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Template Router Bits . . .


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Hey all . . . I've heard that people use piloted/bearing router bits and templates to smoothe out guitar bodies and what not. I have one (with a 1" cutting length) that is good for simple jointing type operations and cutting patterns in thinner stock.

How do you use these bits for the body though? I know you should take multiple passes, but if your cutting length is too short, you can't do a whole 1 3/4" side. If it's too long, the bearing will miss the template on the first passes. How do you go about cutting/routing with templates?

Any info would be great. Thanks :D

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multiple bits. get one to do the first part, and then when it's cut enough so that you can use a longer bit without the bit missing the template, switch.


I know woodcraft has one with a 1.5" cutting length. Do you think that will work for body sides? Even that's almost $w30. I saw another with a little more length, but it was closer to $50. I'm already going broke trying to build a few guitars! :D

Thanks for the info. I know it seems like a simple answer, but I just wanted some more info before I do anything drastic!

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I recently purchased a 2" cutting length flush trim bit from MLCS Woodworking that I used on my guitar build project. Its from their Katana line and it cost $21. Click here to go to the specific page.

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I've done it a couple ways. I cut the body with a jigsaw 1/16" to 1/8" from my outline. 1" bit w/ bearing on shaft follows the template for the first cut using maybe 1/2 the bit length. Then lower the bit more for a deeper pass. From there I have the option to flip the body and reattach the template then cut the rest the same way. OR I can remove the template and rest the bearing on my first pass using that as my template. I usually wind up doing this to cut deeper cavities as well. :D

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You could also use the longer bit in multiple passes at full length.

Instead of making each pass progressively deeper, make them progressively closer to the template. i.e. on your first pass you do the whole inch (or whatever length your bit is) but don't actually go near the template. If your initial cut (jigsaw/bandsaw or whatever) is close enough, you can get to the template in the first pass. As long as you're not taking away too much wood in each pass with a light touch, it can be at the full length of the bit.

I hope that makes sense.


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I had a oscilating sander but it never got me exactly where I wanted with the whole body.

I did use it to shape my template though..

the reason I did, is because If I messed up a MDF template it was no big deal, and I could spend alot of time on the shape.

If I messed up the body I was out a piece of wood that took 7 days and expensive shipping to get here.

the Swamp ash one I did free hand (bandsaw, oss. sander, and a block sander) and the shape was a bit off.

the next one I did was with a template, and is perfect.

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