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Rockler Circle/Grommet Templates
The easy way to perfect circles and ovals
Text, photos and video by Tom Hintz
Posted - 6-12-2013
Cutting perfectly round holes in our project wood has always been difficult. Hole saws were one option but sometimes cause project-killing blowout on the exit surface. Cutting an accurate oval opening is even more difficult to get right. The folks at Rockler have an easy-to-use solution for round and oval hole cutting in the form of their Rockler Circle/Grommet Templates. (#34499)
The Rockler Circle/Grommet Templates are made of ¼”-thick acrylic to be easy to use and tough. The clear acrylic comes with a white plastic protective sheet on the back side that you can peel off or leave in place (as I did) to make the marking stand out a little better for the cameras. The holes are intentionally 1/8” oversize for the hole they create to allow the use of a guide bushing. For this review I used the Rockler #38756 short shank 5/8” guide bushing (short collar for ¼” material) with locking nut along with a 1/2" spiral HSS upcut bit (Rockler #63008).
The Rockler Circle/Grommet Template set comes with two templates with 13 hole sizes and two ovals. You get finished circles in 3-1/2", 3-1/4", 3-1/8", 3", 2-3/4", 2-1/2", 2-3/8", 2-1/4", 2", 1-15/16", 1-3/4", 1-9/16" and 1-3/8". The finished ovals are 2-1/2" x 6-1/8" and 2-3/8" x 4-5/8". These ovals fit Rockler oval grommets #91372 and #22899 commonly used for creating desk cable/wire passages. Each of the templates is 10-7/8" square to give you room to attach them to the wood with double-sided tape. You can clamp the Rockler Circle/Grommet Templates in place but the double-sided tape makes more sense to avoid introducing an obstruction for the router.
In the Shop
If you can work double-sided tape you can handle the Rockler Circle/Grommet Templates. I think a plunge router is the way to go though you could drill a pilot hole larger than you bit and use a fixed router if need be. Another point of economy is that the Rockler Circle/Grommet Templates do not require big horsepower routers. If you have a router with a ½” collet, you are properly equipped!
Layout for using the Rockler Circle/Grommet Templates accurately is made easy by the inclusion of vertical and horizontal hash marks at each template hole. This layout system is easily employed with simple tools and with dead-on accuracy.
If there is a secret to using the Rockler Circle/Grommet Templates it is using a good quality upcut router bit surrounded by the 5/8” guide collar. After that you just have to pay attention, use a moderate feed rate as you should anyway and keep the guide bushing in contact with the template.
While cutting perfect holes that actually are the size you really wanted is very cool, cutting ovals that turn out exactly correct borders on epic. There is nothing easy about laying out or cutting ovals if you do not have a good template. Oval openings for cords etc. are all but mandatory on todays’ computer desks and workstations. Between the Rockler Circle/Grommet Templates and the matching oval grommet inserts they sell you can add another level of professionalism to this type of project with ease.
The Rockler Circle/Grommet Templates make a traditionally tough job easy without stressing the tool budget. With a street price of just $37.99 (6-11-2013) for the two template set even small shops can afford what many professional woodworkers already use. With a bit of common sense care the Rockler Circle/Grommet Templates will remain a functional addition to your shop forever.
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