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How to Transfer a To-Scale drawing onto a hardboard template

atoma's picture

Greetings all,

I have a simple question: I have full size plans that I purchased from Fine Woodworking for a cabinet.  The cabinet has legs with a curve at the bottom.  I would like to transfer the full-size drawing of the leg from the plans onto a hardboard template.  I will later cut and use this hardboard template to trace the shape on the four leg blanks.

This said, what is the best way to ACCURATELY transfer the leg shape from the plans onto the hardboard without cutting or damaging the original plans?  Sure, I can color the back of the plans with a charcoal pencil and then hand or ruler trace the template onto the hardboard, but I don't think this is accurate because of the shifting and stretching paper.  Is there a better way?

In the attached photo, the author Scott Gibson cut out the paper plan and pasted onto the template, which he then cut to size.

Thank you woodworkers.

Best regards, ATOMA

DaveRichards's picture

You Could Use a Boatbuilder's Method (post #158176, reply #1 of 8)

Although this does damage the paper a bit, it doesn't make it unusable. Lay the paper plan onto the hardboard and prick through paper at points along the lines. then connect the lines with a sprung batten. You can make the paper a bit tougher where you'll prick through it by putting some clear packing tape on it.

Another method derived from boat building would be to draw a reference line on the plan and then at regular intervals along that line measure to the curve. This will give you a list of offsets which you can then transfer to the hardboard. 

atoma's picture

Thanks (post #158176, reply #2 of 8)

Thanks Dave.  I'll try the holes method; I think this will work better than the tracing.  Thanks again for your help.

DaveRichards's picture

 You're Quite Welcome. I hope (post #158176, reply #3 of 8)

 You're Quite Welcome. I hope it works well for you.


joinerswork's picture

Atoma, I use carbon (post #158176, reply #4 of 8)


I use carbon paper.

What's that?  Carbon paper is a thin paper covered on one side with a heavy layer of dark blue or black ink.  The ink is transferred to what's beneath it by pressure.  It was originally used in offices when more than one copy of a  manuscript was needed.  A sheet (or more) of carbon paper is inserted between two (or more) sheets of typing paper and the packet is inserted into the carrieage of a typewriter (what's that?)

The paper can be similarly used between a drawing and template material, by going over the drawing lines with a pencil, pen, or stylus, thus transferring the lines.

My folder of carbon paper is at least 15 yrs old.  I have no idea if it is still being made.  Stuff lasts forever for transferring drawings, as the same lines never match up on the paper where the ink has been transferred away.

Ray, the luddite

atoma's picture

Thanks Ray, the luddite (post #158176, reply #5 of 8)

First, I had to look up "luddite" in the dictionary.  Now I know it means a person who is opposed to technology.  Unfortunately, given my age, I know what carbon paper is :-(  Like you, I am also nostalgic to old technology.  In fact, I just installed an old fashion rotary phone (see picture) because I was tired of the low volume and erratic behavior of the "digital" phone.

I digress!!  instead of carbon paper, I color the back of the plan, along the lines, with a lead or charcoal pencil.  This way, when I trace, the color is pressed onto the template.

Thanks for the feedback, Ray.

Best regards, ATOMA

Rotary_Phone.jpg325.64 KB
joinerswork's picture

ATOMA, When I was a kid, my (post #158176, reply #6 of 8)


When I was a kid, my grandma had one of those new-fanglesd rotary phones.  On the farm, our phone did not have a dial.  You picked up the handpiece, and if no one else on the 4-party line was using their phone, the operator in town would ask what number you wanted to be connected to. Ours was 107J4

It wasn't quite Lum -n- Abner ("Aye-doggies, Lum, I b'lieve 'at's our ring."  "Grannies, Abner, I b'lieve yer right.")  But close.


atoma's picture

Very funny, Ray (post #158176, reply #7 of 8)

Very funny... you got me there; I was born into the rotaty phones.  yes, how things change - sometimes to the better.  Enjoy your woodworking, Ray and I'll let you know if I find carbon paper in the store :-)   Best regards, Tony

Knot4933's picture

transfer paper (post #158176, reply #8 of 8)

I believe you can buy transfer paper from Miesel Hardwarde, Cherry Tree toys; the Winfield Collection from their web sites.  I've bought both 8 1/2 x 11" size, & 4 x 8' size.