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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-21-2012, 04:01 PM Thread Starter
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Default Templates for routing?

Just thinking out loud...

How do you guys make templates for routing patterns?

I have seen a few videos (like Harry's) so I guess the bottom line is to create a new pattern template, I have to...

Draw or create an original piece. Let's use a fish (flounder) as an example. I suppose I would draw it on a piece of mdf and make corrections until I get it looking like I want. Then cut it out on the band saw (or scroll saw, which I don't have). Next, sand and tweak until I get the pattern smooth.

Does that sound about right?

I just looked on the wall, and there hangs my Rockler router table insert. Hmmm...I might try to make a tray using that thing to practice...and I have some white pine to work with! :-)

I will take any advice you might have. I have a laminate trim bit and a few other bits, bushings , 1617 combo, etc.

Thanks in advance.
Mike
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-21-2012, 04:53 PM
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-21-2012, 05:02 PM
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......................
Draw or create an original piece. Let's use a fish (flounder) as an example. I suppose I would draw it on a piece of mdf and make corrections until I get it looking like I want. Then cut it out on the band saw (or scroll saw, which I don't have). Next, sand and tweak until I get the pattern smooth.

Does that sound about right?
.......................
Basically, that's about it. You can draw your pattern on paper and spray glue it to your template stock, or use a photo or whatever. Make the first template out of 1/4" MDF or ply, it'll be easier to sand and tweak. Any defect in the template will transfer to your project so do a really good job on this. Then if you think you'll use it more than once or twice or you'll be cutting thick material with a big bit just use a pattern bit to cut a duplicate in 1/2" MDF.

Want to get more advanced? Our fellow member Quillman has begun a series of treatises on template routing, Chapters one and two are currently available.

Charles Neil's The Magic of Routers DVD set goes quite a bit in depth on making and using templates and a lot more. You might find it at a local Woodcraft or other woodworking store.

Just a note: Template routing is essentially a trimming operation. Bandsaw, jigsaw, chainsaw or table saw your stock as close to the finished product as you can. Use oversized bearings or bushings to sneak up on your final cut, making that cut a smooth and effortless operation will minimize the risk of kickbacks, broken bits, burnt work and trips to the emergency room. Make SURE the template is firmly attached to the work, don't rely on your fingers if you want to keep them. If you're using top-bearing bits, get one that closely matches your stock thickness in cutting length, long cutters flex and chatter and leave a lot of sharp metal sticking out of the router to come into contact with things they aren't supposed to cut(including you). If you think pattern routing is inherently safe just ask Darryl. Better safe than sorry...

And have fun, there's a whole new world opening up to you!

HTH,
Bill

P.S. Pat, you beat me to it! It's only 3:00 out there on the Left Coast, shouldn't you be working?

Last edited by billg71; 09-21-2012 at 05:08 PM.
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-21-2012, 08:45 PM Thread Starter
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Good info. Thanks for the help.
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-22-2012, 10:18 AM
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Yep, that's basically it. Except I always draw mine on paper, much easier to make changes on paper. When I get what I want, glue it down on 1/2" plywood. Then cut it out with my scollsaw, then sand smooth. Then glue that to anothe piece of 1/2" plywood, rout. Then drill nail pilot holes thru them both; I hate rubber cement and double sided tape. Anyway, most of what I do the nail holes wind up out of sight anyway. I use 1 1/4" thin nails, woks great. That'll give you a 1" thick pattern, more to hold onto, and a lot less chance of slipping and getting fingers in the wrong place. This also gives you any design you may want on the paper on the template/pattern. I also write any needed info on the template, and 'master' on it; saves it from being used and needing to make another. Then just nail the template on the wood being routed, rout it, pull apart, repeat as needed.

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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-22-2012, 01:08 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks Theo. Appreciate it.
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-22-2012, 02:21 PM
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Since MFD is not very sturdy, then I too prefer to use plywood for my patterns. If I know that I will be using it a lot I use baltic burch.
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-22-2012, 04:58 PM
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Since MFD is not very sturdy, then I too prefer to use plywood for my patterns. If I know that I will be using it a lot I use baltic burch.
I don't use MDF much, but the few times I did, found out that two layers of it are sturdy; don't know how that would hold up for the long haul, but just for a bit, worked fine for me.

Mostly I just get a good sheathing plywood, because I use it for most things, tool stands, shelves, you name it. Works well for my templates. I've never had a problem with any of them lasting, but if they have a problem, gouge, whateve, I just do a fast patch, then use it to rout a nice piece, glue that to a piece of plywood, rout it out, and presto, new and perfect master. Done that more than once. Then I make sure to either cut the old master (and label the new on 'master') or cross out the word 'master' on it, and perhaps use it in whatever I am doing.

I've done this stuff so much I sometimes tend to forget a detail, or three, telling someone else how I do it. Feel free to ask if something puzzles you; as long as you remember that on some of my detailed jigs, or whateve, I put this stuff together as I go along, and sometimes I don't know how I did it two minutes after it's finished. Zen woodworking.

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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-23-2012, 12:54 PM
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I don't use MDF much, but the few times I did, found out that two layers of it are sturdy; don't know how that would hold up for the long haul, but just for a bit, worked fine for me.
Hi Theo

I use MR-MDF (the green core, moisture resistant version) for jigs whenever I can - it's much more dense than the ordinary stuff - but even with standard MDF I'll often get a few dozen items out of a jig with little or no sign of wear. Were I template routing 100+ items I'd consider using Tufnol (phenolic plastic), but that is quite expensive. One trick is to use the largest diameter bearing template bit you have (e.g. 3/4in rather than 1/4in) as smaller diameter bearings seem to wear the template faster. Another wrinkle is to seal the MDF template with a couple of coats of shellac sanding sealer which hardens the surface nicely. One big plus of using MDF over plywood is that MDF has absolutely no voids in addition to being dead flat.

Regards

Phil
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