My desk is nearly finished; all that's left is to have the glass top cut. To do this, I need a template to give the glass shop. I can't just give them dimensions since it's not perfectly square. More importantly there are pegs on the frame. The glass is to be "keyed" so that the pegs will keep it from sliding, and I need to ensure that the glass aligns near perfectly with them (perhaps 1mm of play on either side of the pegs).

An image of the desk is below. note that the center of the desk is set roughly half an inch below the borders, so simply laying paper down and marking it is somewhat troublesome.

How might I go about creating the template?enter image description here

  • 1
    I realize this may be a stretch on being on-topic, but I felt that having parts fabricated is not an uncommon woodworking task, and that knowing how to ensure the part is correct is relevant.
    – Daniel B.
    Aug 28 '15 at 23:27
  • Regardless of your intentions with the information simply trying to acquire them I would say is on topic.
    – Matt
    Aug 29 '15 at 17:07
  • By the way: oooh, pretty!
    – keshlam
    Aug 30 '15 at 4:24
  • Thanks! I'll be glad to get it done. At least one of the woods in there made me break out in rashes so bad I had to wear a tyvek suit and a full face mask to work on it. I rather wish I'd known that before I picked the wood ;)
    – Daniel B.
    Aug 30 '15 at 4:26
  • I've just come across this question, 5 months later. Can you share your method with us and let us know how it worked out? It would be interesting to find out what you actually did and what you'd do differently if you needed to.
    – FreeMan
    Feb 24 '16 at 21:37

Geometric solution

Using a large compass or trammel, you can precisely gauge all the distances and transfer them to a large template of whatever material you choose (paper, cardboard, hardboard, plywood, etc.). For each point you need to lay out, you just need at least two reference points and the distance from each reference point to the point you're trying to transfer.

  1. Place the (center) point of the compass on a reference point on your table and adjust the radius to match the distance to the point you're transferring.
  2. Lock in the setting, then move the compass to the corresponding reference point on your large sheet of paper and strike an arc.
  3. Repeat for the second (and optionally third) reference point. The point you're transferring will be at the intersection of the two (or more) arcs.

Repeat the above steps for as many points as you need to transfer.

Note that if you gauge and mark from 3 or more reference points, any error will be apparent because not all the arcs used to transfer that point will intersect at a single point.

There are also various other geometric construction techniques you can use to construct regular or irregular shapes using just a compass and/or straightedge.

Direct solution

Originally I was thinking you needed to cut square holes in the glass, but after rereading your question it sounds like you just want to notch out the corners of a rectangular sheet of glass. That makes creating a template much easier:

  1. Cut a piece of cardboard, hardboard, or thin plywood several inches wider than the half the distance between the left and right pairs of pegs.
  2. Using a knife and metal rule or straightedge, mark the positions of the pegs.
  3. Cut out notches for the pegs.
  4. Repeat for the other side.
  5. Securely glue or tape the two slightly overlapping sides together.
  6. With the template still in place, use a knife and metal straightedge to trim (or mark, if using thicker material) the template to match the outside perimeter (the perhaps slightly out-of-square rectangle that encloses the pegs).
  7. If the material was too thick to trim with just the knife, remove the template and use a track saw (or a circular saw with a straightedge guide) to finish trimming the template along the knife marks.
  • I do need square holes in the glass. The notches would be quite a lot easier, and Iv'e considered it, but I think it would look tacky to have the whole corner uncovered.
    – Daniel B.
    Aug 29 '15 at 5:42
  • I think the second part is the way to go, though I may have to modify it a bit for my specific needs..
    – Daniel B.
    Aug 29 '15 at 6:09

Simplest answer may be a large sheet of paper (or several firmly secured to each other), fitted precisely to the space. If assembling, use two overlapping pieces, cut away if necessary, to fit the corners. Make sure it's all well secured so nothing can slide out of position, trap it between two large sheets of cardboard for safe travel, and...

Or just get precise measurements of all sides and both diagonals? Should be possible to get the angles from that.

You may need to allow for wood movement, if this glass is going to be inset.

Strong suggestion: Find a glass shop that has worked with furniture makers before and ask how they'd do it.

  • The paper didn't work for me by itself, but I think if I put something solid under, that would help.
    – Daniel B.
    Aug 29 '15 at 2:37
  • The glass isn't inset, it rests on top of the outer border. The tricky part is getting those square pegs to fit into square holes in the glass, which is why I'm so concerned with making sure it's as close to perfect as I can get :)
    – Daniel B.
    Aug 29 '15 at 3:37
  • ... right, I missed the point about the pegs. Not at all sure how to get that precise fit. Hmmm.
    – keshlam
    Aug 29 '15 at 4:08

A variation on the answers above is to make a template like cabinet makers do for counter tops. They will use either strips of 1/4 sheathing/plywood, place them at the perimiter and glue the parts together to make a template. As an alternative , you could get large sheets of poster board, place them to the edges and glue or package tape them together. You can locate your holes by cutting an oversize hole at each location and then apply strips of cardboard to exactly define your holes.

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