How to Cut a Vinyl Stencil


Vinyl stencils, cut from self-adhesive plastic commonly known as contact paper, are useful tools for many craft projects. They are especially handy when making multiple images or working in a craft, such as glass etching, where it is imperative to have the entire stencil firmly adhered to the glass.

Using a vinyl stencil allows each and every stencil to duplicate the last and match precisely. Executed with simple to find household tools, these stencils are easy to cut. Scrap glass, available at many hardware stores, makes the knife easier to maneuver for graceful curves and sharp points.

Things You'll Need

  • Contact paper
  • Scrap of heavy, picture frame glass
  • Masking tape
  • Craft or utility knife
  • Image to transfer
  • Spray adhesive
  • Mask all four edges of scrap glass (at least 8 inches square) thoroughly with tape to protect from injuries.

  • Spray the back of the desired image with adhesive and adhere to the front, plastic side of the contact paper.

  • Cut out the stencil using a sharp-tipped utility or craft knife. Working with the back of the contact paper against the glass, and cutting through all layers of plastic and paper, cut out all areas of the image for the finished stencil. Keep in mind what will be the positive and negative images. Keep both the positive and negative images-- sometimes referred to as male and female stencils--for use in the project, leaving the liner paper intact.

    Practice moving the blade in a fluid line, moving the plastic rather than the knife when changing direction. This results in clean cuts on curves. Create sharp points by picking up the blade and working toward the point from each direction.

  • Leave liner paper in place until ready to use the vinyl stencil in the project.

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  • Photo Credit careful! image by Josef F Stuefer from
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