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What is a Push Stick?

Mary McMahon
Updated: May 17, 2024

A push stick is a safety device designed to allow people to push wood through a saw, router, or other cutting device while keeping hands clear of the blades. In addition to improving workplace safety, push sticks can also help people better control the pressure on the wood, resulting in smoother, cleaner cuts. Stores stocked with woodworking supplies often stock push sticks and people can also make their own from scrap wood and other materials around the shop. It is advisable to use a push stick for any project involving close contact with the saw, even if it seems quick and simple.

Saws designed for cutting and shaping wood are sharp and move very quickly. They are designed to cut through very thick wood and can make short work of fingers and the bones in the lower arm. Using push sticks is a basic safety technique that can prevent very serious injuries. Even with the use of push sticks, there are still safety issues to be aware of when working around woodworking equipment.

The push stick is positioned on top of the wood, in the case of a push block, or to the back or side, depending on the design of other push sticks. Rather than pushing the wood with the hands, the woodworker uses the push stick to control the wood as it is moved through a saw. If the wood kicks back, as sometimes happens when the saw encounters a knot or the pressure is not well controlled, the push stick runs into the saw, and the woodworker's hands are safe. Likewise, if the push stick strays close to the blade while a woodworker is working, the blade bites into the push stick instead of the worker's hands.

Numerous push stick designs are available and people can also create custom designs. Woodworkers may keep an assortment for different types of projects. Keeping a mix of push sticks encourages people to use the right tool for the job and keeps people in the habit of using these safety tools for all wood cutting projects. At the simplest, it can be a length of wood with a notch in it to hold down a board as it is moved through a saw.

While using this woodworking tool, woodworkers must be careful to keep the pressure even. Uneven pressure can result in a kickback, where the wood is thrown from the saw, and it can also lead to ragged cuts.

About Mechanics is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a About Mechanics researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By whiteplane — On Apr 07, 2012

I saw an ad for an interesting safety device that can be installed on a table saw. Basically the device sends an electrical current through the saw. Any time it comes into contact with human skin the current is broken and the saw shuts off immediately. They do a couple of demonstrations on the ad and it looks like you might get a little nick but it would be very hard to loose your entire finger.

By nextcorrea — On Apr 07, 2012

I push stick can be made easily using some scrap wood and a file. You basically need a long thing piece of wood with a notch at the end to grip the edge of a board. It is actually one of the easiest and simplest safety devices that you can use. I have seen too many guys loose fingers on the job not to use one myself.

By ZsaZsa56 — On Apr 06, 2012

My dad ran a cabinet making shop and he was an absolute tyrant about people using push sticks. And for good reason. It is really really easy to loose a finger in a table saw even if you are an experienced pro taking all the safety precautions in the world.

He had one guy that worked for him that only had six fingers between both hands. Using a push stick is an easy and effective way to protect your fingers when you are working close to a saw blade. It can be a pain in the neck but it is worth it to keep all your fingers.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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