Introduction: Make Your Own LOLcat Stencil and Vinyl Sticker

Follow this walk-through to design, edit, and cut a stencil or sticker using the free software available on http://www.silhouetteamerica.com/ and using the Silhouette Vinyl Cutters (this example using the Silhouette Cameo).

This tutorial is made by the staff at http://slomakerspace.com/

Check this profile for more instructables on the great maker tools in our shop!

Step 1: Starting Up

Specific to the SLOMakerSpace Vinyl Cutter station, but great reminders for troubleshooting your own devices, and organizing your personal projects.

Step 2: Silhouette Software

A general overview of the software

Step 3:

some specific tools you'll find useful

Step 4: Choosing Your Image

Step 5: Importing Your Image

Step 6: Various Tool Bars

Step 7: Learning to Trace

Step 8: Point Editing and Deleting Sections That Trace Generated

Step 9: Methods for Optimum Tracing

Step 10: Completed Image!

Step 11: Sending the File to Your Vinyl Cutter

On the top right is the "send to silhouette" icon

Your computer will attempt to connect to the silhouette cutter, if the cutter is not on it will not connect

You can still adjust cut settings whether or not the cutter is connected

Chose your media - paper, vinyl, construction paper, all require a different blade depth and default cut speed.

DO NOT START WITH YOUR WORKPIECE - INSTEAD always do test cuts first

paper is a nice cheap way to see how large your project is, and determine whether you need to change the scale of the design to allow for unbroken lines, the thinner a segment is, the more likely it will accidentally tear or fail structurally in some way. This is also a chance to confirm your design actually works as a stencil or if you missed a section when choosing your layout. You might have the wrong piece floating instead of connected to the core structure of the sticker/stencil.

Step 12:

So let's open it up and turn the cutter on!

You'll find the pieces you need on the far left usually

Step 13:

The ratchet blade has different settings for depth, and will need to be removed and adjusted to your corresponding media

For paper the blade needs to be set at 2 (in this case)

The small black handle to the blade can be removed after counter clockwise turning the blue locking mechanism to free it. The blade is sitting in a spring loaded mechanism, so it moves freely up and and down the vertical axis, but it is locked in place in the horizontal axis.

BE CAREFUL to not cut yourself on the tiny exposed blade. It's small but fierce.

Line up the key's arrow with the red dash and twist with slight pressure until the arrow (and the dash under it) line up with the number your blade needs to be at

Replace the blade, placing the ridged side nearest to you and the blue locking mechanism, the ridge of the black handle should slip into a small vertical slot, and you can turn the blue lock clockwise until it is secure. I've found it's hard to break this lock, so experiment until you've found the right spot. Again, the blade is sitting in a spring loaded mechanism, so it moves freely up and and down the vertical axis, you are locking it in the horizontal axis to keep it from spinning or slipping.

Step 14:

Load your mat by placing it along the left edge with the arrow pointing inwards, and gently pressing against the "wheel" edge on the upper side. When you press the center key to select "load the mat" the wheel will turn and bring the mat into the machine a few inches.

A great way to confirm you've loaded everything correctly is to check that the blade is centered on the top left corner of the working area (location 0x0 on the grid lines of the mat). Select unload and adjust how you set it up to load until you've got it right.

Step 15: Choosing a Mat and Media

Older mats have been used so often they aren't sticky, and sticky means your work piece won't peel up and get scrambled by being in the wrong place (getting cut off, crumpled, or just not perfect anymore)

New mats come with a sticky surface AND A PLASTIC COVER. replace the cover every time and you won't lose the stickiness to dust and time, just to lots of use.

and now I'll say it again:

DO NOT START WITH YOUR WORKPIECE - INSTEAD always do test cuts first
paper is a nice cheap way to see how large your project is, and determine whether you need to change the scale of the design to allow for unbroken lines, the thinner a segment is, the more likely it will accidentally tear or fail structurally in some way. This is also a chance to confirm your design actually works as a stencil or if you missed a section when choosing your layout. You might have the wrong piece floating instead of connected to the core structure of the sticker/stencil.

Step 16:

Load the paper media onto the mat

Carefully line up your media on a particular grid line, and tape down the edges. Normally I go tape crazy, but this is a demo, so I'm not too worried about perfection.

Selecting The grid icon on the top left of your screen, and choosing the checkbox "show grid" will allow you to see the exact scale in 1" x 1" (if you originally set the same mat scale on the software as what you are actually using), and to then line up your workpiece with the location of the media on your mat.

Moving away from the edge lends some stability to your piece, but uses more media, so find the balance that works for you, and don't go right up to the edge!

Step 17: Send to Silhouette! Test Cut!

Think you're ready? Double checked settings and scale? everything loaded? LET'S DO THIS

Note: the blade was not locked in place during this cut, and may have caused some errors. ALWAYS CHECK YOU'VE LOCKED YOUR BLADE IN PLACE

Step 18: How'd It Go With the Test Cuts on Paper?

Paper is fragile! most of these tiny extra folds shouldn't happen on the vinyl, but we may want to scale up just in case. Using a tool really helps with peeling up the unwanted pieces, especially if you want the stencil and the silhouette of your workpiece.

The paper wasn't fully cut though! So we'll double the check blade height, media setting was correct etc... but what really makes a huge difference is selecting DOUBLE CUT in cut settings

The blade will make every cut twice before moving on to the next one, and stops minor imperfections interrupting the cuts, and helps ensure whole cuts and no particle cuts.

Step 19: Switching to Vinyl

swap the settings

check the blade height

be sure to check the box for "double cut"

blade is locked in place?

LET'S DO THIS

Step 20: YOU'RE DONE

Comments

author
seamster (author)2014-09-23

Thanks for sharing this tutorial!

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