Starter Pins

A lot of router table inserts come with a starter pin these days.  Even if you don't get one with your insert you can still purchase them separately on most woodworking sites.  But what the heck is it and why do you need it?

First of all a starter pin is a little piece of aluminum or steel that fits in a hole cut into your router table insert.  By placing the starter pin into the hole you have a little pin sticking up in your router insert that at first appears to be in the way.  I love to use profile edge bits with a bearing.  The bearing on the top of the bit gives you guidance and sets up the cut on the blade for the perfect distance on the router bit.  But as you know you can start some wood into the bit and have the bit kickback the wood until it rests onto the bearing.  This is not usually a big deal if you are using a straight piece of wood or even if you have a router fence guiding you into the bit.  But the big advantage comes when you are routing some stock that is not square, let's say a curved cabinet
door or a table top.  You can then take the wood stock and rest it on the start pin and use it as a sort of fulcrum to guide the wood to the bit.  This helps create a safer routing environment and keeps the first cut from gouging the wood.    Keep in mind the starter pin is just for starting, once you have the wood going through the bit, the profile bearing does most of the work for you.  Rarely will you get kickback once the wood is fully on the bit and cutting.

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Starter Pins