Picture of Stencil Making On a Vinyl Cutter at Techshop SF
In this instructable I share my tips and tricks for making a stencil or a sign using the following materials:

tube of cardboard from blick 15' (30" wide) for ~$2.00
vinyl cutter at Techshop SF
stencil cutting knife

The process that I am developing is to make it easier to create a lower cost stencil that gets better with use. Some stencils fall apart after a few uses and some get better with use as they harden up from the extra paint. 

Created in October 2013 by SFlettering
I made it at Techshop
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Step 1: Test Cuts and Scoring the cardboard for manual cutting

Picture of Test Cuts and Scoring the cardboard for manual cutting
For the first round  of experimental stencil making I used the vinyl cutter to "score" the cardboard and provide lines for later cutting manually. Although this technique worked I found that it duplicated the total effort and did not produce the crisp lines desired for a stencil. 

I also learned from this step that when cutting out the letters by hand they look better when they are spaced farther apart. 

Step 2: Experimental sign making on the vinyl cutter (Sign 1)

Picture of Experimental sign making on the vinyl cutter (Sign 1)
13, 7:54 AM.jpg
After using the vinyl cutter at Techshop SF to score the cardboard for the entire 6 foot stencil I cut out each letter manually attempting to follow the score lines on the cardboard. The process made a stencil that has a few issues

1) the edges of the letters are very close together
2) the cardboard is curling away from the application surface

Step 3: Vinyl Cutter Issues Encountered

Picture of Vinyl Cutter Issues Encountered
For my second iteration to make a better sign in a little bit less time I chose to use the vinyl cutter to not only score the cardboard lightly but to actually cut through the cardboard. On the vinyl cutter I spaced the rollers toward the edges of the ~24" of material while I cut the center. 

What you see in the image is the vinyl cutter has successfully cut out a few letter before getting jammed with material that began to rip because the letters were cut too close together. Not one to give up I came up with another method to get better results.
myrrhmaid1 year ago

You can also use posterboard and replace the blade with a pen and make your letters with ink then cut them by hand with an exacto.