Push sticks and hold downs are essential safety tools for any shop. You could buy them, but once you start making your own, you will love using your custom pieces so much that you never want to go back.
Photos by wooden box maker
I like to make my own push sticks and hold downs because I can make them the perfect size for me, and I can easily replace them when they get chopped up. I have several standard push sticks for use on the table saw that I make between 1/4” to 3/4″ thicknesses. They consist of a simple cut out with a flat bottom with a notch on one end to hook onto the workpiece. I have a couple of handle shapes that work well and I generally use an old push stick to trace out the new one.
I also have various shapes I made for other tools. The well used one in the photo below I use on my bandsaw. I like the hooked end because it is comfortable and I can hang the push stick on my saw so it is always close at hand.
I also have a feather board that I use on both the chop saw and the table saw as a hold down. It allows me to get close to the blade when cutting thin stock. Holding down thin stock as close to the cut as possible helps prevent splitting.
Simple to make
The easiest way to make a push stick or a hold down is to cut out the shape on a bandsaw or scroll saw, then round over and sand the edges. Take great care to make sure the handle is comfortable so you will actually use the tool.
These are quick and easy to make, however, the base will eventually get chewed up. Rather than throwing out the whole thing, I re-use the handles.
Reuse the handle
When the push stick starts to get chewed up, I take it to the bandsaw and cut off the base. If I need to, I also flatten the cut on the jointer.
Next, I drill holes for a couple dowels to hold the new base in place on the old handle. I glue and dowel the base into place to make sure it doesn’t come loose while in use.
In this case, I used a wide base because I needed a new push stick to use on my jointer. The last step is to glue a small block on the end to hook onto the workpiece. That’s all there is to it.
Once you start making your own push sticks and hold downs you will find that it’s great to have something that fits your specific needs — as well as your specific hand!