Wood art has been popular for decades, but it has really become a recent household décor trend with the help of products such as the Cricut machine to cut out unique stencils and vinyl decals.
Of course, there are also plenty of stencils ready-made and easily purchased online. If you don’t want to invest money in a Cricut machine and would rather create a piece of custom wood art yourself, all you need to do is grab a good pack of stencils.
So, what do you need to know about using stencils for wood? You can use stencils for a lot of different projects, like burning or painting. You can find stencils in many shapes and styles, including letters to make wood signs. All you need for wood stencil art is wood, stencils, and your art medium such as paint or a pyrography pen.
In this article, not only will we review the different types of projects you can do with stencils for wood, but we’ll give you our product recommendations, a list of supplies you’ll need, and all the tips to get the best results with your wood art.
Choose your wooden base and let’s get started!
How To Use Stencils With Wood
The first step to making any wooden art is to choose your wooden base. You can find a large variety of these at your local craft store or search online for the perfect shape to suit your style.
From there, you can choose to either stain your wood or leave it natural. If you choose to stain your wood, be sure to follow the stain product label instructions for proper preparation and application (sanding, setting up ventilation, using a foam or bristle brush, etc.).
After staining (or skipping this step if you prefer a natural look), you’ll want to place your stencil. Try using a ruler to position your stencil exactly where you want it. Once it’s perfectly placed, use painter’s tape or masking tape to secure it to the wood.
Now is the fun part! From here, you can either choose to paint or burn your wood. Each art medium has its own unique look, so the choice is totally up to you and what style you want to go for.
If you need to use the same stencil multiple times (if it has multiple letters that you want to use to spell out a name or phrase), allow your paint to dry fully before repositioning the stencil and applying your next round of paint.
With wood burning, be sure your metal stencil has cooled enough around the edges to be laid on your wood again. If your metal starts to heat up, it can lightly burn and color the wood around the stencil.
You can also try simply tracing the stencil outline with a pencil, the same way you would need to do if using a plastic stencil with wood burning. Keep reading to see our tips for best results at the end of this article, along with our recommended stencil products available right now on Amazon!
Stencils For Wood Painting
By far, the simplest medium for wood art is painting. All you need to do is tape down the stencil and paint. There are a few more tips and tricks to it, but when compared with wood-burning using a pyrography pen, this is definitely far more simplistic.
Most stencils for wood painting are made of plastic because it’s a cheap and easy material to work with. It’s flexible, so you’ll be able to bend it around a curved wooden piece if you don’t have a flat surface.
While you can order a custom stencil on Etsy, you can also find nearly everything you need in the stencils offered on Amazon.
Supplies For Wood Stencil Painting
To get started with your wood stencil painting, you’ll need to gather the following items:
- Wooden base
- Paint (see the section below for more details on which to choose)
- Paintbrush or sponge
- Masking or painter’s tape
- Paper towels
- Work surface (we recommend laying down cardboard or newspaper underneath your project area)
- Optional: Mod Podge, paint sealer
You can try both to see which works best for you.
There are also a few different types of paint to choose from for your wood art. Let’s dive into the next section to learn more about what types of paint work best.
Best Paint To Use For Wood Stencil Art
There are three types of paint that are best to use if you want high-quality results with clean lines. The first is acrylic craft paint. In your local craft store, you’ll often find these paints either on the same aisle as the wooden bases or nearby. This is a good indication that these paints work great on wood.
Acrylic craft paints dry easily and come in a high variety of color options. One thing to keep in mind when using acrylic paint is that it doesn’t come out of clothes, so be sure to use an artist smock or clothing you don’t mind getting a few drops of paint on.
You can grab a great set of 24 acrylic craft paints in a variety of colors from Caliart on Amazon today.
The second option is latex paint. While this paint is typically used as interior house paint for walls, it’s also a great choice for wood art.
It dries cleanly and provides a dense layer of color with high durability. You can also find a large variety of colors at your local hardware store, or even online.
Tip: if purchasing from a hardware store, ask for a paint sample. These are small enough to get the job done and will cost much less than buying a full can.
You can even grab a small 8-ounce can of Rust-Oleum latex paint online. Rust-Oleum is a leading latex paint brand. Finally, you can use the third option of chalk paint. This is ideal to get a nice matte finish for your letters.
