Don't Use Push Sticks or Pads


I hope you’ve had an opportunity to read the “Woodworking Essentials” column in the February 2008 issue of Popular Woodworking (#167). In it, Marc Adams discusses power jointers and a better way to work. I have to admit that I had a few issues with Marc’s article, but I’m not the safest guy in the shop. However, I did learn a number of ways to improve my time at the jointer.

One area in which I veer from Marc’s teachings is in the use of push sticks and push pads. Let me say that if you use these implements, he shows you exactly how they should be gripped and used. My statement is: I don’t use sticks and pads. I use gloves. There it is , deal with it.

OK, now that you’ve calmed down and the little hairs on the back of your neck have laid flat, let me explain what, why and how I use gloves. I only use them at the jointer and I remove them before moving to any other tools.

The gloves I use are gripping-style gloves that are used to grip lumber or other materials. I’ve used PVC dot-covered gloves, gloves that are palm coated with rubber and those with a honeycomb pattern.

To answer the “why,” I feel I have more control when using gloves. Naturally, your hands read or feel the lumber as it moves over the jointer bed. You can feel where the board hits and skips the knives or if you need to speed or slow the travel to obtain a cleaner cut. When you add a push stick or pad to the process, you remove the ability to feel the board as well as access that information. Also, the gripping action of my gloves ensures that I’ll not slip while working. That’s not something I feel you can say when using the push pads (those always seem awkward to use). And imagine the ease of moving the board back for a second pass , no putting down the push stick or pad to then grab the board to move.

Next, let’s look at how I use gloves. Of course, you should never allow your hand to perch beyond the trailing edge of the board. So, don’t use your palm to push the lumber. The reason we’re tempted to hook our palm over the trailing edge of the board is to gain a hold and not allow the lumber to slip. But, if you’re using grip-type gloves, you can simply place your hands anywhere along the board , the gripping action holds firm and allows you to move the lumber with ease.

Even I have a limit to the glove scenario. I will not use gloves for jointing pieces that are less than 3″ wide. Below that width I cannot position my hands or fingers properly to gain the added control. From 3″ to 5″ I use my glove-covered fingertips and the side of my hands for my hold. Above 5″ in width I position my palms flat to the stock at go about my work.

Now before you send me a message or comment on how wrong I am because you’ve read “no gloves in the shop” all your woodworking life, buy a pair of gloves and give it a try. I’ll bet you’ll immediately notice the added control and the information gained from your work. But, if you try it and still think I’m wrong , fire away.

And if you happen to agree with my glove use, add your comment. We might start a new movement that will rock the foundation of safety in the woodshop.

,Glen D. Huey

43 thoughts on “Don't Use Push Sticks or Pads

  1. Danny

    Irresponsible and bad idea, as it was said before there are novice woodworkers who could be hurt. Also I don’t think any responsible tool manufacturer would condone this in their safety information which is written for everyone. Its the liability thing.

    Danny

  2. Carl Graf

    With all due respect… I think you are nuts. "Feeling" the wood is one thing, but can you "feel" the board being knocked out from under your gloves at the rate of 1500 RPM?

    Save the gloves for stacking lumber, and save your fingers by using a push stick or pad.

    Worksafe.

    Carl

  3. Hawg

    I would feel very uncertain and SCARED to face joint a piece of wood with only my bare hands covered by a pair of gloves. (Even Kevlar!)

    I almost lost my finger when using a dado blade. I was using a push block. See my forum entry at Lumberjocks at http://lumberjocks.com/topics/803. It only took a split second and my little finger was almost lost. The push block has a ragged 1/2" dado running through it, where my hand would have been if I had not been using it!

    I still have all my fingers due to the grace of God, so I will take all safety precautions when using my power tools — and hand tools, too!

