Wow, that's some push block.

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Project by MichaelT77 posted 02-06-2014 06:22 PM 3179 views 1 time favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This requires some explanation. Otherwise, it may just be seen as a violation of the lumberjocks’ code.

Many years ago (I think my children were in elementary school at the time), I found a big wooden plane at a flea market. I think I paid $5 or $10 for it, and even as a novice woodworker I saw it as a real treasure. The plane iron had been rusting since the 50’s (probably the 1850’s), but I was going to bring it back to functional glory. I put it on a shelf in my basement.

Now, I’m a grandfather ( X 3 ), and I like to think I’ve moved to the intermediate level of woodworking (at least in my aspirations). I have, however, in the past couple months, experienced three fairly serious table saw accidents (all kickbacks). Carelessness, or momentary lapses of concentration, I suppose. In each case, I knew in an instant what I had done incorrectly. Unfortunately, table saw accidents occur in only half an instant. I’m OK, but in each case, I drove alternate bloody hands to the ER for multiple sutures. We’re all on a first-name basis, now. Of course, after each accident, I told myself, “I’ll never do THAT again.”

So, this past weekend, I conducted a big safety standdown. I spent much of the weekend cleaning up the debris I trip over, and building sleds and push blocks. I bought and installed a new blade after being told by someone I trust that I was using the wrong kind of blade for the type of cuts I was making. I watched a couple videos on Youtube. In one, there was a sign on the wall of someone’s shop. It read “A clean shop is a safe shop.” While I don’t believe that that is necessarily true, it doesn’t hurt.

Back to the old wooden plane. I was never going to get around to restoring it, and I don’t think it would have been worth the effort. It had a few cracks in it, and really wasn’t even square or flat. I was going to toss it in the trash, but decided to make use of its size and weight. So, I squared it up on the jointer, and added a couple of handles. I sliced a piece off the forecastle, and glued it back on as shown. Now, the old plane is a big push block. Even though it only has the thin piece of wood on one side holding it together, it’s stiff. I may put a piece of wood on the top to span the opening. When I drilled the first hole for the closet rod handles, I grabbed the wrong Forstner bit (“Oh, I meant to use the one next to it.”) I’ll probably just use this push block for the jointer.

Now that I see it in pictures, I’m thinking I should add two more stacks and paint the hull red.

“Bridge, forward lookout. There’s a push block off the starboard bow.”

Be careful out there.

-- Michael T, Pittsburgh, PA

10 comments so far

View Oldtool's profile


3031 posts in 3046 days

#1 posted 02-06-2014 08:32 PM

Nice repurposing of the wooden plane. I too have had one to many close mishaps on the table saw, but fortunately I never needed medical assistance. As a result, I use mostly hand tools, and the band saw, to avoid the table saw if possible, which I’ve dedicated to ripping long boards.
Too bad the plane couldn’t be salvaged though, I have two I enjoy using. Enjoy the new push stick, and watch out for that table saw.

-- "I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The point is to bring them the real facts." - Abraham Lincoln

View RCHarvey's profile


21 posts in 2449 days

#2 posted 02-06-2014 08:38 PM

I applaud you sense of safety. For the same reason, I got rid of my 50 year old Radial Arm Saw (That I swear was trying to kill me on occasion) and got rid of my little Borg Rigid Table Saw (with the nifty fence constructed of the finest Reynolds Wrap Foil and Popsicle Sticks) – and started looking for a Saw Stop. After the RN wife came home from a shift at the hospital where one of her patients was missing a few digits – she INSISTED that I buy a new table saw. Well, I’m no fool. Give that woman what she wants. I got a new Saw Stop delivered.
Suddenly, I can cut straight. I spent the next few weekends building auxiliary fences, thin strip jigs, push sticks and feather boards, and learning to use them.
My feeling is that if anybody wants to tell you that you destroyed a fine old block plane, they should go pound sand. Or something to that effect.

