Instructables
Picture of Custom Wood Stained Stencil Keepsake
Using this method, you can make all sorts of custom keepsakes for you and your friends. It is relatively inexpensive and easy but looks impressive. I spent less than $10! Here's what you'll need:

- Stencil (hand-drawn or digitally printed on computer paper, cut with X-Acto knife)
- Unfinished wood item (plaque, jewelry box, etc.)
- Wood stain of chosen color
- Varnish of chosen finish
- Sponge and paint brushes
- Soft cloth rags

Let's make a one-of-a-kind gift!
 
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Step 1: Prepare your stencil

Picture of Prepare your stencil
I simply sized my silhouette on my computer and printed it out on plain paper. Using an X-Acto knife, I carefully cut around the outline. Keep in mind whether you want to create a positive or negative stencil during this process.

Step 2: Place stencil

Picture of Place stencil
I cut out and taped my stencil into my desired position. Since I was doing a silhouette, I thought the oval plaque was appropriately traditional.

Depending on the intricacy of your design, you could also use some sort of adhesive paper, or even just tape!

Step 3: Fill in stencil with wood glue

Picture of Fill in stencil with wood glue
I once read a tip that wood glue could not absorb stain. The brand I found specifically said it was stainable, but I foolhardily decided to go for it. Isn't this exciting? Let's see if it works for our purposes (spoiler alert: it will)!

If you end up using a paper stencil, be careful with the direction you pull the brush as not to force glue underneath it. Also, the glue is thick and dries fast and the paper will start to curl, so work quickly!

Step 4: Fill in the details

Picture of Fill in the details
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Once the glue was partially dry, I carefully peeled away the stencil. There were a few fine details that could use more glue, so I filled them in with a fine tipped brush.

If you don't have any fine details, you could add to your design free-hand! I decided to add a border to my plaque. Don't worry too much if the glue looks uneven in places as long as all of the wood you do not want to stain is adequately covered.

Let your glue dry completely.
That is so cute! And something that can be appreciated for many years!
Thank you! I hope to try out this method with other designs on different wood pieces.
This is lovely! Thank you for sharing all of your trials and errors with us as well. If you were to use a glue that was specifically non-stainable, would you have still rinsed the plaque after staining, or left the glue as is?
Thank you! You know, I really had no idea that the glue would be so orange when it dried, or that it would wash off at all. For me, I think rinsing it gave it a more antiqued look. A less enterprising person might suggest testing out your glue and stain in an inconspicuous spot or spare piece of wood before going for it :)