Blank mylar in both sheets and rolls can be used for making your own stencils and for may different uses.
This material has great properties: 1. This extremely tough and hard to rip material. 2. It is flexible so that it can be rolled and will conform to curved surfaces. 3. It is dimensionally stable so that it does not stretch and will keep its shape. 4. It is translucent so that you can see contrast through it allowing perfect placement for stencils. 5. Paint does not like to stick to it so it is easy to clean.
Mylar Properties: All grades of mylar are made of the same translucent material. They are all food grade material, flexible but are dimensionally stable and do not stretch like vinyl for example. The only difference is in the thickness of the mylar. A mil is 1/1000th of an inch. Newspaper is approximately 3 mil a business card is about 12 mil. We offer 4, 7.5, 10 and 14 mil. As you get thicker the mylar is less stiff and will be slightly more opaque.
Which Mylar should you choose: All of the mylars make great stencils. We recommend 4 mil for DIY stencils as they cut easily and still make an effective stencil for most uses. 4 mil cuts easily with a scalpel knife or we recommend our Gyro cutter. We also recommend 4 mil for electric cutters like Cricuts and Silhouettes.
7 mil is not easy to cut with a knife but it can be done. 10 mil and 14 mil requires a heated cutter like a Wall lenk or a commercial grade electric cutter.
Why Mylar is the best material for stencilling?
Stenciling is a traditional yet still highly effective method for rendering lettering, graphics and artwork on surfaces. It allows those of us without the ability to draw to make professional and pleasing displays.
So the stencil material:
1. Must have openings cut precisely into it with available tools.
2. Must maintain those openings spatial relationships from the time it is cut until it is used.
3. Must not be impacted by the paint or material used to project the art.
4. Must be able to be cleaned or be a few use stencil.
5. Finally unless the stencil is being cut with a computer controlled machine, it needs to be transparent enough so that one can see a silhouete through it.
The simplest and most common material is paper. While usable paper has some fatal flaws. While easy to cut,it is even easier to tear. While OK for large lettering, fine stencilling is not posible as the smaller breaks will tear. It if is not kept flat or rolled carefully it will fold or crinkle and lose its spatial integrity ( the art will not be in correct place.) It is hard to trace as it is generally too opaque. Unless it is coated it will absorb paint. Finally it is not cleanable.
People also try to use vinyl. It easy to cut, and it does stand up to paint. But it can stretch and tear fairly easily. Take great care when placing these stencils.
We recommend mylar. If you are cutting by hand or using an electric cutter 4 mil is easy to cut, it does not stretch or crinkle with reasonable care. It is still quite tough and can handle fairly fine detail. It is fairly transparent making it easy trace cut from a drawing or a picture. It can handle most paints and can even be carefull cyleaned. 4 mil also can be molded around curved surfaces which is very handy.
The thicker grades of mylar 7, 10 and 14 mil increase in durability, but are tougher to cut. These require either a hot knife, a commercial grade cutter, or an laser cutter. They also become milkier is they are thicker and 14 mil is difficult to trace cut. The also become somewhat stiffer. We do not recommend 14 mil for rounded surfaces. However these stencils can be cleaned and with proper care can last for hundreds of uses.