Making your own Re-Usable Stencils


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How to make your own reusable custom stencils

1. Surf to the image you want and print it off. All stencil images are made to fit on an 8.5"x11" page. If you want to enlarge or shrink the image, I have instructions on another page: How to reduce or increase the print size of the stencils.

2. Tape the printed stencil image onto the back of a stencil sheet. What kind of stencil sheet?? Well, that's up to you. Just about anything that's clear, plastic, and thin enough to be cut out with an exacto knife will do. Personally I've found that .003" Clear Acetate is the best material to use. There are many places on the internet that sell this stuff, the cheapest being If you have a Hobby Lobby store in your town you can find it there as well. For cheaper alternatives I've even used clear paper covers, like the kind you use to put on your school reports.

For the tape, you should use a type that's not too sticky. Masking tape or painters tape is the best....avoid scotch tape. Tape the paper all around to the stencil, make sure it's very secure.

3. Once you've taped the paper to the stencil sheet, you need to cut it out. I've tried all kinds of different ways to cut out stencils, including soldering irons. By far the best thing to use is a simple Exacto Knife. You can find these in just about any Crafts store, and Wal-Mart carries them as well. The first step to cutting the stencil is to find a good hard backing. You will be cutting with a sharp blade, so whatever you use will be damaged. I suggest some kind of wood panel. Visit your hardware or lumber store and ask for a piece that's 2'x2' and very thin. You shouldn't expect to spend more than $5. But anything that's tough and you're willing to sacrifice will do.

With your hard backing, tape the stencil sheet onto the backing. Tape the stencil all the way around to secure it well. Use the same masking tape as before.

Using the sharp end of the blade, start at the top left of the stencil (for right hander’s). Cut directly on the stencil line. The stencils on this site are made so that you simply have to cut along the lines and the stencils will create themselves. When cutting, your free hand should ALWAYS be above the cutting blade (Exacto Knife). This will prevent your had from getting cut from accidental blade slippage. I'm a little embarrassed to say this has happened to me before. So, please be cautious and follow this advice.

4. After you've completely cut out the stencil you're ready to un-tape it and pop out any hanging chads or stencil pieces. Also, un-tape and remove the paper from the back of the stencil sheet. Taaadaaaa! You have your very own reusable custom stencil. You can use it for whatever you want, but i have one more (optional) step to help you with your stenciling.

5. Create a tacky, stickable stencil. Stickable stencils are great, they can be applied to just about any surface and they provide the cleanest images because of their stickiness. Krylon and Elmers have this great product called Repositionable Spray Adhesive (Easy-Tack). You can buy this at your local crafts store, or online at and

Turn your stencil over, so you will be spraying the adhesive on the backside of the stencil. Be sure you are in a well ventilated area, such as outside. Also, put something behind your stencil before you spray the adhesive on it. I suggest using something like a trash bag...something easily disposable. Now, start at the top of the stencil with the can about 1-2 feet away. Spray in an even sweeping motion going from left to right, top to bottom and then back up. Let the stencil dry for about 15 minutes, then repeat the process again. After another 15 minutes you're got your own Sticky Stencil!

Tips for using your repositionable stencil: If you're putting the stencil on a flat surface, I suggest using a Rolling Pin to get the stencil securely stuck. This works especially well for T-shirts.

How to store your sticky stencil: I store my stencils by taking a couple of strips of Cellophane food wrap and attacking it to the sticky side, and then I lay the stencil on a flat surface. When I'm ready to use it again, the cellophane comes off easily.

How to Clean your stencil: Depending on what type of paint you used on your stencil you might just need soap and water. Otherwise you can use Acetone or Paint Thinner. To remove the Tacky Adhesive from the back of the stencil I find that Goo Gone works best (found at crafts store or Paper towels are better to use for drying than a cloth towel.

Materials Needed: Printed Stencil, Clear Acetate Sheet, Masking Tape, Exacto Knife, Hard Wood Backing, Repositionable Spray Adhesive, and Trash Bag.

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