Template Routing

Woodpecker Poker Inlay Templates are machined from ¼” (6.35mm) thick industrial grade phenolic. Unlike acrylic and other plastics, phenolic is not prone to distortion during hot or cold weather, won't wear even after hundreds of uses and is virtually indestructible. The template is approximately 400mm x 400mm.

What exactly is an inlay template? Quite simply, it's a pattern for routing a recess into one board and an opposite piece to fit into the recess. A professional looking inlay should fit well without gaps and not so tight to fracture when being glued in.

Most inlays are rather thin, like 3mm to 6mm in thickness. It's even possible to inlay very thin veneers down to 0.6mm.

With a little practice, you can master this process and make your woodworking project quite unique.  A well made template is the foundation to this process. Templates need to be accurately machined, dense enough to not dimple from the side pressure of the routing process, durable enough to last and large enough for sufficient surface area to stabilise a handheld router.

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There are a few ways to attach templates to a work piece; double sided tape, small nails and clamps. Tape is the preferred method. Commonly available double sided tape like carpet tape will work, but tends to leave behind sticky adhesive that is difficult to clean off.

Special template tape has excellent temporary grabbing power, releases easy enough to avoid cracking thin inlays and doesn't leave behind sticky residue. However it is expensive. After the sticker shock, keep in mind a roll will go a long way. You won't need more than 300mm for each job.

As a side note, if the inlays are thin, warm the tape with a blow dryer before removing. This makes it dramatically easier to remove from the work piece without splitting.

If you're planning on using nails, use small ones. You will need to drill small holes through the template. These holes shouldn't be much bigger than the nail and should be chamfered to put the head below the surface.

When routing out the actual inlay from thin wood, nails rarely work because they tend to split the material. This is where template tape pays for itself. However you can also use clamps as an alternative.
 

YouTube video courtesy of Stuart - stussshed.com

 

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