    I can see where you would have better feel of the wood as it passes over the knives, and maybe better control than using push blocks — especially the stock ones supplied with jointers — but I just cannot see that whatever feel you may gain would be worth the chance of losing finger(s)! I place PSA sandpaper on my forward push block and use a shop-made push block for the rear of the board that has a small, replaceable "hook" made of 1/4" hardboard, that grabs the trailing edge of the board. This keeps my hand way above the 3" rule and allows for a smoother, safer feed.

    God Bless,
    Hawg

  4. have all my fingers

    ACCIDENT WAITING TO HAPPEN – I WAS TAUGHT THAT LOOSE CLOTHING AND MACHINERY NEVER EVER MIX. THis seems like a very bad idea.
    Ok – how about ripping a 1" board on a table saw with just your fingers? Same concept. Hmm I thought not.

  5. timothy lshevel

    thanks for giving bad advice. I will never let someone use gloves as you have chosen to. chop off your own dam fingers. I allways wondered where stupid ideas come from, please, there are novices out there that if they get hurt I hope they sue you.

  6. Lowell Holmes

    It’s not going to happen in my shop. 🙂
    I think Mark Adam has it right in your current magazine.

  7. Don Williams

    I think it is a bad idea to pass my hands over the cutter head when using the joiner. To avoid putting my hands into the safety zone, I keep my weight balanced over my feet. I keep both hands over the in-board table until I get past the center point of the length of material. Then I lift my left hand and move it over the out-board table. I keep feeding the stock until the end is on the in-board table. I then lift my right hand and move it over the out-board table to continue feeding the board. This is the way I was taught many years ago and never thought about gaining any advantage using gloves.

    If the material is to short or too thin to use this method, I don’t use the jointer. A block plane or sander is just as quick and so much safer.

    Thanks, Don

  8. Jeff Skiver

    Glen,

    I apologize if someone has already pointed this out and I missed it, but I wanted to disagree with one of your statements.

    Above you state, "One area in which I veer from Marc’s teachings is in the use of push sticks and push pads."

    However, in his article on Power Jointers in the February issue of Popular Woodworking, Marc Adams states, "As long as your hands are beyond the 3" rule, I would not recommend push sticks. I know that is not what you are taught, but I firmly believe that you have more control with your hands than you do with push sticks."

    I remembered this line verbatim because I still recall the shock I felt the first time I heard him say it at his school. However, having personally gotten away from using teetering push blocks when face jointing boards and embracing Marc’s "hands on" technique…I now understand the improved control it offers.

    However, given all of the hard maple I have been jointing recently as I build a new workbench, I also understand your thoughts with the gloves. I wax the heck out of my jointer tables and even though the tables seem to be as slick as wet snot on ice, sometimes the boards exhibit stiction. You’ll move the board over the smooth tables when suddenly they develop a cohesion similar to wringing gauge blocks, and I am thinking that the gloves you mention would be ideal to overcome this resistance. It might be better if we could track down Lester Hayes and get access to that 2676 cases of Stickum that he still has in his garage, but tight fitting grippy gloves would also work. I would rather have grippy gloves that allow me to pull the work from the outfeed side than to be using push blocks with my hands teetering 2 inches above the work.

    So I understand your logic, and I personally plan to give it a try for face jointing. For Edge Jointing…I don’t know if I would wear the gloves. Personally, I think the key is to use extreme vigilance and follow the 3 inch rule.

    So there, everybody, please add me to the Crucifixion list. (I can be one of the thieves hanging along side Mr. Huey.)

  9. derek andrews

    I don’t see the need to use either push pads or gloves for most jobs. I was taught just to use hands, much like shown in the photo here, except that the trailing hand has the thumb over the back of the board and the fingers stretched far enough forward to prevent the thumb slipping down. It has served me well for 15 years, though I must admit that as a turner, the jointer doesn’t get a lot of use.

  10. raney

    Samson,

    Nothing worthy of condescension in that. It was more the ‘you power tool guys’ that made me bristle a bit. I apologize if I was being overly defensive.

