Tuesday, October 24, 2006


This entry is about the templating technique I was shown by Alan, from one of the boats in the little marina next door to Lady Jane.

What happened was, I had cut one of the large pieces of ply for the second last shelf in the steering room and got it completely wrong.

An expensive mistake, as those big boards of ply are expensive and, once cut, are hard to re-use because of their shape.

Anyway after hearing of my problems, Alan, who was on board for some other reason, tried explaining templating to me.

Eventually we had to go across to his boat so he could show me how it was done.

TemplatingThis technique beats just about anything else I've tried, with the key steps shown in the picture:

  • Buy a board of cheap, easy to work, material - I'm using 4mm MDF, and some screws to hold them together.

  • Cut strips of board some 75-50mm wide.

    The width and length ultimately depends on the size of the boards you will eventually cut.

    If you are cutting curves, you may need to cut thicker lengths to accommodate the curve.

  • Cut the strips to the lengths around the edges of the final shape to cut.

  • Where you are cutting a curve or a difficult shape - find a narrow length of offcut, drill a hole, or holes, through which a pencil will go.

    Trace the curve on one of the strips held against the chord of the curve, holding one end of the offcut at 90 degrees against the edge of the curve while your pencil, through the hole on the other end, traces that curve onto the strip.

  • Join all the cut pieces with screws, such that the finished outline exactly matches the final shape you need to cut.

    I find it helps to temporarily screw the strips to the edges of where I'm cutting the board for, then join the pieces on to one-another. Take care so that you can unscrew the whole template without having to dismantle it.

  • Make as many templates as you need before arranging them on your piece of board to cut, so as to get the most possible use out of the board (pay attention to the side of board which will face outward).

  • Cut the board and enjoy the satisfaction of a series of perfect fitting pieces (nearly) every time.

    I find a mallet helps with the more perfect fitting boards

  • Dismantle the templates pieces so you can re-use the strips and screws elsewhere.

This has been so useful for me, I thought I'd pass it on.

It has also to be said that Fred has taken to this like a duck to water.

If you have a better technique, or find success with this one, I'd love to hear from you.

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