Stencil Postcard - UPDATE: It Makes It Through, Sort Of





Introduction: Stencil Postcard - UPDATE: It Makes It Through, Sort Of

About: I like to make things for the internets. I also sell a pretty cool calendar at You'll like it.

Instead of writing a couple of addresses, just cut them out. This way you can just send a piece of wood and your buddy won't mind that it doesn't literally say anything. The material speaks for itself. Besides, sending an old-fashioned message is what email and IM and text message and cell phones are for.

Step 1: Cut It Out!

Or burn it out. I grabbed the nearest stencil font I could and dumped in a couple of addresses in Illustrator. I then sent that over to a laser cutter and after a few tests with the material I cut out the whole thing. If you do this, it's important to reverse the stencil since the wood can get charred. I could've tried to clean it up a bit, but I like the burnt effect in there so I left it.

Step 2: Look Really Closely

Do people really click through the other images? I just wanted to highlight this macro photo and looking at the finished work doesn't "do" anything really. But it is fun to do.

Step 3: Stamp It and Hope*

I was hoping to talk to a postal employee about the postcard before I mailed it, but no such luck. The line was long so I went to the automated machine instead. A 63-cent debit from my card and I had a sticker for official stencil travel across the lower 48. Now to wait and see if it makes it.

Step 4: Success!

The postcard made it through, but not in one piece. Oddly enough, it split in a vertical line and not along the grain. I think that it was going through a curved mail sorter and couldn't make the turn.



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    Great man and simple design :)

    Great job... ED!

    Darn .gov,they banned the content This is too much

    In the UK it takes you down to the nearest 6 houses. However in the US I have no clue.

    1 reply

    If you send something to 91344-3523, it will get to me. Nothing but the numbers (and postage) is needed. In the USA, the zip+4 (the "9-digit zip" narrows down to one particular address, generally. Very few exceptions.

    You could always just mark it "Hand Cancel Only"

    In Canada it usually narrows down to 2 or 4 buildings though sometimes they are unique addresses or whole streets .... A#A-#A# .... makes reverse lookup and address confirmation so much easier. Have you thought of adding a backing material to strengthen the wood card? Maybe add a do not fold lable?

    I've seen that before. It's cool up until you get to the last couple numbers when I wish it would show the boundaries of each code.

    The Building i work in has its own post code. But i live in the UK so its irrelevant! HAHA"!

    Thats good! I am curious to see where it cracked. If you really wanted to experiment, you could make a replica(s) of it, and try to snap it while using a gauge to see how much force it took. Then you can see if making it thicker, or out of different materials helps.

    1 reply

    I finally got some pictures of it and updated the instructable to include them in a new step. The wood was some scrap at Squid Labs and I doubt that the same piece is still there to test. I'm definitely interested in looking at some more materials in the near future.

    I think it should make it... Any non-standard "packages" are done by people, not machines. :-) (People read all the mail addr., but computers scan envelopes)

    2 replies

    Well, it's been three business days so far and it's not there yet. I've heard that unusual packages can take longer, though.

    UPDATE: It made it! It split down the middle, top to bottom, but it was placed in a plastic bag and after four business days of travel it got to my friend in two pieces. I'm sure that masonite or acrylic would've made it in one piece, but I was really attached to the grain of the wood. I'll put up some pics when I get 'em.

    In the US, a Zip Code can include almost all of a small city, so you're looking at at least several hundred homes. However, US zip codes also have a second part, which narrows things down a lot, but no one knows or cares what theirs is.

    3 replies

    Right. I used to live in a town of 30,000 and it had one zip code. In Brooklyn, with tons more people, this should narrow it down to a neighborhood, I'd guess.

    yeah, it's in williamsburg

    Not quite. My buddy lives in Red Hook.