the wood is thick or thin, long or short, notice when I’m cutting a long bit I only use one push stick to start with and then when the back end of the wood approaches the saw I pick up the other stick and keep pushing with that.
When I am using the cross cut on the saw I only use one to clear the pieces away from the blade. Ian
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Thank you Ian I appreciate that, didn't think about pinching the other thread either.

I must admit to a serious case of workshop envy
 
Thanks for this, as a newb considering a table saw for the first time I've found Youtube to be a massively confusing and occasionally terrifying source!

As you're doing some crosscuts there, do you have any thoughts on the ubiquitous crosscut sleds that everyone tells you to make?
 
Thanks Webbo, hopefully I have demystified what is really a simple thing.
I’m afraid I have no thoughts on the them as I’ve never used one, but I suppose it’s pretty much the same as with this thread if your fingers are nowhere near the sawblade probably good to go. I was always taught that within reason your hands should never go past the front edge of the saw table. Ian
 
“I was always taught that within reason your hands should never go past the front edge of the saw table”

+1
 
Crosscut sled comments here Cross cut sled plus crown guard
The bloke in the vid uses one of those pistol shaped push sticks which think is another thing to avoid. His hand is inches away from the blade and he has to over reach to hold the workpiece
 
Never used a sled either, and glad I haven't made one yet for a few reasons.
I don't have much ply to be making version 2 of, nor the space if I did have a sheet to use.
It took some time to get the shed/saw sorted and honestly always have a safe space for working with it, regardless of the procedure.
Even with that sorted I'd still be undecided on the design.

Starting the blade will cause wear so that might be taken to account.
I don't like the fact that the blade is exposed, and the solutions on most look a bit
dangerous.
Will get ahold of some lexan someday and make a load of TS jigs at the one time, and have a bash at making something better if I don't see something more sensible before then, which is likely to happen.
 
As you're doing some crosscuts there, do you have any thoughts on the ubiquitous crosscut sleds that everyone tells you to make?

Have a look at Badger workshop, he showed how to build a crosscut sled and still keep the guard on. Not at all complicated.
 
If you search for "table saw crosscut sled with guard" and click on the images option you will find a number with various guards on the sled that cover the blade. Below is one image that I hope copied.

Pete

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Can't see why sleds are doubled up and don't just finish at the saw blade. They would work just as well if you just raised the blade and sliced off the right hand half. Then cut out a bit of the fence to allow the crown guard to pass over.
 
The only thing you need to know about using pushsticks is that they should be fit for purpose, ie made for the job and then never take your eyes off your hands because that way you will retain your digits and the wood should move easily, NEVER start puting a lot of force into the push stick because if it suddenly slips or the wood suddenly moves forward you hand will travel into the blade, if anything goes wrong just step back and hit the stop, do not do anything else until the blade stops.
 
I'm sorry but I don't agree that 2 push sticks of that style is the way to go. I'm also surprised that in a thread you have started about safety issues that you have shown a bloke using a saw with the blade set too high up for the cut he is making as an example of safe practice.
 
Never noticed that, well spoted but perhaps he just leaves it at maximum height without knowing any better! That blade also looks like it has a fair number of teeth for rip cutting so again perhaps he is one blade for all. You could also argue that that sliding table hanging next to him could also be a hazzard in it's own right, you dont want any obstructions so that should have been put out the way so he could stand more to the side.
 
Can't see why sleds are doubled up and don't just finish at the saw blade. They would work just as well if you just raised the blade and sliced off the right hand half. Then cut out a bit of the fence to allow the crown guard to pass over.

At the risk of setting you off on an argumentative tangent I'll answer.

Sometimes you need support on both sides of the blade for the project at hand especially when it isn't a through cut. I don't care to have the piece hanging out in space unsupported. Being able to fit stops, position blocks or other fixturing and clamping on either side can be useful when cutting multiples. If you only want to cut on one side of the blade just use a mitre gauge, either the original or an aftermarket. If you want a guard over the blade you can add the Lexan cover I linked to in post #9 that is fitted to the sled or have an overarm type that allows the sled to pass under. The hump in the middle keeps me from placing my hands close to the blade and I don't hold on top of it, usually further away. You can also place the hump further away if it suits you.

Pete

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I'm sorry but I don't agree that 2 push sticks of that style is the way to go. I'm also surprised that in a thread you have started about safety issues that you have shown a bloke using a saw with the blade set too high up for the cut he is making as an example of safe practice.
Well for when I was crosscutting I will agree with you the blade was too high but in all the rest of the shots there is a half inch clearance between the back of the crown guard and the wood, which is how I to be how I like it. I did start the discussion right at the very start by saying that it probably isn’t 100% as it should be but ..........
And as to your comment about two push sticks, What do you use?
 
Never noticed that, well spoted but perhaps he just leaves it at maximum height without knowing any better! That blade also looks like it has a fair number of teeth for rip cutting so again perhaps he is one blade for all. You could also argue that that sliding table hanging next to him could also be a hazzard in it's own right, you dont want any obstructions so that should have been put out the way so he could stand more to the side.
The sliding table is not in the way at all it’s probably just the way it looks on the photo, and it’s designed to be like that, there is plenty of room to stand to avoid kickback. which I’ve never experienced in 40 years.
So here’s a question, anybody ever experienced kickback when they have been using two push sticks?
 
I'm also surprised that in a thread you have started about safety issues that you have shown a bloke using a saw with the blade set too high up for the cut he is making as an example of safe practice.

This is an interesting point and I think there is more to it than people realise, I think it also swings the guard on/off decision for some people.

My saw stays set at full height 99% of the time and the blade guard stays on. The reason it stays at full height is not just laziness, although it does save me winding it up and down all the time. When the blade is higher there are less teeth in the timber which means less friction, less heat, less burning and the blades last longer. Also the front teeth are pushing the timber down in to the table so less chance of kick back, I know in theory the back teeth can lift the timber but the blade guard stops this. Because there can be say 75mm of blade showing the guard is left on. This is how you will see it in a lot of professional shops.

If the blade is dropped so it just peeks through the wood the blade guard often comes off because it doesn't look so scary. Because the blade is lower the direction of the teeth is more towards the operator rather than downwards to the table so more chance of kickback. More teeth in the cut means more friction, heat, burning and shorter blade life.
 
You make some very good points there Doug, makes me wonder if that’s why I have never had a kickback.
Have you ever suffered one Doug?
 

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