Woodworking patterns are like blueprints for your woodworking project. It is a great guide to refer to throughout your job. You will have enough on your mind with getting the right materials, measurements and tools. With a woodworking pattern in the shop, you have one less thing on your mind. And, if you screw up, you can always blame the woodworking pattern.

Also Called Templates

Before writing this article, I asked my Dad, a lifelong carpenter, if he used woodworking patterns in his job. There was dead silence on the other end of the phone, and then he hesitantly asked, ‘You mean a template?’

It might help you to look for a saw template rather than a woodworking pattern, but whatever you call it, it can make your woodworking job easier. And yes, Dad has used templates or woodworking patterns nearly every day on the job for over forty years. My Dad even uses templates for working with glass. We use templates in lots of ways without realizing it. A cookie cutter, a stencil, a sewing pattern – they are all kinds of templates.

Essential For Saws

Measure twice, cut once, of course. But you can conserve your wood usage on a project with fewer mistakes by using woodworking patterns. Although you can download them for free from the web, my Dad prefers to make his own from plywood, scrap wood or even really stiff cardboard.

He makes the design he wants to cut out of the wood on the template material. Then he cuts the template out. Then, he tapes or blue tacks the woodworking pattern on the wood and traces the design in a thick black pen (or another color pen if his coworkers steal his black pen). Then, he removed the template. The templates are often only used once or twice, depending on what kind of material it’s made out of. The design that the woodworking pattern left on the wood is then put to the jigsaw.

What You Get

If you buy a template from a store or download one online, you need to keep a few things in mind:

Do you have both the tools and the experience for the job?
Can you use the woodworking pattern on the wood of your choice? Pine works well for all kinds of shapes, but not plywood, for example, which tends to fracture if you try to cut circles out of it.


A good woodworking pattern will not only show you where to cut the wood, but will also go on to explain how the pieces you’ve just cut out fit into your project.