FAQ About Buying Wood for Silhouette Cameo Projects

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This Supplier Spotlight varies from others, as I am not recommending a specific supplier. I’ve had a few requests emailed to me about where to buy wood for Silhouette or Cricut crafting projects. The answer is easy: Buy wood at your local home improvement center (Lowe’s or Home Depot are my favorites) or lumbar yard. I actually love doing woodworking with my husband. While I consider us amateurs, we have successfully built our 10 seat dining room table, a faux fireplace mantle, an oversized outdoor corner bench, and countless painted wall signs. When you get to your local home improvement center, you’ll notice there are all kinds of wood to choose from, so I’ll spend the rest of this post with a question and answer session.

Q: What kind of wood should I buy for my Silhouette or Cricut project?

A: I buy pine because it is most affordable. Within the selection of pine, I buy the “select” boards which are slightly more expensive, but the wood is higher quality.

Q: How is wood measured and priced?

A: Wood is sold per foot in stores and labeled in feet and inches. For example, a 1 x 4 x 8 board is 1 inch thick, 4 inches wide, and 8 feet long; while a 2 x 6 x 10 is 2 inches thick, 6 inches wide, and 10 feet long. An important note: In the wood buying world there is something referred to as “actual vs. nominal” measurements. Even though I just told you that a 1 x 4 x 8 board is 1 inch thick, 4 inches wide, and 8 feet long, and that’s what you’ll see it labeled as at the store – it really isn’t. The nominal measurements are slightly less than the advertised sizes. A 1 x 4 x 8 board actually measures 3/4 x 3-1/2 x 8ish. So, if you need specific sized wood for a project be sure to measure what you are buying. I never head out to buy wood without a tape measure in my pocket.

Q: What should I look for when buying wood?

A: You should inspect each piece of wood for knots (some knots are not a problem and add character, while very dark knots are likely to fall out of the wood), cupping or crowning (this means that the wood is bowed one way or the other rather than flat), or large shakes (these are cracks within the wood). To check for cupping or crowning, stand at one end of the board at look down the length of it. In most cases, you’ll see if it isn’t straight. You should try to buy wood that is as straight as possible.

Q: I don’t have power tools at home, will the store cut it for me?

A: Yes, home improvement centers will cut wood to size for you. Most stores will make 2-3 cuts for free, then charge between $.25 and $.50 per additional cut. Store policies vary greatly on wood cutting rules. For example, our Lowe’s will not make cuts smaller than 12 inches.

Q: Is the wood ready to use when I get home?

A: No, all wood should be sanded before painting or adding vinyl. Sandpaper comes in different grits. The larger the number, the finer the grit on the sandpaper. I don’t waste time sanding anything by hand. An electric palm sander cuts out a huge amount of work and can be picked up in store for around $30. I prefer DeWalt tools and own this model, which includes a nice carrying case.

Bonus: If you are at your local home improvement center and can make use of smaller cuts of wood, ask if they have any scraps. Many stores will give you their scraps for no charge.

If you’ve been pinning things on Pinterest to make with wood, I urge you to take the plunge! Stenciled or painted signs with help from your Silhouette or Cricut are great sellers! Feel free to ask additional questions in the comments below. I’m happy to answer – and honestly I spend as much time in the lumber department of local home improvement stores as I do craft supply shopping!

Read tutorials on using vinyl stencils with wood. Click here or here.

Need help navigating power tools? Head to this post.

FAQ About Buying Wood for Silhouette Cameo Projects: Includes where to buy, what to look for, what to avoid, and more - by cuttingforbusiness.com

52 thoughts on “FAQ About Buying Wood for Silhouette Cameo Projects”

    1. Hello Kim! First, don’t be scared to stain wood – it’s actually pretty easy. Be sure to dress for the occasion by wearing old clothes and gloves are a must! To stain the wood: you will apply the stain, wait a period of time, and wipe it off. When applying the stain, work in small sections and stain in the direction of the grain. Before you start staining, always figure out how long you want to leave your stain on by testing it on a piece of scrap wood and leaving it on for varying times. Lastly, I generally use two to three coats of stain per project (allow it to dry completely between coats). The more coats you put on, the deeper and richer the color and grain become. I hope those tips were helpful! Christine

    1. Hi Donna! It really depends on your project. Generally, I work with a lot of flat paints and chalk finish paints that give a matte finish because that is my preference. Hope that helps!

