Plywood VS. MDF Templates

Discussion in 'The DIY Tool Shed' started by give me the toan, Jul 28, 2021.

Templates - Plywood VS. MDF, Thick vs. Thin: Which one do you prefer? (Pick one of each category!)

  1. Plywood (Birch, etc.)

    24.0%
  2. MDF

    72.0%
  3. Thinner (1/2 inch or less)

    36.0%
  4. Thicker (greater than 1/2 inch)

    52.0%
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. give me the toan

    give me the toan TDPRI Member

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    I plan on making a Mustang and Jaguar template from either 1/2-inch plywood or 3/4-inch MDF, and I just want details of any personal experience, or the pros and cons of each choice. Cost is not a factor seeing as I have both already.
     
  2. Frodebro

    Frodebro Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    MDF all day long.
     
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  3. Blue Bill

    Blue Bill Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    Plywood can have voids, or holes, which can make a router wobble if the bearing hits one, making it cut unevenly. MDF will generally give you a smoother finished cut. I sometimes brush watered-down Titebond onto the edge of an MDF template; after it dries it can make the edge more durable.

    Plexiglas makes nice templates too.
     
  4. Hags

    Hags Tele-Meister

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    Bearings will compress MDF, I’ve used it and sealed it with very thin super glue
    I use euro ply
     
  5. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I hate mdf. All my old templates are poplar plywood, pine, or plexiglas. Still going strong 40 years later. They are mostly 1/4" ply, as I was using the stewmac bit when I made them. The pine ones are usually 1/2" thick or thicker. The plexi is 1/4".
     
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  6. tomasz

    tomasz Tele-Meister

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    plexi is a great shout. MDF is good for a few jobs, or if you are building a one time project for sure
     
  7. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    MDF for one shot or quick and dirty. 1/4 or 3/8 birch ply for "working" templates that I plan to use over and over. Plexiglass for something that I'll use for a long time and any master template. All the commercial templates have been plexiglass.

    Thickness has to be as tall as the follower bearing on the bit I will be using, slightly thicker is OK.

    Back when I had access to a cnc laser sheet metal cutter I made a few templates on it. I miss that machine..
     
  8. mkdaws32

    mkdaws32 Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

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    This ^^^^^ (watered down titebond)
     
  9. trev333

    trev333 Telefied Ad Free Member

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    3/4 mdf here... more room for the bearings.
     
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  10. old wrench

    old wrench Friend of Leo's

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    What ever material you use for template material, you need to take care of the edges if you want to preserve their accuracy

    I've got a stack of templates that I made - some are plywood, some are MDF, and a few are made up from either 1/2" or 3/4" glued-up poplar.

    If you use plywood, use a good grade - other wise you need to fill the voids or missing plys with with a durable filler like bondo.

    I also give my templates a couple of coats of shellac to help preserve them - especially the MDF ones - the MDF edges soak up shellac like sponge, and will toughen and harden up after several coats.

    Routing MDF creates a lot of very fine dust that goes every-where, unless you have a way to contain it ;)


    .
     
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  11. RobRiggs

    RobRiggs Tele-Afflicted

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    MDF is nasty and makes almost talcum powder like sawdust but it is stable and smooth after machining. I’ve wanted to try plexi. Intriguing.
     
  12. Davecam48

    Davecam48 Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    I always use MDF ...... But when it is checked and correct to what is required, I ALWAYS give them a coat of shellac or two to prevent them absorbing moisture. You also must drill a small hole in one of the corners to hang it on a nail in the shed! I usually shape my components on a pin-router ( I don't want to get into c n c's) Some of my templates are about 8-10 years old and still work 100%

    One thing I dislike about plywood templates is that plywood can contain voids which usually occur just at a critical section which forces you to start all over again.




    DC
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2021
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  13. Davecam48

    Davecam48 Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    If you think MDF sawdust is bad, try routing and sanding plexi glass............the workshop looks like a snow storm just went through!

    DC
     
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  14. trev333

    trev333 Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I usually make/adjust neck templates for each new neck I use.... one size doesn't always fit all .... I never assume my old templates are good for each neck that comes in...

    sure they are supposed to be the same size... best to check them on the template before routing...
     
  15. EsquireOK

    EsquireOK Poster Extraordinaire

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    None of the above. 1/2” clear Plexi/acrylic is my choice.
     
  16. Davecam48

    Davecam48 Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    Do you buy your necks Trev? They're easy enough to make yourself!

    DC
     
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  17. trev333

    trev333 Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Just not set up for it Dave, it's far easier to use pre made necks.... ;)
     
  18. jimgchord

    jimgchord Tele-Afflicted

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    I much prefer thinner templates, like 1/4 mdf. Much easier to sand to perfect shape and keeping the edge square is less critical.
     
  19. trev333

    trev333 Telefied Ad Free Member

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    a 3/4 pattern and 2 bearings gives you more range without changing bits.... covers most tele pockets except maybe the control cavity where you might need to ditch the pattern and finish the depth using the cavity sides as a guide..

    router bit 2.jpg router bit1.jpg
     
  20. Old Deaf Roadie

    Old Deaf Roadie Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Plexi is best, imo. In the absence of plexi, I prefer 1/2" ply. Voids can be filled with wood filler and ply is more durable than MDF.
     
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