    I used to do all my prep by hand before I decided to pony up the $$ for a jointer. My philosophy on the tailed jointer ( a 6" grizzly) is that it replaces the work I would otherwise do with a cambered fore or scrub. For pieces where jointing is critical, I finish jointing with a #8 anyway, so I don’t need the sort of fine precision I know a lot of people expect from a tailed jointer. For me, and the way I work, I think the gloves seem to be a fine idea.

    The answer to your question in my shop is that I don’t use the joiner for stock under 1/2 inch or so. It just doesn’t make sense to me.

  11. samson

    Raney,

    I’ve often used plywood for draw bottoms, and could imagine using masonite for something like interior dust panels between drawers in a dressers, etc. Is there something worthy of condescension in that?

    I have a 6" jointer (Powermatic 54A). I rarely use it these days and never enjoyed using it back when I used it regularly. I found I had to fiddle with it far too much to keep it working well. I never ran thin stock over it, but generally used it as a first step to get a flat side for ripping, planing etc.

    I find that my table saw with a good blade can essentially joint edges (sometimes a pass with a plane to smooth things.

    I also find that I can do a good deal of truing with hand planes and my lunchbox planer. I rarely need to resort to the jointer.

    As for thin stock, I use handplanes and have also used my electric planer with carrier boards.

    I’m not jointer expert. I merely asked Glenn a question: Would you do it this way if the stock were thin? The answer may be that no one runs stock less than 3/4" over a jointer; I dunno.

    In the end, when I do use my jointer, it won’t be with gloves. Not because it might not be a superior way, but because I would not be comfortable.

    Cheers.

  12. raney

    Samson said "Perhaps you use use plywood or masonite or some such and never have to conceive of truing thin stock?"

    I’ll assume your post is not really the thinly-veiled condescension it appears to be. In the example you gave of resaw to 3/8" to get a 1/4" panel I would either be moving to the planer or handplanes next. If the piece is warped beyond what would be corrected by a minute or two with a jack, the piece is quite probably unusable at that thickness anyway. At what thickness do YOU stop using the jointer? I mean, no one runs veneer through a jointer do they?

    I still cannot think of a single time when putting a 1/4-inch board on a tailed jointer made sense to me, but I suppose others may do this regularly. What’s safe to you may be not so to me. My practices are to avoid being that close to a blade when I can. Which brings me back to this blog. Safety practices are rarely one-size-for-all, and vary a lot based on the type of work one does.

  13. P. Massabie

    Here I’m again

    In a way, Safety can be defined as everything or action that we take to prevent accidents from happening and in the event of accident will minimize the damage to our belongings or ourselves.
    Looking from this perspective, the technique presented by you, Glen, is inherently unsafe. You are certainly trusting in “I know what I’m doing” (…famous last words). The problem comes when “I don’t know what happened”. When this happens (if happens), if you are using any safety devices for manipulating wood over a jointer you may just loose a couple of bucks, if you are using gloves you may be looking for a couple of fingers.
    The most common mistake when thinking in safety issues is to think that modifying behaviours will do something safer, and it doesn’t. Couple of examples: Your friend Chris Swartz running in the dark (totally unsafe) but dragging one foot to feel the center of the road (he modified his running behaviour), ended on a tree. Less personal, is the drunk driver who thinks that driving slower will do any help, but fails to see the edge of the road. The one who doesn’t wear seat belts because he pays attention to the road but some other didn’t. We can keep going on and on…
    Glen, nothing you can tell (write) will make it any safer if what you have to say is related to modifying your behaviour (what you would do and don’t) in front of the jointer. Unless you have glove with a safety trigger that stops the spinning head when you touch the head with the gloves, you are looking for nothing but troubles…
    The wife keeps telling that I shouldn’t jump when people is not following safety rules. On one side she points that is their life and they should know better and in the other hand that I, more often that I would like to admit, break safety rules too (like no using the cover blade). I keep telling her that I just can help it; and that if everybody would be kind enough to point when you are unsafe, then we would have less injured persons in this world.
    I work with the oil and gas industry and remember reading in a board something like this:
    “Today I could have saved a life, but I choose not to. When I saw my colleague, doing something I knew was unsafe. I thought he’s done it a thousand times, he knows what he is doing. Then nobody knows how that happened and now he is dead. If I had said something probably, he would be going home to his family tonight. How can I explain to his family that I could have saved a life today…”
    Less melodramatic, the person who is talking you out of this practice is just concerned about your wellness and of your readers. I keep thinking that a wise move is to change your mind, use your safety devices, and write in the blog how you are following Marc’s indications.

