Templates for Router Success
A straight router bit can cut out just about any shape you want. All if needs is a little guidance from you.
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A straight router bit can cut out just about any shape you want. All it needs is a little guidance from you.
The first time you use a router, you're delighted to realize that it's capable of doing almost anything you want it to do. Soon after that, you're dismayed to realize that it's also capable of doing what it wants to do, such as veering off course when you try to freehand it along a line.
This is where templates enter the picture. You can turn a humble piece of hardboard into a template, or pattern, for a decorative design, structural part, geometric feature, or any other shape.
As you make the template, you can fuss over the details until they're just right, or toss it and start again. Once you perfect the template, you can use it to produce the same shape, and you can do it countless times.
When you rout a raised shape onto the surface of a project, the grain flows without interruption. That gives you a well-crafted effect that you can't get by cutting out the shape with a scrollsaw and gluing it on.
Template routing comes in handy for all kinds of applications, such as lettering, inlays, and shaping identical furniture parts. Here, we'll discuss how to make decorative shapes.
Template guide bushings turn your router into a pattern follower. A guide consists of a round plate that attaches to the router subbase and a tube, or bushing, that protrudes below. The cutting end of the bit projects through the bushing, and the outer rim of the bushing rides along the edge of the template.
Template guides come in two basic styles, as shown at left. The most common type screws into place and fits a wide range of router brands and models. The other clicks neatly into place-but fits only Bosch routers. In both styles, you can buy several sizes of bushings to correspond with router bits of various diameters.
A plunge router does a great job in template work, and becomes especially valuable when you want to save both the "positive" shape that you cut out and the "negative" shape that's left behind. We'll return to that concept in a minute.
The plunge design allows you to start and stop each cut vertically. With a fixed-base router, you're almost certain to create a slight imperfection as you pivot the bit into place.
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