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

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Daniel2

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Yes, I agree.
It depends completely on the job at hand.
 

RobinBHM

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A key point hasn't been discussed yet: rip fence position.

I sometimes work in a pro shop and people do it wrong all the time.


If you are ripping solid timber, the rip fence should be set to finish just beyond the point where the blade completes its cut: usually it's about the back of the gullet.
 

LJM

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A key point hasn't been discussed yet: rip fence position.

I sometimes work in a pro shop and people do it wrong all the time.


If you are ripping solid timber, the rip fence should be set to finish just beyond the point where the blade completes its cut: usually it's about the back of the gullet.

Others sight the centre of the blade as the limit of the fence ie the point at which the rotation of the blade is changing from downward to upwards; between the gullet and the blade centre is ok.
 

Sgian Dubh

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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. Ian
You're a brave man, Ian. Putting something like that up was sure to elicit either some nit-picking responses, or downright critical ones. You seem to have escaped without being too badly scathed so far, ha, ha.

Here's a link to a table (cabinet) saw article from about twenty plus years ago to which I was asked to make a contribution. It's a shame I don't have bigger and better quality digital images that could be attached to that article, or be a supplement to it. I do recall that when the article came out it got quite a bit of negative commentary about the ridiculous(sic) 'short' fence advocated for ripping operations from a primarily North American user base of that woodworking forum - actually, the forum is still, unsurprisingly, almost entirely populated by North Americans, but some foreigners, such as myself, a well known Ocker, and a few other non-Americans chip in from time to time, ha, ha. Slainte.
 

RobinBHM

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Others sight the centre of the blade as the limit of the fence ie the point at which the rotation of the blade is changing from downward to upwards; between the gullet and the blade centre is ok.
Yes indeed, good point.

Although I would suggest there is an "it depends"

Ripping small sections usually means tension is being released. When that happens, if the fence position is near the front of the sawblade, the wood is free to bend and bow as it pleases. The further on the fence is, the more chance there is of the timber pushing away from the fence.

I rip down timber glazing bead, 39mm x 18mm in half quite often - sometimes a hundred metres a time and I've found the best fence position is at the gullet. I can get pretty good consistency, within 0.3mm doing it that way.

But on bigger timbers, I agree, the fence can be set closer to the middle. I have to say though, I don't find the fence offers any beneficial support after the cut. However I'm using a 3.2m panel saw with a very big fence and loads of table in front of the blade.
 

Jacob

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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

View attachment 108509View attachment 108511View attachment 108514View attachment 108515
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All those cuts cut be made with just the left hand end of the board, in place of a sliding table, but a lot easier with a band saw!
 

LJM

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Exactly; it depends!

A big part of good practice is understanding the variables and the rationale behind “rule” or guidelines, so that we know when they could or should be safely deviated from
 

Jacob

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......It's a shame I don't have bigger and better quality digital images that could be attached to that article, .....
It's OK I spotted the two push sticks!
I was prompted in the 2 sticks direction by a comment from someone on this forum many years ago - he said his tutor told him it was necessary. Maybe one of your own alumni spreading the good word?
Think of all those saved fingers! Well done!
 

Cabinetman

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You're a brave man, Ian. Putting something like that up was sure to elicit either some nit-picking responses, or downright critical ones. You seem to have escaped without being too badly scathed so far, ha, ha.

Here's a link to a table (cabinet) saw article from about twenty plus years ago to which I was asked to make a contribution. It's a shame I don't have bigger and better quality digital images that could be attached to that article, or be a supplement to it. I do recall that when the article came out it got quite a bit of negative commentary about the ridiculous(sic) 'short' fence advocated for ripping operations from a primarily North American user base of that woodworking forum - actually, the forum is still, unsurprisingly, almost entirely populated by North Americans, but some foreigners, such as myself, a well known Ocker, and a few other non-Americans chip in from time to time, ha, ha. Slainte.
As you say Richard, Not too badly scathed "so far" ha ha. I read that article of yours and I thought it was very well written and particularly so as you had to keep your American audience on board – quite a tightrope to tread.
It's OK I spotted the two push sticks!
I was prompted in the 2 sticks direction by a comment from someone on this forum many years ago - he said his tutor told him it was necessary. Maybe one of your own alumni spreading the good word?
Think of all those saved fingers! Well done!
I was taught to use two sticks at the age of 19 when I arrived at teacher training college (city of Leeds and Carnegy) and I’ve always done it that way, it seems so natural that I can’t imagine why all these other methods have come to the fore.
Putting your hands anywhere near that spinning blade with (or without) other things between you and the blade is just asking for an accident, at least with two long sticks if something occurs your hands are nowhere near.
it’s as simple as that. Ian
 

Cabinetman

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There's some good information in here, too

Circular saw benches – Safe working practices
Thanks yes I read this this morning, the bit I found disconcerting is that to remove offcuts from between the blade and the fence use the push stick if it’s less than 150 mm. And that’s the HSE! No way would I put my hand there at all.
And then on that first video, I suspect if you had your left hand push stick pushing the offcuts through I don’t think he would’ve had that problem. I’m not going to start on how close his fingers were to the blade, or the lethal contraption he was using.
 

