Working With Patterns

woodworking patternsProbably the most boring job in any type of woodworking is tracing patterns on the material. Those that love to make models are particularly used to work as such, since they probably use patterns 95 percent more of the time than those that build bigger items.

Though this isn’t always the case. When I had my outdoor patio furniture business, I had probably about 30 patterns just for the porch swings alone. So those that build even larger projects can use patterns. You could always use carbon paper, but this tends to stain the wood stock that you have it touching. There are a few much better methods.

One of these are to print out a page, cover the wood with masking tape completely, and glue the pattern right onto the tape. You can use a glue stick, craft glue, spray glue, or any glue on hand. Glue sticks seem to work best though.

Cut the part out with a jig saw, bandsaw, or scroll saw, depending on the size of the pattern. Peel off the masking tape and your done. The trick it to leave the tape on for as short a time as possible. If not, it may not come off that easily.

Another method is to spray glue directly onto the paper pattern (NOT THE WOOD!) and attach the pattern, but you will have to use mentholated spirits to soak the pattern back off. You could also use the glue stick to directly glue the pattern on. To get it off, just use a moist rag with water. Don’t soak the wood with the water, just dampen it a bit and the pattern should slide right off. You may have to nudge it with your fingernail or screwdriver here and there. Personally, the tape method is best to me because it doesn’t make a huge mess.

If you need to use the pattern for several identical parts, you can use cardboard or even scrap pieces of lumber to make the template. If you are going to be using it over and over again, then cardboard will wear out quickly, so wood, MDF, or something solid is better.

Once you have your template hold or clamp it to the wood you are going to use and draw around it with a pencil. Remember to use a very sharp pencil and draw as close to the template as you can to keep the dimensions right.

The saw that you use will depend on the thickness of the material. If you are using thin stock, then you can use a scroll saw. Thicker wood will require a jig saw or bandsaw. Some parts may be easier to cut if you stack them together before cutting them out, and then using whichever saw is best for the job to cut them all out at once.

For this, just stape around the edges of two pieces of wood to keep them together. Then just add the pattern to the top. You can also staple pieces together when the material is thin enough, or even nail them together as long as you are cutting inside the nails/staples. Just be sure that they don’t protrude out of the bottom of the piece.

For some great tricks on cutting out patterns and templates with a router see this great video below:

Updated: February 16, 2017 — 11:55 pm
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