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What to look for in quality templates.

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by TwanginThangs, Oct 18, 2020.

  1. TwanginThangs

    TwanginThangs TDPRI Member

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    Doing a bit of research before picking up some templates and curious what I should be looking for. It seems the MDF is more cost effective than the acrylic, and doesnt melt under a stuck or worn bearing when routing. Is there a standard and recommended set for a basic blackguard setup? Is there a tried and true trusted forum member who's sellin em? Would like to support other builders over stewmac if possible. Also, if one were wanting to have options deviating from the basic body, such as maybe top or top and back binding, adding a B16 or such, do you guys stack separate templates for specific augmentations or is that all just detail work sorted after the body blank is complete?

    Much appreciated.
     
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2020
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  2. Laren

    Laren Tele-Meister

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    Whatever you get (I'd get acrylic) only use them to make your working templates from, use those for your routing. It's amazing that, however hard you try, you'll always mess up your templates (could just be me of course).
     
  3. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity

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    Bingo on that one... I used to preach that like a Revival Preacher , Jeezuhyus ... can I get an amen...
     
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  4. John Nicholas

    John Nicholas Friend of Leo's

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    Yes, the MDF is more cost effective, but just repeating once more, make working copies from the originals and keep the originals in a safe place.

    As for a place to buy templates, Potvin Guitars is an awesome place to source complete sets. He has complete sets and many custom variations. The prices are really reasonable.

    https://store.potvinguitars.com/
     
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  5. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

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    If I buy a template I want it to be acrylic and to have good reference lines (like centerlines for a pickup) etched into it. When I make templates I use MDF if its going to be a one shot thing or birch plywood if I think I'll do more of them. I have made some acrylic ones but mostly just just wood. I put the reference lines on all of mine too.

    Melvyn Hiscock's book has the layout of most of the popular pickup templates - make a copy, stick it on to your base material, drill, route, saw and file the shape you want, drill some mounting holes and, bingo, you've got your template.

    Routing binding channels is done without a template - you use a special follower bit with different size bearings. Most of the time installing a Bigsby just involves the drill pattern on the top. Other trems (Floyd, Kahler, etc) that requires a route the manufacturer usually furnishes dimensions and you can make your own template

    I make a separate template for each routing function. I also try to think of the order that I will route so I can use screws to hold the template down in areas that will be removed later. For example I have one template with a Fender neck pocket on one end and a Gibson pocket on the other, I route the neck pockets before I do the pups so I can screw it down into the area that will be routed away later. Fender bridge templates use their mounting holes for the screws. You can read the current thread about double stick tape to understand why.

    And edit to add, StewMac templates are just fine, thank you. I've used several of theirs.
     
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2020
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  6. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity

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    this is only useful if the templates are dead on bawls accurate and all the parts ya buy are made to accommodate it.. that's not usually the reality..

    one should use the pick guard and bridge to establish a useable centerline... that way everything LOOKS correct which is more important than actually being correct..
     
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  7. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

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    Ron, the only templates I have ever purchased were the StewMac ones for humbuckers. They have laser etched center and cross lines that make it very easy to align them on the body. I lay out the actual center line on the body based on the neck, then I draw the perpendicular at the exact point that I want the pickup. Its then real easy to line the acrylic template up with the lines on the guitar. Here is a sort of example - the if you look at the bridge pickup locations you can see how I've laid that out, the neck shows the StewMac humbucker templated screwed to the top and ready for routing.

    IMG_6045.JPG

    The holes in the bridge area are from screwing down the neck cavity template when I did that route.

    Another thing that is kind of interesting about that particular guitar and it relates to the thread about double stick tape. The top is so uneven that I couldn't use tape if I wanted to. A couple of screws thru the mounting holes holds it just fine.
     
