Help with router

I am new to stick making and I see these controll panels being made of 3/4 mdf where a router is used to create a recess for top mounting a jap stick and a recess around the button holes to allow for screw ins. My question is how is this done ? Is it free hand or do you make some sort of template and what type of bit is used? Any details or explanation would help.

I believe the really smooth ones you see are either use a CNC router, which is programmed by a computer, or they use larger diameter Forstner bits to create the recessed hole…or, like you said, free hand router…which is what I do.

I’ve used all three with success; template, freehand, and forstner. The template is good combined with this bit from mlcs…
3rd one down
It has a bearing above the cutting bit that you can follow your template with.
Mlcs is a really good place for router bits and forstner bits. Check 'em out.