These days, templates are about as ubiquitous to routing as router bits. When you need a template, however, generally you have to make it yourself. That takes time, effort and most importantly, accuracy. Sometimes there’s just no other option but to dust off your pattern-making skills, particularly if you’re creating a unique shape. But wouldn’t it be handy if you could reach for a ready-made template more often for those simpler jobs, like routing circles, rounding off corners or cutting polygons?
John Martin of Martin’s Router Template sure thinks so.
“I’ve always thought that creating a template from a piece of blank material seems like a backward way to do things…make the shape in order to make a matching shape. But I was also never very good at fashioning them by hand, and I’m a pretty anal-retentive guy. I wanted them to be much more precise,” John admits.
So, a number of years ago, Martin invested in a ShopBot CNC router system and started experimenting with it in the hopes of taking the “handmade” aspect out of template-making. As it turns out, John’s no stranger to CAD programs. With a master’s degree in chemical engineering, he’s a project manager at Honeywell by day and a seasoned CAD user. So, it didn’t take him long to parlay that experience into making precision router templates that he hopes will be beneficial to other woodworkers, too.
Martin only recently launched this new company, and he’s introducing three categories of templates. All of them are made from rigid 1/4-in.-thick sheet PVC, and he warrants them to be free of defects for one year.
First, John is offering three styles of circle-cutting templates (small, medium, large) — in either concave or convex profiles. The templates provide quarter-, half- or full-circle cutouts to rout circles or rounded corners with radii ranging from 1/4 in. to 4 in. The circle sizes increase in quarter-inch increments. Each template provides from four to 12 different circle profiles.
Or, you can buy PVC templates for making small, medium or large ovals. Both concave and convex options are available here, too, in sizes ranging from 1 x 2 in. to 3 1/2 x 7 in. A variety of different oval sizes or partial oval curves are cut into each template.
John also makes templates to rout pentagons, hexagons, heptagons and octagons. Each template features two or three polygon cutouts, and the overall template is cut into a larger polygon of the same shape as the smaller ones. By varying the diameters of your router bit and/or guide collar, you can expand the range of polygon sizes possible with each template.
But, all of these template options are only the beginning, and John hopes you will provide important feedback for more template styles to come.
“Since my business is brand-new, I hope my customers will give me input on what sorts of templates would be beneficial to their woodworking. I surely don’t hold a corner on this area. If you have an idea for a new template that could be of broad appeal to others, I’d love to hear about it. If I decide to manufacture it, I’ll give you a free one, or you can choose one of my other templates instead,” John says.
If you have need for more custom varieties of templates, Martin’s Router Template can also design templates to meet your specifications. John accepts phone requests, paper drawings or a CAD file of the template you’d like to have made. He’ll charge you for the programming time and material costs involved. Templates up to 4 ft. x 8 ft. are possible, and John can manufacture PVC templates in a range of thicknesses up to 1 in. He can also obtain PVC in a variety of colors other than white.
“I once created an 8-ft.-long whale shape with an articulating mouth for one client, so really no template design is out of the question,” John adds.
To speak with John Martin directly about a template order or idea, or to find answers to questions not addressed on his website, call him at (630) 440-0036.