I set up a stencil test board. The intent is to spray it with yellow and then remove the strips at varying times to see how the paint behaves at various levels of drying.
The notches we cut to provide testing of sharp angles and fine detail in a stencil.
A few comments about the above. First, the painters tape I was using didn't stand up to direct application of paint. It bubbled up a bunch and there was lots of bleed under. Second, the run on the far right... I ran out of paint in the gun before doing that strip. I added some more paint and thinned it in the gun -- not very accurate at all.
Now for the close ups. This is working left to right. Clicking on the image will get you a blown up version.
Stencil removed after 10 minutes.
Stencil removed after 30 minutes.
Stencil removed after 60 minutes.
Stencil removes after 24 hours.
As you increase in time, the edges become much sharper and pronounced, as you would expect. Even after 24 hours, there wasn't any sign of problems with the yellow layer peeling up or otherwise having problems when the stencil is removed.
When removed after 10 minutes, the edges are softest. Some detail is actually lost due to the paint leveling. This can be seen in the slight rounding of the obtuse angles in the stencil. This is also the hardest to remove cleanly as the paint is still quite fluid. While the test stencil was designed to be easy to remove, removing a cabinet sized stencil, cleanly, would be trying at best.
When removed after 30 minutes, there is still significant softening of the edges as the paint levels. This paint has a significant open time and isn't dry to the touch for around three hours. The loss of detail isn't nearly as much as the 10 minute test. Edges are more pronounced when felt, but still significantly smoothed.
When removed after 60 minutes, the edges are rounded off, but not nearly as smoothed as the shorter test times. The loss of fine detail is minimal, though it is there if you look closely.
When removed after 24 hours, the edges are sharp and raised, as you might expect. No loss of sharp detail at all. As noted before, there wasn't any problem with the paint behavior when removing the stencil. However, the edges feel sharp and distinct to the finger.
Based on this test, I'll probably remove the stencils around 60 minutes after painting. This has several benefits. The paint is drier and it won't be quite so touchy and messy trying to remove the stencil. I'll have time to do multiple light coats to get better coverage with less chances of runs, as compared to one heavier coat. Good even coverage will be important. As you can see in the full picture of the board, variation in coverage leads to variations of color as this is a light color over dark.
I'm going to do some more tests with different thinning and gun settings to see if I can get a more uniform atomization and still keep the paint wet enough that is levels well.