So guess what … the soda can stencil method is in November 2013’s edition of Popular Science magazine!
The article only summarizes the process of making the stencils, pointing to a URL where there are more details:
Well great, if it made it that far it means some people think it’s cool. Judging from the feedback I got so far from emails and other venues I had mixed feelings about it, being a bit involved, even though it really is a great method once you get the hang of it – and I’ve made many stencils with this method, the advantages being that it’s dirt cheap and it gives you a high quality *metal* stencil in 30 minutes, one that will outlive your PCB revision and will still be practically brand new with very little visible wear.
But lots of folks seem to just not get it, or ask the wrong questions. Others do get it and are very excited when they start getting the good results. Others prefer waiting a few days for a mylar/kapton plastic stencil which is actually a great alternative. However plastic does not last that long and personally I hate waiting a few days for something I can make myself so easily, sometimes for assembling a few prototype PCBs. I still can’t believe this method actually works, and really well in fact.
Over time my stencils got even better as I learned how much to shrink the pads to get the right amount of paste in order to avoid bridging on fine pitches, and keep an overall pleasant look of the reflowed solder.