What is the best way to make a very fine stencil?

I'm trying to paint text on glass, but the font I'm going for is rather small. I'm doing a lot of different phrases so cutting out individual letters from printed paper with take forever. Does anyone have a better idea for cutting our stencils that I'm not thinking of? I've thought of using a laser cutter, but I don't know what kind I need or how expensive it might be.

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What about actual laser etching instead ?

Define "small"....

16 font maybe?

Moem2 years ago

Maybe your local hackerspace or makerspace has a vinyl cutter or even a laser cutter? It might be worth asking.

Raitis2 years ago

I've designed and ordered to get made quite a lot of stencils for etching cream application on drinking glasses. They are cut from vinyl with a plotter, though I assume a laser cutter would do the trick too.

While you haven't specified the font size, it's not that important here. What you need to watch out for is small details and connections between letter parts or similar stuff - I try to go at least 2mm thick for safety and lower than 1mm is a recipe for disaster. This becomes an issue when cutting script fonts or bold serifs (i.e. Vitesse). While the plotter will cut them just fine most of the time you may have trouble taking the unneeded stencil parts out without breaking something what you need. Also small text islands with area of a few sq. millimetres are a pain to keep in place when removing vinyl around them.

As for the application of stencil to the glass you will want to use a transfer vinyl - a semi transparent matte vinyl with less sticky backing - just ask for that where you get the stuff cut. If the area is big you may need to use soap water for application.

Keep in mind, that a vinyl stencil is single use (if someone knows a water resistant mildly sticky machinable material for stencils - let me know). If you want to go for paper stencils - you'll have to use stencil fonts where all the letter parts are connected. I can't comment on those however, since I haven't done stuff with them.

Overhead transparencies ! They are Resuseable, but don't offer the same options as a one time use vinyl ( like the center of a "0" would have to be Etched like this "()" ) I know you already know this; Its for the others out there :)

If bleeding is an issue Try the UV-silkscreen Above.

Wired_Mist2 years ago

I'd look at a Vinyl cutter. Should be Plenty of sign shops nearby, with some High Precision Equipment. Just have someone cut and "weed" it, they will then stick it to some transfer paper that will keep everything perfectly aligned and will make application a Snap !

There Could be the option of using a U-V Reactive silk-Screen. You would need to print the decal's in black on a Over Head Transparency, or paper that you would soak in clear Oil. You set it out in the sun and the black letters would then Sheild the U-V reactive coating from hardening. The film that stops the Ink would be washed away, Leaving a Nice stencil. It's the same way many PCB's are made :)

Read through this


This could help too !


rickharris2 years ago

Laser if you have enough to justify the cost - At least 40 watts - As large as your going to need. Smaller is cheaper.

Your going to spend £2000 - with no experience I suggest you approach one of the many companies who will cut them for you initially to see if it suites your purpose/materials.

Then for ease buy from a reputable supplier who can support you in your country.

There are stencil cutting machines on the market. They are just like your basic printer but use a small blade on the head to cut out the stencil. Cricut is one of the more popular brands. You can find them at most craft and hobby stores. Replacement cutters are readily available.


Since you're recommending these are you using one? I was always wondering - can I cut my own vector designs with cricut? I don't get that whole cartridge thing.

No haven't used one of these myself. Wife use to work at Joanns Fabric and saw them there.