How to Make a Stencil Template for Signs

sign. books, music, & gifts sign image by L. Shat from

Things You'll Need

  • Design pattern
  • Clear acetate plastic sheet
  • Masking tape
  • Wood surface or quilter's cutting board
  • Fine tip permanent marker
  • Small blade cutting knife
  • Repositionable adhesive spray (optional)

Stencil templates are reusable plastic sheets in which a design has been cut. The stencil is used to paint the design onto signs or other surfaces and can be used repeatedly on multiple pieces. Using a stencil template makes sign making much faster and exact than painting by hand.

Lay the stencil’s design pattern on the work surface and then place the clear acetate plastic sheet over it. Center the design as desired and tape in place at the corners.

Trace the design onto the plastic with the fine tip permanent marker. Allow areas to dry completely before touching to prevent smearing the marker.

Cut the pattern shapes out using the small-blade cutting knife; make sure to work slowly with a steady hand. This will ensure straight lines and prevent mistakes.

Remove the tape from the corners. Spray a layer of repositionable adhesive to the backside if desired or simply tape the stencil in place onto the signs for stenciling.


  • Use .003-inch acetate for best results.

    Make sure your blade is small enough to reach into small areas of the design. You can usually find these small cutting blades in the art department of your local craft store.

    To create a stencil for use with multiple colors and layering, trace as many layers as you need. Mark the areas for cutting on each layer and then cut the appropriate areas. Leave the uncut tracing on each layer to line the stencil up properly over each additional layer during stenciling.


  • Use great caution when using the cutting knife to prevent cutting yourself.


About the Author

Katharine Godbey began freelance writing for blogs and websites in 2007 with a background in curriculum writing and teaching. She studied business at Colorado Technical University. Godbey enjoys writing about many topics including small business, crafts and florals, decorating and health.

Photo Credits

  • sign. books, music, & gifts sign image by L. Shat from