Loading an SVG cut file and cutting it out on your Silhouette is just the first step to make a stenciled sign. In this post, I’ve shown you how to open and cut a file using your Silhouette Cameo and Silhouette Design Studio (Designer’s edition). Now that you know how to load and cut out a stencil on your Silhouette, let’s learn how to make a stenciled sign.
The stenciled sign I’m making here is a patriotic sign done without a moment to spare before the 4th of July. It’s never too late for a patriotic sign, however. This one could be used all year long! It’s a great reminder of what makes this country the greatest country on earth!
When I first got my Silhouette Cameo, I left it in the box for months! I had never been so intimidated by a machine in my life. I’m very proficient with computers, I can use a sewing machine, I use the backyard grill, all sorts of kitchen gadgets and I have even driven tractors. But for some reason I cannot explain, this machine scared me! I was afraid I couldn’t figure it out. While I haven’t even come close to tapping the potential of this wonderful crafting tool, once I finally did make my first sign, I was immediately hooked!
Before we begin, gather your supplies.
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Supplies Needed to make a stenciled sign
- Board – a 12×18 board will do. Plywood works great when you are just starting out.
- Chalk paint – I use Waverly from Wal-mart (red, white and blue)
- Make-up Sponges
- Chip brush
- A sanding block – 500 grit is preferred, but a 320 grit will work too
- Oramask 813 for your stencil
- Weeding tool – a pick, tweezers and/or an Xacto knife
- Transfer paper or Contact Paper
- A credit card or squeegee
- D-ring hangers
How To Make A Stenciled Sign Tutorial
Paint the basecoat
Now that you’ve gathered your supplies, let’s get started.
First, give your board a basecoat of whatever color you desire. I don’t get too crazy since I like a more traditional look to my signs so I painted my base white. This board isn’t in terrific shape because I was able to grab it out of a scrap pile at the lumber yard where I purchase my wood. It’s totally fine, though. Wood is a very forgiving medium with which to work. When you’re first starting out and in the practicing stage, it doesn’t make sense to spend a ton of money. You’ll spend plenty enough money throughout your learning process.
I used a chip brush like this one to paint my basecoat. I’m sure you can see my brush lines in the chalk paint. Chalk paint is notoriously thick and that is an advantage and a disadvantage all at the same time. You could use a sponge brush, a roller or even a make-up sponge to put on your basecoat. I use the chip brushes because they are so cheap at Harbor Freight that I don’t feel it’s necessary to clean them when I’m done. I hate cleaning paint brushes. If I’m making many signs at one time, then I can justify using a roller that I clean afterward.
Sanding The Board Is An Essential Step to Make a Stenciled sign
This is an absolutely necessary step for crisp clean lines without any bleeding. You must sand the board until it gets a smooth as a baby’s bottom finish. I don’t love to sand, but a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. These sanding blocks are convenient. To achieve a smooth finish quickly, 500 grit sandpaper works best. That usually requires a stop at the local auto parts store since 500 grit is used mainly for sanding paint off cars.
Cut The SVG File
I explained to you how to load an SVG file to cut on your Cameo Silhouette in this post. Here I have loaded my file and the Silhouette is doing the cutting for me.
I always use Oramask 813 for my stencil material. This product was a total game changer for me when stenciling wood signs. You can read about all the reasons I love Oramask 813 and also how I save money by buying 24 inch wide rolls that I cut on my power miter saw.
Weed The Vinyl Stencil
When your Silhouette is finished cutting the file, you’ll unload the media from the machine and trim it to the edge of the design. Then it’s time for my absolute favorite part when I make a stenciled sign—the WEEDING!
There are two kinds of people in the crafting world. Those who hate to weed and those who LOVE to weed. I’m in the camp that loves to weed! I find the whole process very satisfying. It’s a great stress reliever at the end of a very long day.
When you weed, you’re going to take out the parts that need to be removed to leave you with a stencil. We are weeding out the negative space from the design.
I used a pick (as shown below) in the beginning when I started making signs. As time went on, I found that I really like to use tweezers when weeding vinyl. I use slant-end tweezers like these when I weed.
I also find an xacto knife to be very helpful when weeding because I can cut large sections of vinyl into smaller ones. It’s also incredibly helpful when pulling the vinyl off the painted board. It allows me to lift off the vinyl pieces without gouging the board like I tend to do when using a pick.
Using Transfer Paper When Making A Stenciled Sign
For this sign, I used transfer paper. It feels a lot like masking tape. Some people actually use masking tape as a transfer paper and I’m a little intrigued with that idea. I may have to try it in the near future. Most of the time, I use clear con-tact shelf liner. I like that it has the grid lines on it and that it’s clear, which makes placement easy. It’s also less tacky than transfer paper, too. I really love that I can buy it at the local Wal-mart and I’m absolutely thrilled they now offer it in a 12-inch width. The Silhouette Cameo can cut up to 12 inches wide. I may even be trying to use the con-tact paper as a stencil in the near future.
Trim your transfer paper to fit the exact size of your design. Those grid marks make measuring easy but since this is a 12-inch board we’re using, the 12-inch width is perfect. I only needed to trim it to the 18-inch length.