    Regards,

    Pedro

  14. Rob Porcaro

    I would like to comment on the suggestion, by a few posters, that this blog be removed. I disagree.

    Let’s suppose that after much exchange and discussion, there develops a consensus that Glen’s idea is a bad idea. Well, ok, then it is exposed as as such and those who might have considered or are currently using this method will be better informed and may change accordingly.

    Let’s suppose a consensus develops in favor of Glen’s idea. Well, ok, good that it was discussed.

    Or, as is most likely, let’s suppose that no general agreement develops, even to the point that vehement disagreement lingers. Well, ok, it surely is worth the discussion which allows each person to make his own conclusion, duly informed and thought out.

    So, in each case, it is worth taking the idea out to the light of day. Glen didn’t order us to get gloves, nor did he ride a high horse as an author and say that all should do it his way. He’s simply telling us what works for him and why AND he solicited our views. One is free to comment if one chooses even without trying the method, despite Glen’s suggestion to the contrary.

    No one, to my knowledge, has definitive population- based data on rates of accidents for each technique per hour of woodworking, adjusted for operator skill and care, etc, etc. There is more than one good way to do almost everything, and we often can only suppose what is best for a given person in a given circumstance. I find many of the comments of the posters to be incredibly informative! I don’t think the blog should be deleted.

    Hey Glen, dude, are those really your hands in the picture? Kidding, I’m just kidding.

    Hey, life is short and wood is good.

    Rob

  15. Neil Lamens

    Once each of us creates our shop safety procedures they become rote. If over time you figure out another way that feels more comfortable, no problem here. Personally I use use pads to machine with, I can feel and hear the machining operstion just find.

    The question is, if you bring somebody into your woodworking shop to show them how to use a jointer, will you show them with a set of pads or gloves???

  16. Barry Burke

    I see this as a classic post!

    This is all about an individual’s comfort level and understanding of the physical forces involved in using a particular tool.

    Knowing where your forces are directed can make this a perfectly safe operation, or an operation destined to earn you free drinks (for telling your story) in bars everywhere.

  17. Samson

    Raney said: "I cannot imagine why I would want to run 1/4-inch stock through a jointer."

    Well the short answer is: for the same reason you use a jointer on any other board.

    For example, suppose you need a panel (say for a rail and sile door) or dividers (say for a secretary or dust panels between drawers) or any other wide piece of wood 1/4" thick. You resaw a thicker piece on the bandsaw to pieces 3/8ths or a little more thick to leave room for cleaning them up. As so often happens when resawing, the boards cup or twist, etc. I’d deal with that with a handplane, but I figured you power tool fellows might think the electric version was the way to go?

    Perhaps you use use plywood or masonite or some such and never have to conceive of truing thin stock?

  18. raney

    Personally I thought (and still do) that this was a very good blog entry. It is my feeling thatsafety is not always ‘intuitive’ and I absolutely see the benefits that Glen is pointing to… Personally, I actually find push sticks more dangerous for many things, as I have far less control of the workpiece. One reader pointed out problems with thin stock – I cannot imagine why I would want to run 1/4-inch stock through a jointer.

    I also reject the idea that Glen should not be able to voice his opinions just because he’s an editor at PWW. I thought they hired him because he had so much experience… and wouldn’t that make his opinions pretty valuable? Even if (and perhaps especially if) they disagree with conventional wisdom?

