The Word is Out: Template/Templet

The ‘Word is Out’ is a series dedicated to some of the weird and wonderful words that associate to carpentry, wooden architecture, wood, and woodworking in general. Please search in the labels index at the bottom of the page, under ‘Carpentry terminology’, for further entries.


  1. Noun. A pattern, mold, or the like, usually consisting of a thin plate of wood or metal, serving as a gauge or guide in mechanical work.
  2. Noun. A horizontal piece or timber or stone in a wall to receive and distribute the pressure of a girder, beam, etc.. Wall plates which are not continuous, but which are placed under the ends of the trusses in pieces only sufficiently long to distribute the weight, are also sometimes called templates.
  3. Noun. (shipbuilding) Either of two wedges in each of the temporary blocks forming the support for the keel of a ship while building.

Templet. As for template (above).


The word templet is likely the older of the two. It wasn’t until the 1670’s that template became a distinct word, probably by mistake, due to”falsely etymologizing the final syllable ~plet as ~plate”. Templet derives from the French language templet, meaning ‘a weaver’s stretcher’, being the diminutive of temple, which means the same thing. A weaver’s stretcher is a device (a pair of opposed wooden rollers with small metal spikes, or a 2-piece spreader bar with spikes) – in a loom for keeping the cloth stretched to a proper width during weaving. Temple comes from the Latin word templum, meaning ‘plank, rafter, small piece of timber’. Ultimately, the Latin derives from the Greek temnos (‘that which is cut off’), and going further back, a couple of Indo-European roots tem-, meaning “to cut, divide”, and temp-, meaning “to pull, stretch”. A temple, in the sense of the religious place of worship, was a plot of land cut from ordinary ground. The meaning of templet as ‘a pattern/gauge for shaping a piece of work’ came in existence around 1819.


I think the wooden pattern is obvious enough to most readers. The art of carpentry drawing to produce templates for creating the shapes of timbers used in Japanese curved roofs is one example that comes immediately to mind:

Large templates can also be used to check the overall shapes of built-up construction, like roof surfaces, yacht hulls, etc., to see that they conform to design.

Shipbuilder’s template (termed ‘levelled supporting blocks’ in the diagram):

(image from How to Build a Viking Ship)

Weaver’s temple (templet):

Then ends of the paddles have small spikes to catch the fabric:

Here’s another form of temple, also known as selvedge rollers:

In use they are place under the fabric, keeping it tensioned as it is woven:

(above two images from the blog Weaver’s Delight).

Paring templets (from Corkhill’s Dictionary of Wood):

This use by Corkhill of the word templet as being what would otherwise be called a paring guide, is unique to his dictionary from what I can tell. I think this crosses over somewhat in terms of the use of the word template as being a ‘guiding jig’.

From Pat Warner’s website, here’s a router guide templet for cutting 90˚ to the work:

Sitting atop the jig is an acrylic router base with a templet guide bushing installed. A jig, in many cases, is itself a form of templet in that is enables a tool to follow a pre-determined shape.

Thanks for coming by the Carpentry Way. Comments always welcome.

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