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 ...and thanks for stopping by. I'm Claire Douglas,  DIY and home interiors writer specialising in money-saving and creative home interior projects. I've spent years developing my 'bespoke on a budget' approach to DIY and home interiors and I love sharing all my tips and tricks in tutorials and posts here on my blog, in articles I write for some of the leading titles, in the press, on Instagram, Tiktok and my online course

  • Claire Douglas

DIY contour gauge aka how to template intricate cuts perfectly every time

Updated: 5 days ago

DIY contour gauge: A handy hack to help with tiling, hanging wallpaper, laying carpet, or fitting stick-on tiles.

DIY contour gauge creating a profile template round door jamb

Making a template saves a lot of time and energy when you need to cut around things in a DIY project. By things, I mean anything from door architrave to toilets, baths to skirting boards. If you are installing flooring of any kind (even stick-on tiles like floor pops) you'll likely need to cut around the shape of a doorway, which can be quite intricate depending on the style of architrave you have.

Cutting templates for DIY tasks

You can make a template out of cardboard and through a process of trial and error, cut a bit here and there until you get it right, this process will work fine, but can be fiddly and takes time. Or you could buy a special contour gauge from a hardware store these are great but not cheap, especially if you aren't likely to get regular use from it.

DIY contour gauge with wooden skewers

If faffing with trial and error or spending out on a 'proper' tool doesn't appeal, don't worry, I have the perfect upcycle/repurposed solution and all you need is a few wooden skewers and a piece of cardboard...

You will need

Loose wooden skewers for diy contour guide

Long wooden sticks

Piece of corrugated cardboard


Here's what you need to do...

Step one:

Broken or bent wooden skewers for diy contour gauge

Sort through the skewers and discard any that are wonky or damaged. Bent sticks will impair the results of the template so don't be tempted to use them.

Step two:

Cut the cardboard into a rectangular shape of approx 30cm in length. Remember this must be corrugated cardboard as you need the little holes between the sheets to insert the sticks.

Step three:

DIY contour gauge

Insert a skewer into each hole of the corrugation. Check that each skewer sits firmly in the hole, discard any loose skewers as they won't record the contour accurately.

Step four:

DIY contour gauge

Test that the contour guide actually works, by using it to create a template around something. As you can see from the images above, I tested mine around the base of a doorway and it worked perfectly.

I made a video of the process which you can watch here...

What can I use if I don't have a contour gauge?

Contour gauges are great, but if you don't want the added expense of a trip to the shops or aren't keen on having another tool to store afterwards, a DIY profile or contour gauge is just the ticket. Follow the steps above to make a cost-effective and sustainable (only wood and cardboard materials) DIY contour gauge. This method is ideal for cutting the perfect shape into tiles or stick-on tiles for areas like around the base of a toilet, or the corner of a bath etc.

How do you make a contour template?

A DIY contour gauge is a simple tool that allows you to make a contour template for your DIY projects in no time. Simply thread wooden BBQ skewers through the holes in corrugated cardboard to create a super easy-to-use and very effective DIY contour gauge.

Are contour gauges worth it?

Yes! Contour gauges are definitely worth it because they offer a simple and effective way to ensure a high-quality finish to DIY projects that require replicating an uneven or irregular shape. You can pick them up for under £10 at the DIY store or on Amazon, or make a DIY version following the steps above.

What is a contour gauge duplicator used for?

Contour gauge duplicators are used to replicate the exact profile or contour of a surface in order to create a template to apply to materials like tiles, skirting or stick-on tiles. You don't want to spend ages on a project to have the cuts around the edges be poor quality and let the whole project down, so invest in a contour gauge duplicator or create a DIY profile gauge following the steps listed above.

Thanks so much for reading. I'd love to keep you up to date with future DIY, decorating, interior styling, and upcycling projects; if you would like to receive my emails then please subscribe (scroll down to the box at the bottom of the page).


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