How to Make Wood Burning Stencils? Make you DIY stencils in 4 simple steps

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Written by Jared Watson

Jarred Watson is a pyrographer with 10+ years experience and has worked with brands like BOSCH & FORD. He is always looking to learn and share his passion of wood burning with others.

Whether you are passionate about wood burning or are building a career out of it, you cannot keep buying wood burning stencils all the time to meet your pyrography needs. In addition to that, you don’t always get the stencil you want. So, it is better to learn how to make wood burning stencils to have the liberty of crafting out any unique design to burn on wood. In this article, you will learn about the easy steps to make your wood burning stencils without spending your bucks on buying the ready-made ones.

Learn to Make Your Own Wood Burning Stencils

So, irrespective of whether you are new to pyrography or have been doing it for a while now, these steps will save you a lot of money on buying stencils to perfect your wood burning art.

Materials Required for the Process

Before heading out to the steps, you must get an insight into the materials required for making your stencils. The materials necessary for the process are:

1. Stencil Film or Adhesive Vinyl

Adhesive vinyl is one of the most important materials for creating a custom stencil for wood burning applications. It comes with a reusable adhesive back for non-slip design transfer. Moreover, this film is also easy to cut and manipulate. If you have a circuit machine, then cutting through vinyl will save you a lot of time.

But, if you want to go manual on cutting application, then use stencil films instead of vinyl. It is because stencil film is stiffer, thicker, and sturdier adhesive than vinyl. Hence, this is a better option to enhance the reusability of a wood burning stencil.

2. Cutting Mat

A cutting mat is just like the sheet on which you will have the flexibility to maneuver the stencil film or vinyl during the cutting process. If you don’t want to get a specific mat for the purpose, try using a kitchen mat as an alternative. If you don’t even have that, then the best alternatives are styrofoam and thick cardboard.

3. Craft Knife

You will need a knife to cut out the stencil design. It is better to have a precision knife that will help you cut through the design with precision without abrupt edges.

4. Transferring Paper

In the end, you will need carbon paper and a transfer tape to shift the pattern onto your adhesive vinyl. You will learn more about its use later in the steps.

Steps to Make Wood Burning Stencils

Here are the steps to help you make your own custom wood burner stencil, to make your wood projects unique:

1. Select the Design

Prefer choosing the right design for your stencil at first. The pattern you choose should be simple and must have clean features in it and the lines should be distinguishable. If the design is complex, then you will have to spare more time in crafting the stencils.

If you want to make a reusable wood burn stencil, then it will take additional time because you will be using it multiple times throughout your pyrography career. But, if you are creating a one-time use stencil, it is comparatively a faster process.

The thumb rule in choosing the design is that if you prefer intricate designs or some specific pyrography art pieces, then use carbon paper[1] to directly transfer the design onto wood and start with the burning job. But, if you want a reusable stencil with a vinyl base, then make sure to stick to silhouettes, letters, or geometric shapes only.

2. Transfer the Design to Stencil Film or Adhesive Vinyl

In this article, I am discussing about making a reusable pyrography[2] stencil. And for that, you need to transfer your design to stencil material with the use of carbon paper. The sub-steps for the same are as follows:

  • Tape the adhesive stencil material on a cutting mat with the use of regular tape. 
  • Don’t remove the liner backing as it will stick the stencil to your cutting mat. Hence, removing the cut pieces will be impossible. 
  • Tape a carbon paper sheet and the design over the top of your stencil material. 
  • Trace the design from the top with the use of scribing tools such as a pencil, pen, or any other woodworking tool. 

[Alternative to this Step]: You can also tape the design directly on a stencil and then cut out both pieces simultaneously. You can omit using carbon paper with this approach. But, this approach will be effective only if you have a sharp cutting tool. 

3. Cutting Out the Design

  • Use the craft knife for cutting the design on your stencil sheet by following the image lines. 
  • Be careful that you don’t cut the wood burn stencil around the areas that you don’t want to reflect on the wooden surface. 
  • To ensure that you are not confused, mark the areas with a different color to have an understanding of what areas you have to cut and what you don’t. 
  • Put steady pressure to ensure that cut edges are sharp and precise. 
  • Use a tweezer or the knife’s tip to remove all the cut pieces right as you go on cutting the image lines.

4. Adhere the Stencil to Wooden Surface

  • After your cutting phase is over, take off the liner paper and then stick it to the wooden surface on which you want to engrave the design. 
  • Don’t throw away the liner paper, as you can take off the stencil and stick the paper back to its base for reusing it later on. 
  • The stencil is made up of plastic material, for which you will have to trace and remove the stencil from the wooden block before you start burning. 

[Alternative to Plastic Stencils]- You can repeat the same process and use metal sheets to prepare robust stencils. But then, you will need powerful tools to cut through metal for shaping your design. Metal stencil for wood burning doesn’t need to be removed from the working surface after tracing, as they are resistant to heat damage.

Now that you know how to make your own stencils, I recommend you go through my free wood burning designs post, to get new and exciting ideas for your project


When you use a stencil for wood burning, you can determine the accuracy of the burns you make on the wooden surface. Over time, you will free up your hand on some of the common wood burning designs. Moreover, stencil wood burning makes it easy for beginners to learn pyrography and develop their skills to pursue it as a career option. 


  1. Teacher, A. (2022). How to Print with Carbon Paper. The Arty Teacher.

  2. Wikipedia contributors. (2023). Pyrography. Wikipedia.

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