There is no denying it; electronic templating is the technology of the future. As shops become ever more automated with computerized fabrication equipment, the need for accurate and detailed digital data has become absolutely vital. The good news is there are a number of alternatives available to fabricators for converting real world numbers of inches and feet into the cyber language of zeroes and ones. The bad news is it can be rather expensive.
Installation of the top exactly mirrors the template. Note how well the top butts into the wall, including the dog-ear—a detail often overlooked in stone installations.
Some fabricators use traditional methods for creating a physical template of cardboard, plastic or lauan, then bring it back to the shop for digitizing—usually on their CNC router or on a digitizing table. Others, intent on streamlining the process, eliminate the need for a physical template entirely by gathering electronic countertop data on-site using articulating equipment or photo technology. A small, yet growing number of fabricators have turned instead to companies that specialize in capturing template data electronically—at least one of which unconditionally guarantees the accuracy of its work
That service is offered by Midwest Template Services, located in Elkhorn, Wis., which uses ETemplate photo technology for making templates. According to Lenard Nottestad, who with his son, Jason, own and operate the fledgling enterprise, their product is unique in several respects.
“When we go into a home or a business, we put on all the markers and shoot the pictures, crunch all the numbers, download the information into a CAD file and generate a drawing,” the elder Nottestad explains. “While we are still at the home, we go out into our van where we have a template maker. We actually make a full-size Mylar template of that countertop.”
Thus, the company actually creates two templates—one for the virtual world, and another, more user-friendly physical specimen. Overkill? Perhaps. But, as Nottestad explains, there is a definite method to this madness.
“We bring the Mylar template back into the house,” he continues, “and put it onto the counter so the customers can see what their countertop will look like before any stone has been cut. They can make choices regarding radii, angles, spacing between the overhangs and other cabinets. Did we forget to put an overhang on? As soon as we put the template on the cabinets we will know we forgot the overhang. We can make all these changes very easily at this point, before anyone has gone to any expense to cut the material.”
All this attention to detail is vital because the Midwest Template Services guarantee is much more comprehensive than a simple money-back offer if the template is wrong. It also extends to the cost of the countertop itself.
“If the fabricator makes a top to the dimensions we give him, we guarantee that countertop will install properly—the overhangs will be right, the radii will be right, everything will fit perfectly,” says Nottestad. “If there is a problem, we will absorb the cost of anything it takes to replace or repair the piece. We can make that guarantee because we have already built that countertop.”