You will be called on very frequently to paint signs on ground equipment, parking lots, driveways, buildings, and almost everywhere imaginable.

3-24.  Stenciling Equipment

There is a varied assortment of equipment available to do a professional stenciling job.

     a.  Stencil-Cutting Machines. Stencil-cutting machines may vary in appearance and size (1/4- to a 4-inch cutters). Each machine has a handwheel to position an indicator that designates the letter, number, or mark to be cut; and it has a cutting handle to depress. A portion of the stencil machine's rotating handwheel contains a punch, which is positioned under the cutter handle. The positioning of the indicator brings the punch in alignment with a die in the lower portion of the machine. Depressing the cutting handle forces the punch into the die, thus cutting the desired letter or number into the stencil board.

     b.  Stencil Board. Stencil board comes in two grades-high-wear resistance (grade 1) and moderate-wear resistance (grade 2). Grade 1 is available in 8- by 24-inch, 20-.by 32-inch, and 24- by 36-inch sheet sizes. Grade 2 comes in only one sheet size, 20 by 24 inches. The grade required for a job is determined by whether the stencil will be used only once or several times.

     c.  Stenciling Ink. While any suitable paint may be used to stencil, stenciling ink is a specific ink that will mark porous surfaces, wood and cardboard shipping containers, burlap, or canvas. This ink comes in black, white, and yellow.

     d.  Stencil Set (Brass). When a stencil-cutting machine is not available for use, a brass stencil set will produce a professional job. It is a good practice to have two or three sets of each size on hand, as many signs contain two or three of the same letter and it will save time if the complete sign is made at one time. The stencil set consists of brass numbers and letters that interlock to form the desired words and numbers. The set includes a container and the following stencils: a complete alphabet; numbers 0 to 9, one ampersand, one comma, one apostrophe, one period, one spacer, and four end pieces. The letters and numbers are gothic style and are available in 1-, 1 1/2-, 2-, 3-, and 4-inch sizes. You should disassemble the letters and numbers immediately after use and wash them in the same type of thinner used to thin the stencil paint.

     e.  Stencil Key Set. The stencil key set is used as a guide for laying out and drawing letters or numbers on stencil boards. A 3-inch stencil key set is shown in Figure 3-48. To use the stencil key set, first mark off a horizontal line on the stencil board. Then use the key set to outline the desired numbers or letters, using either the inside or outside of the set. After all the letters or numbers have been outlined on the stencil board, simply cut them out with a sharp knife or a one-sided razor blade.

Figure 3-48. Stencil key set

     f.  Spray Gun. A stenciling spray gun (Figure 3-49) is desirable for stenciling. This gun is smaller than the one used for painting and is known as a touch-up gun. It is not mandatory to have a small stenciling spray gun in a shop; however, it is desirable to have at least one spray gun that can be used only for this purpose. It is usually convenient to have more than one cup for a spray gun when more than one stencil paint color is used. The extra cups facilitate spraying different paint colors. General care and maintenance for a stenciling spray gun are the same as previously described for the regular paint gun.

Figure 3-49. Stenciling spray gun

     g.  Layout Tools. Whether you are using a brass stencil set or a stencil board that you prepared with the stencil key set, you must lay out the stencil. The tools you need for this layout consist of a straightedge, a yardstick, a steel square, and dividers. Using whatever tools you need, position the stencil and secure it in place with masking tape.

     h.  Stencil Brushes and Rollers. Use stencil brushes or rollers on jobs where it would be impractical to use a spray gun. The most common brushes are the artist's stencil brush, the stencil brush, and the fountain stencil brush:

         (1)  Artist's stencil brush. This brush is round with black bristles placed in a long, polished, cedar handle. The bristles are held in place by a metal ferrule. The diameter at the ferrule is 1/2 inch, and the bristle length is 1 inch.

         (2)  Stencil brush. This brush is made of 100 percent hog bristles, with the flag ends cut. It has a long, wood handle and comes in 13/16- by 15/16-inch and 1 1/16- by l 1/16-inch sizes.

         (3)  Fountain stencil brush. This brush has a reservoir handle. The leakproof reservoir holds a minimum of 2 ounces of stencil ink. The bristles extend 1 1/2 inches beyond the metal ferrule. A shutoff is provided between the reservoir and the brush to adjust the flow of stencil ink as well as to shut it off completely.

         (4)  Stencil roller. A roller measuring about 2 inches wide and 1 1/2 inches in diameter is sometimes used to stencil. The roller is rolled over a small amount of paint that is spread out on a glass or metal sheet. Then the paint-coated roller is rolled over a stencil to make the sign.

     i.  Pressurized Spray Can. A pressurized spray can is another item used for stenciling small signs. The cans are easy to use and come in various colors. The chief advantage of these cans is that there is no cleanup after you complete the job.