I was watching another Roy Underhill video where he showed us making a Shaker round stand. He explains the original table was built by the Shakers and how he has been wanting to replicate one. He discussed this specific tables perfection and harmony when it came to the shafts contours into the legs and the overall design.

handcock pedestal table

Image from inside The Woodwright's Shop

He was ecstatic to come across a lathe template for this particular table in his travels and show it to us in the episode.

handcock pedestal table template

Image from inside The Woodwright's Shop

My issue was that he didn't really show us how he used the template while he was using the lathe.

In its simplest form I suppose you hold the template beneath the work piece while it is mounted on the lathe and eyeball where the changes need to be made. Then turn on the lathe and work while periodically checking the template.

I feel that could be an error prone approach.

So, that being said, how do you effectively use a 2 dimensional template, like the one Roy shows above, when turning?


2 Answers 2


I can think of at least two options:

  1. use the template on a duplicator
  2. use the template to set calipers

.... basically what keshlam said. The first if you have a duplicator you can use the template to make the shape. Most of us don't have a duplicator in our arsenal. lathe duplicator

The other is to use calipers to take measurements at key places.

First you take and lay the pattern by your work piece and mark the ends, and the high and low places. if you have a round piece you can spin it and make lines all the way around the piece, this makes them show up better.

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Then you turn the lower sections down to the right diameter and meet try to match the curves to the widest point. Using your eye and the calipers to take measurements until you get them to match.


  • There you are...... So the template I have pictured would be used for the caliper method then most likely.
    – Matt
    Nov 10, 2015 at 20:36
  • @Matt well you could put it in a duplicator, but they are spendy, so yes.
    – bowlturner
    Nov 10, 2015 at 20:51
  • It seemed too frail for a duplicator... that and I would guess one of the sophistication that you pictured would not be available for traditionalists.
    – Matt
    Nov 10, 2015 at 20:53
  • @M true, but you could make a copy out of thicker wood if needed. but yes, traditionalist would tend not to use that kind of duplicator
    – bowlturner
    Nov 10, 2015 at 20:57
  • 1
    And a dulicating lathe doesn't have to be quite so fancy. Consider the hardware store key duplicator, which is essentially a pattern cutter though with rotating cutter and fixed workpiece rather than the reverse... and properly tuned those are accurate to within a thousandth of an inch.
    – keshlam
    Nov 10, 2015 at 21:05

Template-guided turning requires a jig which holds a tracing tip to follow the template, and a cutting tip that tracks this motion to bring the workpiece into conformance with that shape. It's sorta like pattern-guided routing, except that the wood spins rather than the cutter, and the pattern is farther from the wood to give it room to spin.

The other way to use a template, if you don't have a pattern lathe setup, is to just take measurements off it, which may be easier than taking them off the turned piece.

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