Template Routing Guarantees Repeatable Results
Building a project with a number of curved parts that are identical is always a challenge. How do you make them exactly the same? The secret is to use a template and rout the parts to shape. Combined with a table-mounted router and a flush-trim bit, a template guarantees exact copies.
The idea of template routing is really pretty simple. The bearing of the bit rides against a template which is attached to the workpiece. Since the bearing “follows” the template, the cutting edges of the bit shape the part to match the template.
It’s worth taking time to carefully prepare the template. For starters, the bearing runs against the edge of the template, so choose a material that’s free of voids. You’ll find that ¼” hardboard works well. Lay out the desired shape of the part on the hardboard, and then use a bandsaw or jig saw to cut close to the line. Carefully sand up to the line until the template is the exact shape you want. Be sure to check for any irregularities in the edge of the template because they will transfer to the workpiece.
When positioning the template on the workpiece, pay attention to the figure of the wood and how it will look in the finished project. Orient the template for best effect and attach it with cloth-backed double-sided tape. Make sure the template and workpiece are dust-free to ensure a good bond. That type of tape has a lot of holding power; you may need to seep mineral spirits into the tape to separate the template and workpiece. But if you have any doubts about the tape’s ability to hold the template and workpiece solidly together, use hot-melt glue in its place, or tack the template to the workpiece with brads (if a few tiny holes in the workpiece don’t matter).
With all of the preliminaries taken care of, the actual routing goes quickly. Mount a flush-trim bit in the router and adjust the bit height so the bearing will ride against the edge of the template. Then turn on the router and ease the workpiece into the bit, routing from right to left. Keep the workpiece moving. If you stay too long in one spot, the bit may burn the wood. After routing all the way around the template, it’s a good idea to make a final clean-up pass to get as smooth an edge as possible.
Auxiliary Fence Speeds Rabbet Cuts
A table saw-mounted dado set makes quick work of cutting a rabbet in a workpiece – provided you use an auxiliary fence. Setting up the dado stack goes fast because you simply adjust it for a rough width of cut slightly wider than the rabbet. You make a cut by positioning the auxiliary fence so a portion of the dado set is “buried” in a recess in the fence. The exposed part of the set determines the width of the rabbet. Make the auxiliary fence from 2x4 stock cut to match the length of the rip fence. To cut the recess, adjust the dado set for the maximum width of cut and lower the set below the saw table. Then clamp the auxiliary fence in place, position it over the dado and lock the rip fence. After checking to make sure the dado stack will cut only into the auxiliary fence (not the rip fence), turn on the saw and slowly raise the dado to cut the recess.
On-the-money, splinter-free crosscuts are well within your grasp using most well-made table saws, but you do have to do a few things to ensure great results cut after cut. Download here