Apply Transfer Paper To The Stencil
No matter if you use transfer paper or clear con-tact paper, you need to remove the backing of your paper before applying it to your stencil. Apply the transfer paper with the sticky side on to the front of the stencil as pictured below.
I have some creases on my transfer paper and while that’s not ideal, it will still work to apply it to my board.
Remove The Backing Of The Stencil
Next, lay the stencil right side down on the table and begin peeling the backing off the Oramask 813. This can be a slow process as parts of the Oramask will stick to your transfer paper as you are pulling it off the back of the stencil. Follow your instinct, which will be to push the problematic section back down and burnish it a bit with your finger and try pulling it off again. Sometimes it comes off easily and sometimes it’s a bit of a challenge. With time and practice, you’ll be doing this part in your sleep.
Apply The Stencil To The Board
When I make a stenciled sign, this is the part of the process that gives me the most anxiety. I have a bit of OCD and I’m a perfectionist. I also have astigmatism which makes it about impossible to line things up straight. So frustrating! (Don’t worry, though, I have a solution for this and will eventually get around to doing a tutorial on this, too.)
Because you’re laying the sticky side down on the board, you can’t make too many mistakes. It will be darn near impossible to get it all back off on the board. Start from the top and “roll down” your design on to your board.
Once it’s on the board you’ll peel off the transfer paper to transfer the stencil to the board. See how transfer paper got its name?
Burnish the stencil on the board
If vinyl feels like a thin plastic rubber, Oramask 813 feels like a thinner layer of rigid plastic. It’s much stiffer than vinyl, but it rips off like a brittle tape or paper. It also has a tendency to bubble and bubbles lead to bleeds. Bleeds make us sad. So make sure you take your thumb or fingers and burnish those bubbles down. Once you’ve done that, it’s time to go over the entire design with a squeegee or an old credit card, which is what I use
Get down in there and really push those bubbles off the surface. Once you’re satisfied with how the stencil looks on your board, it’s time to paint!
Stenciling and The trick to crisp lines
My number one tip for crisp, clean lines is to sponge a layer of paint the same color as your basecoat on to the stencil. I use a makeup sponge to do this. The idea behind doing this is to give the stencil a seal. By painting the same color as the base coat first, you’re creating a barrier between the board and the stencil so the colored paint won’t “seep” under the stencil.
Let this paint dry and once it’s dry you can begin applying your colored paint. Since this is a patriotic design, I used red, white and blue. I used the Waverly Chalk Paint for this. You could probably use any chalk paint, but I use Waverly just because I can pick it up when I’m at the store. I do like chalk paint better than acrylic paint because I think it dries quickly and sands beautifully. I never have much luck sanding acrylic craft paint, but I have used it when I can’t get the color I want in chalk paint.
The other key to crisp lines without bleeds is to apply several thin coats in a tapping or stippling motion. You don’t want to have too much paint on your sponge and always offload some onto a paper plate or paper towel. Always use a light motion and never grind the paint onto the board or you will have bleeds.
Removing The Stencil From The Board
The beauty of working with the Oramask 813 is that you don’t even have to wait for the paint to be completely dry before removing the stencil. In fact, I would encourage you to remove the stencil before it’s dry.
The stencil will rip off much like a paper. It will not come off in a full piece. You will be ripping it off in sections. Be careful when doing this because it’s likely some of your paint around the edges will be wet and you don’t want to drop the stencil onto your pretty white background.
You will have the centers of your letters left behind. FYI, these “centers” are called counters. You’ll need your pick, tweezers or the exacto knife to remove the counters from the board. This is another situation where I find the exacto knife helpful. I got tired of gouging the point of the pick into my board and removing the counters with a lifting motion of the knife works well.
Here’s the finished product. Not bad for a free board and some paint, huh? Just add some D-ring hangers on the back of the board and you’re all set to hang this on your wall!
You’ll notice the font I used in this design is a distressed font. The edges of the letters are eroded but the lines are still crisp! All is well in my world when I have zero bleeds! I may be a bit obsessed with crisp lines!
I hope that you enjoyed this tutorial and found it to be helpful. If you have any questions, post them below and I’m happy to answer them. I bought my Silhouette Cameo specifically for making wood signs. I’m glad I was able to overcome my fear of this machine. I’ve been able to make tons of signs for a fraction of the cost of what they would cost to purchase. It’s a very relaxing hobby that I enjoy.
Free SVG Cut File You Can Use To Make A Stenciled Sign – Land Of The Free Because Of The Brave
I love to create SVG cut files, which is why I have my own website where I sell them. But I also give away many here on the blog at no cost to you. I’ve created this Land Of The Free Because Of The Brave cut file and it can be found in my Free Resource Library. The library is open to anyone, but you’ll need a password to get in. The password will be sent to you as soon as you sign up for my mailing list by using the form found below. Don’t worry. I don’t send an excessive amount of emails. I usually send one once a week at most to let you know when I’ve added something new here on the blog. Most of the time, that new post contains a free cut file. Believe me when I say it’s worth your time to sign up.
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