Using A Starting

Because with a hand-held router a piloted bit usually is used without any other son of guide, woodworkers sometimes do the same with a table-mounted router. Usually, no harm results: the workpiece has enough mass, and you're holding it tightly enough that the operation is successfully completed.

But once in a while—and it has to happen only once for you to experience a lifetime of regret—the cutter will catch the wood and rip the workpiece out of your grasp. It happens at the very start of a cut.

Here's why: With most piloted bits, the cutter is larger than the pilot. It therefore engages the wood

first. For the pilot to control things, it has to contact the wood, and it can do that only if the cutter bites into the wood deeply enough to draw it against the pilot. If the combination of circumstances is just right, the cutter can. instead, flick the work-piece aside. You're never ready for this that's why it's a surprise. You're pushing the wood into the bit, and when the wood suddenly exits right, it isn't unusual for your hands to keep moving .. right into the cutter.

The best way to avoid this accident is to always use a starting pin with a piloted bit (unless you are using a fence). It controls things until the stock gets to the pilot. A starting pin is a fulcrum for the work; you brace the work first against the non-moving pin. then "lever" it into the bit. The pin is nonmoving. so you can securely brace the work against it. Moreover, the pin gives you leverage. multiplying the strength of your hold on the wood and dampening the cutter's energy. (If you are working without a starting pin, then the spinning pilot is your fulcrum.) The most common manifestation of the starting pin is a wooden peg or metal or plastic pin projecting from the mounting plate 2 to 4 inches from the bit.

A starting pin is the fulcrum for starting a cut with a piloted bit. Brace the work against the stationary pin, then pivot it until it contacts the bit. Even if the cutter grabs the work, the pin's position prevents it from shooting it to the tight, or worse, snatching it from your grasp.

The staning pin is called a stoning pin because it helps at the beginning of a cut. Once die cutter is engaged and the work is in firm contact with the pilot, the pin is superfluous. It won't hurt to keep the work against it throughout as much of the cut as possible; but you can't always keep the work against both the pin and the cutter. You'll probably find that if you concentrate on keeping the work against the pin throughout the cut. you'll

A starting pin doesn't have to be a 'pin." This triangular scrap, clamped to the router fable, is as good a fulcrum as a more elaborate, handcrafted accessory. It is particularly easy, with this approach, to vary the distance between the "pin"and the bit.

occasionally let it get away from the pilot.

An alternative to the staning pin, useful only when you're routing all around a workpiece, is to sweep in on a long-grained side, rather than starting at a comer.

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