Making Push Blocks Workshop Projects

My homemade 12″ jointer is nearly finished and some of the final steps are to ensure the tables are flat and lined up properly. After doing what I could with the limited measuring tools that I have, the machine must be used to make cuts to test the results. As I say in the video below, I’m not crazy about free-handing stock over the cutter head and a good part of that is the force pushes my hands directly toward the cutter. Unlike a cut that I make on the table saw, where I’m always pushing away from the blade, if something goes wrong momentum will feed my precious fingers to this hungry beast of a machine. And I don’t want any part of that!
So, the solution is to make a pair of push blocks that will keep my hands out of harms way while I run the stock through. Of course, these can’t be used for every cut, but are perfect for flattening the face of wider stock.

To get started, I raided my scrap wood cabinet for some suitable plywood to make a pair. Like my table saw push stick, these really shouldn’t be made from solid wood, since solid wood (especially for the handle) can break unpredictably. I made the base from 1/2″ thick Baltic birch and the handle from 3/4″ thick. To fasten the handle to the base, I milled mortises for them to fit into. When glued in solid, this connection will be a lot stronger than using screws:

I located the handles diagonally, thinking it would make them more ergonomic, and that seems to be the case. I also made one opposite to the other, after holding my hands above the jointer as if I were feeding stock through. I think it’s important that when you make something like this that it is as comfortable to use as possible, since that will increase your control and confidence.

After the handles were glued on, I added rubber to the base for grip material. I used spray adhesive to glue it on, but contact cement (brushed on) would work as well:

I bought this rubber mat at my local Home Depot a few years ago for another purpose, but it’s perfect for this. It’s about 1/8″ thick and made from real rubber bits that have been fused together. Using the push blocks for the first time, I can say that the grip these provide feels solid, with no slipping.

I made a video of the build: