A DIY Teardrop Travel Trailer

Monday, March 4, 2013

CNC: The Art of Cutting a Template

I made the choice early in my design that I would use a CNC machine to help cut parts for my teardrop build.  The thought was that this would speed up the process considerably in the beginning.

Time Lapse of CNC Cutting Teardrop Parts

* Drawings are used courtesy of DaveMcCamant, and the copyright and ownership remain with him.

Here is an example of the interior template drawing.  The holes in the work surface will be filled with insulation.

Using the method of removing excess wood will help keep the weight of the trailer down.  I'm worried that since I'll be using more wood  than most people, my trailer will be on the heavy side, so I'll remove as much unnecessary wood as I can.  The template design you see below shows in pink where insulation will be added, which is a lightweight material compared to the signboard.

Here is an example of how the CNC can cut parts for the tongue box.  Some of these pieces will be used as a template for bending steamed wood.

Lid of Tongue Box was cut with CNC Machine

Hatch template parts, with internal cabinet framework.


  1. Hey Michael,

    Wondering what type of wood you used for the framework? Also, did you CNC the outer and innner walls or jig those?

    Finally, did you CNC the hatch build - I would like to do the same and want to create a 5 by 8.

    If you could post your cnc drawing for reference on the hatch - I am learning to use google sketch up.


  2. All of the parts that were CNC'd used what's called signboard. It's a material used by the signshop that is weather resistant, and seems just like a really heavy plywood. I used the CNC to cut the outer, middle, and inner walls, but may end up just using those as a template based upon my design. I'm getting the remaining parts from the CNC guy tomorrow, and my trailer unfortunately has been delayed, so I can't start work on assembly until May.

    The hatch will also use CNC parts, and I have posted the drawing above. I've created a template to bend steamed wood around for the hatch, which is an experiment that I think will pay off. I'll post details on this blog when I get to that part. You've caught me in the beginning of my build, so not much going on until the weather gets better. Thanks for the interest.

  3. Exciting, good luck on the build.

    The CNC aspect really intrigues me....

    I like to review these plans - I also am looking at building using a local CNC shop - wondering what the estimated cost was (I am looking at 1 hour drafting and 2 hours cutting roughly 60$ per hour...so $180 but I figure the added cost saves time and precision is key)

    Wondering if you could help me - is the out and inner shell - the same size on the perimeter as the skeleton - or do you cut it an inch or so to give a frame to run your cross beams too?

    Did you cut the door the exact same size in the outer and inner or do you cut it a little smaller to have a seal?

    I also am a big fan of the travelear - beautiful build.

    Good Luck - look forward to your comments.


  4. You should request the plans from Dave on the tnttt forum. Mine are a modified version of the Atma Travelear, and he owns the copyright. I spent all day at the CNC shop, and we didn't even get halfway done, but we did have to reformat some of the plans. Maybe your CNC guy will be quicker, but I'd plan on more that jsut a couple of hours. Yes, the there will be a frame to run cross beams. The door is the same, and I will need to create a lip on the inside to act as a seal, but you could just cut the inside wall smaller. Slow going here, but you'll see progress in the next month that may answer some of your questions.

  5. This is a useful and creative way to use a cnc
    CNC Routers