How to Make Stencils from Used Cardboard

By: Elizabeth Seward  | Images
Key Takeaways
  • Homemade cardboard stencils are easy to create using simple materials like cardboard, scissors and a craft knife.
  • They can be used for various DIY projects — such as painting walls, fabric or furniture — to add personalized designs.
  • By making your own stencils, you can save money and reduce waste while expressing your creativity in home decor projects.

Stencils, if you ask me, are a beautiful thing. The simple use of paint and a stencil can bring new life to any old object. It can make walls stand out and make old, rugged furniture suddenly seem cool. A lot of people buy their stencils brand new, but I can't say that I understand exactly why. Stencils are incredibly easy to make yourself. All that you need is cardboard and an Exact-O knife. Now, we all have left over cardboard (Don't fool yourself by thinking you don't! Even your cereal box from this morning can be used as a stencil when you're through with it).

Granted, not all stencil designs are as easily created by hand as others.


Here are some cool designs that are relatively easy to do by hand, though. Use a picture of one of these objects for reference, draw the outline for your stencil on your cardboard, cut it out, and you're ready to go.

- Cats

- Unicorns -Dogs


- Plants/Flowers

- Cassette Tape

- Bikes

- Candles

- Letters

- Butterflies

- Birds

- Elephants

- Skull & Cross Bones

- Rabbits


- Drums

- Music Notes

- Baseball Bat

- Stars

- Hearts

Use your imagination! You'll be surprised at the things you can come up with. The beautiful thing? You'll be putting that cardboard to use!


Frequently Asked Questions

Can I reuse cardboard stencils multiple times?
Yes, you can reuse cardboard stencils multiple times with proper care and storage. After each use, wipe the stencil clean with a damp cloth to remove any paint residue, and allow it to dry completely before storing it flat in a dry place. With careful handling and maintenance, cardboard stencils can be used for multiple DIY projects.
How do I ensure crisp edges when using cardboard stencils?
Make sure the stencil is securely held in place and use a stippling or dabbing motion with a stencil brush or sponge. Avoid brushing or rolling paint over the stencil, as this can cause paint to seep under the edges and blur the design. Experiment with different painting techniques and practice on a test surface to achieve the desired results.