Push Sticks Prevent Impalement
Table saw kickback happens when a board trapped between the blade and the fence gets flung back at you after the cut is completed. The results can be dangerous, as you can see from the photo above. This particular mishap occurred while I was ripping 1/4-in.-thick splines for a hardwood floor. I made the mistake of using a push stick that was so shredded from overuse that the board kicked back and blew right under it, skewering my chair!
Fortunately, there are several ways to safely rip thin strips. One of the easiest methods is shown below. This push stick, more accurately called a push block, somewhat resembles a shoe with a heel. Be sure to also understand where to stop your table saw.
How to make a push stick
To make one, cut a notch in a 16-in.-long 2×6 a bit shallower than the thickness of the board you’re ripping and about 12 in. long. The top—or sole—of the notch puts downward pressure on the board as it passes through the blade, preventing the board from being flung upward. The end of the notch—or heel—hooks over the end of the board. The block lets you to push the workpiece with your fingers safely away from the blade and keeps the board from being kicked back.
As you make the cut, be sure to slide the push block all the way past the blade to avoid a kickback involving the block!