Covering material in masking tape before carving?

Here’s what I want to do.

Birch ply, stain it in walnut, cover in masking tape, paint the inside of the carve (text) in white acrylic paint, remove masking tape and voila! A perfect carve with crisp white edges around the letters.

So in my first attempt at this I carved (no masking tape), painted the letters white, sanded the excess paint off, then stained in walnut. The stain got in to the letters and, well… stained them walnut. It’s almost impossible to keep the stain out. I’ve done this plenty of times using oils which drain away naturally and don’t discolour the acrylic paints, but on this project I need to use a stain.

I can’t stain and then paint because sanding away the excess paint will also sand off the stain from the ply. But, if I did this and used masking tape before the carve it should work right???

The carve is running right now and I’m not very impressed with this method.

Now, I wonder if anyone else has had to do this and what the results were like. What tape did you use? I wanted the lowest adhesion because I was worried that anything too strong would pull away the stain.

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Great question.

I am headed down the same path. I was concerned that masking tape would ball up wo I picked up a roll of Con-Tact Clear Covering Clear Adhesive Shelf Liner to try out.

I look forward to others replies.

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Stain and seal with shellac or other clear finish.
Then carve and paint in the carve. Any you get out side the carve can be wiped right off.
I think Phil had instructions like this previously.

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the oramask works great but if you do not have any use phils method sanding sealer and wiping the excess off. mask tape does not work and shelve liner does not work.

Ok then. Oramask it is then.

Just out of interest, here in the UK I can get 10m x 20cm for £20.50 (Amazon). That’s about $25. I know I won’t use the whole roll, but it’s close to what I paid for the birch ply.

How much do my American cousins pay for it? Also I can only find Oramask 810. How is this different from 813?

Well, I tried using search but only found my own post and one about carving into acrylic.

I’d love to know what exactly the special masking material is. Do you mean Oramask as others have mentioned or is there something else?

I use this for transfer tape for vinyl work. Very low tack and inexpensive, should work well.


So you know how I originally posted after I had already started the carve? The replies all said that masking tape was not going to work, but as the carve was underway I let it finish as I had nothing to lose. And guess what… it turned out pretty good.

The piece post-carve looked terrible:

But I stuck with it, finished the paint job in white acrylic and peeled it off before it became fully cured (about 90 minutes).

Up close it needs a bit of ‘making good’ but nothing too serious. Next time I will use a vinyl wrap and let it dry for longer, but it goes to show that masking tape might not be as bad as some think - at least on this carve.


FWIW if it were me - I would stain the entire piece of wood. Let it dry. Coat with two coats of sanding sealer. Then, use a FLAT or satin sealer acrylic top coat like Krylon ( - two to three coats from a rattle can. Then, v-carve your letters. Let dry. Then, slop paint into the letters… Let the paint dry. Then, sand off the over paint with 100-200 grit, being careful (finer grit will gum). Once over paint is gone… you can sand again or just over coat with the Krylon. I sell hundreds of pieces like this using this method in OAK, which is way more difficult because of the open grain. The sanding sealer and Krylon gives you the ability to remove the over paint.


BTW - your piece turned out beautifully - and nice artistic use of fonts - it looks professional!

looks real good considering the masking tape.

I have tried this method using stencil ink which is my preferred “paint” for carved signs and it bonds to the clear coat so well that I destroy the finish on the piece trying to remove the overspray.

I suspect that if I used an acrylic craft paint it would work better but I sure like the ez application and quick dry of the Marsh stencil ink.

Any suggestions as to how I may get this to play with the stencil ink? Or another type of
spray paint?


You have to let the stain dry. Then the sanding sealer. Then the spry sealer - two to three coats. All must dry. If that happens, and you follow all the steps… it shouldl work for you. If you mess up the stain, just do more coats of spray - you can recoat in 5-10 mins. I do this in oak with those wierd, unpredictable deep grains… and it works for me, but your results may vary. I also use a palm sander which I am very comfortable with… you might be trying to do it with a block of wood or sandpaper? The palm sander is another key - letting it glide over the surface so you are not digging in and destroying the surface.

I have done pretty much what you describe. I suspect that the solvents in the color spray are re-dissolving the clear and “embedding”. Maybe the key is more coats of clear?

What do you think?

I know it’s been over half a year since there was any activity on this thread but I just thought I’d let you know…

Groom got cold feet and called it off!

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Ugh. Hope you got paid?

Luckily I did. At least I covered my costs.

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Hello, sorry if that have been discussed before. I am considering buying peel of spray paint to use as mask before carving, then paint with some other paint and peel off the “masking coat”.
Such as this:
It says that the wood needs to be sealed first. Anyone tried this?

I tried this and didn’t have any luck. The Peel Paint tended to tear out even more than masking tape. But please give it a try. Could just be my methods and I would love to see it work.

Hi, I appreciate that you shared your experience with this product.
I think I will pick some up next time I go to the buy supplies and try to see if I get the same results. Thanks.