DIY Stencil

Today I want to share a quick tutorial for creating stencils that can be used for all sorts of DIY projects.  The materials needed are as follows:


Drawing or Printed Picture/Design

Pencil (or Pen)

Carbon Paper

Cardstock (or Thick Paper/Cardboard/Plastic)

X-ACTO Knife

The first step is to draw or print out the picture or design that you want to make into a stencil.  For example, I printed a simple outline of a seahorse that I wanted to paint onto some stools.

Place the picture on top of a piece of carbon paper with the shiny, dark side facing down.  I bought my carbon paper from Amazon.  It’s great for any stenciling project regardless of the surface you are decorating.  I used it on pallet wood in my Pallet Cat Lover Sign last year.  It’s cheap and reusable!

Take your picture and carbon paper and place them on a piece of cardstock, thick paper, cardboard, or plastic.  I used cardstock because I didn’t need the stencil to withstand the elements for long.  If you plan to use your stencil a lot, I would suggest using something that holds up a little better.  You can also place the carbon paper directly on your project to trace an outline.  It works well on most surfaces.

Place the three sheets together on a safe cutting surface.  I used a cutting mat, but a piece of cardboard would work just as well.  It just needs to be something that won’t be damaged by cuts from an X-ACTO knife.

Use a pencil (or pen) to trace the outline of the picture.  The pressure from the tip of the pencil causes the carbon paper to rub off and leave an outline on the cardstock.

I realize it would have been faster to just print my seahorse onto cardstock to begin with, but I didn’t have the option at the time.  Besides, it’s easy to print on cardstock, but not plastic, cardboard, or wood.

Once the picture is outlined, use an X-ACTO knife to cut it out.  Scissors would also work, but an X-ACTO knife is quick and accurate.

The stencil is complete!

I prefer spending my time making accurate stencils as opposed to trying to draw or paint something right onto a project.  My freehand skills just aren’t up to par.

I used this particular stencil for some beachy stools.  I placed it right on the surface and just painted within the lines.

The result was just what I was looking for.

I used a small paint brush to clean up the edges a little and fill it in.


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