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Push Shoes, Blocks, And Sticks – Importance Of Design And Use

Missing Fingernail

The finger looks terrible but I put it up for a reason. Many woodworkers go their whole life without ever cutting their finger on a table saw. Some say it is just luck of the draw, but that is rarely the case. The plain fact is there is no such thing as over precaution. Especially when it comes to the table saw, safety needs to be of up most concern.

My father-in-law never really gave any thought to safety and said to himself “it won’t happen to me.” He worked with me in my shop building furniture for my outdoor patio furniture business for about a year, and on one occasion he touched the blade of the table saw grabbing a piece of wood, and another he put his arm right under the miter saw and cut his forearm because the blade brake wasn’t working 100 percent of the time. I really am not sure how he had all his fingers at the age he was. Everything he did was old school dangerous.

Table saw safety is often ignored, and it is where you definitely need to procure the most attention to the matter. I have been in cabinet shops where the push shoe was on the table of the table saw and the employees refused to use it, even if there was only 2 inches from the blade to the fence.

When your wood stock starts getting down to 8,7,6 inches and less, you do well to start using a push block of some kind. And personally, I don’t like a push stick because they can have issues with kickback, but it is better than just bare hands exposed to the blade.

The typical push stick isn’t the best idea either because it puts the hand past the end of the material. The pressure is going forward, and the downward pressure is low. So if anything goes wrong your fingers and hand heads straight toward the blade. So the push stick, though better than nothing, can still be dangerous.

Push Shoe Verses The Push Stick

A push shoe is simple to make, and some will even use ¾ plywood stock for the shoe. You can make it in a matter of minutes. Using high density plywood is best because it is stronger. Regular plywood can crack easier, but it still works. Just make sure the material used is of good quality for strength and endurance.

Here is a great video on how to cut out and design your own push shoe. It’s from Izzy Swan, so I think you will like the humor involved.

I guess my question is WHY? Why wouldn’t you use the pushing device? It isn’t any faster to use your bare hands? That doesn’t make sense! Even if it was a bit slower for the user to use a pushing device, I still don’t see how you can’t think it is not worth using something in place of your hand to push the lumber through the saw when you are that close to the blade.


Speaking of safety: Keep an eye out on WooDesigner. We have a post coming up soon where you will be able to enter a drawing and have a chance to get an awesome ring that can be used as a wedding band. It is for the work horse that beats up their jewelry in the shop. It also can help prevent accidents in the shop because it prevents the ring from getting stuck in machinery! Stay tuned, we will have 3 winners!



Updated: June 20, 2016 — 9:42 pm
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