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Template Router Bit

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Worshiper, Mar 27, 2005.

  1. Worshiper


    Aug 13, 2004
    New York
    In the past I have made basses by eye. However, for my new one I want to take a much more acurate aproach in case I ever want to reproduce another. I'm goign to make a template out of plywood and then go from there.

    My question is this:
    What router bit do you all use to "smooth" out the body with the bit. That was awkward. Let's try again. After you cut the body shape out roughly, and you set the template in place on top of the body, which router bit do you use to clean up the edges? I know that stew mac makes a bit with a guide at the top for pickups but it is only like 1/2" long so it's definitely too short to use to clean the edges of a bass.
    Can anyone direct me in the direction of a correct bit?
  2. Fasoldt Basses

    Fasoldt Basses

    Mar 22, 2005
    Stevens Point, WI
    Karl Thompson, Builder (Formerly Fat Karl)
    Lee Valley carries template router bits that are between 1" and 1 1/2" tall, depending on the radius of the bit you buy.


    They also sell laminate trimming bits which could be used from the back of the bass or if you have a router table settup.


    Keep in mind that you don't have to cut the whole body edge in one pass. I have one of the template bits from Stewart Macdonald and multiple passes yeilds a good smooth edge.
  3. Suburban


    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    Well, since I only could find straight edge cutter bits with guide bearings, I went another path.

    I use a spiral edge, 6mm bit. Originally intended for metal cutting, the shank is of the same outer diameter as the cutter. So the shank follows the template...rather fast, otherwise it will burn.

    The resulting surface can at times be left without sanding.
  4. budman

    budman Commercial User

    Oct 7, 2004
    Houston, TX
    Owner/builder of LeCompte Electric Bass
    I use a router to cut out my bodies entirely. I don't rough them out on a band saw. I stick the template down on the blank and go to town. I use three different bits starting with a 1/2" dia. X 1/4 long. I make mutliple passes around the template cutting about 1/8" at a time. When I have a channel cut deep enough from the top of the template I switch to a 1/2" dia. X 3/4" long bit. I continue to make mutliple passes again until the channel is deep enough to remove the template and I switch to a 1/2" dia x 1" long bit. It takes about an hour to cut out a body. In between passes I have to adjust the router and vacuum out the sawdust/shavings from the channel. When I'm done cutting it's off to the oscilating spindle sander. I might ad that I use a fixed base on the router. I make a pilot hole off to the side of and 1" or so away from the template and use that as a starting point for each pass. Sure, there are faster ways but I'm pretty happy with the results.
  5. I use all three types of bits mentioned here - straight pattern bits (top bearing), straight laminate bits (bottom bearing), and spiral bits (no bearing). And I use them in all of the ways mentioned - it just depends on the situation. But recently, I just got a 2" bearing guided, 2 flute, 1/2" collet pattern bit - [Dundee voice on] Now, THAT'S a bit! [Dundee voice off]. I did the entire perimeter of the Jazzwick on the router table in one pass with only the barest lifting, not even tearout, just lifting of some small area of grain, in some real difficult walnut. This wood had solid, hard crotch figure on one side and open grain going to spalt and almost pith on the other. Best body routing time I've had.

    If you really want to go primo and get the bit to last a lifetime go with a spiral pattern bit. They are hard to find and expensive but it is the best bit you can get for all sorts of work. It will virtually eliminate tearout on those prone woods like walnut and it leaves a smoother cut than straight bits. Suburbans solution of the shoulder guided bit is good if you can't locate or afford one of these gems but try to if you can. I'm still looking - they talk about them in the magazines but I haven't found a supplier yet. Whiteside doesn't have one in their catalog and neither does Onsrud - two of my faves.

    OK, enough of this typing, I've got to get out to the shop...
  6. teej


    Aug 19, 2004
    Sheffield, AL 35660
    I never really thought about using the router to do all the cutting. And to think, I've been paying a cabinet shop by the hour to use their band saw.

    I need an actual factual workshop... or at least some sort of enclosure. This apartment thing isn't working... :rollno:
  7. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Dec 2, 2020

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