It’s time for another installment of the Shop Upgrade Series! I promise this one is quick and easy. Like, I surprised myself how fast it went. I was watching stories on Instagram one day and saw Tim at Woodward Builds (I promise I’m not going to copy him for every upgrade! Ha!) had posted a series about making a push block for his table saw. I just knew I had to make my own! What I loved about this push block compared to what I already have is that it had a long base to hold down your board as it’s going through the saw. I had just ripped down some pieces for a flag that were really thin and they kept popping up on me because my push stick didn’t have much lip to hold it down. See what I mean?
Not much at all there. I know I could buy other push sticks but Tim’s videos happened and I had a spare half hour to follow his plan so I just made one. By the way, I totally asked his permission to post this using his plans. And he did say yes. I was able to compile his videos for you to see the magic for yourself. Be sure to stick around after the video to see my take on it.
Now here’s how I made mine. I found a piece of ¾ inch scrap plywood that I likely wasn’t going to be using for anything else.
The first thing I had to do was decide how big I wanted it to be. I figured I wanted the back of the block to be big enough for my hand to fully grab onto it. No better way to figure that out than to measure my hand.
Four inches was plenty to cover the span of my palm with a bit hanging over on each side. I think it’s a good general size for anyone but obviously we’re going to have different size hands. Size up or down to what is comfortable to you. There are no rules!
I made sure my piece of plywood was square in the corner then marked four inches up from the bottom for the back.
The next thing to do is determine how long you want the block to be. I just laid my square on the board and looked at what measurement looked best to me. I chose twelve inches and marked it.
I didn’t want a sharp point on the front of the block so I moved my square up one inch and made another mark for a blunt front.
I also scooted the length of the back forward two and a half inches before I started the slope. There is no rhyme or reason to this other than that measurement looked good to me.
Next, I drew my slope by lining up my square on my marks and connecting them.
The easiest way to work with this to get it down to size was to cut it into a rectangle. I set up my table saw to twelve inches and ran it through.
Why did I do the twelve inch measurement before the four inch? Because my board was much longer than needed and I didn’t want to unnecessarily rip the length in half. There was still a lot I could use for a future project. Does that make sense?
Why did I use my tape measure to get my distance between the fence and the blade? Easy. I don’t trust the tape that’s attached to the saw. I can ensure that my handheld measuring tape is giving me an accurate distance.
Now it was time to set up and cut the four inch length.
In Tim’s video, he guessed at an angle that looked good for him on the slope. If I did that, I knew I’d make some crazy messed up cut. It’s easy to figure out the angle I needed, though. I have a digital angle finder to help me out. This one (affiliate) from Amazon, to be exact.
All you have to do is make the arms on the angle finder match the angle drawn on your board and it gives you a digital readout. This one says 17.3 degrees.
I moved to my miter saw and set up my boards just like Tim. How smart is that?? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made too many too dangerous cuts that this method could have fixed. I set my saw to 17 degrees and lined up my line with my saw blade. I then clamped a spare board onto the saw to hold the board I need to cut in place. It worked like a charm. It is important to make sure you line the saw blade up on the side that you DON’T need to keep. On this project, it’s really not that big a deal but it could cause some heartache on something else.
Just for fun, let’s check the angle I set my saw at with the angle I drew.
Not too bad!
I used the cutoff piece of the whole board to cut my little “hook” for the block. An easy way to make sure I’m cutting it to the width of the block is to just stick the block next to the saw blade and scoot the fence in.
Doesn’t get much easier than that! I removed the block then ran my cutoff through.
Cuts this small are a little nerve-wracking but they are doable. Just take every safety precaution you can and don’t rush through it.
To attach the “hook” to the block, I went through what screws I had on hand and chose 1 ¼ inch wood screws. Pretty much anything you have on hand will work. Really!
I placed the “hook” (I keep using hook in quotations because I really don’t know what else to call it) against the back of the block and moved it down far enough to catch whatever wood I’m pushing through the saw. You don’t want it so low that it would hang belong anything you are pushing. A quarter to half inch should be sufficient. I then pre-drilled two holes. It’s at times like this that I wish I had someone here taking pictures for me because it’s really hard to do tasks one handed. Blogger woes.
Once you have your holes drilled, screw in your screws! Tim made a good point about doing it by hand so that your wood doesn’t split. I meant to do that but forgot by the time I got to this step. I used my drill.
I liked Tim’s idea to put a round over on the top to make it more comfortable so I did it, too.
I did not add a finger grip hole because I just didn’t think I would use it. I may, however, add a smaller hole in the corner to hang it up by. And of course, I added my brand because it’s fun to brand all the things. This step is totally not required.
There you have it! A simple scrap wood push block that will hold down your boards as you push it through. And it hardly took any time to do! If you don’t already have a similar push block, I recommend you make one.
If you haven’t already, please check out Tim’s Instagram and website. He has a lot of good insight and tips. He’s also quite entertaining with his impressions and air instrument solos. He’s multi-talented, folks.