I have a board that I stained and poly’d and now am having trouble with the final step. I have script alphabet stencils and can’t seem to find a great way to use them.

I have stencil brushes and am using a dabbing technique. I tried taping them down but had really fuzzy edges. So then I tried spray adhesive and that did a pretty good job of solving the fuzziness, but it left a haze on the board where the glue was.

What technique should I be employing for this?

  • I have always learned to use fingers on the stencil close to where the brushes are working. (But as I never used that knowledge for real I hesitate to post this as an answer.)
    – Willeke
    Jul 22, 2018 at 8:47
  • Part of your trouble may be from putting the finish coat (the polyurethane) on the wood before you stenciled it. Maybe another coat of polyurethane after the stenciling would cover any glue?
    – rebusB
    Jul 22, 2018 at 21:56
  • @rebusB that is a thought, but I'm actually using washable paint (which actually does wash off pretty easy even after drying), so I'd worry about the paint liquifying and/or tinting the poly with an additional coat. Jul 24, 2018 at 13:34
  • So the stenciled design is temporary?
    – rebusB
    Jul 24, 2018 at 14:52
  • @rebusB I wanted the option to wash off the stencil'd paint instead of making new boards to hold new sayings/phrases. A sort of future proofing. I don't plan on doing this, but I'm not the boss of the project. :) Jul 24, 2018 at 15:05

1 Answer 1


A combination of getting the right consistency of the paint for the stenciling and technique in the application should stop the fuzziness.

You would want a fairly "dry" paint thickness so it does not run when applied, more like paste than water. Keep the brush loaded with paint so you do not have to work repeatedly over the same areas but do not overload the brush with excess paint that will gum up and bleed under the stencil.

Then use careful light dabbing, possibly holding the stencil close to the surface with your fingers like Willeke said, moving in from edge to center to keep from lifting the stencils as you work. You should not need to glue down the stencils, but maybe use a little masking tape on the outer edges to keep them aligned.

  • This approach is working better that any other I've tried. Thanks! Jul 30, 2018 at 14:06

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