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Last week I posted my favorite table saw push stick. (By the way, I later added a full size pattern.) This week, I continue the theme with a push block for the jointer. I made the one in the picture 17 years ago when I started with the magazine. It’s seen a lot of use over the years and has a permanent home on the machine.

I know other woodworkers use a plastic device with a foam or soft rubber bottom and a handle on top. I think these can present problems, particularly when jointing longer boards that are not so thick. You’ll understand why when I describe my partiality to the one pictured here.

As the name implies, the push block is made to push rough lumber over a jointer to make a flat (not just smooth) surface on one face. The design of this push block forces me to push the stock forward with little downward pressure. There is some downward force, but not much and that force is always at the end of the board, not anywhere forward of the end. This design, therefore, prevents the possibility of pressing the board down to the jointer table. I don’t know about you, but I always start jointing a face with a bowed side down. If you press the bow out of a board, it won’t have a flat surface. It will spring back to it’s bowed shape as soon as the pressure is released. With the plastic-style push block, you must press down on the stock to get enough grip.

My technique for jointing a board is to push by hand from the end of the board until the end reaches the leading edge of the jointer infeed table. At that point I reach for the push block, hook the heel over the end and continue until the stock has completely passed over the cutterhead. This is, of course, why we use any sort of pushing device, for safety; keeping valuable body parts away from sharp steel moving at high speeds.

My old block is made from poplar, is about 10″ long and 3 1/2″ wide. Because the upper section runs cross-grain to the bottom, it’s joined with a tongue and groove. The upper part is shaped to be comfortable in the hand with my fingers over the top section. You can download the Push Block Drawing of  you want one of your own.

– Steve Shanesy

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Showing 4 comments
  • repeters

    Hi Steve, your diagram for this jointer push block shows length and your article gives the width but not the height. Was this a 2×4 originally? Pete

  • David Keller

    Hi Steve – I just now read your blog post about the table saw push stick, and wanted to post a comment about table-saw blade positioning in regards to safety that many of your readers may not know.

    Always positioning the blade so that no more than 1/4″ of it projects above the stock is definitely not a black-and-white situation. For those that use a table saw without a guard (many of us do), it’s good practice, because it greatly limits the amount of damage that will occur from accidental flesh-on-blade contact.

    However, if you religiously use a guard (such as the Shark Guard – and excellent product, to which I’ve no connection), or, importantly, you have a Sawstop, the blade is better positioned at the upper limit of travel for all through cuts. The reason is that where the blade is positioned determines the risk of kick-back and the force with which that kick-back will occur.

    When the blade is positioned so that 1/4″ of the teeth project above the stock, almost all of the force of the rotating perimeter of the blade is directed towards a vector that is parallel with the length of the stock. So if the stock pinches the blade because of internal stresses or a poorly aligned rip fence, all several hundred foot pounds of the angular momentum of a rotating 3 hp motor will be transferred to the stock in the direction of the user.

    When the blade is at the height limit of its travel, that same angular momentum is mostly directed through a vector that is 90 degrees to the length of the stock – either downwards towards the table for the front of the blade, or straight up in the air for the back of the blade.

    So if the stock does pinch the blade, the amount of momentum transfered to the stock in the direction of the user is much reduced.

    So there is a trade-off. And this is one enormous advantage to the Saw-Stop (I don’t have one by the way, but would like to) – the flesh-sensing technology greatly reduces the risk of amputation from blade contact, and using the saw with the blade positioned at its full height greatly reduces the force that a piece will transfer to the user in the case of kick-back.

  • jimmyp

    Steve : Thank You again for Sharing your Knowledge an Experience with us . I look forward to the email blog, as I’m starting wood working sorta late in life.. I always had the desire for it but life prevented me from being able to pursue it. However due to a unexpected accident 5 yrs ago that has left me permanently Disabled . I have now found something that allows me to do it for a hour or so a day which is all I’m capable …. Also Thank you for the Drawing of the push block.. I do not have a jointer, but that will not keep me from making the push block …………….jimmyp

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