Yes, paint that bright battleship gray, and engrave it. Maybe a red dot on the port side forward, and a green one on the starboard. You’ll have all your fingers to count the number of times it makes you laugh out loud.


-- - many trees died so that I may create the perfect breadboard. Someday. Probably not soon.

View wood_maestro's profile


137 posts in 3548 days

#3 posted 02-06-2014 08:48 PM

I am glad that injuries were not serious and you are back to wood working. The push stick looks great and should keep your hands away from the blade. I would strongly suggest adding a Riving knife to your table saw. This should seriously reduce the chances of kick backs. Thanks for sharing your experience and project.

-- wood maestro....... Be Well, Do good work, and Stay in touch

View MichaelT77's profile


126 posts in 2967 days

#4 posted 02-06-2014 09:04 PM

Wood, Thank you. I researched a riving knife some months back. I’m told they can’t be added retroactively (maybe that’s peculiar to my Delta saw). However, I have added a zero-clearance insert with a splitter. Funny, I bought the splitter last summer when I knew it was a good idea. I just didn’t get around to installing it until after my accidents. Of course, had I left in place the anti-kickback device that came with the saw, I wouldn’t have had this problem. But then I wouldn’t have become a safety expert. How paradoxical.

I, too, am married to a nurse. Years ago, I dropped an extension ladder on my head. Another good story, but I won’t go into it here. It’s enough to say I wasn’t being careful. As I leaned over the kitchen sink, bleeding on the white porcelain, my wife dabbed at the wound. She said, “You need to have someone look at this.” I said, “Isn’t that what I’m doing now?” I mean, why marry a nurse if not for the personal care? That wasn’t what she meant. So, I drove myself to the ER, and had eight staples punched into my scalp. Be careful out there.

-- Michael T, Pittsburgh, PA

View woodchuckerNJ's profile


1404 posts in 2489 days

#5 posted 02-06-2014 09:12 PM

Sorry for your misfortunes.

Please consider adding a new side to the open side of that plane. I don’t see it as being very strong in it’s current state.
Adding a 1/4” side would be plenty to add strength to that push block

Like others have said a riving knife or splitter is a great idea.

Make sure your saw is tuned up.. blade parallel to miter slot. Then make sure your fence is parallel to the blade…. If not adjust your blade to the miter first, then your fence to the blade.


-- Jeff NJ

View MichaelT77's profile


126 posts in 2967 days

#6 posted 02-06-2014 09:27 PM

Thanks, Jeff. I do plan on covering that side with a piece of 1/4”. And, I really think I’ll only be using this for the jointer. I’m making more suitable push blocks for the table saw. I don’t want to be reaching across the blade as this two-handled block would require. The new blade, blade alignment, fence alignment, sleds, push blocks, general cleanup, and an attitude adjustment were all part of my safety standdown.

just waiting for the glue to dry (1/4” maple)

-- Michael T, Pittsburgh, PA

View CFrye's profile


11075 posts in 2695 days

#7 posted 02-06-2014 11:44 PM

Better a new and useful tool than the burn pile. Is the original wood maple? Kind of looks like it in the last pic of the original post. And speaking as a nurse (married to a woodworker that does stup…uh unsafe things) you maybe should be grateful she was not the one stapling your head!
Glad your most recent injury was not more serious and inspired the safety overhaul! Thanks for sharing your story Michael.

-- God bless, Candy

View Mean_Dean's profile


7053 posts in 4002 days

#8 posted 02-07-2014 02:00 AM

It’s all about safety, and I’m glad to see your new pushblock ready for use!

-- Dean -- "Don't give up the ship -- fight her 'till she sinks!" Capt James Lawrence USN

View 49er's profile


182 posts in 2459 days

#9 posted 02-07-2014 03:41 PM

Excellent pictures covering all views. I hate it when someone just posts one snap shot leaving me guessing about the rest of the project.

View Richard's profile


1940 posts in 3545 days

#10 posted 02-07-2014 05:55 PM

“Bridge, forward lookout. There’s a push block off the starboard bow.”

You must have been in the NAVY , Me too.

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