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I'm making a small end table out of plywood, and I decided to make a template out of MDF and then shape the actual plywood pieces with a router. The photos below show the basic shape of the leg pieces. On a bandsaw, cutting out this template would be a ninety-second job, but I don't have a bandsaw. I have a jigsaw, a hand saw (Western, not Japanese), a router (handheld, not table-mounted), and a handheld orbital sander. So shaping this template has turned into a tedious symphony for jigsaw, hand saw, and sander, requiring constant repositioning of the workpiece, etc. Basically, hand saw on the long straight sections, jig saw for places where I can't use the hand saw, sander for outside corners and tidying up.

All of which leads back to the original question: was there a better way to do this with the tools I have available?

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    If you know the radius of those inside corners, you could buy a dowel of the appropriate size, wrap sandpaper around it, and sand to the line. That should save you endless fiddling with the jigsaw, where one slip means you're making a whole new template. If the inside corner radius is not circular, make another template out of a piece of scrap (2x4 should work, but whatever's handy and will fill the corner) to match the corner radius, wrap with sandpaper, and use that for sanding. – FreeMan May 29 at 15:39
  • I'm not sure that I understand... why not use the jigsaw to cut just outside the line and sand for precision? What am I missing? – Greg Nickoloff May 30 at 1:45
  • "On a bandsaw, cutting out this template would be a ninety-second job" Aye, but it wouldn't yield a great template as-is. The surface the guide/bearing runs against should be as next to perfect as possible, and even a superior bandsaw cut is not that. – Graphus May 30 at 6:12
  • @Graphus Fair point. – crmdgn May 30 at 15:04
  • @GregNickoloff The basic answer is my own limitations. I'm well out of practice, and it's a big clumsy saw that steers like a container ship. Not a good combo. If I give myself a safe margin off the line, I'll be sanding for weeks. – crmdgn May 30 at 15:08
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I feel your pain. Sometimes the right tool just isn't in the garage.

What I would do for the long straight shots is use the router with a straight edge. Either a bearing-guided template bit (easy, because you just put your straightedge on the line), a guide collar (involves offset math, so a bit harder), or (less preferred because a base isn't always dead center to the bit, and you have a slim workpiece) clamping a fence that the outer base of the router rides against.

Nibbling with the jigsaw seems like something the cursed do in a place of eternal damnation.

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  • Yeah, it feels that way. Don't know why I didn't think of the router for this... – crmdgn May 29 at 15:38

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