Film Articles & Info
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.
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
Sharp knife to cut the stencils:
The two main choices you have here are:
the X-Acto #1 knife with number 11 blades
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
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 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.
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.
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
Pencils and markers:
One sharp 2B pencil. For general purposes.
A permanent marker for marking the numbers on the 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
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
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
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