I just finished making my granddaughter a child’s rocker for her first Christmas out of cherry wood. I band sawed all the parts and hand sanded them into shape. All came out great. But now my next two projects will require making many multiple parts, so the use of templates will work great. But here is the problem: How do you make perfect templates? For us small shop guys that don’t have CNC machinery, how do you make the templates? Let’s say for a one-piece rear leg for a chair that you would rough cut out and then finish with a pattern bit and router making them all the same. I think you know what I am getting at. – Ken Phillips
Chris Marshall: There’s no shortcuts to making templates … just careful work using whatever tools are required for the task (band saw, table saw, spindle sander, files, etc). Some woodworkers who own CNC machines will make templates for a fee, and they’d be able to produce very precise ones with no sweat equity from you. But, for the projects I build for our magazine, I’m happy to make all of my templates manually. That is exacting and careful work, but once the template is done, duplicating identical parts from it makes it worth the effort. Just a suggestion here: if you plan to re-use your templates over and over, I’d suggest buying some Baltic birch plywood. It’s the best stuff, in terms of durability, because there are almost no voids between the plys like you find on cheaper plywoods. It’s also much harder through its thickness than MDF. So, repeated use of flush-trim or pattern bits won’t leave little tracks along the template edges from pressing against the pilot bearings.