You can also use chalk paint to cover your entire wooden base as a background, then use chalk markers with your stencils for interchangeable messages and signs.
Try the FolkArt brand of chalk paint from Amazon, available in a variety of 33 different colors.
Stencils For Wood Burning
Wood burning, also referred to as pyrography, can create highly unique and visually interesting results when compared with painting. It’s also more complicated, though, and requires more skill and precision than painting.
There are different ways to use stencils with wood burning. You can use metal stencils or plastic stencils, but both have unique steps and considerations to take prior to using your pyrography pen.
If you use a metal stencil, you can hold it in place and use the pyrography pen right in the stencil. This may be cumbersome, since most metal stencils are thicker than plastic, but it can be useful if you don’t trust having a steady hand with a pencil outline.
Metal stencils may also warp as you use them or become too hot. If this happens, allow your metal stencil to cool before continuing.
Also, be sure to use pliers when handling the metal stencil. Even before it becomes too hot, it will still be hot to touch and could burn if you try to handle it with your hands. Plastic will melt if your pyrography pen touches it, so it requires more care than a metal stencil.
If you use a plastic stencil, you’ll have to trace your stencil design, then remove the plastic from the wood. Using your pyrography pen, trace over the pencil markings on the wood.
Our recommendation is to use metal stencils, whether you trace with a pencil or use the pyrography pen in the metal.
Supplies For Wood Stencil Burning
To get started with your wood stencil burning, you’ll need to gather the following items:
- Wooden base
- Pyrography pen
- Stencil (metal is recommended)
- Work surface (we recommend laying down cardboard underneath your project area)
- Optional: protective glove
Not all pyrography pens will need a protective glove, but we do list it as a supply since we always encourage following recommended safety guidelines.
If you’ve never practiced wood burning before and will be purchasing a pyrography pen, check out our article 5 Best Pyrography Pens – Buyer’s Guide.
This will give you insight as to the best qualities for pyrography pens, as well as our top 5 recommended products.
Stencils For Wood Letters
When it comes to using stencils on wood letters, almost all the same rules apply as when using a regular wooden base. The biggest difficulty with using stencils on wood letter cut-outs is that there isn’t enough space to tape the stencil down.
If you want to add a fun stencil design to wooden letters that spell out a name or word, you’ll need to have a steady hand.
The easiest way is to simply hold the stencil in place while painting over the area. If there’s enough room on the wooden letter, you can try to put a piece of tape at the top and bottom of the stencil to keep it in place as well.
Another option is to cut out the individual shapes or patterns if there’s enough room between them on your stencil. Then your individual stencils will be much smaller and easier to tape in place on the wooden letters.
Stencils For Wood Signs
Making your own wooden sign can be a daunting task. You want to make it look professional, so you’ll need to get the alignment and lines just right.
If your paint leaks underneath the stencil, people will be able to tell right off the bat that it’s homemade. This isn’t always a bad thing, since it can add some character and authenticity to the project, but a lot of crafters tend to be perfectionists and want to have a clean product.
Another consideration when creating your own wooden sign is the wood base you choose. Some wood bases from craft stores are too small to fit any sayings on.
If you have access to woodworking tools, you can try making your own wooden base from a piece of lumber to give it an extra special touch.
If you’re not a woodworker, no worries! You can disguise a craft store wood base by giving it a nice stain prior to adding your paint or burning design.
All wood bases from the craft store are sold in their light and natural color, so giving it a stain will instantly make it look more professional and polished.
Tips For Best Results Using Stencils On Wood
If you do some research on the best ways to make homemade wooden signs using stencils, you’ll find a lot of neat tips and tricks to get the best results.
Each method is only a theory until you put it into practice yourself. What works for one person may not work for you, so keep this in mind if you try one and it doesn’t work out.
One tip to getting clean lines in your paint is to brush on a layer of Mod Podge first. Mod Podge is a type of water-based sealer typically used as a finishing layer.
However, if you tape down your stencil in the proper place, then brush on a layer of Mod Podge and let it dry, it can create more crisp lines for your paint.
Make sure you allow the Mod Podge to dry fully before applying your paint. Then, brush or dab on your paint as you normally would, let it partially dry, and lift away the stencil.
When painting, it can also be helpful to use a dry brush technique. This involves loading your brush or sponge with paint, then dabbing most of the paint off.