  1. I have the same palm sander only a much older model. I’ve had it for 25+ years and it’s still going strong. I’m happy to see that you spend the little extra to get the ‘select’ wood. I always wondered if anyone else thought it was worth the money. I certainly do. If you ever decide to make a chart with the listed vs actual board measurements and list it in your Etsy shop, I’d be willing to buy it. Just sayin’ 🙂 Thanks for all of your wornderfully helpful posts!

    1. My Dewalt sander is a beast – she sands anything! Glad to know someone else has the same one! Oh nominal wood measurements are just about one of the most difficult things to explain, because everyone always asks me, “Why don’t they just list the actual length?” And to that, I have no idea! LOL! Thanks for your kind words! Christine

  2. Hello, can vinyl be used on pallet wood? I love the look of it, but just got a silhouette and wasn’t sure if because of the unevenness if vinyl would work.

  3. Great article! Thanks! What material do you use for a reusable stencil? I want to be able to reuse a stencil and not have to cut a pice of vinyl each time I need a certain stencil?

    1. I would also like to suggest those plastic binder dividers…I have found they work great and can usually be picked up very inexpensively and last longer than anything else I have used. Good luck and happy crafting.

  4. Have you ever used Sande Plywood or MDF? I found a Sande Plywood that is 1/2″ x 4′ x 8′ for just over $30. I’m looking to make signs around 12″ x 24″, am I figuring this right… cutting the board down the length making 8 cuts and then down the center of the width I’d get 16 – 12″x24″ boards to work with? Also do you have a tutorial on sanding the boards to give the corners a roughed up look?

    1. Hi Tracy! I’ve never used Sande Plywood, but I have used MDF with little success (it always looks cheap). I do not have a tutorial on sanding the boards to give a rough corner, but it is just trial and error with a palm sander. First, sand off the pointy part of the corner with a low grit sandpaper, and use a higher grit sandpaper to smooth it out. Hope that helps!

    2. Just jumping in on this and a couple of other notes. I work at one of the big orange home improvement stores and do wood working , as well as vinal/wood crafting
      Sandeply It will work well for vinyl after a med high grit sanding (120 -150) you don’t have to do a lot, more like a touch up light sanding to take any minor roughness from the milling process.
      You mentioned scraps– In my area we have a “Cull cart” of wood that is not saleable at full retail so we mark it down 70% off.. I keep my eye on this Every day I work and have picked up some nice wood from it I NEVER GET PRESSURE TREATED though,
      I saw a mention on lumber sizes
      North American Standard 1-by Lumber
      Here is a table from http://www.archtoolbox.com/materials-systems/wood-plastic-composites/dimensional-lumber-sizes-nominal-vs-actual.html

      1 x 2 3/4 x 1 1/2 19 x 38
      1 x 3 3/4 x 2 1/2 19 x 64
      1 x 4 3/4 x 3 1/2 19 x 89
      1 x 6 3/4 x 5 1/2 19 x 140
      1 x 8 3/4 x 7 1/4 19 x 140
      1 x 10 3/4 x 9 1/4 19 x 184
      1 x 12 3/4 x 11 1/4 19 x 286

      North American Standard 2-by Lumber

      2 x 2 1 1/2 x 1 1/2 38 x 38
      2 x 3 1 1/2 x 2 1/2 38 x 64
      2 x 4 1 1/2 x 3 1/2 38 x 89
      2 x 6 1 1/2 x 5 1/2 38 x 140
      2 x 8 1 1/2 x 7 1/4 38 x 184
      2 x 10 1 1/2 x 9 1/4 38 x 235
      2 x 12 1 1/2 x 11 1/4 38 x 286

      Hope this helps

  5. After sanding, staining and applying vinyl do these signs need to be sealed? If so, what kind of sealers do I use that won’t damage vinyl? I would like to stay away from mod page if possible because it is expensive when doing several large signs.

    1. Hi Christina, Generally, no, you won’t need to seal the vinyl. If it is outdoors, you could use a clear poly from your local hardware store. Hope that helps!

