Virtual Designs in Sketchup #8: The Inevitible Push Block

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Blog entry by rance posted 08-07-2011 10:45 AM 14287 reads 8 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 7: Corner Splines Without a Tablesaw Part 8 of Virtual Designs in Sketchup series Part 9: Question on Wood Rack Installation »


Of all of the jigs in the woodshop, the push block or push stick is usually one of the first that is built. I have qualifications that govern a utilitarian project like this. For one, I rarely purchase materials since scraps can often suffice. Other parameters are to make minimal cuts and processing since these are not that critical. I much prefer wooden push blocks over the plastic ones I’ve seeen. The plastic ones(besides having to be purchased) seem to not grip the wood as they need to in making a safe cut. I also prefer MDF over plywood.

When taking the time to make a push block, it makes sense to make multiples. I’ve purposefully shaped it to nest well when making multiples. A piece of 10” x 48” stock can easilly yield 8 blanks:

These can easilly be separated using a bandsaw to zig zag between the rows(shown in Red). Then follow with crosscutting the individual rough blocks.

One failure of most push blocks IMO is that the heel seems to get chewed up quicker than the base so I’ve incorporated a replacable heel. In this design, the the heel AND the block can both be ‘refreshed’ by simply trimming off 1/4” from the bottom. Anticipating this, I’ve included about 1.5” of solid material on the bottom of the base for just that purpose. The heel can also be replace as needed. It is retained using a 3/4” long brass screw. Brass is used in case of a blade strike so your saw blade won’t be damaged. Here’s a skeletal view so you can see how the heel fits in place:


You can also quickly raise the heel in situations when you are ripping thin material. If the heel is touching the table, then the pushblock is not doing all it was intended to do. The heel should never prevent the bottom of the block from fully contacting the wood.  

The build:
Begin with making the heel. It is simply a 1/2” square stock of pine or hardwood.


Next, prepare a 6” x 10” block of 3/4” MDF or plywood for the base. Make a slightly loose 1/2” x 1/2” kerf, 1/2” from the rear of the block.

To get the width of this kerf perfect the first time, you can fit it to the heel using your favorite KerfMaker. I use my Disposable one. To achieve the slightly loose fit, when gauging the heel, add a shim of paper as a fudge factor.

Now laminate a 1/8” cover to the base. Be sure to not get glue inside the slot for the heel.


All that is left now is to add the handle and shape the outside. I start by drilling two holes for the handle. I use a 1.25” Forstner bit for the ends and then ‘connect the dots’ using a scrollsaw or jigsaw. You can go the extra mile of making a template for smoothing it up with a router and a flush cut bit.


Lastly, round over all the outer edges(except for the bottom) to make it more comfortable to use. Drill for and install the brass heel-retainer screw and “Bob’s your uncle”. :)  

There is, however, one situation that this block is not well suited for and that is for ripping very thin stock. For those instances, I suggest making one of these completely out of the base 3/4” material with an integral heel. The reason is that for ripping very thin strips(1/8” or less), the heel should fit flush to the fence so that it can push the thin strip on past the blade. Of course there are other better ways for ripping thin stock which I’ll be covering in a future episode.  

For those situations, here’s the solid version:

Edit: Actually, if you don’t share a shop with others and you can manage your push blocks, if you keep 3 – 4 dedicated to particular width cuts, then they don’t tend to get nearly as chewed up and you might do well with the solid version shown last.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

10 comments so far

View degoose's profile


7286 posts in 4696 days

#1 posted 08-07-2011 10:52 AM

Now that is a work of art…

-- Be safe.

View BritBoxmaker's profile


4611 posts in 4377 days

#2 posted 08-07-2011 11:48 AM

I like the re-usable aspect of this. I cut a lot of thin stuff of varying widthes so the heal is going to get chewed up very quickly. Good design.

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging.

View shipwright's profile


8781 posts in 4139 days

#3 posted 08-07-2011 03:39 PM

Nice Idea Rance.
It’s very like the ones I use except mine don’t have the handle hole or the “rechargeable” pusher.
You’ve found a way to actually make this a permanent tool rather than a throw away.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View HuntleyBill's profile


127 posts in 4431 days

#4 posted 08-07-2011 04:49 PM

Very nice job Rance. Now you’ve gone and done it, I have to run down to the shop and build a bunch of these! I had planned on sitting on the couch all day. Thanks a lot.

-- If you think you can, or think you can't...your right!

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10963 posts in 5393 days

#5 posted 08-07-2011 04:54 PM

Thank you, Rance…

COOL New design… to an Old thing… :)

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:

View Cornductor's profile


208 posts in 4008 days

#6 posted 08-07-2011 05:46 PM

Now only if I took the time to sit down and learn sketch-up I could try to come up with my own. Looks good and also nice design.

-- An investment in knowledge pays the best interest. Benjamin Franklin

View rance's profile


4281 posts in 4502 days

#7 posted 08-07-2011 08:50 PM

Thank you guys. “Rechargable”, that’s funny. :) Ya know, it seems like it ALWAYS happens. You spend hours tweaking here, nudging there. You think you have it as good as it can get and so you publish it, and THAT’s when you come up with a change.

I really wanted to make these as EASY as possible to make, so that they WOULD get made. So here’s the revised, kinder, and gentler on the build model:

And the dimensions:

Sorry Bill. I looks now you’re gonna haf to throw those all away and build v2.0. :D
It’s never too late to learn Brandon. Lots of help here and online. Some good books too.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View dannyfixit's profile


17 posts in 3976 days

#8 posted 08-08-2011 04:55 AM

Here is a rough view of a push stick I used in one shop. We cut LOTS of 1” – 3” strips from 8ft sheets of Melamine or plywood. This stick let me push the strips through the blade, as these others do too. Additionally, it let me use the notch on the nose to ensure the strip was totally past the blade without my hand coming near the blade ever. Often, it was necessary to shove the cut strips out of the way of the next strip. The approx 20” length of this push let me reach beyond enough to move them over or out. The long length also let me keep the strips down on the table thus avoiding flying strips and kickback. Generally, these were made out of scrap plywood. Each of us in the shop took artistic license as to the exact shape and beauty.

-- - Follow your passion...

View rance's profile


4281 posts in 4502 days

#9 posted 08-09-2011 01:34 AM

That’s a good one Danny. I like the notch on the end. Nothing wrong with having specialized pushers. No 1 pusher is best for all situations. Thanks for sharing.

You got me to thinking even more. I really don’t like that 1/8” piece holding the heel away from the fence so here’s “Push Block v2.0”:  

Those two screws should hold the heel in place and they are high enough to not interfere with the fence.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View Jimboe's profile


257 posts in 5091 days

#10 posted 08-29-2011 03:55 AM

Wow that is really nice gonna have to make one of these thanks !!!

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