You’ll apply only a thin layer of paint at a time, which will give a more even coating and help prevent the paint from leaking under the stencil. Reapply paint for as many coats to reach your desired color saturation.
If you want your handmade wooden sign looking professional, a great tip is to close the gap between the connecter lines in the stencil.
Many stencils will have gaps in the lettering or designs, which make it obvious that a stencil was used rather than the design being freehanded.
To close the gaps and make it look more professional, try dipping a toothpick or fine-tip paintbrush into your paint and fill in those spaces in your paint.
This will only work after you’re already done with the stencil and have lifted it away to reveal the design.
1. Plain Stencils For Wood Painting
When it comes to plain stencils for wood painting, we’re talking more about designs and shapes that aren’t just lettering. There are plenty of stencil packs out there to give you a high variety of stencil shapes.
You’ll be sure to find plenty of seasonal options too, like ones dedicated to only Christmas-themed shapes, but we’re going to focus on stencils that can work for you year-round.
This set of Farmhouse Stencils is perfect for those looking to keep a rustic chic décor theme in their home. There’s a good selection of designs in this pack, ranging from just the farm animals to cute sayings like “home sweet home.” There’s even a sunflower for those who love a good floral theme!
Speaking of floral themes, you can get a pack of 20 stencils each with a different type of flower or bird on it. These can be great to add an accent design on a letter sign, or in use on their own.
For a neat idea, try doing a collection of 3 different flower types on 3 different wood bases, all in a row on the same wall.
A lot of people like the look of mandalas, and if you’re one of them, you’ll love this 9-pack of mandala stencils. Each of them has a unique and intricate design that would look great on any wood décor.
2. Letter Stencils For Wood Painting
Since so many people use letter stencils for various craft projects, there’s certainly no shortage of options here. Whether you have a specific type of font in mind, or want a specific size, you’ll be able to find the perfect letter stencil for your design.
You can try these letter block stencils that come in 4 different sizes: 3-inch, 4-inch, 5-inch, and 6-inch.
If you’re someone who prefers cursive over block letters, you’re in luck. There are tons of options for cursive lettering, all of which usually come with both upper-case and lower-case letter options.
You can try this traditional cursive set of stencils that includes all your cases, as well as numbers and some symbols.
If you’d rather have a font that looks like a cross between block and cursive, more like a handwriting font, you can check out this pack of letter stencils.
Not only does this pack come with the cursive letters, but it also includes block upper-case letters, as well as some symbols and numbers.
3. Metal Stencils For Wood Burning
We mentioned before that our best recommendation for stencils to use with pyrography are all metal. You can certainly use any of the plastic stencils we’ve linked above, but always remember to trace with pencil first and remove the plastic prior to burning.
When it comes to metal stencils, the top brand to look at is Aleks Melnyk. They offer tons of metal stencils in all sorts of shapes and designs.
If you just want a small, simple sheet of plants and filigree, check out this stencil.
If you’d like more options and a theme that involves animals instead of plants, he has this 3-pack of metal stencils with a variety of animals including domestic, wild, aquatic, and insects.
Finally, if your goal is more so lettering than design shapes, he’s got you covered there too. Check out this pack of letter stencils with 6 different font styles.
4. Stencils For Wood Signs
While there are plenty of options out there to order custom stencils for a wood sign that’s specific for you and your family, there are also plenty of stencils to make these signs yourself.
You can also find stencils that mimic common sayings and designs often found on home décor for a much higher price at a craft or home goods store. If you want to cut costs and make these signs yourself, try out one of our recommended sign stencils below.
Welcome signs to hang outside your front door are growing in popularity. Many homeowners are choosing to make tall and thin vertical signs, where the letters stack on top of each other.
If you’d like to make your own custom welcome sign, try this 27-piece stencil pack. Not only does it have the lettering, but it also includes seasonal stencils to make custom seasonal signs to hang next to your welcome sign.
Instead of making a tall vertical sign, you can always use this 20-piece stencil pack with common sayings and seasonal greetings. This pack would be ideal if you want to make several small signs that you can change out throughout the year.
Finally, we love this 16-piece stencil pack because it’s full of inspirational sayings. Use some of these to make wooden signs that remind you to be brave, follow your heart, or live an inspired life!
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