Sometimes the best workmanship that a woodworker does is never seen on the final project. It sits in a corner of the workshop and collects dust until it is time to make another of the same project. I am, of course, talking about templates. In these cases, the final project is not much more than a copy of the template. The amount of care and time that a woodworker puts into creating a template will certainly show through in the final product, but if a template is done correctly, it will save you time and make your project look very impressive.
Why use a template? Templates are especially handy when you need to create multiple items repeatedly. I will admit that I get a little template crazy. I sometimes create a template just to create another template. For instance, recently I decided to make some racks for my pipe clamps so I could hang them up neatly on the wall. It wasn’t really necessary that all of the U shaped slots on the rack be identical, but I am a bit of a stickler for such things.
I first made a template for a single slot. I then used this template to create another template with multiple slots. I accomplished this by using double stick tape to attach the single slot to longer workpiece of the final template. I then routed the slot by following the single slot template with a flush trim bit mounted in my router table. Once this was done, I then moved the single slot template the desired distance and reattached it. I then routed out the second slot on the final template.
I repeated this process until my final template had the right number of slots. In this case, I only had to put a little effort into making one slot, which translated into several identical slots. This was a real time saver on something that could have become very mundane.
I did something similar on my Marquetry Mirror project. I wanted to make sure that the mirror frame was completely symmetrical. I started by making a template for half of the mirror frame. I then used this template to create the other half of the frame. By book-matching the templates together, I had a perfectly symmetrical mirror frame template.