Days until – HOW-TO

I saw this somewhere, and I wanted to make one for myself, and show you how you could do it, too. It’s essentially a chalkboard with some words stenciled into the middle of the board. There’s a technique I’ve developed over the years for the stencil that I use here that could be used for a lot of other things. Let’s get to it!


I started out with just an old piece of MDF. The end had a little water damage, so I cut the end after tracing out some rounded corners.

Here I just used the inside of a roll of masking tape to trace out the rounded corners.

Here’s what it looks like all traced out.

I cut off the end of the board with a handsaw. Saves energy, and you get a little exercise!

The round corners require something with a little more finesse.

Just regular chalkboard paint will do fine, though I’ve heard of ways you can make colors other than black with latex paint and tile grout. I’ll have to try that out one day. This chalkboard paint is left over from painting our downstairs bathroom. It’s this chalkboard that I used to use for the daily chalkboard calendar.

Just paint it like you would normal everyday paint. I put three coats on, and let it dry completely between coats. Since the paint is black and it’s very sunny out, I just set it outside and waited about an hour for each coat.


Looks good!


Okay, here’s that technique I was referring to earlier. To start out, you’ll need to make a stencil. I make this in photoshop, and outlined everything. I’ll be cutting along these lines.


Here’s a test to make sure the stencil will fit in the middle of the board.

You’ll need to cover the middle of the board with masking tape. Before placing the masking tape, just kinda stick it to your pants or shirt to pick up some lint and make the tape less sticky. This is essential, especially if you just painted the chalkboard.

Make sure the tape overlaps, but not too much. You don’t want to have incredibly thicker areas of tape.

After you’ve placed the tape on the middle of the board, mask off the rest of the board with some old newspaper. You don’t want white paint on the edges!

There are stronger spray adhesives, but this works great, and it isn’t too expensive. Spray either the masking tape or the back of the paper with your stencil pattern.

Then carefully place your stencil on the masking tape.

This next part may seem labor intensive, but it really isn’t. It only took me around 5 minutes. While I’ve done this many times before, it shouldn’t take more than 10 to 15 minutes.

Just take a fresh x-acto knife and cut along the lines. Don’t worry about the bits of paper lifting up, it’s the masking tape that absolutely needs to stay down.

Take your time, and make sure to use a sharp blade. When you’re about halfway through, get a new blade. I can’t stress this enough. Eventually the dull blade will start to drag the masking tape instead of cutting.

After you’re done, carefully peel up the stencil, leaving parts like the middle of the a. Keep your X-acto knife with you, there may be bits that aren’t cut, especially near the corners. Keep an eye on it, and everything should go fine.

Trouble areas are best held down with the tip of the x-acto blade, then the excess lifted up.

Done! Don’t worry if it doesn’t look great, you can see where my paper ripped at the top of the a in Days, but the masking tape has stayed intact, so no big deal.

This is a super important part.

Get some kind of clear acrylic or workable fixative. We’re going to seal the edges of the letters from the paint bleeding past the stencil. That masking tape will get wet, peel up, and there’ll be white streaks underneath the stencil. The fixative or clear laquer will also bleed through, but it won’t show up like the white paint would, then it’ll dry and seal off the edges!

Just spray it on, and concentrate on spraying the edges.

Looks good. One or two coats should do it.


Once that’s dry, use a nice spraypaint. I like Krylon for general-purpose things like this.


I had to lay down 5 coats before it looked good. Make sure to keep around 12 inches away from what you’re spraying and never ever let the can stop in one spot for even a second. Spray past the letters, like you’re trying to paint a larger area. Nice even and thin coats is what you’re looking for. THIN COATS


After a couple of hours, it’s dry!

Time to peel up the stencil. If you’ve let the spraypaint dry, then everything should come up without a problem. Keep your X-acto blade nearby, just in case, and take your time.

You’ll notice that there is a ridge where the letters are raised above the surface. This is normal and desirable.

I just got a couple of regular picture hangers to put on the back, but you could (carefully!) drill a couple of holes in the back. The holes will make the board lay a little more flush with the wall, just remember to not drill the holes all the way through!

The back looks terrible, but that’ll be facing the wall anyway.

Tada! I completed this just in time for the dearth of holidays during the summer. Since I made it, I’ve been filling it with lesser celebrated holidays (at least in the U.S), like Bastille Day.

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