Templates for Router Success
Make Your Preparations
In most cases, 1/4" tempered hardboard makes the best choice for template material. It's inexpensive and easy to work with.
How are you going to draw the shape you want? If you're not too handy with a pencil, you can find lots of useful samples from scrollsaw pattern books and kids' coloring books.
Print out the shape, trace it, or copy it on a photocopying machine. Doing this enables you to enlarge or reduce it. Remember that the diameter of the template bushing limits your ability to rout into narrow slots and sharp inside curves. You might have to modify the shape slightly.
Affix this pattern to your template material with spray adhesive. Cut around it with a scrollsaw. To make usable positive and negative pieces, drill a 1/16" hole on the pattern line, thread your scrollsaw blade through, and begin to cut, as shown in the photo at left. You'll have a positive template that you can use to make a raised shape, and a negative one that's suitable for making a recessed version of that same shape. After completing the cut, remember to file or sand smooth the tiny dent left by the starter hole.
If you don't have a scrollsaw, take great care with a handheld jigsaw, and finish up with a coping saw if necessary. Carefully clean up any rough spots with files and sandpaper to guarantee a smooth finished product.
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