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EXPLODING table saw push sticks are a real thing!

possibly one of the most dangerous things in your shop actually came as a safety device with your table saw wait what that clip was from a video by 731 Woodworks that came out about five days ago I'll put a link to it below so you can watch the whole thing right after it was posted as you can imagine I got emails asking if it's true that push sticks are now considered to be dangerous now looking at the thumbnail and if you just skimmed through the video I can see how some folks might have been confused after all every woodworker is taught from practically birth that push sticks are one of the most important safety devices you can and should use with your table saw so why was he saying things like this that these are actually very dangerous well he's right in that some have been injured by using the wrong type of push stick and that's an important distinction it's not the push stick itself that's inherently dangerous not even all plastic push sticks are dangerous as some people seem to have gleaned from that video man the thing great but there are certain types of plastic and certain practices that can cause injury and you do need to know about these so I'm glad 731 Drew attention to this and I want to make it clear that this isn't me calling out anything in his video in fact I contacted him and asked him if he would mind if I made this follow-up and he agreed so this is a collaboration to add some important context for those who may have missed certain key points in that original video because let's face it exciting shots like this I felt it pop can sometimes steal the attention from less flashy but important statements like this well I didn't get a violent explosion was what I was kind of hoping to catch on camera it's proven that these things are wildly unpredictable as to what's going to happen when they hit the blade the whole thing started with the social media discussion about injuries sustained when a plastic push stick made contact with the table saw blade and shattered sending shards flying at the operator like shrapnel this is a real thing cheap plastic table saw accessories including feather boards and Pusher paddles and even push sticks can get a little bit sketchy if they contact the blade if you want to be sure that your safety device does keep you safe you have to understand a couple key points first a push stick like a finger is not meant to touch the saw blade sure if I ever do touch the blade I'd rather lose this than this but that doesn't mean that I should be careless with the push stick just because I can buy a new one of these for a lot less than I can sew one of these back on unless it is a wooden push block that's specifically meant to be cut into you should keep it out of direct contact with the blade the best you can of course accidents do happen which is why we use push sticks instead of our fingers so you should also consider the material makeup of your push stick or really any plastic safety device that's going to get near your saw blade some Plastics react well and some not so much in the 731 video he tries to show how plastic sticks can shatter by using a makeshift testing device while hiding behind some plywood so he can Shield himself from potential shrapnel interestingly he wasn't able to achieve any explosions or catastrophic shattering that's because many push sticks particularly those made by reputable companies who specialize in woodworking products are made from carefully selected Plastics that are shatter resistant while other companies that just push out cheap plastic crap of all types with no knowledge of woodworking they use whatever type of plastic allows them to sell their push stick shaped object for as little as possible so how do you tell the difference between bad plastic and good plastic honestly I wish it were a lot easier unfortunately many retailers don't specify the type of plastic they use and very few table saw accessories have any markings on them that would identify the type of plastic sometimes a close inspection can help for example these two push sticks look very similar this one has a bit more surface texture but they seem to both be fairly hard to the touch the only way to tell that there is a difference is to shave it with a knife one of them shaves fairly easily while the other one is tougher so this one is softer than this one and I know that this softer one isn't going to shatter if it comes in contact with the saw blade because somebody in my shop has been careless with it and you can see cut marks on the end I can't be sure that this one won't because it's never been hit by a blade interestingly the softer of the two which came from Rockler has one large magnet on the side and the harder of the two which is an Amazon knockoff has two small magnets in the 731 video you can see that he tests what looks like the same cheap double magnet push stick and while it did not catastrophically shatter it did Splinter and perhaps something even more telling occurred notice how the end of the stick caught so hard on the blade that it ripped out of the screws holding it to its jig one could imagine that such a violent catch might also rip this right out of your hand it's the more likely risk with hard plastic push sticks yes they may shatter but time and again the various sticks he tested caught hard on the Blade's teeth which cause a range of dangerous reactions from a startling jerk to a kickback that punched a hole in his throat insert and even a violent ejection from The Jig I wouldn't want to be near a spinning saw blade when any of those things happened now at this point I suspect many of you may conclude that the 731 video is saying you should avoid plastic push sticks all together but that's not necessarily true as I said reputable manufacturers that specialize in woodworking products choose their materials specifically so they can be cut without shattering a few online retailers do state somewhere in the description that their product is shatter resistant or something to that effect so you should look for that if they don't you can sometimes read reviews for experiences of those who have used the product to see if a bunch of people are having these things explode on them now what about wooden push sticks after all a scrap of wood can be transformed into a safety device for a little more expenditure than some spare time and honestly that is a great option as long as you use sturdy material preferably with grain that runs from end to end so it won't snap in half along some weak grain while you're using it interestingly that 731 video didn't recommend a wooden push stick instead he recommended the bow push Pro now I'm sure some viewers wondered why'd he suggest buying something that you can so easily make yourself well I have actually used the push Pro a fair amount myself and I think I can add a bit more context to that part of the video too it comes down to comfort and convenience this is a comfortable push

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