In cabinet making, using the proper push blocks is like buying insurance: build them properly, and they will serve you well. But pay no attention to their condition, and you may get surprised or hurt when you least expect it.
Take them apart
If you don’t need a particular jig or push block, take it apart. Discard it. burn it. Don’t have it taking precious shop space. Recycle the wood if possible, or discard it permanently. Keeping obsolete jigs may force you into taking out another mortgage, just to keep the shop functioning – that is, you will need a larger one at some point.
Push blocks are the perfect example of buying insurance when you need it. If you are going to machine stock in the shop using a jointer, for example, keep your fingers away from the rotating blades. A good push block is the perfect aid, as it will force you to keep your fingers away from the blades, while allowing you to get the work piece to beyond the blades at all times. I always recommend you avoid pushing the work piece with your hands; this is an injury waiting to happen.
The following is a high-resolution image of the push block I prefer to use on the jointer and, when possible, also on the table saw:
In this video I show how quickly assembled jigs and push blocks can be dismantled and recycled. I especially like the handle-shaped push block, as I can rely on it to help me joint even the heaviest boards:
Music by Patroux, Keys and Colors album; Creative Commons license.
What do YOU do between projects?
I would love to hear how you handle the jigs and other project-specific jigs, once you are done with the project. Thanks!
— Al Navas