  6. Hi, when using your homemade stencils from the laminating sheets, how do you get the “stencil” to be flush enough with the wood so it won’t bleed? Thanks so much!

  7. I buy most of my wood for signs at a wood shop. They have a wider selection of woods than the big box stores: alder, poplar, and exotics of course! They have the boards in true sizes, the 2×6 is actually 2″ x6″. My usual shop has “skins” which are really thin pieces and some thicker like 1/4-1/2″ thick x 4-9″ wide x 2-4′ long. I like using those pieces because they are light & don’t hurt or damage people or stuff if they fall & also makes hanging easier. When I do pick up wood at HD I get the “craft” stuff. It’s light & easy to work with. I make faux pallet signs-all the fun & look for less weight! These shops aren’t as plentiful as big boxes but when you find one the woods available are addicting! The non-pine stuff is gorgeous to lightly stain. Some have ‘live’ edges which really make them unique. Cost wise the boards I buy can be less than HD’s craft wood.

  8. hello can I put 0.8mm wood through Silhouette Cameo? Do I need to put in a certain way regarding grain? Will it make my blades blunt? Thank you x

    1. Hello! Maximum cutting thickness on the Cameo is 0.8mm, although I didn’t have good luck when attempting balsa wood. Yes, it would likely dull your blade quickly. Let me know if you get it to cut well!

  9. Hi. So to avoid the vinyl stencil from bleeding, tape it down and then cover with mod podge, or do you tape it down and just mod podge around the stencil? I’m confused 🙂

  10. I love your tips and advice! Have you ever tried to patch or cover a deep pine knot in a board before using it for a project? If so what did you use and can you paint over it without the patch being noticeable? I’ll be using the wood for a sign making workshop I’m teaching in a few weeks and while I don’t mind the knots so much in my own projects, I’m not sure how my “students” will feel about them.

    1. Hi Carla! You can fill the knots with wood putty, however, if you are using stain it won’t come out the same color as the wood. (If you are painting it, it will look fine.) I would talk up the characteristics of the knots. You can share with your students that the knots are where the branches once formed on the tree. I love a wood piece of wood with knotty characteristics! 🙂 Best of luck with the class!

  11. I do loads of wood stuff and have done most signs by the individual letters as that was least expensive methods. Finally bought a Cricut. I am a bit frustrated though as I cannot figure out how to make closed letters (a, b, d, e, g, o, p, q) attached so that there is closed center. When I stencil it comes out a big blob and then I have to go back to each individual letter and fill it in with my background color. Thanks in advance for your help.

  12. Hello. I am having trouble with sticky residue on the wood when I remove the vinyl stencil. How do you avoid this? Also, what I said your favorite vinyl to use on wood projects as stencils? Do you paint over stained pine and then seal?

    1. Are you leaving your vinyl on too long? Otherwise, I’ve never had that issue. I use whatever scrap vinyl I have on hand, but I prefer Oramask 813 if I have it. I never seal my signs, but that is a personal preference. You can use most clear sealants.

  13. I have seen different opinions on using the vinyl as a stencil and have a couple questions. Between 631 or 651, what is the better option? Can either be put on a painted sign and peeled off without taking off the base paint? Are regular acrylic craft paints ok to use for these type projects? Thank you so much for all of the help and advice!!!

  14. I’m hopping to make signs that are larger than a piece of lumber, like a 12×24 sign. What wood do you recommend for a nice clean (not too heavy) surface? I will probably paint these.

  15. What type of wood would you use on the back of the signs to plank them together? Everything I’ve used so far likes to split once I start to screw them together. Any helpful tips?

    1. Hi Julia! Honestly, you can use whatever wood you’d like. If your wood is splitting, there’s a few things you can try: 1) Drill a pilot hole before screwing your screw in. 2) Rub your screw with wax before screwing it in to lubricate it. 3) Don’t place screws within an inch of the end of the board.

  16. From the article, it looked like pine is the suggested go to for a reasonable price. However, in what circumstances would you use more high end wood?

  17. Do you use anything for the knots so that they don’t leak through the final project? Will it leak through if not treated if working with vinyl transfer? Also concerned if using a stencil with paint and the knots leaking through…??

    thanks in advance, Kathy

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