(upbeat music) Marc: Well, Woodworkers Safety Week is upon us already and I thought it’d be a great time to review some of the basic featherboards and push sticks that I use the most in my shop. Now I’ve got a lot of different gadgets and I’ve tried a lot of
different things over the years, but these are the things
I find the most useful. Some of them I don’t
really use that often, but I’m going to show those to you as well so at least you can see what’s out there and then you can decide what’s right for you in your shop. Now let’s talk about featherboards first. Really a featherboard doesn’t have to be anything more complicated
than just a simple device that pushes the work
piece up against the fence and the most basic version
or example that I could find is something as simple as
this shop-made version here. It’s just a basic piece of oak with a bunch of slits cut in it, it’s kept on an angle,
and now these little pieces here are flexible. So as you push it and clamp it in place, push it against your work piece, it holds everything in place and also stops it from kicking back. This has a natural resistance to pushing in the opposite direction so it’s really one way only. But this being the most basic, there are a ton of little
gadgets on the market today and the big thing these days is magnets. Okay, so you have, for instance, the Magswitch brand has
a bunch of great little – basically they have an on/off feature. One clockwise turn, the magnet’s engaged, turn it back to the left
and it’s completely loose and it’s just a simple
plastic featherboard, nothing really fancy there. Another one that’s been around for awhile is the GRIP-TITE magnetic featherboard. These guys operate with
a simple plastic arm here on the side that’s
a little bit flexible. It’s the same concept
with a very strong magnet that holds it to the cast iron and you just flip this
little arm in the back and that allows you to pop it off and move it to a different location. Now the ones that I use the most tend to be the magnetic ones. I just love the fact
that I can pretty much plop them anywhere down on the table and move them around as needed. The Magswitch in particular
are one of my favorites because it’s just so easy to
turn the magnet on and off and move it all around. Now one disadvantage you’re going to find with a magnetic system is if you have a work piece that’s just the right length that the magnet is right
over your miter slot, you’re going to have some
trouble gripping there. So that’s definitely
something to keep in mind and you may want to consider
one of the other options or something that you can clamp to the table for some extra support. But let me show you how these work. It’s pretty straightforward. Most of the time these days, I use their universal unit, okay, because this way I can run
it in multiple directions. It’s a little bit more versatile. Now let’s do a quick review of proper featherboard setup. If you’re doing a through cut where you push this piece all the way through and you end up with two separate pieces, you absolutely cannot have your featherboard in line with the blade because if you do, the pressure from the featherboard is going to push your off cut piece into the blade and that’s going to kick
back so that’s no good. So if you are doing a through cut, bring your featherboard back a few inches before the blade. Give yourself a good safe zone there. And typically I just give a little bit of pressure into my work piece with the work piece in place, tighten it down, and you want just enough resistance so it’s difficult
to pull back toward you but with a little moderate
pressure you could push forward. You don’t want a whole lot of resistance when you’re pushing forward. But that’s really it. It’s a very easy thing to set up and it really increases the overall safety and the quality of the cut. Now see the way this piece is sitting? If the featherboard had been up here, it definitely would have pushed this further into the blade causing a kickback and that would have been
extremely dangerous. Now there’s one thing
that I wanted to show you. It’s not exactly a featherboard, it’s a little bit different,
but something very, very useful to have in the shop. It’s called a Board Buddy. At least that’s the brand name. I believe there might be a couple of imitation versions of it on the market, but it always looks like this. It’s a colored roller on a unit here, spring-loaded unit, that
would attach to your fence. Now I have a new fence system here. I haven’t had a chance
to put the little rail that goes in place and holds it in there so I can’t show it to you in action, but the idea is you usually
have two of them here and this is great for sheet goods. As you’re running the piece through, this wheel will spin,
