Canadian Woodworking

This is a push-over

Author: Mark Salusbury
Photos: Mark Salusbury
Published: October November 2019

One of the most daunting woodworking shop tasks is ripping stock or parts on a table saw. Especially when the stuff is small and/or close to the rip fence. This simple jig will calm your mind, give you confidence and allow you to better control the workpiece while making ripping operations.


You want to push the stock past the spinning blade deftly to feel you have control over the cut but you’re rightfully afraid of being cut or worse…the dreaded kick-back. Push sticks have been around for ages, are better-than-nothing extensions for your hands and fingers, but merely keep your body parts further away when disaster strikes. They really offer little more than mis­placed confidence.

What’s needed to rip stock safely, with confidence, is a feather­board and a “Pushover”. The featherboard, shop made or store bought, exerts lateral pressure, keeping the stock snug to the rip fence while also providing comforting anti-kickback insurance. The Pushover solidly supports the stock, and the resulting off-cut, from before the cut to beyond the blade, keeps your fingers away from the action and helps prevent the stock from potentially being lifted by the rising rear of the spinning blade when/if unexpected tension in the stock rears its ugly head.

The parts of the Pushover, all ready for assembly. Notice the trio of holes on either end of the longer piece at the bottom of this photo. This part is called the shoulder. Depending on which side of the rip fence you will be using this rip jig on you can attach the sacrificial leg to the appropriate end. Don’t use glue for this as you may want to change sides down the road.

push stick components

All Together Now
Assembled, the jig can be used on one or the other side of the rip fence. It’s shown here to guide a workpiece on the right side of the rip fence.

push stick assembled

Helping Hand
If you use one, position the featherboard just behind the leading edge of the blade. You’ll notice here how a portion of the leg has been cut away, as a pass has already been made. If this leg gets too small you can easily replace it.

helping hand

What is this magic device?

I make my Pushover from straight-grained hardwood, three #10 woodscrews with washers, a stout metal grip and some glue. The design is flexible so it can be made to suit whatever rip fence it’s saddling. Overall dimensions aren’t critical, though some general guidelines will help. Most dimensions will have to be determined according to the width and height of your rip fence. It comprises five principal parts; a top, a side, a shoulder, a leg and a grip.

What’s important is:

  • it’s long enough to not tip forward when pushed along the fence
  • it’s precisely supported by the top of the fence and/or the saw table on both sides of the fence
  • its rear-mounted sacrificial push “leg” be positioned snug to the side of the rip fence yet free, allowing the Pushover to glide easily along the fence.

8″ is a good length, stable yet small enough to keep close-at-hand and put in place when needed, but not bulky/awkward. My rip fence has a smooth supportive top tuned quite parallel to the table top so my Pushover rides the fence-top and the sacrificial “leg” and opposing side stop 1/32″ short of the table. Otherwise, the leg and side could come down to be supported by the table. Regardless, the inner width between the side and the leg should be fixed so a shim the thickness of a playing card can be pressed in on one side of the fence when the Pushover is in place.

The shoulder

The shoulder should be tall enough that it provides solid support for the attached sacrificial leg but not so tall that it interferes with your grip. Holes drilled to clear three #10 screws at both ends of the shoulder allow the mounting of a sacrificial leg at either end, making the Pushover equally adaptable for use on either side of the rip fence, depending on the task at-hand.

In use

If you’ve squarely crosscut the stock you’re ripping at both ends, the Pushover becomes an extension of your hand as you pass the stock over the table, between the fence and featherboard while its sacrificial leg guides the stock past the spinning saw blade. The first pass will rip the profile of the cut into the leg so the leg thereafter will safely compliment the off-cut as well as the stock. The leg can be easily changed to offer safe support to match the task at hand.

MARK SALUSBURY - [email protected]

Whether it is joinery or turnery, Mark has enjoyed designing and making furniture, decorative and functional items and home remodeling ... anything to do with woodworking, for over 35 years.


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  2. Yes, The piece of steel is a cabinet pull I used simply to hold onto my Pushover as I push it along my rip fence. It could be a large wooden knob or anything else that offers a supportive grip to the Pushover while you focus your attention on safely guiding the work-piece through the saw blade.

  3. I believe that it is a grip that allows you to curl your fingers under for a stronger grasp. One could replace it with one made of wood that has rabbet on its down side.

  4. I believe the steel is a cabinet pull meant to wrap your four fingers around for grip while your thumbs holds the wood.

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