Template Routing

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Template routing is very useful when you want to make exact copies of more than one piece.  It is especially useful when the piece contains a curve.  One of the problems that can occur when template routing a curve is that the grain direction will change.  This can result in chip-out when routing against the grain in a curve.  Instead of taking a chance with chip-out, I started using more than one router bit.

(Watch a video that contains a great template routing demo)

  • To get around this problem of chip-out, I started using two bits to accomplish the task (shown in the picture to the left).  One with the bearing on top and one with the bearing on the bottom.
  • To start, I first make a template from 1/2" MDF.  The pattern is copied to the MDF and cut close to the line at the band saw.  I take the pattern to the line at the spindle sander.
  • If you use a large enough piece of MDF for the pattern you can keep your fingers further away from the spinning carbide!
  • After you have the pattern cleaned up at the spindle sander, trace the pattern onto the work piece.  Cut close to this line on the work piece at the band saw leaving the line.
  • This time, attach the template to the work piece with carpet tape (double sided tape).  The tape will hold it, don't sweat it.  It is amazing how strong this bond really is.  Sometimes it takes a lot of effort to remove the template from the work piece. 
  • First I start with a pattern bit that has the bearing on the bottom (actually called a top bearing bit, but the router is upside-down in the table) with the pattern on the bottom of the work piece.
  • I rout half way around the curve until the grain starts to change direction because of the curve.
  • The pattern bit is removed and replaced with a flush trim bit that has the bearing on top (actually called a bottom bearing bit).  Once the bits are swapped out, I can complete the curve, but this time the work piece is on the bottom of the template.