How to Make a Template to Cut Words Out of Wood

Written by wade shaddy
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How to Make a Template to Cut Words Out of Wood
Make a template to cut letters out of wood. (Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Sign-makers, hobbyists or anyone who needs to make a permanent wooden sign will need some type of template to cut words with any precision. Routers are commonly used to cut words because they are efficient and cut clean. Use a router template to cut words out of wood. By making a template, common sayings or letters can be repeated with consistency. Most routers use a guide bushing that is 1/8 inch wider than the cutting knife on each side. Cut your template letters 1/4-inch bigger to accommodate it. It's best if you make a template for each word that you plan on using.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Masonite
  • Cordless drill
  • 3/8-inch drill bit
  • Clamp
  • Jigsaw
  • Coarse file
  • Plunge router
  • 1/4-inch router bit
  • 1/8-inch router guide bushing
  • Phillips-head screwdriver

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  1. 1

    Trace the letters of a word onto the Masonite with a pencil. Your letters should be 1/2 inch wide. The cutting knife in the router should be 1/4 inch. There will be a 1/8-inch space on either side of the knife to allow for the bushing.

  2. 2

    Drill a 3/8-inch hole in the centre of each letter using a cordless drill. Clamp the Masonite to the edge of a worktable. Use a jigsaw to cut the letters out. Do not cut into the pencil lines.

  3. 3

    File the letters clean on the inside with a coarse file. Insert the file into the letters. Using a downward motion, file the rough edges clean, smooth and uniform.


  1. 1

    Insert a 1/4-inch knife into the router.

  2. 2

    Insert a 1/8-inch spaced bushing into the router base and tighten it to the inside of the base with a Phillips-head screwdriver on each side. The tip of the knife should be protruding out the bushing no more than 1/2 inch when you plunge the router down.

  3. 3

    Clamp the template to a piece of wood. Place the router on top of the template, directly above the letters. Turn on the router. Plunge it down so that the tip of the knife enters one of the letters. Push or pull the router along the letters one by one to cut them out, letting the busing guide the knife along the letter.

Tips and warnings

  • The more time you spend on the template, the better your letters will look. You can route letters any depth you like, but it's best to cut no deeper than 3/8-inch.
  • If you don't have Masonite, use hardboard or even plywood.
  • Always wear safety glasses when working with wood.

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