How to Perfectly Center Vinyl Stencils on Wood Signs, Every Time

How to center designs on wood signs

How to center designs on wood signsThere’s nothing quite like pulling off a stencil to reveal beautiful, crisp lines…

…and then you take a step back and notice your design is WAY crooked or off center.

It’s the WORST especially when you’re painting on stained wood and you can’t just repaint it.

Never fear!

I’ve got a fix for you and a free download!


Box guide for centering wood signsUsing a box guide will solve all your problems – for real. First, you’ll need to either create your box guide or grab the freebie one I’ve got for my VIP folks.

Free Box Guide for Centering Vinyl Stencils


If you don’t want to opt in, no big deal – here’s how you make your own:
(Click here to skip the box creation part if you opted in
and downloaded my box freebie)

  1. Create a box shape in your software. Make it about 12” but it doesn’t matter the exact size for now.
  2. Create a tiny box (about a quarter inch or so) and turn it 45 degrees so that it’s sort of like a diamond.
  3. Replicate the tiny box three times so you have four.How to center designs on wood signs
  4. Line up two of the tiny boxes/diamonds on the left and right sides of the box. Make sure the middles of the diamonds are lined up with the lines of the big box
  5. Use your align tool to line them up so they are perfectly centered on the sides of the box.
  6. You now should have a box with diamonds lined up and centered on the left and right sides.Center wood signs with a box guide
  7. Group the box with two diamonds together.
  8. Take your other two diamonds and do the same thing, only with the top and bottom.Box guide for wood signs
  9. Select all of these items and weld it all together.
  10. You now should have a box shape with little triangle type points sticking out of the exact center of each of the 4 sides. This is your box guide.Box guide for centering wood signs
    Note: If your design goes realllly close to the edge of your sign, you’ll need to modify the small boxes accordingly to make sure you leave enough space.


Now that you have your box guide, you’ll want to resize it according to your project. I personally like to make it so that it is just about a quarter inch smaller than my design on each side.

Let’s pretend I’m making a sign that is 8”x12″. I’ll resize my box guide to be 7.5”x 11.5”. This way I can center it and leave a quarter inch space on each side.Using a Box Guide for Centering Wood Signs

Now that the box guide is correctly sized, all I have to do is place my design within the guide, position it the way you want, and cut. I’m using my Arabica Coffee design here.How to center designs on wood signs

On your sign, measure to the center of each side and mark it with painter’s tape.

Once your stencil is on transfer tape and ready to go, just line up the pointy parts with the center marks you made on the sign and apply your stencil.

And voila! Perfectly centered vinyl stencils, every time.

Tired of crooked, off center designs on your wood signs? Try this foolproof, simple way to get perfectly centered vinyl stencils, every single time.






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17 thoughts on “How to Perfectly Center Vinyl Stencils on Wood Signs, Every Time”

  1. Thanks so so so much I’m actually working on such a project right now and I was about ready to pull my hair so I stopped signed on Facebook and P*O*O*F there this was it was meant to be and I couldn’t possibly thank you enough!!!!!

  2. Thank you for this incredible tutorial—definitely going to try it!!
    I am confused how to download the file…I thought I was already signed up but not sure how to get the free file—-also tried to get your “Adventure” free file but again says I’m already signed up. Any suggestions?
    Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Donna! If you check the email I sent you about the article you’ll see the link to the freebies page in there along with the password to get in 🙂

    1. Hi Judy – works fine on my macbook, and I would assume Cricut would be the same way (or similar, but I’m a Silhouette girl so I can’t tell you for sure).

  3. Great tutorial. But I do not see a link for the sign up for the box guide cut file? How may I go about downloading it. Thanks so much!

    1. Hmm, good question. I suspect I’d make a stencil with a circle and points instead of a square/rectangle. And then, on your sign blank, you’d have to divide up your circumference and make marks for each point. So for example if you make four points and you have a circle that measures 36″ in circumference, you’d make a mark every 9 inches so you’d have 4 marks, and then line up the points with those marks.

  4. I don’t understand where the pointy parts of the box are once you cut out the letters? Wouldn’t that be in the scrap part that you remove and throw away?

    1. Well – I think it depends on how you letter your signs. Since when I do my signs, I want my letters to be the stencil, I’d have one sheet anyway with my letters/design cut out of it (as you can see in the photos). So then, I can just make the line/points the outside edge of my stencil.

      If, however, you prefer to do the inverted painting method where you first paint the color you want your letters and then put your stencil (of the letters only, not the negative space) and paint over with your background color, then what I’d probably do is make a second box (no points needed) right inside the first so that it can be “cut out” along with your design.

    1. Hi Mandy! If I was making a bigger sign than my mat, I would resize the design itself as big as I needed it and then find good places to slice the design (and the frame) so I could cut it in multiple pieces. Then, once it’s all cut and weeded, I’d line it up one piece at a time so I have one big decal ready to transfer. Or even if you could have one piece with at least two of the marks on it you’d be okay.

      However – I think in bigger signs, you have a little more room for error as far as centering so depending on what your design is, you may not even need to make sure it’s 100% centered. I think it’s really on the smaller signs that it’s REALLY easy to notice if it’s a little bit off, as opposed to the bigger designs.

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