Picture of Make a template for a router and bushing cutout in Photoshop.
hop shape.jpg
This template of a hop flower was made for a mash paddle Instructable but can be applied to just about anything that needs a decorative cutout or just a mortise, etc. I use Photoshop to make the graphic into a usable template. The same "resizing" I do in Photoshop can be easily done on paper without a computer though. All you need for this project is a router, bushings and bit to fit, clamps, paper, typical glue for paper, MDF or plywood and a couple of wood scraps.

Step 1: Determine measurements and print out an offset for the template

Picture of Determine measurements and print out an offset for the template
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The template I am making uses a router with a bushing installed and a bit at least as long as the wood is thick(3/4") The first thing to do when designing a template to figure out the "offset" from the bushing to the bit. Look through your bits and bushings to find a good combination. Usually, the smallest bit that meets the wood thickness requirement is best. Then select the smallest bushing that gives a safe clearance between the bushing and bit.

The formula for the offset is (bushing size - router bit size) / 2 = offset. The bushing I used is .4375". The bit was .25". The offset is .09375" (fraction is 3/32").

In Photoshop open or make a two tone graphic. This graphic of a hop is about as complex as you can get. Just remember that the router bushing is almost a 1/2" wide and the blade is a 1/4". Any tight inside corners might start to disappear when cut. Look at the hop stem in the test cut for instance.
-Note the resolution of your graphic. (From the menu Edit>Image size. There is field that tells resolution)
-Multiply resolution by the offset. Mine is 72 dpi x .09375 = 6.75. This is your pixel offset.
-With this graphic open and sized to the correct size you, select the white space. From the menu click Select>Modify>Expand. Put your "pixel offset number" in the dialog that comes up. It will expand the selected area. You can either fill the selected area or the inverse selected area with another color as I did here with red. Print this out.