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Guide Bushings and Template Cutting

Using the router table to work with templates is a great way to get some quality work done on a stable platform. Its inexpensive and gives you some great results. I love using templates especially if I am doing any sort of production work. Making a template saves you lots of time but also gives you some consistency since all the parts will come out the same every time.

Most people over look another common way to work with templates and that is to use guide bushings. These metal bushings mount into your router base plate and let you control the spacing of the router bit. With these bushings you can follow commonly produced templates to rout very accurately. Guide bushings also let you use easy to find straight bits which are inexpensive to purchase.

Bushing Kits

A lot of times you can find the bushings in a kit. This is a good way to go since you have a nice variety of sizes to choose from. Keep in mind that you are looking for the distance from the bushing edge to the router bit edge, this measurement needs to be accommodated for in your project. The best way to do this is by cutting a test piece and using the same bit for your measurements. A bit that is slightly worn will be a tad different than a new unused bit.

Most sets come in choices of steel or brass. The difference really becomes noticeable if there is any humidity in your shop. Steel bits and collars tend to rust, brass do not. Make sure you purchase bits that are compatible to Porter Cable bushings. This is the standard and most accessories are sized to fit this popular size.

Bushing Kits and adaptors are mostly for templates. If you buy a pre-made template or make one, you can use the bushing insert to act as a spacer and thus cut around the template. Personally they are a waste of time because you can use a flush trim router bit which has a spacer built into it (so to speak) so you can cut around a template using one of these bits. For example, lets say you want to make a guitar body, but you want to make more than one. You would trace out the design you want on some cardboard and then when its exactly perfect, use that to transfer it to a piece of wood and cut it out. This piece of wood then becomes your template. When that template is perfect, sanded and exact, you then clamp it to your desired wood and use a flush trim bit to cut around the template. This works well in a router table or free hand.

Here is a typical example of a flush trim router bit

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Guide Bushings and Template Cutting