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  8. Dahrma

    Dahrma TDPRI Member

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    I recently purchased a set of the Stewmac tele templates and they are really good. They are very easy to use and the fingerboard locating pins are wonderful. As previously mentioned make working templates and keep the originals as masters. The Stewmac templates allow you to use locating pins for the neck pocket, pickups, bridge screws, ferules, and as mentioned the fingerboard. It's very easy to get precise repeatable results.
     
  9. RickyRicardo

    RickyRicardo Friend of Leo's

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  10. Laren

    Laren Tele-Meister

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  11. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity

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    yep. that's easy if ya make enough so you can standardize your operations like you and I do. But the home hobbyist is usually sourcing parts from various unknown manufacturers, and often the overall cost of such is a determining factor... the parts can be, and often are very slightly different than what they should be...

    In fact you can order a pickguard today from a well known OEM or aftermarket parts manufacturer.. wait 6 months, order the same exact part and find them off a crack.. that small variance CAN result in a significant swing in the position required for other parts so the guitar LOOKS visually correct...

    That is often missed by most home hobbyists, but can be "picked up" instantly be a seasoned builder that has fought with non standard parts for many years..

    this is why I encourage guys to take the body... cut the neck pocket.. the using the pickguard, placed in the correct position, and against the neck inserted in the pocket.. then note the margins around the bottom edge and horn.. if not equidistant, reposition it until it is.. then place the bridge, centered in the pickguard cutout... and mark the location of the string through holes.. now place the control plate in position and mark the location of the Pot holes and the switch mounting screws.. that will tell you if the control rout is in the correct location..

    using those simple suggestions will result in a guitar where the pickguard is correct relative to the body and everything else fits on assembly day.

    "You" want it LOOKING right.. that rarely has anything in common with all the measurements BEING right. That's important since one suppliers idea of what "Made to vintage Specs" means can be substantially different from some other manufacturers... It's also why when someone calls and says he's bought all the parts, what will it cost fro me to assemble the guitar... I usually cringe because I know something gonna be funky and it's gonna take longer to get the part to work and look correct than it would be to just build the whole guitar from scratch... then when I give them the cost, they realize it's not actually saving anything..

    r
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2020
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  12. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

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    Back to the original question. My assumption is that if you can cut and rout a solid body from a template you can probably make the template yourself. Here is my trusty tele body template which has built 5 little guitars to date and the chambering template for my hollowed one. For the basic template I simply downloaded the TDowns drawing, had Kinkos make a few copies, glued one to some MDF and cut it out. I've drilled several of the critical holes so I can transfer them to the bodies when I make them, but I use separate templates for the bridge, neck and pickups (don't have to do it that way but it makes my master template much more versatile).

    IMG_6612.JPG

    If you are not working from a plan you should still do a drawing of your guitar body, either on paper, with cad or directly onto the MDF
     
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  13. Vizcaster

    Vizcaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    +1 everything Freeman said. Plus consider using a separate neck-pocket template that extends out and supports the router more than the body-shaped template. You literally can clamp straightedges in place around the neck heel and that's your template.
     
  14. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

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    Thanks, Viz

    Here is my neck pocket template in use. One end is a Fender style pocket, the other is for Gibson tenons. You can see the screw into the pickup cavity to hold in in place. In the first photo the neck is in the template and I'm aligning it with what I want to be the center line of the guitar

    IMG_4685.JPG

    Makin' sawdust. Its important that the template supports the router on that narrow little piece of body on the treble side of the neck

    IMG_4686.JPG

    One little trick, particularly with a neck pocket, is to build the neck to fit the template. Then when its time to route the pocket itself put a couple of strips of 1/4 inch masking tape where the follow bearing rides. That will make the pocket a few thousands smaller than the tenon, you can easily sand that away to make a snug fit.
     
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  15. RickyRicardo

    RickyRicardo Friend of Leo's

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    As always Freeman great advice. I sometimes go the other way and put the masking tape on the neck template where the neck will be in the pocket. With the neck oversize it's a good way to shape the neck to the pocket. As the saying goes it's much easier to remove then add back in.
     
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