What do you make your templates out of?

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I'm a beginner woodworker and want to start making some reusable templates for use with my router. What materials do you recommend that I use to make durable reusable templates? Also I would appreciate any links to where I could find some of the more standard templates for purchase (like circles, letters, numbers, ect.)


I've considered Plywood, hardboard, MDF, and acrylic, though I'm thinking the hardboard might be a bit thin to run the bearing on.

I have access to a 3' x 4' laser to assist in cutting the acrylic or hardboard, so I'm leaning towards those right now.


I'd appreciate any tips and suggestions.

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MDF works well, but is horrid to work with. Softwood ply has too many voids & soft spots. Baltic Birch is great & is nice to work with.  More expensive than MDF though.

Some apply CA glue to the edge of MDF to harden it, which I haven't tried yet. I have 2 stacked bearings on my 3/4 pattern cutting bit & that works well to spread the wear.

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I usually use 1/4" MDF, but will make them from 1/4" Lexan if I think that I'll be using them a lot. Putting a coat of Poly on the MDF will extend the life of MDF, so most get a coat after they are made. I always use a marking pen and write details on my patterns as to what the pattern is for, what bit  and what bushing I used with it. A 1/2" hole drilled near one end lets me hang them from nails driven into the sides of the rafters in my shop attic (only 6' at the peak, so most are easily reached), or from hooks in the ceiling of my shop, for the more frequently used ones. Here, a 40" reach gripper gets them down when needed, or back up there when I'm finished. My shop ceiling is covered with jigs and patterns, except where they would block the lighting or hang above aisles.




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