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    Push Stick for the Tablesaw

    Many projects require ripping stock to width, a task done most quickly and cleanly on the tablesaw. But ripping stock on the tablesaw also can be dangerous.

    A workpiece that’s not properly guided through the cut can veer into the back side of the blade and be kicked back at the operator. This is especially true if the splitter is not in place. When ripping narrow stock, the fingers can come too close to the blade, leading to tragedy in an instant. For these reasons, we teach students to use a push stick when ripping to a width of 6 in. or less. With the stick in your right hand, place the notched end at the rear of the workpiece between the fence and the blade. Use the stick to feed the piece all the way past the back of the blade.

    If you need to drive the push stick into the blade, be sure to keep the push stick parallel to the fence, and be prepared for increased resistance as the blade cuts through the bottom of the stick. To minimize this resistance, and for safety reasons, set the blade height so that it doesn’t cut very deeply (1⁄4 in. or so) into the stick. once you’ve cut through your push stick in this way a few times, it’s a good idea to trim back the frayed surface with a bandsaw or discard the stick and make a new one.

    To rip longer pieces that extend past the leading edge of the table, leave the push stick within reach on top of the rip fence. Start the cut by pushing the rear of the piece by hand until it reaches the edge of the table. If you use the stick before this point, you may place downward pressure on the back end of the board, lifting the front end away from the blade.

    (Originally printed in the Sept/Oct 2006 issue of Fine Woodworking magazine (FWW #186))