January 29, 2021

Creating and Cutting Custom Templates

By Hailee Smith

Here are some resources and tips for creating and cutting custom templates on Ignite Studio’s laser engraver, Cricut Maker, or by hand!

While many of Ignite Studio’s laser engraver users primarily use the machine to engrave and cut flat objects, it is the perfect tool to turn something flat into something with dimension. The hard part is figuring out how it should all fit together. If your measurements are just a little bit off, your structure won’t fit together well. This requires a lot of trial and error, and patience! If you aren’t yet certified to use this piece of equipment, check out our online certification courses.

Creating Custom Templates: Template Maker

Today, I wanted to introduce you to a couple tools that can help eliminate some of that trial and error for you. One of the best things about living in the “information age” is, well, information! You’d be surprised how much useful information and tools are out there for free.  

If you’re looking to make something out of paper, look no further than TemplateMaker. This site will allow you to design any shape that you could possibly think of. This ranges from fun, playful diamond shapes, to extremely functional items like gift boxes, counter displays, and round boxes.  All shapes are editable, allowing you to customize the exact size. (I have run into small problems with this before, however, so be careful with extreme measurements, and leave room for testing.) 

When you choose the kind of structure you’d like to generate a template for, your screen will look like this. There are lots of inputs for all the different dimensions. Play around with these options. Think about what works for you: what your material size is, how you want it to function, etc.  

In my experience working with Adobe Illustrator, I find it easiest to export the template as a PDF and edit it for the laser from there. Your file should look something like this: 

Of course, you are not obligated to use the laser. Arm yourself with a pair of scissors and a glue stick, and you’re good as gold. Or check out some of Ignite’s tutorials for our Cricut Maker Machine. But if you’re like me, you’ll be tempted to try one of these templates out on the laser. 

I have had a successful experiment with this method before. In my experiment, I designed a card box template, and as another experiment also integrated some hand-drawn designs to be engraved on the faces. It turned out well, but I plan to continue testing this process.



Creating Custom Templates: Joinery

If you are looking to craft a structure out of wood, leather, felt, or just about any other material, Joinery is the program for you.

This article on Instructables has a lot of insight as to how to use this program, and what kinds of things you can use it for. It also includes some common troubleshooting FAQs. It’s a great resource if you’re just getting started. This program generates different kinds of joinery,  concierge hems, finger joints, loop inserts, flaps, and more.   

I will note, using Joinery is a bit more involved than using Templatemaker. While Templatemaker generates an entire template for you to follow, Joinery is a bit more DIY. You’ll need to be able to craft your own basic template, but the program will do all the heavy lifting when it comes to the joinery between the faces of your design.  

I have not yet successfully completed a Joinery project yet, but I am hoping to in the near future. And I hope you do too! Happy Making!