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How to Make a Template for a Decorative Jigsaw Cut

You know what an arbor looks like. You know what a pergola looks like. Have you ever noticed those beautiful, intricate patterns and scrolls that are cut into the ends of the uppermost boards?


These patterns, or designs, really add a layer of gorgeous detailing to the arbor or pergola. Sometimes, these little craftsman details are missed because you’re looking at the whole structure.

Source: WalpoleWoodworkers


But the beauty is in the details!

A decorative design cut is not hard to create, even for a DIY project, and you can make your own custom design. First, you will need to make a template. For the template you’ll need graph/grid paper (we used an 8 1/2  x 11 sheet), a grade school drawing compass (or other guide for drawing curves), a pencil to draw your design, and an eraser (because you’ll be drawing and erasing until you get the look you want).

A word of warning: just keep in mind that the more intricate you make your design, the more challenging it will be to cut it out with the jigsaw. And, depending on your project, you may be cutting your design out many times over! Each and every cross board on an arbor has a decorative design cut at both ends!

You’ll be surprised at how beautiful a simple design can be!


How To Make A Template

For this demonstration, we used quarter-inch graph paper (4 of the smallest squares equal one inch – actual size). The grid/graph paper will be really helpful in determining dimensions. The pattern we made was for a 2 x 6 (nominal size) board. Before you begin to draw your design, know what the width of your boards are. For example, the actual width of a 2 x 6 board is 5 1/2”. We drew an outline of the end of the 5 1/2” board on the graph paper.


The dark lines indicate the width of the board


Your design can be created by using right angles, curves, reverse curves, ships curves, and so on. For a beautiful design, always use true geometrical shapes.


The graph paper makes it easy to change or alter your design.


Next, cut out the design with scissors. These templates are 2 designs we came up with. The first one is a simple reverse curve, which would be fairly easy to cut out with the jigsaw. The second design is just a bit more intricate, but still, not too difficult to cut.





The next step is to lay your template at the end of the board, and then draw the outline of the design onto the board.


Position the template – you can secure it to the board with a clamp to hold it in place while you draw the outline


Use a pen or a really thin tip marker to draw the outline, so that the line will be dark. This will help make it easier to see while you are making your jigsaw cuts.



Now you’re ready to cut  out your design with the jigsaw. Be sure to wear safety glasses while cutting.


This is the cut that was made from the template




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