but it also puts downward and inward pressure onto your work piece so it kind of does the same
action as a featherboard and certain models only
roll in one direction so it sort of helps as an
anti-kickback roller as well. So these are very handy to have around, definitely a good thing
to have on the saw, but it is a little bit
more in terms of setup. Now contrary to what a lot
of woodworkers believe, these are not push
sticks, these are fingers. You really don’t want your fingers anywhere near a blade if you can help it. So especially when you’re within what I call sort of the danger zone and a zero clearance insert is actually a great item for giving you an idea of what a danger zone is at the table saw. I also have an overarm blade guard that does the same thing. It gives me an effective zone that I know I should not have my hands anywhere near. So if you’re not sure, it’s nice to have those as gentle reminders. If you are in a case where you’re getting too close to the blade, it’s great to have some
sort of push stick. Some of these are more basic designs that have come with the
tools that I’ve purchased. These two here, one is plastic,
it’s a little bit thicker. The other is an aluminium shaft here and it’s a little bit thinner so it’s nice ’cause you can get right in there, but a lot of people
don’t like the fact that this is made out of metal because if that hits the blade you’ve got shards of metal flying into the air. At least if this guy hits the blade, it’s plastic, it’s less likely to shatter. It’s probably just going
to cut the plastic. Either way, you don’t want
to touch the blade anyway so, you know, whichever one you’re more comfortable using. My favorite push stick by far
is this very simple design. The idea here is that it’s
got a little hook at the back which catches onto the work piece, a little rubber foot in the front that helps you get a little grip, and I’ve got full control. The other thing is just by the nature of the way this is being gripped, it applies a lot of forward
pressure to the work piece. So as I’m pushing forward, I’m not ony hooked on the back and giving it that forward motion, it’s just by nature
putting downward pressure on the work piece as well. Now one variation of a push stick, it’s a little bit more pricey
but it does a lot more. It’s called a GRR-Ripper, kind of like a G-R-R like
grr, growling, gripper. The idea here is for small parts, even larger parts like this, it works really well. It’s got a little foot on the outside that helps you balance it out and this little piece in the middle can actually move back and forth to adjust for really small pieces. So a lot of times people ask me, “How do you cut those really thin strips?” Let’s say you’re making some ebony pegs or something like that and you need to cut a little tiny strip of wood here. Well, first of all, you could cut it from the outside of the piece. That’s certainly one safer option. But if you want to make, you know, little 1/4 inch cuts,
if you have something like this GRR-Ripper where this tiny little arm here in the back, if that safely fits between
the blade and the fence, you’re actually okay to go ahead and set this up like this, make sure your foot is
there to balance it out, and push that piece through
and make that cut safely because now my hands are removed and I’ve got complete control. These little rubber grippy pads down here will help you force it into the fence and get it safely through that cut. 1/4 inch, you’re really pushing your luck. You want to be very careful with that. I probably would cut on the outside for that particular type of a cut, but you can get pretty darn close. You’ll just have to decide how safe is safe enough for your shop. So let’s go ahead and
make a couple test cuts. I’ll show you how simple this unit is and then I’ll show you
how the GRR-Ripper works. Now I’m going to make
a roughly one inch cut, cut a one inch strip from this piece here. So I’m going to take my GRR-Ripper and make sure that my spacing is such that the blade goes right in between this middle pad and the outer pad. And as long as it travels
safely in the middle, I know I can make this
cut with no problem. Tighten it down. Okay, get the work piece in place, make sure it’s all the
way against the fence. And, in fact, I usually put
it down on the work piece and then push both this and the work piece into the fence so by the time I hit I know everything is as
far over as it needs to be. Okay, let’s make that cut. And there you go. A nice thin strip and a
pretty safe cut at that. Now whether you make your own or you’re buying the
commercially made stuff, hopefully you’ll see
now that featherboards and push sticks really should be part of your every day workflow. They make things a lot safer and it’s going to increase
the quality of your work. Thanks for watching. We’ll catch you next time.