    I’m not sure what it is about safety equipment and practices that makes wwers so rabid, but personally I think the fact that this blog has made me THINK about how I use the jointer is a much better enhancement to my safety than any degree of guards, push-sticks and kevlar body armor would ever be.

  19. Mattias in Durham, NC

    Just Bob: First of all, everyone who doesn’t agree with this blog is not calling for the blog to be pulled or Glen being irresponsible. There are two comments that call for it to be removed. I certainly don’t agree with removing the blog.

    They are probably calling for the blog to be removed because (I am speculating as to their reasoning here) someone might read just the headline, maybe see the photo, and change their jointing behavior without seeing the caveats that Glen mentioned, or the comments for that matter. If you use push pads then there isn’t much you can do that would lead to chewed up hands. So they are arguing that Glen is not being responsible for these folks. Which is pretty much true. The question is should Glen be responsible for people who don’t pay attention in the first place?

    I don’t agree with having the blog entry removed. I think it’s up to each woodworker to choose what they do in their own shop. Someone who just reads the headline and heads for the workshop is ultimately responsible for themselves. So let’s keep the blog entry and discussion. It sure looks to me like most who criticize the blog entry are, while feeling responsibility for others and disagreeing with Glen’s conclusion, actually saying it’s up to yourself.

    I would love to have a Sawstop (they seem to be both real good at cutting wood, and safe), but they are just too darned expensive. So I will just have to be careful around my table saw instead.

    And please don’t be sarcastic just because people care about others.

  20. Just Bob

    So can someone tell why everyone who doesn’t agree with this meathod is calling for the blog to be pulled and calling Glen irresponsible?

    Why can’t you guys back away from your Sawstop for a minute and just say "wow, I wouldn’t do that" and go on.

    Based on what you guys wrote, if the jointer had been created today it wouldn’t be able to be produced because the the FEAR of people getting hurt. (actually law suites but hey!)

    Well I gotta go put my hazmat suit back on.
    (I’m finishing a project with oil and have to be safe you know!)

  21. kinglear

    I find myself divided over this advice. I often think about how to make tasks in the shop easier. Your suggestion would seem to make an easy task even easier and it appeals to the aesthetic side of me. Unfortunately, in my mind, the pros of your suggestion do not outway the consideration for safety that we all should have.

    You are using a power tool. I assume that you are doing this because you want speed and consistent results. Power tools are inherently unsafe and they weren’t designed to provide any type of aethetic experience such as ‘feel’. The fact that they sometimes do provide such an experience says more about you than the tool.

    I am not the safest woodworker by any stretch of the imagination, but I believe in safety in the shop. Being safe in the shop decreases my risk of injury and increases the chances that I will be able to work on more projects. Your suggestion however, increases the risk of serious injury.

    If you really want to become better at woodworking (and believe me your already way better than I will ever be), might I humbly suggest that you practice more with push pads (or sticks). I find that I still ‘feel’ a lot of feedback through them (though I also admit that they are clumsy and awkward until you’ve gotten used to them). I also find that my other senses can provide the information that your suggestion is aimed at providing. For instance, I use my ears to tell me what spots aren’t hitting the cutting heads when I am jointing. The wood or the machine (or both) makes a very different sound.

    If you (or I) really want to enjoy the ‘feel’ of woodworking (and specifically joining), maybe you should buy one of those huge hand jointers. You’d certainly get more of the ‘feel’ of woodworking and you wouldn’t have increased the risk of injury.

    Bottom line, your suggestion seems to me to be both irresponsible and unwise. I find it irresponsible, because it increases the chances of a serious accident. I find it unwise, because there are better ways for woodworkers to get both a better ‘feel’ and to do it without sacrificing safety.

    P.S. – Whether or not to use gloves with the hand jointer is entirely up to you.

