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Thread: Router template material

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
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    El Dorado Hills, CA, USA
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    Router template material

    I typically use mdf or hardboard for router templates, but they seem to wear faster than I'd like. Run the bearing along them ten times or so, and they start to ding and dent. I was thinking of using a white cutting board instead on a project where I'll probably need close to 20 passes. Is that a good idea, or is there some other material I should try? And I presume that plastic would cut fine on my bandsaw?

    Thanks

  2. #2
    For critical templates, I use Baltic Birch plywood.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
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    El Dorado Hills, CA, USA
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert LaPlaca View Post
    For critical templates, I use Baltic Birch plywood.
    I have no idea why I didn't think of that. Thanks Robert.

  4. #4
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    If I use MDF, I will give it a coat of shellac. It makes it slicker and stronger on the cut edges.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
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    Doylestown, PA
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    I also use a good quality plywood. If I were creating a template for production I might use a cutting board or similar. I wonder if plywood would wear with really heavy use. Plastic is sort of self lubricating so might not be prone to wear, just guessing though.

  6. #6
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    On all the router templates that I intended for long term use, like the ones I made for hanging doors, I used Baltic Birch plywood, and hardened the working edges with epoxy. Some are over 30 years old, and still work perfectly.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
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    SE PA - Central Bucks County
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    MDF is my normal go-to, but the suggestion for BB is a good one as long as you take the time to properly smooth the edge surfaces before using them as a template. The plastic materials might seem interesting at first, but when you consider their expansion/contraction relative to temperature, they are not necessarily the best choice if you want "year round" precision. That stuff can move a lot! If it needs to be "plastic" acrylics are the way to go but can be $$$. Many folks who do pattern routing for guitar work employ an acrylic template as a "master" and use it to create MDF templates that are disposable if they get buggered.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
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    If the template is curved, I like MDF because it is easy to shape. It is soft, and has no grain or voids. If you need a sturdier template, you can use the MDF one as a master to make a baltic birch working template.

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