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

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Jacob

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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.

View attachment 108610
Interesting collection and a lot of thought gone into it obviously.
Have to say though - I can't see anything you could do with these which you could not do with a standard pair of push sticks, and more safely than those "shoe" style designs which take your hand close to, or past, the blade
 

danst96

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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 Rollers are good.
Yes 100% agree RE the crown guard, unfortunately when i got my saw it didnt have one. I have one on order with NMA which i ordered several weeks ago but apparently Scheppach are yet to send any of the back orders yet so i am still waiting.
 

Cabinetman

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Hi Dan, thanks for your comments, unless it was a very long piece of ply the push sticks hold it down onto the table as well, sorry to hear you had kickback but you were lucky and as there was no damage to you it was a good lesson learned. Ian
 

JobandKnock

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So here’s a question, anybody ever experienced kickback when they have been using two push sticks?
No, but then I don't use one of those stupid American style through rip fences (like the Biesmeyer), either. Rip fences shouldn't extend much past the first teeth of the blade

And whilst I am on it, what is it with crosscut sleds on table saws? For most joinery sections a mitre saw makes more sense to me because the work is static (a big plus when trying to cut a 10ft long door casing leg), the saw is always fitted with the right blade for the job (crosscut - my portable table saw generally has a rip blade more or less permanently installed) and in a small shop it takes a lot less space. This obsession with crosscut sleds seems to be driven by what American weekend warriors do. Why?

Sheet materials? Surely best broken down with a track saw, or even a portable saw with a home made track, in a small shop environment
 

Cabinetman

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Thanks doctor Bob, he had his hands either side of that bit of wood pushing it through, what a total numpty! And how on earth anybody can have the television on in a workshop, never get anything done at all, 3/4 of the time I have the radio turned off as it’s too distracting. Hell he was lucky.
 

Inspector

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No, but then I don't use one of those stupid American style through rip fences (like the Biesmeyer), either. Rip fences shouldn't extend much past the first teeth of the blade

And whilst I am on it, what is it with crosscut sleds on table saws? For most joinery sections a mitre saw makes more sense to me because the work is static (a big plus when trying to cut a 10ft long door casing leg), the saw is always fitted with the right blade for the job (crosscut - my portable table saw generally has a rip blade more or less permanently installed) and in a small shop it takes a lot less space. This obsession with crosscut sleds seems to be driven by what American weekend warriors do. Why?

Sheet materials? Surely best broken down with a track saw, or even a portable saw with a home made track, in a small shop environment
Great if one has all the toys available in the shop but if you haven't spent the couple grand for the mitre saw and the track saw you get the most from what you have. Why not skip the track saws and get a proper vertical panel saw and get perfect parts more quickly. I do think many go over the top with all the tracks, stops and clamps put on sleds but if you don't want them you don't have to put them on. I don't.

Don't we all select the tool that we perceive to work best for the job at hand? Just because you don't like the way I do something doesn't mean I'm wrong. I just get there differently. I'm happy to let you sit on the throne you have made for yourself unless you feel the need to look down on those around you.

Pete
 

JobandKnock

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Why not skip the track saws and get a p4roper vertical panel saw and get perfect parts more quickly
Because I simply can't carry one around on site! (And in any case a standard sliding carriage panel saw such as a Panhans or Altendorf is arguably more accurate) As I said (here, or elsewhere) a track saw doesn't need to be a £1k top of the range set-up (maybe that is your perception of what it should be) - it can be as simple as a length of 6mm plywood with a piece of 2 x 1 PSE screwed to one edge used with a low cost portable rip saw. I use just such a set up at times with a little 18 volt cordless saw. That set-up will be a lot safer than trying to handle large size sheet materials on a standard table saw.

As to Biesmeyer style fences, they are dangerous for the reasons stated by others above. It is pretty simple to make them a lot safer by planting an auxiliary short rip fence on the face of the rip fence plate thus making, in effect, a "short rip fence" as espoused by others in this thread

I'd also argue that at least to a joiner or carpenter a crosscut saw (mitre saw) is far more useful than a table saw, given that a joiner or carpenter is likely to own one or more portable rip saws together with safety/material size issues that a sled can run into

Just because you don't like the way I do something doesn't mean I'm wrong. I just get there differently.
I stated an opinion, informed by my background, experience and training which you appear to take personally. I find you to be extremely defensive of a set up which has, to me at least, some very obvious shortcomings which you seem unwilling to defend or discuss without resorting to villifying me. So just what are the advantages (and shortfalls) of your approach, then? And should I change my ways of working?
 