  22. Andy Boyd

    I find this quite shocking what happens if the wood splits/ flies etc , the idea of push stick is primarily to keep you hands away from the blades. You may say open minds is what your calling for, but when you show something so obviously dangerous. I’m afraid you’ll just have to hold your hands up and say sorry and remove the post, just in case someone reads it without reading the comments

  23. Glen

    John,

    I am not hiding under a bench. I know the way I work and I’m completely confident in my procedures.

    I’m waiting until the smoke clears, then I plan to write another entry addressing each issue brought forth. I have had a few woodworkers agree with my position.

    I knew this would be a controversial topic and I hoped to open a few minds as well as stir conversation. Task accomplished, I’d say.

    Glen D. Huey

  24. P. Massabie

    Hi Glen
    I’m going to start with the fundamentals:

    “If you do something unsafe one million times, it doesn’t make it any safer” just proves that unsafe practices not necessarily leads to an accident in the first attempt.

    Now hold to your pants:

    If you don’t like the grip of a push stick, get a push pad if still don’t like it get a gripper or something alike. If still don’t like it pay someone to mill the lumber for you.
    Here is one scenario (pure imagination… or not) : First, you wont notice that your gloves have lost their grip until they slip, that is going to happen somehow suddenly and guess what…it’s going to happen at the time you were thinking in something else or paying less attention than you normally do. You loose your balance the table goes out of the jointer and any part of your body, arms or hands are in very risk to hit the cutters before the guard comes to its place. You call 911, or have someone to call for you as you look for your fingers.
    Another: You just didn’t realize the wood has an imperfection and it breaks under your hands, or the board for any strange reason jumps out of control. Again you call 911 or someone…
    In any case your going to find the reason of the accident after you find your fingers.
    The reason for any of the devices for holding the tool while running over the blades is not to get you away from the feeling of the wood is to prevent your fingers going in place of your wood. IF something goes wrong with any of the safety devices you might use, they will get to the blades (in a worst case scenario) and get destroyed. A gripper a push stick/pad anything will be replaceable but not your fingers.
    More than often when the accident happens the person who suffers is not only the injured is the family and relatives. If you don’t do it for yourself do it for them.
    Hope you (any of the readers) don’t have to think “Gosh, why didn’t I listen”.

    Regards,

    Pedro

  25. John Craig Brown

    Hi Glen,

    Boy you opened Pandora’s box. No responses to our comments for a while – are hiding under one of Schwartz’s workbenches?

    John

    PS: I really appreciate the time you take in writing blogs.

  26. Barbs

    Hello Glen- I understand the appeal of using those gloves, as I use them in my outdoor work for other functions. They would work feeding into a jointer, But, you never mentioned wood thickness. You mention safety in considering width, but it seems developing a habit of jointing with gloves would lead to forgetfullness in material thickness. It’s a dangerous precedent to set, and having gloved hands anywhere near those rotating blades has to be more dangerous than using push pads properly (say that three times in rapid succession.) For me, I’ll stay with the tried and true. Even the most experienced woodworkers have lost digits to those blades when they’ve become complacent. Push pads are obviously safer. -BarbS

  27. Eric Kuehne

    Frankly, I don’t necessarily have problem with the glove concept if used with some thought. I do, however, take exception to the idea that push blocks don’t provide feel. I’m not talking about stock blocks here. (They are so bad that I think tool makers are leaving themselves open to litigation. Better to include nothing at all and discuss it in the manual.) I invested in a pair of GRR-Ripper a year or so ago after almost taking the tip of my thumb off with my table saw. I have tried them on a variety of machines and was very surprised at how well they work on my jointer. I think I get excellent feedback as to what’s going on with my piece. I’ve become a huge of fan of the GRR-Rippers and use them pretty religiously. To me, the design is good but the primary virtue is that they take a (just a) minute to set up and that makes me stop and think about what I am about to do. Not affiliation. Just a satisfied customer.

  28. John

    As these gloves are usually loose fitting I would try to shrink them in a washing machine or remove the finger tips and use push sticks or pads for smaller material.

