How to safely edge joint narrow boards on jointer?

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Forum topic by unclearthur posted 04-12-2018 07:08 AM 4794 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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315 posts in 2389 days

04-12-2018 07:08 AM

Say you have a rough cut board, 2-3” wide, 4/4 thick and you want to square up 2 adjacent sides on a jointer in the normal way.

I can face plane the face of the board easy and safe enough with push blocks.

But I find the next step, squaring up the edge, more awkward for narrow pieces. You need to press the face against the fence and at the same time press the board onto the table. Easy to do when the board is wider than the height of the fence, but as the board gets narrower, it feels a bit unsafe getting fingers so close to the blades, and push blocks are awkward because of the angle (toward both fence and blade) you are pushing at …..

Curious to hear how people do this safely ….


11 replies so far

View Woodknack's profile


13002 posts in 2981 days

#1 posted 04-12-2018 07:17 AM

I’d use the push stick from my table saw which has a long flat sole and hook on the end. A feather board for the other.
Edit, dang autocorrect

-- Rick M,

View BFamous's profile


330 posts in 721 days

#2 posted 04-12-2018 10:26 AM

Make two sacrificial push blocks that would make you feel comfortable. Something that gets between your fingers and the blades, but also gives you the proper horizontal and vertical pressure.
For example, cut a rabbet in a piece of scrap that would allow you to set it on the piece in question and hold that instead. You could even attach a handle from a drawer to give you a more comfortable grip.

-- Brian Famous :: Charlotte, NC ::

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

11991 posts in 4029 days

#3 posted 04-12-2018 12:23 PM

I gang them and run them through the planer. Just make a pair of square guides, thinner than the height of your strips and long enough to support those strips through the planer. Clamp the guides to the in feed and out feed at each end.
I’ve done 1/8” up through 5/8” successfully. 1/4” thick strips and, thicker, don’t require the support all the way through.
For the 1/8th stuff, I’d suggest a gang of 4 at the minimum.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View Robert's profile


3598 posts in 2081 days

#4 posted 04-12-2018 12:36 PM

Two push blocks: one vertically to hold stock against fence just behind cutterhead, the other to push the stock thru.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View Tennessee's profile


2901 posts in 3115 days

#5 posted 04-12-2018 12:45 PM

I also use two push blocks, nylon with the thick rubber bottoms so they don’t slip. Came with the router 18 years ago.
I will admit, I have taken off a bit of the rubber a couple of times, but they do a good job. Mine are from Jet.

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

View Rich's profile


5126 posts in 1190 days

#6 posted 04-12-2018 06:16 PM

It’s honestly never fazed me, and I still have all of the skin on my fingers.

However, a Magswitch feather board is handy to have around to keep the board face against the fence. Then you could use a push stick and only have to make sure the edge stays flat on the bed.

This particular model is narrow enough to use on even a 6” jointer.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

View runswithscissors's profile


3081 posts in 2626 days

#7 posted 04-14-2018 05:06 AM

You could make a pusher out of 2X material (2X3 or 4) by cutting a rabbet on one corner. Easy to do on the TS, also on many jointers. You’d also want a stop or hook at the back to push the stock through. The rabbet (say 3/4” X 3/4” give or take—could also be deeper than wide—say, 1”x 5/8” lets you easily hold the stock down and against the fence with one hand. Put a handle on it for more control. I’d make this thing a foot long or so.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 4249 days

#8 posted 04-14-2018 05:49 AM

I use my fingers. I’m not sure what I do exactly,
probably something like put my right thumb on
the back end of the board if it’s short enough.
My left hand I position in front of the cutter head
with my fingers distributing pressure in both
directions. I push with the right hand and when
the left gets close to the cutter head, I may do
something like quickly move my right hand up
behind the left, keep pushing, leapfrog the left
hand over behind the cutter head, move the right
hand back a bit. At this point I’m pushing with
the right hand and pulling a little with the left.
At the end of the cut the right thumb is back on
the end of the board until it approaches, and
leaps over the cutter head to help the left hand
pull the final bit past the cutter head.

I’m not that scared of the machine I guess. My
feet move too. I might be making all this up
because I’ve had several jointers with suva
guards for facing where you have to leapfrog
you hands. I think I avoid having my fingers
directly over the cutter head out of prudence
and pessimism, but I may be cavalier about it
more than I’m aware. There is, after all, a stick
of wood in between me and the cutter head.
It’s not going to suddenly vanish. I suppose a
stick on the jointer might kick back if you completely
let go of it but I’ve never tried that to see what

The magnetic feather board is a great idea. I
had a few aluminum jointers but now I have an
iron one again. I might try that out.

View coxhaus's profile


152 posts in 1495 days

#9 posted 04-14-2018 05:52 AM

I think it takes a planer to square up 2 sides. A jointer makes each side flat not parallel so no squaring.

Never mind. It’s late.
I just realized adjacent not opposite.

View PJKS's profile


62 posts in 1122 days

#10 posted 04-14-2018 10:40 AM

Magnetic featherboard ….

-- Pat / Colorado

View HTown's profile


114 posts in 1787 days

#11 posted 04-14-2018 01:09 PM

I try not to handle material that narrow on my jointer. I prefer to mill from wider stock then cut the narrow piece off.
Rich’s suggestion of a featherboard sounded good. You might combine with a long piece of plywood with a notch. That would serve as a push stick and also allow you to put pressure where you needed along the narrow stock.

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