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template bits and templates

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Sundogue, Apr 28, 2006.


  1. Sundogue

    Sundogue

    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    I've been looking at template bits...and the only ones I can find locally have bits that are about 1/2" long and 1" long.

    What size template bits do you guys use for the neck pocket, pickup routing and control cavity (rear routed)?

    Also, it appears that the collar on those bits are wider than the actual cutting part of the bit. Are templates a bit wider than the area being routed to compensate for that? Or is it just an optical illusion and the collars are the same width as the cutting part of the bit?

    Let's say I was going to route out the pickup area for my P-Bass pickups. Could I make a template by tracing the actual cutout of my pickguard (for my new rear routed body without a pickguard)? Or does the template need to be a bit bigger all the way around?

    I'll be practicing on some scrap woods to be sure my templates (that I haven't made yet) work, but I wanted some input before I buy any router bits. The shorter template bit seems fine for doing the neck pocket (which on my current P-Bass is only about 1/2" deep). But the rear routed control cavity is much deeper and I don't know if that same 1/2" deep bit can be lowered enough to route that part out.

    I've done a search, but found nothing of any real help on this.

    Thanks.
     
  2. Basschair

    Basschair .............. Supporting Member

    Feb 5, 2004
    Stockton, Ca
    I used these last time:

    http://www.stewmac.com/shop/Tools/Routing_bits/Ball_Bearing_Router_Bits.html

    Normally, I make sure to get a pattern-following bit which has a bearing of the same diameter as the blades. Most of my bits appear to have larger bearings, but don't. Of course, I just got a 5/16" pattern bit that ended up having a larger bearing, which I wasn't stoked about. I always use bits where blade diameter = bearing diameter.

    I do have some Amana and CMT bits that are 3/4" and 1" long, and they have helped with routing deeper cavaties, such as the electronics compartment.

    Are you in a position to order bits online? If so, the above Stew Mac bits work well, and there's also www.routerbitworld.com and www.routerbits.com
     
  3. Sundogue

    Sundogue

    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    I can order online, but I'd prefer to buy locally (cash versus credit card and shipping costs).

    I can get a Porter Cable 1/2" template router bit for $23 from Home Depot. They also have extra collars. That bit would probably work for the neck pocket and pickups. I don't know how far I can lower the bit to route out the control cavity though. Obviously, once I lower the bit far enough to where the collar doesn't ride the template anymore, I can remove the template and it can just follow the cavity wall as a guide (provided the collar is the same width as the bit itself). I'm just not sure if that'll be lowered enough though to make the cavity deep enough.

    Even the one pictured on Stew-Mac seems like the collar is slightly wider than the bit itself. Perhaps it's just an optical illusion.
     
  4. Basschair

    Basschair .............. Supporting Member

    Feb 5, 2004
    Stockton, Ca

    Definitely an illusion for that one.

    The pattern bit will follow the walls of the cavity just as well as it follows the template (assuming the bearing/cutting diameters match), but you've got to consider just how deep you can extend the bit before the collet protrudes from the router base and begins to eat up the surface edges of the wood you're working. You can remedy this a bit (no pun intended) by not sinking the shank of the bit quite so deeply into the router collet, but this can become dangerous pretty quickly, as more stress is put on the shank of the bit, as well as the router collet doesn't have as strong a grip on the shank. I believe a thicker shank can alleviate this to some extent, but couldn't back that statement up with actual data.

    Give some consideration to the quality of the bits you buy as well. The ones I keep hearing about around here are CMT, Amana, Freud, and Whiteside (to a lesser extent), though there are others. I've never used a PC bit, just a PC router (a fantastic router).

    The bits I've ordered from Routerbitworld.com plus flat rate shipping usually end up being about the same cost as a store-bought bit. Of course, it's not in my hand until it's in my hand, and the wait can suck:D .
     
  5. Sundogue

    Sundogue

    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    Yeah, the safety part of extending the bit in the collet does concern me, which is why I posed the question. I'm not sure how far I can extend the bit (how far in the collet + how low the router allows + removing the template).

    I'll have to check and see how deep one of my standard bits can be lowered.

    Which leads me to another question. I've never rear routed a control cavity. How thick is the top wood where the controls get mounted? Currently the controls are mounted in my pickguard (about an 1/8" thick). Not much room for error if the routing comes that close to the top surface.
     
  6. Basschair

    Basschair .............. Supporting Member

    Feb 5, 2004
    Stockton, Ca

    I don't remember who it was that told me, but I was advised to keep it to about 3/16" thick where the knobs are mounted. Basically, not too thick to where the threads of the pots don't extrude, not too thin to where a knock on the top will cave it in. I know, it sounds pretty obvious, but I'd feel stupid if I left that out.
     
  7. Sundogue

    Sundogue

    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    Thanks.

    I had a rear routed bass that I sold. I hadn't planned on building my own bass back then so I never looked or measured.

    I also have to careful planning it out, because unlike a standard bass with a flat top, this will be more like an archtop. I'll be doing all the routing on my glued up body blank before I do any cutting or shaping.

    I can't route out the control cavity to within 3/16" of the top surface as it exists when routing. I have to route it out to where it will be 3/16" after the top gets shaped/sanded down.

    What I was thinking of doing is drilling the control holes in the body blank where they will be, and then route out the control cavity so I can see how deep I'm getting. Then when I'm shaping the top surface I can use the pre-drilled holes as a guide as to the thickness I need to leave.

    I may need to buy two router bits. The 1/2" and the 1" long one and just use the longer one for the control cavity. Though it's an expense I might never have a need for again.

    The body blank is 2" thick instead of starting out with 1 3/4" thick because the entire body, top and bottom, will be contoured. The back of the body will be contoured to fit me, instead of just the usual partial "belly" contour and the top will be more like an archtop. So all of my routing needs to be well thought out.
     
  8. I recently switched to this process:

    - bore out the bulk with a forstner bit 1" diam.
    - use a CMT 1" diam dish carving bit for more bulk removal
    - use a 1" long 1/2" diam bit for the final sizing.

    This works great for control cavity and neck pockets. Very clean and fast.
     
  9. Sundogue

    Sundogue

    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    Yeah, I was thinking of getting the bulk out of the control cavity with something other than a template bit. That's a lot of area to remove!
     
  10. Sundogue

    Sundogue

    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    I picked up a decent 1" long X 1/2" wide pattern bit.

    The best part is the 1/2" collar is removable so I can put it on my 1/2" X 1/2" regular bit for the neck pocket and pickup routing, so I don't have to use a thick template for the shallower stuff.
     
  11. mahrous

    mahrous

    Aug 13, 2005
    Egypt
    you can simply do it in more than one shot.

    remove 1cm every go so you dont drive ur bit and router too much.
     
  12. Sundogue

    Sundogue

    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    Yeah, I plan on taking the bulk of it out with a Forstner bit and then taking a little bit at a time with the router.

    I'm not in a rush and I know that by taking a little bit at a time I can get cleaner cuts with less worry.
     

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