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Inspector

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Because I simply can't carry one around on site! (And in any case a standard sliding carriage panel saw such as a Panhans or Altendorf is arguably more accurate) As I said a track saw doesn't need to be a £1k top of the range set-up (maybe that is your perception) - it can be as simple as a length of 6mm plywood with a piece of 2 x 1 PSE screwed to one edge used with a low cost portable rip saw. That set-up will be a lot safer than trying to handle large size sheet materials on a standard table saw.

As to Biesmeyer style fences, they are dangerous for the reasons stated by others above. It is pretty simple to make them a lot safer by planting an auxiliary short rip fence on the face of the rip fence plate thus making, in effect, a "short rip fence"

I'd also argue that at least to a joiner or carpenter a crosscut saw (mitre saw) is far more useful than a table saw, given that a joiner or carpenter is likely to own one or more portable rip saws together with safety/material size issues


I find you to be extremely defensive of a set up which has, to me at least, some very obvious shortcomings which you seem unwilling to defend or discuss without resorting to villifying me. So just what are the advantages (and shortfalls) of your approach, then?
I apologize for getting a little hot under the collar. I perceived your comments as a blanket condemnation of the use of sleds when you don't/ haven't used them. I shouldn't have done so.

We are not all professionals doing business either/or in a factory or on site. While I would love to have an Attendorf or any other slider I can't afford one nor would the floor of my shop support one. The wife would throw a fit if it dropped through and crushed her car unless I was under it.

While I do have a cheap track saw I rarely use it. I find it time consuming to set up for accurate cuts so reserve it for angled cuts across sheet goods or when it is too heavy to move, 25mm MDF for example. I also use it on rare occasions to rip an edge to straighten a board when cleaning up a bandsaw cut might not leave enough width. A rare occurrence.

I have one of the first basic miter saws that doesn't compound or slid and the only use it gets is is rough work outside for making a shed or deck but it is largely unused. It is small and doesn't take up much space so I keep it.

I can use a circular saw to shorten longer boards 10' or more to more manageable sizes but handsaws work just as well for the purpose.

So my mainstay is the table saw. The large Saw Stop cabinet type actually. I attach a short fence when ripping and keep the riving knife on for buried cuts or when cutting where the guard with splitter and anti-kickback pawls won't work. The guard is on otherwise. The fence you describe is fine for sheet goods when used properly but not good for solid wood that can pinch the blade.

The sleds come into play because they will allow better support, carrying both parts (work and waste) through the cut without splintering like a mitre gauge can. With temporary locators nailed, hot glued or two sided taped down, can allow safe hands off cuts at any position or blade angle that would be awkward and unsafe with a mitre gauge and it can hold awkward shapes like round that could never be done with a mitre gage. Different sleds, large and small, or purpose built can be made as needed and can be hung or stored along a wall several deep so they don't take up a lot of room. The only downsides to them is that the slot and fence can wear out from lots of use and blade tilting. When that happens it isn't a big deal to make another. The other downside is the depth of cut is reduced buy the thickness of the sheet it is made from. My buddy has made them from .125"/3mm aluminium sheet to minimize the depth of cut problem but I'd rather not risk tripping the blade brake on my saw so I use plywood. My father used one in his antique repair and refinishing business because of the versatility and I for the same reasons for over 40 years.

Pete
 

Jacob

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..... I find it time consuming to set up for accurate cuts ...
Instead of fiddling about setting up cuts it's probably easier to work to lines and marks on the workpiece. You end up watching the line and setting up the mitre gauge simultaneously.
Less time consuming than making jigs/sleds - probably why I've never felt the need, which I'm a bit mystified about!
 
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Tugalis

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Can someone explain the hate for crosscut sleds?

I run a shop and we use the sled more than most things. Sheet materials are ripped down on the table saw. Crosscuts are made on the sled unless you count huge bits of timber like a 16' 8x4" The mitre saw is fine for most things but nothing beats the precision and cut quality like a table saw and sled. Mitre guages are not worth their weight. Usually too much slop to create anything worth having as the end result. We have a mitre sled which we built that is super accurate.

The through type fences are fine for sheet material, the only time they really create an issue is with proper timber in which case we fit a shorter timber fence.