119 – Featherboards & Push Sticks
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46 thoughts on “119 – Featherboards & Push Sticks

  • May 15, 2010 at 6:24 pm
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    Good video, thanks.
    Is there a safety concern with cutting a work piece on the 'outside' of the blade? I heard that its not as safe, but I can't figure out why that would be…

    Reply
  • May 15, 2010 at 8:37 pm
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    @lucserre the issue there is that the bulk of the workpiece is "outside" the blade. And typically as you push the piece through, you tend to support the bulk. By supporting the outside area, you are risking a kickback. Furthermore, you have only a small amount of space between the blade and the fence, which makes it difficult to control.

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  • May 16, 2010 at 3:22 am
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    @supraroyalty Yup.

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  • May 17, 2010 at 4:41 am
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    mark you're the man as always. Push sticks are far too important but fingers are even more important!!!! I recently purchased a saw with a riving knife, wow what a difference. It's the little things in life that really make a difference.

    More videos please!!!

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  • May 17, 2010 at 2:25 pm
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    great great video as always hello from mexico 🙂

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  • May 17, 2010 at 3:13 pm
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    Thanks for the info, I live in a far away small town down in Mexico and have two carpenters friends that have a missing finger or two because of cutting wood pushing with their hands, one of them sold me all his tools because he cant work no more with one hand, Im gonna build some push sticks from scrap, no way to get down here those fancy plastic sticks, thanks again .

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  • May 17, 2010 at 9:31 pm
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    @CommonSensePete Thanks Pete. I do sell some DVDs. I wouldn't call them comprehensive studies exactly, but they are on various topics and projects. You can check them out at shop thewoodwhisperer com (dots removed because I can't post links in comments.)

    Reply
  • May 18, 2010 at 1:53 am
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    Mark, first off your videos are great. just a video idea, white glue vs. yellow glue. the current shop i work at used white glue for years, however when i got hired i suggested to switch to yellow, since we work on high end pieces. Ive seen you use Titebond II is that your general everyday glue?

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  • May 18, 2010 at 2:46 am
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    @joe65968 Yeah it is. But that's just usually what I end up purchasing when I run out just because its convenient, and if I need something with water resistance I have it. But there isn't a whole lot of difference between white and yellow glue. And for interior furniture, either one will give sufficient bond strength.

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  • May 18, 2010 at 9:35 pm
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    what a dream shop that you have. If i would win a million, i would have a shop like you

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  • May 21, 2010 at 1:24 am
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    @TheWoodWhisperer we were finding that that white glue was not holding up, after many domino joints failed, solid laminations spread apart too. we were also getting furniture back with failed joinery. it also is impossible to sand, it gums up quickly unlike Titebond II or III. It would be interesting to do a video on glues. 2

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  • June 21, 2010 at 5:14 am
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    Great information, and great shirt.

    Reply
  • June 9, 2011 at 7:00 am
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    Your videos are great!Quick question.What is the table saw you are using?

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  • June 9, 2011 at 2:45 pm
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    @hugitibugiti That is a modified PM2000. Just has a fancy paint job.

    Reply
  • January 3, 2013 at 9:02 am
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    thanks for the video. I'm still super afraid of the tablesaw after my friend cut part of his thumb off while we were cutting some stock, but this sort of helps give me some ideas to be safer. still worried

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  • April 7, 2013 at 11:26 pm
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    Very helpful. Thanks!

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  • April 10, 2013 at 4:06 am
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    Can you explain more about magswitch? How the magnet works, how it grips and not sliding away?

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  • April 12, 2013 at 2:49 pm
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    It's basically just a powerful magnet. I'd look up magswitch and see if they have any info about how their product works online.

    Reply
  • May 29, 2013 at 9:15 pm
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    What about when you are ripping a long piece? If you don't have a feather board do you just use another stick to keep the sideways pressure?

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  • May 29, 2013 at 9:17 pm
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    You can. I usually use my left hand to apply pressure into the fence while using a push stick in the right hand. As the end of the piece nears the blade, I stop pushing with my left hand and just push through with the right.

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  • August 14, 2013 at 11:42 pm
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    An alternative to using your hand pushing wood against the fence is to use an anti-kickback feeder wheel just after the blade to hold the wood against the fence so it does not "wander" into the rear of the blade after the cut is done.
    Grip-Tite makes one that can be clamped to a fence for $15.

    Reply
  • January 21, 2014 at 3:57 am
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    Thanks for sharing, Marc.  I was trained machinist/toolmaker but traded my toolbox with the teacher’s hat many years ago.  Until just few months ago, I have never worked with wood; but since then, I started to build some toys for my grandchildren.  I never thought I was going to do that let alone to enjoy doing it.  I find your sharing woodworking experience via videos most helpful for novice ‘woodworker’ like me, and your presentation quite easy to understand and to follow.  Keep up the good work, and thanks again.

