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Tele Template

Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by Clive Hugh, Oct 14, 2006.

  1. Clive Hugh

    Clive Hugh Tele-Afflicted

    Sep 15, 2006
    Western Australia
    I am wanting to build a tele body, can someone point me in the direction of a template source or the dimensions I can build a template to.

  2. woodman

    woodman Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free + Supporter

    Nov 28, 2004
    Mint Hill, NC
    TDP'er Ron Kirn sells them on eBay, along with instructions and so forth.

  3. Tango

    Tango TDPRI Member

    Oct 8, 2006
    Toronto, Canada
    G'day Clive:

    This is my first post as a TRDPI member, so I'll try and make myself useful.

    If constructing your own guitar, obviously it is easier to buy templates such as those previously mentioned by Woodman1, which I understand are excellent.

    A second option is to borrow a mate's Tele and do some measuring and tracing.

    The third option is to build the guitar from information available on the internet. That is what I am currently in the process of doing (I don't have access to a Tele). The following is suggested:

    Go to website There you will find a downloadable CAD drawing of a Telecaster. Download that to your computer. The file format is .dxf which is a format used to exchange drawings between CAD programs.

    If you don't have a CAD software program (I don't), the good folks at DWGSee (they have a website) will allow you to download their excellent software for a 30 day trial which you may wish to try. The software will open your previously downloaded .dxf file.

    Unless you have a plotter (a printer which prints honking big sheets), you will need to use a standard printer and print off the drawing in sections which you can tape together to make a complete drawing. I used five 8.5 by 11 inch sheets to cover the body area and then taped the prints together. To ensure that I was in the ball park on the body size, I measured across the lower bout which came out at 12.625 inches.

    Before people start writing in to tell me that my body measurement is out by X, please note that I am willing to bet that if one took a bunch of Leo's early Teles and measured them there could be up to a .25 inch difference across the lower bouts because of the human interface in the spindle shaping and sanding process which produced them. Not like today where a drawing goes electronically from CAD in the USA (or wherever) to a CNC machine in China and not a millimetre gets lost.

    Make two sets of prints, one as a working copy and one as a spare to have copied the next time you are near a large photocopying machine .

    Cut the excess paper from just outside the body outline on one print and glue the drawing to a piece of .25 inch plywood (you only need to glue around the perimeter). I used some scrap poplar floor underlay which is soft and easy to sand. Cut the wood with a jigsaw to just outside the body line and then sand the wood down to the outline on the drawing. To do this, I mostly used my belt sander resting on its side on a table. For around the neck area, I used a drum sander chucked into my drill press. The final finishing is by hand with sandpaper on a soft block. Your fingers will tell you when everything is smooth.

    If you make a mistake, it is easy to glue a small piece to your plywood and rework it. I did cut the neck joint area too short but have simply glued a bit of wood back on and reworked that area. When I am satisfied with my template, I will use it to cut a working template from hardboard using a router.

    From the position of the hardware shown on the drawing, it should be reasonably straightforward to calculate the various body routings when one has the hardware. When I make my hardboard template, I will make an additional one for the body routing.

    I am currently getting together the wood for my first body. It will probably be pine as I have some pine available at 1.25 inches thick to which I will add a.5 inch cap.

    I will post a couple of photos when I have my picture hosting sorted.

    Hope this helps.

  4. mojocasterman

    mojocasterman Friend of Leo's

    Jan 9, 2006

    that was going to be my recommendation as well :)

  5. Clive Hugh

    Clive Hugh Tele-Afflicted

    Sep 15, 2006
    Western Australia
    Thanks guys, The CAD version would be easier for me as I live in outback Australia and I have CAD on my work computer as I am a trades lecturer at a Technical Institute and have access to more machinery than most people ever see.
    I am thinking along the pine body with maybe a Tasmanian Oak cap, simply because I know I can get it locally.
    I have just downloaded it to my stand alone hard drive and will have it at work in the morning.

  6. Lostheart

    Lostheart Tele-Afflicted

    Nov 26, 2005
    Well, first off, welcome to the board, Tango!
    Great tutorial on .dxf files!
    Sometimes I wish the TDPRI would introduce a luthier-section and would make some posts sticky...

  7. Tom S

    Tom S Friend of Leo's

    Aug 3, 2005
    Hmmm...I might just take that bet. :lol: In woodworking, a 1/4" variance is an awful lot. But I hope your project goes well, and best of luck with it.

    The question here is what is your time worth? For ~$50, you can eliminate the time-consuming and somewhat uncertain process of making the templates themselves (which isn't much fun, let's face it). But maybe that's just me, I've always found that making jigs and templates a real chore that gets in the way of the enjoyable work. A necessary evil that, if I can eliminate it, I do.

  8. chickenpicker

    chickenpicker Friend of Leo's

    Jan 25, 2005
    Tango, that's a great first post. I just downloaded the tele dxf and had a quick look. rather than being just the body with accurate positioning for routs, it seems to be the whole guitar - so outlines are ok, but there's not enough detail to make a really good template.

    I too have access to an amazing CNC router, and with a good CAD drawing could easily make accurate templates. I could probably make bodies on it too, but the cutters we have only allow 18mm depth and I've yet to find out if we can use longer ones.

  9. gflash01

    gflash01 TDPRI Member

    Mar 30, 2010
    san dimas, ca
    In regard to Tom S's post on building from ready-made templates:

    I bought sets from three different template makers. Two sets could be used only after EXTENSIVE modifications. One was totally unusable – not even close. None of them could be used by a novice builder without a boatload of problems. One set had a hugely oversized neck and neck pocket. (CNC) Another set had a neck template that was 1/4" too short, which would result in impossible intonation, along with too many problems to mention. (CNC) The third set (body only - no neck) was hand routed, with a registry hole drilled below the bridge, smack in the top of the body, and the top of the neck pocket area on the bass side was rounded over 1/8" too narrow.

    I've built dozens of Tele bodies, and that only happened after I bought worthless templates and tried to build "flat guitars" from MDF. Threw them away, and chalked it up to experience.

    I can hear the CNC guys now: “Ours are CNC cut, laser cut” etc, but when it comes to any automated manufacturing process, the finished product is only as good as the programming. (“Garbage in, garbage out” in computer-speak)
    Save yourself some grief and $150 wasted for templates and a destroyed body blank - Get a good drawing of a telecaster and make your own. It will take you less time than spending a day trying to correct a junky set of templates.
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2010

  10. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

    May 1, 2003
    Jacksonville, FL
    Clive... You all gotz mail.....

    Ron Kirn

  11. Jack Wells

    Jack Wells Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Oct 19, 2003
    Albuquerque, USA
    Ron ............. you got zombied.

  12. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

    May 1, 2003
    Jacksonville, FL
    Got??? I've been zombied since '67 .... :eek:


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