Picture of How to Customize any Surface using Vinyl
This is an explanation of how to use vinyl sheets to customise any surface, which in this case is a trashcan. This instructable is an easy-to-follow, step-by-step process of how the signage ‘ProtoTrash’ came to be.

This project was inspired by a desire to do something with the dull-looking trashcan in our ProtoTank office. Fortunately, this project was easily carried out using the Vinyl Cutter tools and machinery located in TechShop San Francisco, which just so happens to be where ProtoTank is based as well.

Again, the methods explained in this instructable can be applied to create any type of vinyl signage, for any type of smooth, curved and non-curved surfaces.
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Step 1: Tools and Materials

Picture of Tools and Materials
Tools Required:

MH Series Vinyl Cutter
Computer with FlexiStarter software
Weeding Pick

Materials Required:

Vinyl for signage and test pieces
Transfer Paper

(All of this is provided in TechShop SF)

Step 2: Setting up the Vinyl Cutter

Picture of Setting up the Vinyl Cutter
1. The first thing to do is to adjust and lock the height of the blade within the blade holder.

2. This is done using the two screw rings, A and B.

3. The protruding blade height should only be enough to cut through the vinyl but keep the backing paper intact.

4. To test the blade depth, scratch the blade holder on a scrap piece of vinyl. If the blade goes through the entire thickness of the vinyl, than you need to reduce the height of the blade.

5. Next, place the blade holder within the rear slot of the carriage assembly, located along the cutting area of the machine.

6. Make sure it is seated properly within the slot. Hold the blade holder in place by tightening the lock knob until the tension becomes moderate, but not too tight.
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yieldlymph4 months ago


paverphalange8 months ago

sensational and informative ,thanks

motherprune9 months ago

Its splendid :)

cobbledbeard9 months ago

I am with Fstedie......Don't have an expensive vinyl cutter sitting around waiting for me to 'discover' it!

mousepaper9 months ago

Thats cold...

mousepaper9 months ago

Sensational looking



amazedgreen9 months ago

sensational and informative

fastbobble9 months ago

Its spectacular :)

gorgeddamp9 months ago

Thats trendy

clearedeager9 months ago

Its exceptional

illrings10 months ago

Thats sweet

airbugger10 months ago

so simple yet so powerful


headlymph10 months ago


tealrink10 months ago


grousebandit10 months ago

Its sensational looking :)

grousebandit10 months ago

Its sensational looking :)

grousebandit10 months ago

Incredibly good...!!

harechubby11 months ago


jiffymanager11 months ago


calmlunch11 months ago


clapfilk11 months ago



spongeraffle11 months ago

This is so great!

workexaminer12 months ago


clickyummy1 year ago


Nice Instructable.
BunnyRoger1 year ago
Very cool indeed. Nice one
Would have been very cool if I actually had a vinyl cutter I could use. Don't think everyone just has one lying around.
MAApleton1 year ago
Hhhhmmmm.... Wonder if anyone maybe has a MH Series Vinyl Cutter lying around that I can borrow hehe....
You should enter this in the Hurricane Lasers Contest!
richb772 years ago
If only there was Techshop (or anything similar!) in the UK!
t.rohner2 years ago
You can get decent 24" cutter including a plugin software for Coreldraw, Illustrator and the free Inkscape for 500$.
(GCC Expert 24)
Of course, these cutters wouldn't be my choice, if money isn't a issue. (I would go for a Summa S-Class...) But the GCC work quite well and the supplied software is pretty good.
The noname (chinese) cutters i inspected at tradeshows, are a waste of money. This may change of course.

I sell cutters and other signmaking machinery for the last 25 years.
When i started, a cutting system (flatbed cutter, software and PC) was over 100k$.

But then, as another commenter pointed out, bring your design as a vector file to a sign shop a have it cut. They have all the vinyl colors around and know how to set up the machine.(mostly;-)
MakersBox2 years ago
Does the vinyl have adhesive on one side or is it more of a static cling?
You can buy vinyl that does either, adhesive and cling vinyl are not terribly expensive and can usually be bought by the yard or roll.
paulstaf2 years ago
I am with Fstedie......Don't have an expensive vinyl cutter sitting around waiting for me to 'discover' it!
Same here. I've been out looking in my garage for that CNC machine I lost. Maybe it's next to that ...
next up how to sew your extra diamonds into that mink coat thats just lying around on your platinum plated rolls royce.
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