    Reply
  • March 13, 2014 at 5:35 pm
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    This is the second WoW shirt I've seen you wear so far. WoW usually kills productivity, but you seemed to find a way to combat that. Good job.

    Reply
  • July 9, 2015 at 2:06 pm
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    I consider myself a pro having worked in a boatyard for 35 years but as the saying goes "Knowing what you know, you never know enough and there is always time for learning"  So thumbs up and keep the good work

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  • November 2, 2015 at 6:50 am
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    What would you recommend to cut 1/16", 1/8" up to 1/2" edge strips for like cabinet plywood on a table saw? I did it with cutting leaving the strips between the fence and blade using two push sticks (one pushing forward and one on the left side of the stock/blade pushing down and in past the blade. Is that flirting with a potential injury or ok to do? I am new to table sawing.

    Reply
  • November 4, 2015 at 7:05 pm
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    Holy clamp wall, Batman! Cool little video. Thanks for the general overview.

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  • March 4, 2016 at 4:50 am
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    Thank's I learn a lot from you. Good job

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  • June 30, 2016 at 4:31 pm
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    Thanks

    Reply
  • July 25, 2016 at 3:27 pm
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    Good video, thanks for posting! What's the music at the beginning?

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  • July 27, 2016 at 8:10 am
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    What IF you have a cast aluminium table? I do

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  • November 30, 2016 at 3:39 am
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    Are there any downsides to the GRR-Ripper besides cost?

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  • December 23, 2016 at 3:36 am
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    I think any sort of pusher that allows one's hand to be directly above the blade while pushing downwards is a bad idea. That Grripper thing just looks dangerous.

    Reply
  • June 11, 2017 at 6:57 pm
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    hey you have a real good channel. i like your honest reviews and how you explain pros and cons and explain with alot of details. keep up the good work

    Reply
  • July 29, 2017 at 4:48 pm
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    I know you made this video a long time ago, but just to update people, there's a better version of your 'yellow push stick' at www.tablesawpushstick.com. I say this because after 30 years of cabinetmaking, I might not have lost the tip of my ring finger if I had one of these.

    Reply
  • September 17, 2017 at 8:08 pm
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    Good, Bravo.10+

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  • November 25, 2017 at 10:30 pm
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    All I can see are the h. Dission & Sons hand saws on the wall in back, I love these videos but I couldn't ignore the composition, put them all the same angle or something, but thanks for the knowledge and thank you for these great videos I know you spend a lot of time on them and the brain grab is invaluable it means so much, thanks

    Reply
  • December 5, 2017 at 2:10 am
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    I just got a little hobby table saw, and this video has really helped me figure out how I can get myself working safely. Thanks a bunch!

    Reply
  • December 26, 2017 at 8:38 pm
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    Great video……always refreshing to find a professional who isn't "mocking safety!" I LOVE the GGGGRRRRRRRRIIIIPPPPPEER!

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  • January 7, 2018 at 8:28 pm
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    Marc, what brand is the yellow push stick in the video?

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  • February 1, 2018 at 8:17 pm
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    Don't like the gripper. I always like to have eyes on the blade and workpiece…… while wearing safety glasses on said eyes, of course

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  • February 2, 2018 at 12:19 am
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    Just purchased both featherboards and gripper, almost lost thumb last week, due to my own negligence whilst setting up extractor unit…to busy watching where the dust was goin🤪⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

    Reply
  • June 28, 2018 at 4:04 am
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    Very informative thanks!

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  • September 29, 2018 at 3:24 am
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    $10K worth of clamps behind your back.

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  • December 28, 2018 at 12:04 pm
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    A really clear guide, thankyou!

    Reply
  • July 12, 2019 at 4:48 pm
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    I like your favorite yellow push stick and can not seem to find one like it. Can you tell me what brand & where to find one. Thanks

    Reply
  • August 23, 2019 at 7:40 pm
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    Great Content. Thanks

    Reply

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