Canadian Woodworking

Push block system

Author: Carl Duguay
Illustration: James Provost
Published: December January 2008

Safety is all about putting some distance between your body parts and the sharp metal bits that shape wood.


This push block is comfortable and easy to use, and incorporates a carriage that rides on the rip fence so you can rip narrow pieces safely.

A series of notches cut into the leading edge of the carriage serve as hold downs for common stock thicknesses. One side has 1/4″, 1/2″, and 1″ graduations while the opposite side has notches for 3/4″ and 1 1/2″ stock. Change these dimensions to suite the stock thickness you normally use. This version is made from 1/2″ Baltic birch plywood and is sized to fit a Biesemeyer fence. Adjust your measurements accordingly to fit the fence on your saw.

Making the Jig

• Cut the pieces for the base (A) and the stop block (B).

• Raise the table saw blade about 1/8″ above the table and use a series of cuts to create a ledge to mount the stop block in. Glue and clamp the stop block in place.

• Use a scroll saw to cut the handle (C) from some scrap hardwood, and smooth it with files and sandpaper.

• Mark the centerline of the base, position the handle on the base, and drill countersunk holes from the underside. Screw the handle in place using #8 – 1″ brass screws.

• Cut the pieces for the fence carriage top (D) slightly oversize and glue them together to form a 1″ thick block, trim to final size, and sand it.

• Cut the fence carriage sides (E) to size, cut out the graduated notches, and sand the pieces. Assemble the top and sides and drill countersunk pilot holes for #8 brass screws. Apply glue to the sides of the top piece and drive the brass screws in by hand.

• Sand everything and apply a coat of wax so that the carriage will slide smoothly.

Assembling the Jig

• Clamp the push block to the top of the carriage and using a drill press, drill ⅜” dowel holes being careful not to go all the way through the carriage.

• Reverse the push block on the fence carriage and clamp it in place. Use the first set of holes in the push block as guides and drill a second set into the other end of the carriage.

• Place two ⅜” dowels in the first set of holes you drilled in the carriage and a set of dowel centers in the second set. Place the push block on the carriage and mark the location of the second set of holes.

• Remove the handle from the push block, turn it over on the drill press, and using a sacrificial backer, drill the holes. Glue the four dowels into the carriage and give them a coat of wax.

Supply Checklist

• 1/2″ Baltic birch ply approximately 9″ x 28″

• Scrap piece of 3″ x 10″ hardwood

• Ten #8 – 1″ brass screws

• Four 3/8″ x 1″ dowels

• Paste wax

Carl Duguay - [email protected]

Carl is a Victoria-based furniture maker and the web editor at Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement.

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