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    Push Blocks for the Jointer

    By Peter Schlebecker

    Using a jointer to flatten a board’s face or to straighten an edge on narrow stock can bring the operator’s hands dangerously close to the machine’s horizontal cutterhead.

    Guiding the work with push sticks helps keep your hands out of danger. It also helps achieve a clean cut by ensuring that the work doesn’t bounce or “chatter” as it crosses the cutterhead’s rotating knives.

    For face jointing, a flat style of push stick known as a push block works best; we ask that students use them no matter how large or small the workpiece.

    A push block is a flat board with a top-mounted handle that allows the user to maintain downward pressure. There are two basic designs, each with a distinct function. One uses a cleat on the back to grip the trailing end of the stock. The other, used at the leading end of the workpiece, has no cleat but grips the stock with a nonslip rubber pad.

    To use them, take the cleated stick in your right hand and the rubber-soled block in your left to maintain downward pressure at the leading end of the workpiece.

    (Originally printed in the Sept/Oct 2006 issue of Fine Woodworking magazine (FWW #186))