Once I’ve decided upon a saying, I start designing my sign using my silhouette software. First set the paper dimensions to match the sign. Then add the quote or image that you’ve decided upon; adjusting the size, font, and spacing until you love it. When you love it, go ahead and select “Send to Silhouette” and “Start”. I usually stay close to watch the initial feed of the vinyl through the machine to make sure I loaded it straight. Every once in a while it will pull out from under the rollers, messing up your stencil. Once it has fed the full length of your sign, you can walk away… want to go refill your coffee, now would be a good time.
Since we’re making colored lettering on a stained sign, the next step is to remove the lettering from the “stencil”. My son volunteered to model how this is done so that I could take pictures for you guys. Be cautious on the letters that have a center which will remain on the stencil (like the lowercase e). *tip - I usually use my weeding tool to hold the center down while I pull the rest of the letter up.
Once all the letters are removed you have your stencil. How are you going to get it onto your sign without messing any of it up? Transfer tape! I use a large roll, but it is easier with to use a flat sheet that has been cut to the same size as your stencil. To use the roll, unroll about 10 inches of the transfer tape and insert your arm into the center of the tube (makes it much easier to control). Align the closest edge of the roll with the edge of the vinyl and carefully put the corner of the tape that has been unrolled onto the matching corner of the vinyl (bottom left of the transfer tape onto the bottom left of the vinyl). Smooth the tape onto the vinyl working up and down the stencil while moving slightly towards the roll, trying to not get any bubbles or creases. Once you have worked your way up to the roll that is on your arm, push down on the tape and vinyl while unrolling the tape further. Keep doing this until your whole stencil has been covered. Cut the tape along the edge of the stencil.
Using some force, run a scraper or credit card all along the vinyl, making sure that it is firmly attached.
Position the vinyl stencil on top of the sign, taking special care to center it and keep it straight. The best way that I’ve found to actually stick the vinyl on the sign is to hold it firmly in place (usually I put my entire forearm on the stencil to hold it securely), unpeel one corner of the backing folding it back on itself. Work the vinyl down, starting by creasing the backing, then going back and forth, working towards the outer point. Once it has been secured to the sign, you can reach under and pull more of the backing towards you, sticking the vinyl down as you go.
The last step of the stencil is to remove the transfer tape.
Now the sign is ready to be painted. *tip - Chalk and mud paints are thicker and don’t bleed under the vinyl. Once the paint has thoroughly dried, peel off the vinyl… don’t forget about the center of the letters.
Protect the sign by adding your favorite sealer, frame it out and it is all done. You have your very own custom sign.