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How to Cut Stencils
How to Stop Paint Bleeding Under a Stencil
Printing Directly to Stencil Films
Stencil Film Supplies
Ideal Stencil Film Thickness

Tools for Making Stencils

Here is a run-down of the essential tools and items you would need for most of your stencil projects. Practically all of these items are readily available from your supermarket art/craft or hardware store. You may already have a number of these items in your home or office.

An essential item to protect your table surface from damage caused by the knife. A mat will also substantially prolong your blade life. Only the tip of the blade does all the cutting work. Once the tip dulls, the cutting process can get slow, laborious and inaccurate.

Cutting Mat

A "kitchen cutting mat" made from thin, flexible plastic is ideal. Measuring around 12’ X 18, ”this type of mat can be purchased for under five dollars from your local supermarket.
If you have more cash and want to spend on a “Self-healing cutting mat” with a non slip bottom, they sell anywhere from $20 to $38 from art supply stores both online and offline.

Knives & Tweezers

inexpensive stencil cutting mat
Self healing cutting mat
Stencil cutting knives
Tweezers

Sharp knife to cut the stencils:
The two main choices you have here are:
the X-Acto #1 knife with number 11 blades
or
A number 3 scalpel handle with number 11 blades.

When you buy a knife, make sure you also buy a number of spare blades. Change the blade after every few hours of use because sharp blades cut faster and smoother. You can buy scalpels or exacto knives from most art supply stores. they will usually stock one or the other and occasionally they will stock both

Tweezers:
Last of all, a pair of tweezers. You use these to help you gently lift off bits of film as you complete each cut.

Adhesive, Rulers & Markers

Repositionable adhesive:
Repositionable spray adhesive is used to hold the stencil against the wall, fabric or canvas.
It is also used to hold the stencil material against the print-out so you can cut the template.

Repositioavble Adhesive
Steel rulers

Steel ruler:
At least one steel or aluminum ruler is essential for a variety of uses such as measuring out and planning the position of your stencil design. It also comes in handy for cutting up sheets of stencil film. Its good to have both a 300mm and 600mm ruler at hand.

Sticky tape

Sticky tape:
A low tack sticky Tape is a suitable alternative to the spray adhesive and used to hold the stencil film against the artwork during the cutting process.

Pencils and markers:
One sharp 2B pencil. For general purposes.
A permanent marker for marking the numbers on the stencil film.

Felt tip marker and pencil

Stencil Film

You can make stencils from a number different materials such as paper, acetate thin card etc. Each will have its own pros and cons. Paper won’t last very long so its not a great option for repeat stencils. Acetate is OK but I find that it is difficult to cut accurately and has a tendency to tear.

My favorite stencil material is Mylar ® drafting film. I have used this material now for over 15 years and I would recommend it to anyone who is serious about making stencils that last the distance. Drafting Film is a basically a polyester base that has a matt translucent drawing surface either 1 or 2 sides. It is very stable and can be printed on with an ordinary inkjet printer.

You can draw on it with pencil or pen and it erases beautifully without ghosting. It is waterproof, tear resistant and lays perfectly flat.

All of the professionally made stencils you buy online are made from Mylar ® (polyester film). The drafting film you buy from the art supply stores is typically 3 mil (75 micron) and this in my opinion is an optimum thickness for most stencil cutting. Thicker is not always necessarily better.

Stencil Film
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