Adventures in Stenciling and Staining

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure policy here.

While most of my projects are meticulously planned out, this is one of the few projects I did on a whim.  I was walking through Walmart one day and found a pack of stencils on sale for $4.  Unfortunately, I don’t think they sell the exact same thing anymore, but you could do use same principle with other stencils.

Here’s my finished product:

Stencil and Stain (Gawker)
I love the mix of paint and wood.

Before I jump into how to make something similar, I want to caution you that my posts are not the end-all, be-all on how to do a particular craft.  This one in particular is not, I repeat NOT, the end-all, be-all of stenciling or staining.  Since it was an original project, it was a lot of trial and error and guesswork.  If you can improve upon this process (and you probably can), please DO.


  • 1” x 4” board (any size above about 5 feet)
  • Two colors of stain (I used Minwax Cherry and Minwax Dark Walnut)
  • Stencils
  • Acrylic paint (I mixed my own for the cream and gray colors, but the teal is Folk Art-Teal mixed with a little white to tone down the color)
  • Stain brush or paper towel
  • Paint brush or paint pouncer for stencil paint
  • Repositionable spray adhesive

For my first step, I cut four board about 12 inches long.  I lightly sanded the front and outside of each board, then glued these all together with wood glue.

Stain and Stencil

Once they were dry, I traced the outline of the border shape (let’s call it a medallion for simplicity’s sake, shall we?) to give me an idea the area of each color of stain.

This is where I had to get a little creative and where someone wiser than me could probably have done this better.  I wanted dark stain on the outside of the medallion and light stain on the inside.  I ended up just carefully brushing the outside of the medallion with the dark walnut stain and the inside with the cherry stain and praying everything stayed roughly inside the lines.  Luckily, it did:

Stain and Stencil


You can still see vaguely see the shape.  It’s a little messy, but I knew it wasn’t going to matter because I would be painting the outline of the medallion anyways.  Also, notice how the stain wasn’t the best.  If I had to go back and do it again, I’d use better wood (and wood that hadn’t been sitting in my parents’ garage for a year or so…whoops).  Luckily, it didn’t matter too much in the end.  I let this dry overnight because I didn’t want the stain affecting the paint.

24 hours later, I was ready to stencil.  Originally, the pack of stencils was supposed to be for making a clock on canvas, but because I altered it for wood, I couldn’t use any of the steps until this point.

Stain and Stencil

Following the directions of the stencil, I laid the stencil for the medallion down where the two stains met and used a pouncer to fill in the shape with gray.  Load your pouncer with paint, dab it on a surface to get the excess off (like newspaper), then dab straight down on the project.  I took the stencil off, and lo and behold….IT WORKED.  There were crisp lines and the only thing I had to fill in were the spaces that the stencil left out.

Once this dried, I worked outside in, filling in the small shapes on the outside of the large medallion.  I started with a test and it’s a good thing I did.  I used the same technique as above, but my lines weren’t crisp anymore.  I was perplexed.  I figured out the combination of the smaller shape and the grooves in the wood made it difficult to get a crisp line.  After some research, I decided to invest in some repositionable spray adhesive.  Spray the back of the stencil, let it set for a minute, and the stencil will temporarily adhere to the surface.  This seemed to help, though for some of the small shapes I had to trace them onto the wood and handpaint them.  Talk about time-consuming.  I also had to fill in the gaps where the wood was glued together.  Whew!  Those steps were the most difficult.

Stain and Stencil

Stain and Stencil

Then, using the same spray adhesive stencil technique, I first stenciled the teal flower, then stenciled the gray flower over it.

Stain and Stencil

Stain and Stencil


A little bit more of a headache than I imagined, but totally worth it!

What are your experiences stenciling?  Any tips?  Any other comments are also welcome.

Good luck stenciling!

Comments are closed.