Best material for making templates for routing?

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Forum topic by Choupinette posted 08-04-2013 10:47 PM 2818 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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22 posts in 933 days

08-04-2013 10:47 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question router template

Hi, I’m a newbie and I want to use a router to shape small pieces of wood / plywood with templates. What is the best material for this? I suppose it has to be hard enough so that the ball bearings don’t end up digging in it and damaging it.

Would a “hard board” do it? Plywood OK? Hardwood necessary?

The kind of shape I’m after looks like this:

Thank you!

-- Christine G., Northern California

11 replies so far

View Howie's profile


2656 posts in 2087 days

#1 posted 08-04-2013 10:50 PM

I usually use 1/4” hardboard. That way the bearing can ride on it.

-- Life is good.

View Shawn Masterson's profile

Shawn Masterson

1270 posts in 1113 days

#2 posted 08-04-2013 10:56 PM

I use a lot of 1/4” underlayment. I pick it up free on site after the flooring guys get done.

View bondogaposis's profile


3590 posts in 1515 days

#3 posted 08-04-2013 10:57 PM

I use 1/4” MDF.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View waho6o9's profile


6532 posts in 1741 days

#4 posted 08-04-2013 11:17 PM

MDF is good as is Baltic Birch 1/2 inch plywood.

View RGtools's profile


3346 posts in 1819 days

#5 posted 08-04-2013 11:23 PM

I remember hearing about one guy using cheap plastic cutting boards. But that was to hold up to the abuse of making hundreds of a particular pattern.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

View rickf16's profile


385 posts in 2745 days

#6 posted 08-04-2013 11:35 PM

1/4 or even 1/2 MDF. Cheap and pretty durable. I still have the templates for the craft center I made for my wife.
Keep us posted.

-- Rick

View newwoodbutcher's profile


463 posts in 2014 days

#7 posted 08-04-2013 11:56 PM

I use 1/2” MDF

-- Ken

View Choupinette's profile


22 posts in 933 days

#8 posted 08-05-2013 12:17 AM

Wonderful, thank you. I think I’ll try a few, like MDF and plywood. I’m intrigued by the plastic cutting board idea. As for the underlayment, I’ll see if they have some avail. at the Habitat Restore.
Lots of experimenting ahead, I like it!

-- Christine G., Northern California

View Loren's profile


7982 posts in 2812 days

#9 posted 08-05-2013 01:17 AM

I use 1/4” hardboard usually for a throw-away type template.
The 1/4” thickness is easy to fair curves on with files. Go
to wider templates and fairing the curves is more work.

If you need durability for a production template, a good
quality veneer-core ply holds up well.


View NiteWalker's profile


2729 posts in 1741 days

#10 posted 08-05-2013 01:37 AM

MDF for throw away templates, baltic birch plywood for my permanents.
Never an issue.

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

View shampeon's profile (online now)


1582 posts in 1348 days

#11 posted 08-05-2013 04:31 AM

Yeah, use hardboard or quality plywood for the master, then make an MDF working template. Use the master once to make a working template, then use the working template to create any additional ones.

I’ve had master templates laser cut from melamine, too, and they’re great.

-- ian | "You can't stop what's coming. It ain't all waiting on you. That's vanity."

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