Sgian Dubh

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It's OK I spotted the two push sticks!
I was prompted in the 2 sticks direction by a comment from someone on this forum many years ago - he said his tutor told him it was necessary. Maybe one of your own alumni spreading the good word?
Not sure if it was one of my graduates, Jacob; I've not seen more than one or two of them post here. It's possible though, I suppose. I do wonder if it might even have been me, but I think it's unlikely, and I can't recall ever really getting into any table saw usage discussions on this board, although maybe I have done so at some point.

There are certain subjects I tend to avoid pretty scrupulously in forums, although I do sometimes monitor some of the more interesting and contentious ones for their entertainment value, such as:
  • requests to identify both well and poorly photographed wood - usually a rather unsatisfactory guessing game.
  • sharpening threads, and related topics, a favourite of yours I've noticed, but generally far too contentious and ultimately boring for me. I'm a simple sharp'no'go type - it works, and that's all that matters to me.
  • table saw usage - too many people vehemently opposed to whatever someone else has suggested, even if that suggestion was excellent
  • off-topic threads, especially ones involving politics, religion, race, Brexit, and any other topic likely to become point scoringly and pointlessly over-heated, i.e., another area you seem fond of participating in, ha, ha.
Both references to yourself above meant humorously and with tongue-in-cheek. Slainte.
 

powertools

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I am not trying to be a smart buttocks here I am just trying to suggest that in my opinion there is no 1 solution to all situations on all table saws.
For those who have asked I have included a photo some of the solutions for most of the cuts I am likely to make on my small Kity table saw I think that it is fair to say that the likes of DrBob will have different solutions for their saws at the other end of the scale.

PXL_20210418_155340386.jpg
 

TRITON

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From some of these threads it appears many here should go employ a joiner to do the work for them.
 
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Cabinetman

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We shall never agree that much is obvious. I have used all sorts of different tablesaws and have only ever used two push sticks in my 45 years of making furniture. I have never felt the need for any additional bits.
Could I just say that to use that one with the green base the underside of your wrist passes within 2 inches of the top of the blade.
 
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LJM

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Whilst I don’t have 45 years of experience (at anything; I’m not even that old), my father does. He was taught by an esteemed furniture maker, and taught many people including “delinquent” boys and adult prisoners. My father has never had an accident using two push sticks (same pattern as cabinetman) and the no hands within the bounds of the table rule. Nor did any of his students have an accident, and nor have I. Nor have I ever had reason to deviate from these simple methods.
 

danst96

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Thanks for the thread @Cabinetman this is all really useful information. Im currently using some plastic push sticks but was thinking of making some pistol handle style ones they use in the US without really thinking about how close this would bring my hand to the blade or pushing past the blade, I will not bother with this!

I think with the table saw, they are risky and there are many things, large and small that can reduce the risk. For example I experienced kickback (of kinds) on Saturday when I was cutting a piece of ply. My shop is pretty small and I dont have space for an outfeed table so as the blade passed through the last piece of the wood it tipped up as it went over the back of the saw and the blade caught the underneath shooting it back. The saw being a 3.7hp Scheppach didnt really blink at this at all and just shot it straight back at me. Fortunately my hand was well out of the way and i was already stepping back and pressing the off switch as it happened so it just left a big gash on the board but yes quite scary. I could have mitigated this risk by having a roller behind to catch the board. Or hopefully in the near future, a shop i can fit an outfeed table in for my saw.

As for the earlier question about a crosscut sled, In my opinion i think they enhance safety when cross cutting in particular smaller work pieces and or long work pieces especially if you do not have a mitre saw. They offer greater stability than a mitre guage on the table saw as they support the work piece both sides of the blade and while it is sometimes difficult to run a crown guard with a sled, this is mitigated by your hands being far from the blade and in the case where its a very small workpiece, you can use a clamp to hold it in place and still keep your hands a good distance away from the blade.
 
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Jacob

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...... as the blade passed through the last piece of the wood it tipped up as it went over the back of the saw and the blade caught the underneath shooting it back.
Proper crown guard on the riving knife would stop that happening.
It's the default safety device which should be used all the time, except for those less common processes where they get in the way - but then you have to be extra careful
...... Or hopefully in the near future, a shop i can fit an outfeed table in for my saw.
Rollers are good.
 
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