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How to Create Custom Stencils for Furniture Designs

Watching DIY decor shows can make it look like creating your home painting project will be easy. But is it really that simple?

Learning to create custom stencils for furniture really can be as easy as four simple steps! Continue reading to learn all about what it takes to create custom stencils for unique furniture designs.

Custom Stencils for Furniture

Materials Needed to Create Custom Stencils for Furniture

The best part about creating custom stencils is that it takes very few materials. You’ll likely have a few of these on hand already! And the rest will come in handy not only for this project but for other DIY projects you have on your list to do!

  • Blank Mylar Plastic—Thin, clear sheets of plastic that can be cut into a stencil are a must. They come in various sizes for you to choose from, depending on the size of your project. Try these Mylar Cutting Sheets!
  • Craft or Exacto Knife—This is essential to make cutting easier and more precise when creating your design. This Craft Knife set has plenty of replacement blades for several projects.
  • Cutting Mat—Don’t skip this item, or you run the risk of destroying the table beneath your cutting area. Invest in a quality Cutting Mat to keep your work area safe.
  • Quality Pen—A fine tip marker that won’t smudge or run is a must to make this project work. Try these Ultra Fine Permanent Markers.
  • Tape—Good quality Masking Tape or low tack tape will save you frustration and will keep the design template from moving as you trace your design.
  • Printout or Hand Drawing of your design
  • Ruler

Choose Your Design

Research the design you want to use online, in magazines, books, photos, etc. When you find the design that’s right for you, print it out in the size you want the final product to be.

If you’re a creative person, you might choose to hand draw your design. Just be sure to use basic, clean lines that will be easy to cut. Trace over your pencil work using a permanent marker so it’s easier to see as you trace the design onto the plastic sheet.


Trace the Design

Tape the printed or hand-drawn design onto the cutting mat to keep it from moving as you trace. Next, tape the plastic mylar sheet on top of the design. Using a fine-tip marker, carefully trace the design onto the plastic sheet. Use your ruler to make drawing straight lines easier!


Cut Your Design

Remove the printed or hand-drawn design from beneath the cutting mat and replace the plastic sheet with your traced design. Use the craft knife to carefully cut out the design on the mylar sheet. As you cut the plastic, each completed cut should “pop” out easily.

Complete the Design

You’re ready to paint! Simply tape the stencil onto the exact spot you want to paint on your furniture and start painting! Read our post on How to Paint with Stencils and Get Amazing Results so your furniture design turns out perfectly!

Custom Stencils for Furniture

Tips and Tricks to Create Custom Stencils for Furniture

  • Create a stencil using a repeating design. This will make it easier to line up the stencil as you move on to the next section.
  • Print out a border that surrounds the individual design so you can line the border up as you move the stencil and paint each section.
  • If the inside plastic mylar cut from the stencil is an intact design, save it for future use on a different craft project!
  • Use a Q-tip and rubbing alcohol to remove the permanent marker from Mylar if you make a mistake.

The Pros and Cons of Creating Custom Stencils

There are several pros and cons to creating custom stencils. Weigh this list to decide if this project is right for you!

Pros for Creating Custom Furniture Stencils

  • Unique design
  • Cost Efficient
  • Reusable

Cons for Creating Custom Furniture Stencils

  • Takes more time than purchasing a ready-made stencil
  • A steady hand is needed for a smooth cut
  • Several blades will likely be needed for one project

Frequently Asked Questions for Creating Custom Furniture Stencils

What designs work best for a stencil?

Designs that are simple without lots of detail work best for this type of project, with clean, sweeping lines that will make it easier to cut out the stencil. Lots of small details will likely get lost between the cutting and painting process, leaving your project looking messy.

In addition, the design will only show the outline of the picture you plan to stencil. Keep in mind that details shown inside a picture won’t be reflected in your stencil.

How do I create a text-only stencil?

Follow the same guidelines for creating a text-only stencil as you would for a design stencil. Aim to find text that isn’t too decorative or detailed. The letters that contain small circles or other shapes inside the letter will need a small connecting line to keep the letters together as you cut them. Once you’ve traced the letter design onto the furniture, you can fill in the gap where the small connecting line held the stencil together.

What’s the best material for creating a stencil?

Mylar plastic is the best material to use to create your stencil. Not only is it durable and easy to cut, it’s see-through, which will make tracing your design a cinch! And if you make a mistake when drawing with the permanent marker, you can use a Q-tip and rubbing alcohol to erase the marker!

Custom Stencils for Furniture

What Design Will You Create for Your Next Furniture Project?

That’s all you need to know to create custom stencils for furniture! What piece of furniture will be your next stencil project?

Looking for more information on using furniture stencils? Check out our post on How to Use Furniture Stencils on your Projects in 7 Easy Steps!