TENNIS.com gear editor Justin diFeliciantonio and his technical advisers answer your equipment questions each day. Click here to send in a question of your own.
I recently purchased a Dunlop M3.0. I’ve also started to learn how to string, and would like to start stencilling my racquet. What type of ink should I look for? How should I go about stencilling?—Jerry G.
For the most part, Jerry, stencilling is a pretty straightforward process. You visit a specialty pro shop or online retailer, purchase your favorite string ink(s) and stencil outline(s), lace up a fresh set of strings, and then lay down the ink.
That said, there are a few important things to keep in mind as you stencil. First, make sure to purchase inks that are intended for marking strings; almost every major string manufacturer sells them. Stencilling with, say, wall paint from the home improvement section of Lowe’s is generally a bad idea, as those paints can contain chemicals that damage strings.
Second—and this may seem pretty obvious—use a stencil. If you’re an artist, tracing might be unnecessary. But for most, stencils are a must, especially when painting relatively complex patterns, like Dunlop’s “flying D” logo.
As for step-by-step instruction, consider the following from the Racquet Service Techniques Manual, published by the U.S. Racquet Stringers Association:
- Place the strung racquet on a flat surface with newspaper or other porous material to absorb any drips.
- To prevent stencils from slipping, apply small pieces of leftover grip to the top and bottom of both sides.
- Align the stencil so that the top and bottom edges are centered.
- Apply ink inside the stencil, covering all strings. Don’t be afraid of getting ink on the stencil itself.
- After you’ve stencilled one side of the strings, remove the stencil and tap the racquet tip on the newspaper to remove ink drops gathered at main/cross intersections. You should also wait a few seconds to allow any ink on the stencil to dry.
- Turn the racquet over, apply the opposite side of the stencil (be sure the top and bottom edges align on the same strings) and apply ink.
- Remove the stencil and tap the racquet tip again to remove ink drops.
- Allow ink to dry at least 20 minutes before play.
Also of note: If you look hard enough on the net—Talk Tennis is a good place to start—it’s possible to find logos that you can print out for free. A number of sites also feature creative stencil designs, like Racquet Art.