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Back to Basics - Starter Pin on the Router Table
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The router table is the ideal way to rout parts to shape using a template. A flush trimming bit, the proper template and you are off! But getting the cut started can be a bit tricky. As the bit begins to cut the wood, the cutting edge wants to pull the bit into the stock. The bearing will keep the bit from cutting too deep, but until contact is made, there is real risk of tearout and dangerous kickback.

A starter pin is the key to a safe and clean cut. It may be the simplest safety device ever and it works! The starter pin forms a fixed point that you use to pivot the part into the cutter, providing leverage that allows you to ease the stock into the router bit. Start by drilling and tapping a 1/4-20 hole into your router table top or insert, fairly close to the throat opening. The pin can be as simple as a 1/4-20 bolt, with the head removed to form a straight pin. I also cut a small slot in the top to allow for a screwdriver.

For a more sophisticated no-mar pin, I use a 1/4-20 allen head cap screw, holding a nylon spacer. Both can be bought from nearly any hardware store or home center. To use the pin, keep the part well away from the cutter and press it against the starter pin. Keep firm contact with the pin, and pivot the stock into the cutter until the bearing is in full contact with the template. Now pivot the part off the pin and rout as normal. A starter pin is a simple and easy way to make your template routing far safer and easier. It is very inexpensive, and can save your parts or even your fingers! Try it once and you'll start using a starter every time.

posted on February 2, 2010 by Ralph Bagnall
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