  29. Mike

    Ha. It’s at times like this that I can be glad I didn’t originate the blog entry!

    When I had my working shop, we all used coated gloves running a jointer (and some other machinery). Thin stock simply wasn’t jointed–never have run stock thinner than 1/2" across a finely set jointer and rarely at that.

    The push-pads that come with many jointers quickly loose ability to grip (if that’s what it can be called when they’re new). I’ve seen many chewed up push pads in others’ shops that have slipped and hit the jointer blades.

    Notched push sticks like used on a table saw are a good way to have a frustrating experience when jointing all but shorts.

    All that said, I did once work in a shop that did archetectural work where the jointer’s puch pads used punched metal plates afixed to the bottoms. Very positive grip–and one that isn’t very applicable to furniture making.

    Take care, Mike

  30. Dave

    I am interested to see what people have to say now that we have Glen & Marc agreeing. (Notice, both people who do this for a leaving vs a hobby)

    I’m really just waiting for the post to show up about who still has the guard on!

    Dave

    (and yes I own some Grizzly tools)

  31. Marc Spagnuolo

    Am I being too honest if I say I’m glad its not me being chewed out for once? 🙂

    The way I see it, the gloves makes your hands and fingers maybe 1/8" thicker. If you get those nice flexible form-fitting gloves like the ones in pictures 1 and 2, the gloves really just become an extension of your skin. So in order for your glove to get caught in a spinning blade or bit, you need to have your fingers in the "danger zone" in the first place. And unlike Tom Cruise in Top Gun, I have no desire to go into the Danger Zone.

    So a person with bad habits before gloves will have bad habits after gloves. And unfortunately bad habits with gloves on means significantly more danger. So I can certainly see where everyone’s concern comes from. Making suggestions like these are always tricky. While the folks with good habits could certainly benefit from this concept, the folks with bad habits may be putting themselves in more danger.

    I do use gloves at the jointer, but only on the coldest Arizona days. In my book, cold gloveless hands are far more dangerous than warm gloved hands when it comes to passing material over a jointer.

    Oh an by no means should this post be deleted. The post and the subsequent discussion are quite valuable for anyone thinking about wearing gloves. They can read all the different viewpoints and make an educated decision for themselves.

  32. Mattias in Durham, NC

    To make jointing a bit easier, wax the table. Personally I don’t know why the jointer manufacturers don’t make some sort of grooves or relief holes in the outfeed tables. The suction of two perfectly flat surfaces against each other seems to be what makes the wood stick, and it’s when you’re straining to get the wood through that an accident can happen (I guess among other things like knots and splits, or bad luck, or whatever). If you have to strain to push the board over the jointer then you might be tempted to use the end of the board to gain leverage.

    Specifically about this blog entry: I would never dare to use gloves like this. It just seems like a bad safety tradeoff to me. I would have to keep track of where the gloves are, not just my hands. If I did it, I would certainly not use the last glove example – they seem too loose fitting. But to each his own, and by all means I won’t discourage somebody to take their own calculated risk (as long as I don’t have to watch).

    However, and this is my criticism, you have to realize that some might read your article less carefully than you write it. The finer points are lost on some folks. That’s why it’s a bad idea to give advice that can be dangerous if not followed to the letter.

    Also, it’s interesting to see that there are bears reading this blog (Dave, with the bear hands). Wanna guess which tool brand he uses?

  33. Daniel Crisp

    I’d have to agree with the sentiment of the other comments as well.

    While I believe Glen is completely safe with his practices, you have to consider that he’s used to the practice now and has lots of experience doing it that way. By merely mentioning the idea of trying it however, I think you’ll get a mixed result. Some may buy the gloves he has, try it, love it and be as safe as they were before. On the other hand however, some yahoo is going to go grab his leather welding gloves or gardening gloves, perhaps glue dots of silicone caulking on them and then try it – with the results being perhaps disastrous.

