When I first started making guitars I had to hand cut and shape my first set of router templates. This process was long and difficult and the end result was less than perfect. When I discovered that I could design these templates in AutoCad and have them laser CNC cut, the quality the guitars I began to produce was exponentially increased. eventually I got my own CNC and I could either cut parts directly on the CNC or make my own templates. I created an Instructable and began offering to help people design and cut there own acrylic templates a some point but I was never very happy with this process as the templates where very expensive and I felt like this was prohibitive to hobbyists and beginners. Eventual I began making the templates myself out of 1/2" MDF like these. I can produce them inexpensively and I really enjoy the process, and the best part is that I get to work with a lot of creative people and help them make something that is incredibly satisfying. This is the process I'm currently using.
Step 1: The Design
on my website twocherriesinstruments.com you can send me a description of the instrument you intend to create, Links, Images, and any dimensions that you have. We will reply with a quote for your template set. I attempt too keep these prices a low as I can to make it as easy as possible for beginners and hobbyists. We will design a template set for you in Fusion 360 and send you a drawing for approval or to suggest changes. When your happy with the drawings we will CNC cut your parts and ship them out to you. The average template set is around $75 to $100 + shipping. They vary based on complexity and the number of templates necessary to complete your project.
Step 2: Make Your Guitar
check out this list of videos on building guitars with router templates, now all you need to do is come up with an Idea, and LETS MAKE IT!