Friday, June 5, 2009

Making Your Own Stencils

I've mentioned before that when I'm cleaning and tweaking, it usually involves making and/or painting things. I don't know about any of you, but when I get an idea for something, I have a hard time waiting until I get the materials to make them. So when I want to make a sign or a game board, I don't want to order stencils and then have to wait for them to arrive. So I make my own! I use my computer to print out lettering and to find pictures and clip art. I usually use freezer paper because it has a waxy coating on the back and is more durable. But in a pinch, like for this sign, I used regular computer paper. Cut the freezer paper to regular paper size and place it in your printer so that the letters are printed on the paper side, not the waxed side.

These are the steps I took to make a tavern sign.

First, I needed an image of a horse. I would have googled images for a picture of a horse, but I had a Warren Kimble wallpaper print that I used instead. A little tip for you - if you have a picture that's on a dark background and can't see the image to trace a pattern, tape it to a window pane. The sunlight will illuminate the image, making it easier to trace. (See images below)

I have a program on my computer called "Print Artist". (I think it was a free program that came with my printer). You can make all kinds of things like cards, signs, calendars and banners, which is the feature that I used.
Print out your wording. Tape together your paper if you need to.

Next, cut out the letters. I like to use embroidery scissors because they're small and thin. For letters that have centers that aren't attached (like B, A, D, etc.) I leave them attached until all the letters are cut out and I'm ready to stencil. That way I don't lose the pieces. (See below)

After all the letters are cut out, lay the stencils on your board, spraying lightly with adhesive spray. (Follow directions on the can for stencils).
Apply your paint .
And then sand and stain. And . . .

TA DA!! You have a handmade sign! (I dropped the sander above his knee and it removed too much paint! Oops!)

Since I've learned to do this, I don't remember when the last time I bought a stencil. Stencils can be a little pricey, especially for one this size. This sign measures 24" x 28".
You can do so many things; just use your imagination! Later on, I'll show you how to make a checkers game board using this method.


  1. WOW!! You seriously are so talented. I would have never thought about making one out of wax paper. You are one handy gal. I love the sign... it looks great! I can see me trying to make a sign and totally screwing it up (lol).

    Have a wonderful day my friend!


  2. Another fantastic tutorial, Kris! Now I've another project to try and can't wait cos I know what you mean about waiting - CAN'T!LOL!
    Thanks for sharing.

  3. You made this sound easy Lisa but I bet I would run into all sorts of problems doing it myself. Maybe one day I will get brave and try it though. I can always re-sand my board and start over I guess.
    Have a great weekend,

  4. What a clever idea Kris, and I really like this sign...wonderful!

  5. Great idea using wax paper! The sign came out great!!

  6. That is such an awesome idea....I would have NEVER thought of doing that!
    I love the look of stencils, yet the prices are outrageous! Therefore I have only bought one in my entire life!
    Thank you for the tip!
    And have a great weekend!

  7. Awesome, Kris. Thanks for sharing. Have a great weekend.

  8. Wow that was really cool thanx for sharing! And I am so glad you stopped by my new blog! Have a great day!--Dawn

  9. Great sign and so many thanks for sharing your "how to's". I will have to try to do this one. Please keep your ideas coming.
    Thanks again :-)

  10. Kris, Your blog is always so very interesting...always something to learn! I love it. I look forward to reading it each and every time. Thanks.

    It is so fun to create using stencils...I should get back into it. Your sign is really prim and really wonderful.

    Friends, Susannah

  11. Is there anything you can't do?! Love your creativity. My laptop doesn't have a printer so I might have to boot hubby off his so I can give this a try. Thanks for sharing!

  12. Great idea...thanks for sharing it! I'm been having a hard time finding primitive stencils and by doing this method...the ideas are endless.
    I'm going to have to give it a try.

  13. I've made my own stencils before, but never using wax paper. What a great idea! Thanks for sharing and your sign looks great!

  14. Your sign looks great. Nice idea! You are so talented.

  15. I'm the same way. Just hate waiting.
    I have done the same on my computer too.
    Its so easy.

  16. you are very good in what you do ever thing looks so good Thinks for shareing it i have in joyed it thahks clara

  17. I am going to try this..but I'm cutting it out on mylar from Staples ..clear transparency sheets I think they call them then I can reuse them..I already cut my own stencils but didn't think of using the fonts on the computer to make the words.. I sat here hand drawing them DUH!!! I use a single edge razor blade to cut mine out..And 2 pairs of glasses so I can see!!! I don't have a $1.00 pair at the right strenght so I wear 2 pair at once..I want to try making double layer sayings...Love your ideas!!!.. Keep them coming!!!Hugs Rene

  18. Great job! I can never get mine straight...


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