Stenciling Tips

smg

New User
I don't usually stencil rackets, but I'm doing a fundraiser for my son's high school team where I donate my time to string their rackets and all the money goes to the team for equipment and supplies. I picked up a couple of stencils off Etsy, one for the school logo (basically the GB/UGA G) and one for the mascot (ram's head). Most of the kids wind up choosing one or the other and they seem to really like it as a team thing. There are some random older threads here about various aspects of stenciling, but I figured I would post what I have learned from here, other sources and my own experience if it can help save someone else a little time. I am not an expert by any means, so if you have other advice or corrections, please share.

1. Stencils:
You can get the brand ones from TW or the racket/string manufacturers, you can also get just about anything else you want from Etsy or elsewhere on the internet. Most are made from mylar plastic sheets, you can even get blank mylar sheets at any craft store and make your own. I have found the thicker the better, if the plastic is too thin they tend to curl and are more difficult to work with

2. Ink:
I have used Wilson, Gamma, Tourna and Pro's Pro. They all seem about the same; I haven't noticed significant differences in quality. This is ink, not paint, so it is very thin and dries VERY fast. Lighter colors on darker strings (eg. white ink on black strings) can require two coats, but because it dries so fast you don't have to wait long in between.

3. Technique:
Try to line up the top/bottom of the stencil with a cross string, it will make it easier to line up when you flip the racket. The stencil may have a small notch in middle of the top or bottom to help you center it, if not make a small triangular notch yourself.

Gluing small pieces of an old grip to the corners on the back will help keep the stencil from sliding around on the strings; if the design requires you to flip the stencil do this on both sides. You can also tape it in place if you are worried about it moving, but that is more time consuming and generally not necessary.

The little dauber ends that come on the ink are crap. They tend to splatter ink everywhere, are not very precise and will often clog up after being used and stored. A much better solution is make-up sponges; they are cheap and work great (thanks to the Racquet Network video for this tip:
)

Use some painters masking paper or a piece of cardboard underneath the racket to prevent making a mess. Don't use plastic, it will make even more of a mess.

4. Clean-up:
This may be the most important advise I can offer. You probably will get ink on your hands. Maybe some will splatter on the racket. Maybe you get some on strings outside of the stencil pattern. Maybe, and this is purely hypothetical ;), you spill black ink all over your brand new white quartz countertops and your wife is ready to kill you. Non-acetone nail polish remover and a little elbow grease is the answer; it will clean it off of just about any hard surface. If you get it on cloth or soft surfaces you are pretty much SOL. Maybe you should just do this in the garage or outside :)

 

esgee48

G.O.A.T.
Line the kitchen sink and do the stenciling in there. If sink is not available, a large flat piece of cardboard is OK. Have rolls of paper towels just in case. Wear latex glove if mass stenciling.
 

Joe Garfield

Semi-Pro
Thank you - taping the stencil is a pita, and I also disliked the (lack of) precision with the attached applicator. I will try your suggestions!
 

Wes

Professional
The little dauber ends that come on the ink are crap. They tend to splatter ink everywhere, are not very precise and will often clog up after being used and stored.
When not actually using them, store the bottles upside down (within some other container - just in case one should leak).
I have a plastic tray underneath mine.
 

First Serve

Rookie
... the racket to prevent making a mess. Don't use plastic, it will make even more of a mess.

4. Clean-up:
This may be the most important advise I can offer.
ThanK's for sharing.

Speaking of messes, I used to stencil also. The ink from Gamma gets all over the tennis balls from my experience.

But I do agree, the stencils are a nice added touch.
 

First Serve

Rookie
@First Serve thanks for the reminder - I forgot my ink flaked off all over everything :/ But maybe it was old, idk how many people are buying ink from a small local Hawaiian tennis shop!
Yup, red ink all over yellow Pro Penn Marathon balls doesnt look good. The professional players/stringers must use a better ink because I dont see the same ink marks.

Not sure what stencil ink they are using. I have a couple bottles of Gamma ink now unused because of the "mess" it leaves.
 

ttbrowne

Hall of Fame
Yup, red ink all over yellow Pro Penn Marathon balls doesnt look good. The professional players/stringers must use a better ink because I dont see the same ink marks.

Not sure what stencil ink they are using. I have a couple bottles of Gamma ink now unused because of the "mess" it leaves.
You're worried about how used tennis balls look?
Are you a professional tour player? If so you must've seem ink marks because they're there.
 

djNEiGht

Hall of Fame
I think what @First Serve is referring to is when using thick sticky ink. All ink tend to leave marks on the balls but some more than others. I really like the think ink which dries fast. Some ink is just goopy and tends to clog more often while really discoloring the tennis balls more than others.
 

First Serve

Rookie
I think what @First Serve is referring to is when using thick sticky ink. All ink tend to leave marks on the balls but some more than others. I really like the think ink which dries fast. Some ink is just goopy and tends to clog more often while really discoloring the tennis balls more than others.
Correct. The ink from Gamma I used to stencil my racquets when stringing my own racquets left ink all over the balls. I was commenting on the ink from Gamma. Having stenciled racquets at tour level matches are a requirement if one is sponsored, so I should ask what ink the pro stringers use.
 

djNEiGht

Hall of Fame
Correct. The ink from Gamma I used to stencil my racquets when stringing my own racquets left ink all over the balls. I was commenting on the ink from Gamma. Having stenciled racquets at tour level matches are a requirement if one is sponsored, so I should ask what ink the pro stringers use.
I've had some from Gamma that was really thin. Maybe it was a certain color. I like the Yonex ink and Head ink. Again...could be the color as well. Best color so far was Head Silver. Thin and dried fast. Some other inks transfer to my finger tips the next day when I touch it.
 

First Serve

Rookie
I've had some from Gamma that was really thin. Maybe it was a certain color. I like the Yonex ink and Head ink. Again...could be the color as well. Best color so far was Head Silver. Thin and dried fast. Some other inks transfer to my finger tips the next day when I touch it.
Thank you for the tips. I didnt mean to knock Gamma since my 6004 Gamma is what I use. It was just an observation.
 
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