DIY: How to Stencil On Tombstones

Halloween is coming (only 272 days away) and you want to give yourself enough time to prepare for the witching hour.  Last year, we decided that we had enough of our styrofoam tombstones falling down & getting blown away from the strong winds, so we decided to cutout tombstones from pressed wood – and they turned out great!  We got lots of compliments from our neighbors on our handmade tombstones as they were shocked at how great they looked! 

I wanted to share with you on how easy (but time consuming) it is to stencil letters onto tombstones.  First of all, your letters don’t have to be perfect or in a straight line, make them the way you want them, but most of all, have fun & experiment. 

The first step:  Open up a blank document (in Word, Publisher etc.) and type out what you want on your tombstone.  Experiment in different fonts & sizes.  Once you get what font and size you want, printout your letters onto cardstock.  

Step Two:  Now, cutout your letters with either scissors or a sharp knife.  Make sure you make a clean cut around your letters.

Step Three: Paint your tombstone.  For the one shown, we painted ours in white glossy paint.  Let paint dry.

Step Four:  Layout your letters / words onto your tombstone so you can see how they look and get the proper spacing between letters & edges of the tombstone. 

Step Five:  Now, trace your letters with a black Sharpie Marker on your tombstone.  When we did a black tombstone, we used a gray Sharpie Marker when tracing so we could see the edge lines clearly. 

Step Six:  Paint your letters!  Use a very small paint brush to paint your letters as this makes it easier to get good edge lines.  Let paint dry.

Step Seven:  Your tombstone is almost complete – in order to protect your paint both on the tombstone itself and the letters you just painted, we always do a nice thin layer of clear coat over the entire tombstone to seal it from the weather.  You don’t have to do a clear coat, but expect your wood to buckle and split over the years. 

That’s it!  As you can see it is time consuming, but the final outcome you get is amazing!  We have also painted our wood tombstones with gray primer first, then used Krylon Make It Stone and sprayed a thin layer of that over the entire tombstone, then we sealed it with a clear finish.  The most important part of all of this, is to have fun & experiment.  The more creative you are, the better your tombstone turns out!

As you can see, we tried to add a sense of humor to our tombstone and used the saying “High gas prices killed me“.  When we put this out in the yard on Halloween, we’ll place our little red gas can in front of it to complete the look!  Last year, we even made a black tombstone with the word “Economy” on it and had red paint dripping down from the letters.  All of our neighbors and parents of the trick or treaters just loved that tombstone & laughed at our humor!

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