As for push sticks, Im not a huge fan. They create too many variables when it comes to holding the timber down. I prefer a pistol grip type, they help hold the timber onto the work surface and allow to create pressure pushing the timber against the fence. Plus your hand is above the height of the blade.
 

Jacob

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Can someone explain the hate for crosscut sleds?
..../
I don't 'hate' them but I've never felt the need for one and wonder if it's a little niche for enthusiasts.
....I prefer a pistol grip type, they help hold the timber onto the work surface and allow to create pressure pushing the timber against the fence. Plus your hand is above the height of the blade.
Push sticks also hold the timber on to the work surface and push timber against the fence. That's exactly what they are for. They also keep your hands further away from the cutter than most of the alternatives, and also increase your reach - you can make a longer pass in one movement without changing grip, or flip offcuts away from the back of the blade without getting close to it, etc
 

Cabinetman

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Well Tugalis, I recommend you read this thread from the beginning one of the points of the thread is that we are trying to stop people using those pistol grip type things you describe as they appear to be implicated in the large number of amputations in the US 10 a day on average. Push sticks do not create too many variables as you say they are an extremely safe way to keep your hands well away from the blade. Ian
 

Doug71

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I'm starting to think it's a generation thing, I get the impression all the old boys (no offence meant by that, I'm including myself in there) have a saw with sliding table and use push sticks but the younger ones use sleds and different shapes of push stick.

I guess the difference is us old boys weren't taught our trade by Youtube :rolleyes:
 

Jacob

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I'm starting to think it's a generation thing, I get the impression all the old boys (no offence meant by that, I'm including myself in there) have a saw with sliding table and use push sticks but the younger ones use sleds and different shapes of push stick.

I guess the difference is us old boys weren't taught our trade by Youtube :rolleyes:
T'other way round - it's the old boys who often seem to be short of a finger or two, I can think of several I know. Short of whole forearm in one case - he worked in an old fashioned timber yard with huge machines. They probably thought push sticks were for girls.
Many higher safety standards are relatively recent
 
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RobinBHM

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I have to confess, I tend to use some offcuts to be used as push sticks -usually over 600mm long


I must get around to cutting proper push sticks -I think in MDF or Plywood
 

Tugalis

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Ian, Im a little confused. Where in the post does it say that a specific push stick or block is responsible for an injury? I see it states 10 people a day, but where is the source for saying its a particular type of push stick/block or use?

I have just had a quick google and there is an article from Popular woodworking which references one from USA Today but I cant seem to find that. Ill link it in below. I've checked the OSHA website and they don't differentiate one push stick to another and being more of a problem. HSE says to use the bird mouth type but like I said, I use a table saw all day long and find the pistol type grip to give more control. We cut 1000s of sheets a year on our cabinet saw. There have a been a number of times where that type of stick with the birds mouth wouldn't have helped where the pistol type grip has done.

I guess those who were taught their trade in the past were in shops which had full size saws with sliding tables. They are not as common today as they used to be and most people will start with a smaller job site saw or cabinet saw due to the initial investment cost. There is nothing wrong with learning from YouTube, we all do it and it has helped the general public become more self sufficient which I think is a great thing. Yes it needs to be done safely but we should all be responsible for our own safety and not rely on something we watch or read from anyone.


For clarification, this is the type of stick I am talking about.

 

akirk

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I think the concern with the pistol type push sticks is simply where your hands end up - over the blade...
think of an envelope in the shape of a cube or sphere a certain distance from the blade - if your hands never enter that envelope, then there is a very minimal chance of blade and hand meeting... a more traditional push stick puts your hand further away from the wood, the pistol grip style brings your hand forward and above...

imagine a skateboard and stepping on the back so that the front lifts and the back goes under it - that is a move for example where what is above can come down and contact what is below and if for example you are using a pistol grip push stick above a small piece of wood - you are pushing down on it and the only thing protecting you is the push stick and effectively wood and table resisting your push... if the piece of wood you are cutting were move more suddenly than expected, or something similar happen, then your push direction is taking your hand straight down at the blade - your push is all forwards and down to hold the wood in place - remove that wood and you and push stick are into the blade... as a comparator the bird's mouth style of push stick could have the same issue, but in an incident where the wood stopped resisting, the force of your push would still take you down but 300mm away from the blade, onto the table = safer...
 
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