    As a reputable woodworking magazine, a post like this is almost akin to coming out and saying "try removing your blade guard from your table saw and see how you like it". Of course, I’d bet a high percentage (much higher than those who use gloves around their jointer) of users operate this way (myself included), but the fact that this post comes from the editors of Popular Woodworking almost acts as an endorsement to try it.

    I still have all my fingers and I’ll risk less than optimal results at the jointer rather than wearing gloves. Anyway, that’s my $.02.

    – Dan

  34. John

    I’d have to agree with the above comments. Any new idea is appreciated, but this just seems unsafe no matter how you look at it. I know you asked that criticisms be kept to a minimum, but I worry that your idea could lead to lost fingers!

  35. Dave

    I think the key here is to know where your blades are in relationship to where your fingers are. With or without gloves.

    I know it’s not a game of “he who survives with all 10 fingers wins” but at the same time I keep reading and hearing so much safety stuff that one is likely to become afraid of the machine. (if you’re afraid, game over!)

    I personally use the pads on lumber less then 1/2" thick, my bear hands for everything else and gloves for rough lumber.

    But regardless, I know where my hands are.

    Now not every tip is for everyone. We all have our comfort levels. But at the same time, I’m building furniture while some are building safety barriers for their equipment.

    Just my 2 cents.

  36. Waylan Limberg

    I have to object as well. My sister lost five fingers and one thumb because her glove got caught and pulled her hand in. While she was using a planer rather than a joiner, the principle of the two machines are basically the same (particularly the cutters). In fact, she was pulled into the back of the planer. Anyone who’s ever gotten their fingers too close to the out-feed will tell you that the rollers just push them back out – no damage done. With the glove, that didn’t happen. There was no issues with slipping here. the glove simply got too close to the moving parts. Once it caught, that was it. There was no time to react before she was left with nothing but (most of) her palm.

    Whether you use gloves or not is between you and your fingers, but please don’t ever make such suggestions to others, especially from a respected publication like this. Maybe I’m biased, but I would strongly suggest that this post be removed.

  37. Samson

    How thin will you go in face jointing this way? Would you push a 6" wide board 1/4" thick this way?

    Ever worry about loose knots? I read a personal account of someone who lost a finger when a knot dropped out and his finger went through to the blades.

    Do you do this when using a dado blade for grooves on the table saw as well (push down with a gloved hand right over the spinning blade, that is)?

    At the end of the day, I’d be far too chicken to try your method? Even if I wasn’t a coward, I don’t think the cost benefit analysis justifies the risk – just too many safer ways to get the same results.

  38. Marc

    Hi Glen,

    The gloves were new then, I had used them just two or three times. I think too, there is a difference in the gloves, but the ones on your third picture wear out too. I have those and I would never, never wear them near a machine.

    Looking forward to read my first issue of Popular Woodworking soon,

    Marc

  39. Glen

    Marc,

    I am sorry to hear about your experience with the jointer. I hope that your fingers survived better than your glove. You certainly give us something to think about.

    However, the gloves you were wearing were not of the design that I use or wrote about in this entry, the gripping type. Your gloves appear to be leather and that type of glove will become slick with age or as your hands perspire.

    Selecting the correct tool is paramount in the shop. Whether you’re selecting a table saw or a pair of gloves for milling lumber at the jointer.

    Build Something Great,
    Glen D. Huey

  40. Marc

    Hi Glen,

    I used to wear gloves on the jointer once. The oak gave much splinters and I thought to take care. My workpiece was 5 feet long and 8 inches wide and 2 inches thick. The glove of the left hand slipt out of the fingers because of the board’s weight at the end of the day. The glove was trapped in the rotating cutters and pulled my two fingertips in the cutters. Please do not recommend people to wear gloves on this machine.

    Here is a link to a picture of my gloves which I kept in order to not forget:
    http://woodnotes-marc.blogspot.com/2008/01/gloves-on-jointer.html

    Marc

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