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Routing Free Hand

Don Evans
Need some advise, please.
I have an excellent router table, the 47" Incra with the Wonder Fence, great table by the way.
I have a job that requires routing the edge of a 5.25" wide cherry board that is 54" long. The length makes it not conducive to doing the ends on the table IMO. Sides of board would be no problem on the table of course.
The bit is an ogee and one end of the board is curved (an ogee) shape. I just don't feel the ends can be done safely on the table.
So, I decided I need to do it free hand and believe it or not after 40 years working with wood I've never done free hand routing!
I know how to do it except I cannot think of a way to do the shallow first cuts that are done before the final pass.
How does one do those with nothing guiding the bit depth?
If I make a template I could use the bushings and keep moving the template back is that the way? Is that the way to do it, until the bearing on the bit does the guiding?

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