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Template Material - Pine, Oak or Birch

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  • Template Material - Pine, Oak or Birch

    I attach guitar templates to wood blanks and cut them out using my pin router. I prefer 1/4" acrylic because it's man made and does not react to moisture. But it's expensive and hard to source for a reasonable price in the quantity that I need.

    I've substituted acrylic with MDF. It's cheap and readily available. But it's dusty, wears out my bits, not durable, swells and reacts with moisture. My shop is not climate controlled in this Atlanta muggy climate. A lot of other builders use MDF but seal it in a finish and cover all the outside edges with epoxy to stiffen it up some more.

    I found some plywood electrical wire spools at work. I used them as a template. Biggest problem I had was random knots and tear out in the plywood layers at different levels of a flush cut. I can Bondo or Epoxy the voids. But I'd really like to find a better suited template material.

    Home Depot stocks Sanded Plywood in Birch, Pine & Oak. The Sanded Plywood looks like a better material, the layering don't seem as rough as plywood. Pricing is $40 - $50 a sheet between 1/2" - 3/4". I can get roughly about 15 templates out of a single sheet, so it's a fair price for me.

    I've seen something called Cabinet Grade Plywood before at Home Depot. I don't know much about lumber outside of what I use for guitar bodies (basswood, alder, poplar, mahogany, maple, rosewood). And those 16 year old kids at Home Depot are useless for asking any sort of question.

    So I need - at least 1/2" thickness (great), edge machines well (no tear out or void), some what resistent to moisture under a quick paint job. I do have a lumber mill near by that may carry other species of plywood.

  • #2
    Re: Template Material - Pine, Oak or Birch

    For longevity it stick with the sheet plastics. Check these guys out, PLEXIGLASS SHEETS - Clear Plexiglass Acrylic Sheets from ePlastics


    • #3
      Re: Template Material - Pine, Oak or Birch

      Lowe's sells underlayment (the one with the X's on it for $10.46 a sheet here for a 4' X 4' sheet 1/4" with no voids and waterproof adhesive. They also sell 4 X 8 sheets for a little over $20. I think sealed, they would be very stable.


      • #4
        Re: Template Material - Pine, Oak or Birch

        I would use something like this high density polyethylene sheet (HDPE):

        PolyMax Board - FarmTek

        Atlanta, GA suppliers of plastic sheeting and supplies (may have HDPE):

        Atlanta Hdpe plastic product manufacturers | Hdpe plastic product manufacturers in Atlanta, GA -

        ... it was plumbed by Ray Charles and his helper Stevie Wonder