Introduction: Saw Handle Push Stick
I love my table saw. I use it for lots of projects, use it to rip wood to the right dimensions, and even made a simple sled for it to perform cross cuts. Part of owning larger tools is the ability to customize them the way you like to make you work more effectively and efficiently. Now, it's time to upgrade my simple push sticks to something more my style.
This push stick is styled to look like a short handsaw, with a notch at the back to help push material through the saw blade and a vintage handle from a very old handsaw. The new plywood 'blade' for this push stick is a thin 6mm, allowing great stability over a long reach, and the narrowness allows it to pass through the table saw even when the fence is close to the blade.
This project uses a table saw to widen the opening in the saw handle. Many of the skills in this project are covered in my free (and awesome) Table Saw Class, which covers everything a beginner needs to know to get the confidence needed to be a pro at the table saw.
This simple build is a great reuse for an old tool, and you can customise it any way you like. The best part is that the blade is removable, allowing you to swap it out for a new one when this push stick is no longer useful.
Ready? Let's make!
Step 1: Disassemble Saw
I found this large hand saw in a yard sale pile of tools. The saw was was rough shape, having been in storage for years and neglected. I collect old tools like this because I love the look and the way they are made. And, I think they are great candidates for a revival.
This classic hand saw had brass slot head machine screws holding the blade to the handle. These were easily removed and the handle was pulled apart from the blade. If you look carefully, the top and bottom openings on the blade were not punched correctly during fabrication, and the holes are punched through the edge of the blade. I love finding fabrication errors like this in old tools, since they were done by hand in a different age of manufacturing.
Step 2: Widen Handle Slot
The blade was about 1mm thick and would need to be widened to allow the new plywood insert to fit.
I measured the thickness of the plywood insert and found that it was wider than the kerf of my table saw blade. This means I'd need to make two passes and move the fence slightly between cuts to achieve the width I'd need.
I took my time making a few passes on the saw, raising the blade between passes. By taking shallower cuts there's more control over the piece being cut, and reduces the chance of errors with one incorrect pass.
To give myself a little space between my fingers and the blade I used a clamp on the saw handle to give me something to hold onto while making passes on the saw.
After making a few passes and raising the blade height to the final height, the fence was moved to the second pass and the blade height increased again to achieve the width I needed for the plywood.
Step 3: Check Fit
After passing the handle through the table saw to widen the opening the width can be checked against the scrap of plywood that the push stick will be made from.
I'm using 6mm plywood for my push stick. I have lots of it in my shop to make extra "blades" with when it's time, and it's plenty sturdy to hold up to frequent use without bending.
The handle was slipped onto the plywood and adjusted to the orientation I wanted to make a comfortable push stick.
I moved my handle to the back of the plywood scrap, but left enough wood behind the handle to give support. Your handle location and orientation may differ depending on what you're comfortable with.
Step 4: Sketch Blade Shape
Once the handle was in position I sketched out a rough shape of what I wanted my push stick blade to look like using a pencil. I made sure to include a notch at the bottom of the plywood which would hook onto the material to be pushed through the saw.
I also traced out where the exiting openings were on teh handle to the plywood underneath.
Step 5: Cut Blade Shape
After sketching the shape of the blade on plywood I trimmed the plywood down to size. You can use whatever you like to trim down your scrap wood, but I used a table saw to get nice straight edges with a table saw sled. These sleds are great for making cross grain cuts, or cuts on the saw without relying on the fence. I made a simple and effective table saw sled that you can make, too.
Whatever method you chose to cut down your plywood make the cuts as straight possible, this will give you the most control later on when using the push stick to move material through your table saw.
Step 6: Drill Handle Openings
I used a drill bit that corresponded with the the size of the openings on the handle.
Any drill would work, but I have a drill press so that's what I used.
Step 7: Trim Shape
If you wanted to have any shape to your push stick you can carve it in now. I remember when I was young that my dad used to have a small hand saw that had a rounded end on it. Since this push stick is small and a similar shape to the one my dad had, I decided to mimic that shape.
Trim your saw shape however you like, with any cutting implement you have at your disposal.
Step 8: Sand Edges
I rounded over all the edges to give a nicer hand feel. I started with a rough grit and then worked my way up to a finer grit.
Again, use whatever you have at your disposal, simple sandpaper and sanding by hand is fine. I like inverting my belt sander and clamping it to my workbench to make a make-shift power sander.
Step 9: Reassemble
With the blade sanded smooth the saw blade can be attached to the handle. I deliberately didn't use any glue to fasten the blade to the handle, this will allow me to easily make a replacement blade whenever this one has ceased to be useful.
The handle was slipped onto the plywood and the drilled openings were lined up.
The handle pins were inserted into the openings and fastened tight.
Step 10: Start Cutting!
After the new blade is attached to the handle the saw shaped push stick is ready to use! I decided not to refinish the vintage handle of this saw and keep the aged look.
The thin blade of this push stick allows the thin profile to easily pass between the blade and the fence when cutting, even for very thin cuts where the blade is really close to the fence. The old-school large and rounded handle is easy to grip and feel great on my hands. Lastly, the long reach of the push stick blade allows great control of the material as it's fed through the saw blade.
Though not the only push stick in my collection, I'm glad to have this as part of the custom arsenal for my table saw.
There's so much more to learn about the table saw in my free Table Saw Class, so check it out if you want to learn more!
Have you made your own table saw push sticks? I want to see them!
Share a picture of your custom made push sticks in the comments below and get a free Pro Membership on Instructables.