Tablesaw Push Sticks

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Project by thetinman posted 05-02-2014 04:08 PM 10007 views 20 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch


This project is part of a bundle of projects building some basic shop tools and table saw jigs. The project series concludes with dressing out the table saw. As each project is posted links are added to the items in the list to keep everything bundled.

ZC Plug for Factory Plate
T-Square – Circle Saw – Router Guide
Dowel Cutting Jig
Tablesaw Push Sticks

Pimped out Table saw: Router Table, Router Fence, Left Side Table, Out feed Table, Shelves/Cabinets

We all use push sticks for the tablesaw. The most common is the “deer-foot” style like the wooden ones at the bottom of the first pic. These are the standard fair and a new tablesaw typically comes with a plastic one of these nowadays. For non-through cuts and wide rips many use a flat gripper like the Shopsmith one at the top of the pic. The one in the center is the one we’ll be making.

The standard deer-foot design is fine for pushing but it does not give any downward force on the workpiece. I angle the back of the handles on mine. That makes them better but still not good. This style almost begs you to use 2 of them – one for pushing and one for holding the board down past the back of the saw blade. Your best and safest option for this is to clamp a feather board on the fence rather than do this. I prefer, as many do, the push stick in the middle. It pushes but the angled handle let’s you put downward force on the board also. This is especially handy for shorter pieces to be ripped – very good control. I also like that, in addition to the side distance, my fingers are never closer than 2-inches above the board and they can’t slip. I like my pinky and plan to keep it. It’s where I hang my doughnut when I’m at one of my wife’s friend’s fancy teas.


This is a straightforward sketch and cut project. In the layout drawing I’ve done everything by the tape measure rather than angles. I prefer working this way. It seems like angles always come out to something stupid like 30.62-degrees. I don’t care what the angles are. So just measure and line it out on ¾ ply. Also note in the drawing that the pusher at the rear bottom of the stick is ½ or ¼-inches. I have one of each. The ½-inch one works well for thick stock and the other for ¼ and thinner. The easiest way is to make the ½ inch one. Then trace that on a piece of ply, cut it and cut the pusher to ¼-inches when you’re done.

Now that it’s lined out, radius all the corners except along the bottom. Bad things do happen from time to time and I don’t like any sharp angles grabbing or pinching me. Now before you start cutting, I like the handles on things to be what I like and what I’m used to. Note the handle in your layout does not look like the handle on my push stick in the pic. I’ve had a little 16-inch saw for years – way back to my construction days (and that’s way back). It’s God-awful and I love it. The blade is somewhere between a ripping blade and a tree-trimming blade. I just show it to a piece of wood or a limb and it falls apart in fear.

My push stick handle is the part of the saw handle that you hold. I put it down over the layout lines for a best fit and trace it. Use your imagination and do what you like best. It’s a push stick. What the devil can you screw up? It’s not like they’re pretty – they’re like tires and tires ain’t purdy.

Cut the stick out when you have it the way you want it. Then sand or rout all the edges except along the bottom. Again thing happen and you don’t want any sharp edges. Besides, it’s easier and more comfortable to hold if the edges are eased.

-- Life is what happens to you while you are planning better things -Mark Twain

15 comments so far

View Chris 's profile


178 posts in 2870 days

#1 posted 05-02-2014 04:31 PM

I have really appreciated all of your tutorials! I am just trying to get started in woodworking and the detail you provide is very helpful. One quick question … what type of plywood do you use for shop projects like this one? I ask because 3/4 inch plywood is a term everyone uses but it seems like it could mean a lot of different things at the same time. Thanks and please keep sharing when you can!

View thetinman's profile


294 posts in 2825 days

#2 posted 05-02-2014 04:53 PM

Hi Chris,

Im glad this project series is helpful to you. You’re who I’m writing it for. When I wrote the reviews on my new Delta saw I noticed there were a lot of new woodworkers, like yourself, and many who just bought their first tablesaw. It seemed reasonable to do this since I had to replace my stuff anyway because my old ones went with the old saw I sold. Hopefully, the experienced, skilled people here won’t be too bored. Just kidding – they’re a pretty great bunch here.

You’ve asked a good question – what the heck is 3/4 ply nowadays? What I’m using is the 3/4 ply that used to be standard. Now it seems like everything is warped junk. And, what da hey with all that metric crap that does not fit any router bits and has filler instead of wood in the middle? I went to the manager at my Lowes and asked him to get some “real” 3/4 ply. I got a call 2 days later and was told some good stuff was in. After going through 7 sheets I found the one with my name on it. It is graded as BB but has a nice surface and very few voids when I cut.

I’m kind of at a loss to answer you. Find the best you can. I don’t like paying for and using fancy ply for shop jigs/fixtures. I’m retired and I watch my money. And, being an old fart, I refuse to give in and pay for the crap that others seem to accept as the norm. I just wait and look. I’m retired. I can do that. Sometimes I go looking and come back with nothing and sometimes a few of the many pieces I need. Good luck, Chris. Hang in there and tell the manager what you want and not what he wants you to pay for.


