Hinge Method for Vinyl Stencils

A No Fail Method for Perfectly Placed Vinyl Stencils

I love making personalized vinyl stencils with my cutting machine (I’ve got a Silhouette and a Cricut!). What I don’t love is how difficult it can be to get my stencil centered and perfectly placed on my project! I was so happy when I learned the Hinge Method. It has saved me so many headaches over the years!  It is super simple and gives excellent results every single time! 

First, let me back up. Do you have a cutting machine such as a Silhouette or Cricut? Have you made a vinyl stencil yet? Because ohmigosh if you haven’t drop everything and make one right now! Making your own vinyl stencils is so much fun. Not to mention the freedom to customize everything! From holiday decorations to personalized home decor for just about any room in your house – the possibilities are endless. 

In case you are not familiar with cutting machines, they can cut a lot of items including vinyl. This type of vinyl comes in rolls and can be found at any craft store or online. There are four main vinyl categories: permanent, removable, HTV (heat transfer vinyl), and stencil. The vinyl used in cutting machines is like a super flimsy sticker on a white paper backing (except HTV which is super flimsy but not sticky and is attached to a clear carrier sheet). Within each of these categories are also lots of different styles: patterned, glitter, flocked, foil, and metallic just to name a few. We’re going to stay focused on stencil vinyl which is really straight forward, hence its name! 

Stencil vinyl is typically light blue and contains slightly less tack than other types of vinyl. When using vinyl for a stencil you want that sweet spot of being *just* sticky enough to adhere to your project but not too sticky that it’s hard to pull up or ruins your project when pulled up. Removable vinyl can be used to make vinyl stencils but I personally think stencil vinyl works the best.

One last note about vinyl stencils before I show you how to use the Hinge Method. In order to perfectly transfer your stencil onto your project you will need to use transfer tape. Transfer tape is placed on top of your vinyl stencil. The white paper backing is on the bottom, the flimsy sticker like vinyl in the middle, and the transfer tape is on top. Transfer tape can look like a giant roll of masking tape or can be clear with grid marks on it. Some people even use contact paper as transfer tape.

Alright, here is my step-by-step fool proof method for getting perfectly centered vinyl stencils!

Don’t have a cutting machine? Check out all the vinyl stencils available in my shop! Pick one you like, use the Hinge Method to apply to your project and never look back!

Hinge Method for Vinyl Stencils


  • Vinyl Stencil (create your own or buy one from my shop)
  • Transfer Tape
  • Painter’s Tape


  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Burnishing Tool (or credit card)


  1. If you haven’t already, apply transfer tape to the top of your vinyl stencil.
  2. Center the stencil on your project. Either use a ruler to be certain it is in the correct, centered position or line up the stencil to the sides of your project.  
  3. Secure stencil in place with a piece of painter’s tape. I placed the tape slightly off center and wrapped it around to the back.

  1. Begin by carefully pulling up the vinyl/transfer tape away from the white paper backing. Drape it over the opposite side.

  1. Cut the white paper backing up the middle and discard.

  1. Carefully and slowly, smooth down the stencil onto your project.

  1. Remove the painter’s tape from the back and flip the remaining side over.

  1. From the middle, carefully pull the white paper backing as you smooth the vinyl onto your project piece. 

  1. Use your scraper to press the vinyl onto your project.

  1. Carefully peel away the transfer tape. Move slowly and be sure no small pieces of vinyl get pulled up with the tape. TIP: place the transfer tape back on the paper backing it was originally on. You can use this tape 5-6 more times before it completely loses it’s tack.

  1. Use your fingers or scraper to carefully press the vinyl down onto your project.

There you have it! A perfectly placed vinyl stencil ready for paint.

I’d love to see how yours turned out! Don’t forget to tag #ThePolishedPine when posting.

Enjoy forever!

DIY Initial Fabric String Art

Staining Wood: A Complete Beginner’s Guide

Mini House Home is Where Mom is

Mini Wood House with Chimney

Double Sided Wood Tray with Leather Handles