-- Life is what happens to you while you are planning better things -Mark Twain

View LJackson's profile


295 posts in 2880 days

#3 posted 05-02-2014 08:08 PM

I purchased a sheet of shop-grade plywood from a local hardwood store. It is 3/4 inch birch, and costs over $60. I think the box store warped crap is around $40. Since I’m not good at spotting the quality plywood in the stack, I’ll pay the extra $25.

View Ttier315's profile


58 posts in 2827 days

#4 posted 05-02-2014 09:54 PM

Hate to say it but I’ve been buying the mini sheets (2×2, 2×4) for my mini projects like crosscut sleds and the like. Definitely not cost conscious but since I don’t have my truck anymore its easier to spend the money rather than bother my “truck friends” twice a week ( I usually wait till I’m purchasing 3 or 4 sheets before I call in those favors). Thanks for the post Terry, can’t wait for my vacation to kick in to start building

-- Tom T, upstate NY

View NiteWalker's profile


2743 posts in 3863 days

#5 posted 05-02-2014 10:43 PM

Great job. :-)
The table saw pushers I made recently are very similar to the one you made here.

I don’t like the bottom fish mouth pushers either.

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

View thetinman's profile


294 posts in 2825 days

#6 posted 05-03-2014 01:52 AM

Hi Jackson,

I sympathize with what you’re saying. Sometimes you go with what your gut says at the time. Just remember your gut changes over time. When we get to the router and side tables we’ll work together to level out the side table vs. saw table height difference your saw exhibits. You have a nice saw and what you experience is not unusual. Change saws and change the problem. We’ll get it.

Hey again Tom,

I buy mini sheets too. Sometimes that’s the best choice depending on what I’m doing. The entire series will be here when you’re ready.

Hey Walker,

I read you’re post about pushers a short while ago when you posted. Nice design nicely done. I can’t claim a particular design(s) mine are made from. Yours are a best fit of the best designs you found. Very impressive interpretation and build. Mine are just the result of changes through the years until I found the right push vs. down pressure that I felt comfortable with. No claim to fame or righteousness here. Yes, we both know that these “designs” have been around long before us but I must confess that your fine post did make me feel conflicted. There are enough similarities that I felt good that my “feel” about what was right was at least on the right track. I also felt that I wasted a lot of time (years) always tweaking/changing to get what I wanted. I could have just waited for you and saved a lot of time and trouble. Thanks for your comments.


-- Life is what happens to you while you are planning better things -Mark Twain

View woodworkingdrew's profile


190 posts in 2895 days

#7 posted 05-03-2014 03:18 AM

Great pics, I was just going to go this weekend to woodcraft and buy a push stick but I will make my own. Thanks!

-- Andrew, California

View Woodwrecker's profile


4240 posts in 4862 days

#8 posted 05-03-2014 05:31 AM

Thank you for sharing your talent.

View The Box Whisperer's profile

The Box Whisperer

678 posts in 3356 days

#9 posted 05-03-2014 03:28 PM

Tinman you rock. I cant decide what I like more, the things you make or the epic tutorials and reviews you post. Keep it up bud!

-- "despite you best efforts and your confidence that your smarter and faster than a saw blade at 10k rpm…. your not …." - Charles Neil

View thetinman's profile


294 posts in 2825 days

#10 posted 05-03-2014 05:22 PM

Hey Box Whisperer,

You want epic – you got epic. I’m just now posting the tenon/lap joint jig. Made with dowels and lots of assembly. Wait until you and I finish planning and dressing out the saw – now that will be EPIC.


-- Life is what happens to you while you are planning better things -Mark Twain

View LJackson's profile


295 posts in 2880 days

#11 posted 05-06-2014 04:45 PM

Ttier315, I built a carrier for my Beetle in order to carry 4×8 sheets of plywood and other lumber on the roof. That’s just to say “where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

View thetinman's profile


294 posts in 2825 days

#12 posted 05-06-2014 05:33 PM

Hey Jackson,

Are you going to share how you did it or keep us in suspense? You had the will – can you show us the way?

-- Life is what happens to you while you are planning better things -Mark Twain

View Ttier315's profile


58 posts in 2827 days

#13 posted 05-06-2014 10:39 PM

I would be interested at least in the concept, not necessarily any detailed plans.

-- Tom T, upstate NY

View Lucsdogs's profile


32 posts in 2769 days

#14 posted 05-06-2014 11:05 PM

Making your own is a very easy exercise and it uses up some of those small oddball shaped pieces. I learned the hard way (close call no injuries) a few years ago to not make them out of plywood thinner than 3/4. Quite often you will cut through the push stick when cutting thinner pieces. Problem with thinner plywood is that this removes too much of the wood that pushes your piece through the saw. I was using a thinner (3/8 I think) push stick and yes it gave way as I was pushing. My knuckles grazed the saw blade but luckily only shaved the skin surface. Nice big fat juicy chucks of 3/4 or more from that point on for push sticks.

-- Bernie, Oshawa, Ontario

View dneill's profile


2 posts in 2758 days

#15 posted 05-15-2014 11:18 PM

Just starting making lots of sawdust and chips: lots of push sticks high on the list

-- I still have all my fingers: but for how long?

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