Introduction: How to Make a Porcupine Vest

The Porcupine Vest is a wearable, spikey body-extension that allows you to take up more space. You can use it to expand your footprint and sometimes your personal expression.

The material list for this project is deliberately simple. What's neat is that you can make a lot of these devices for very little cost. Porcupine cocktail party, here we come!

The idea came out of the Inquisitive Devices project at the Social Body Lab where we are experimenting with possible, probable, and fantastic wearable communication tools.



Step 1: Materials & Tools

Gather your gear!



  • lasercutter
  • rulers
  • heat gun

Step 2: Lasercut Cardboard

Download the design files below.

Before you cut your actual designs it is important to test your settings. Consult the recommended settings for your laser cutter, test, tweak, and move on from there.

You should be able to cut these on any laser cutter. I used a 120W Epilog Laser using the following settings:

  • Speed: 45
  • Power: 27
  • Frequency: 500

These pieces are designed to have as little material waste as possible. The spike sets interlock with each other to use the whole sheet and the back panel just has a few pieces that are not needed. With that said, if you want more intricate or stylized shapes adjust the files as needed.

Cut the following:

  • (1) back panel (or two if you'd like to double up for strength)
  • (3) spike sheets. This will create 6 rows of spikes.

Step 3: Assemble Spikes

Next you need to assemble the spikes.

Center a row of spikes along the top line of holes on the back panel. Coming from below, push a brass fastener up through the holes of both the back panel and the spike row. Repeat this for the remaining holes on the row that you would like to use.

Once all of the fasteners for the row are pressed through, put on brass washers.

Finally separate the legs of the fasteners and press them firmly down.

Once the first row is attached, continue on to the next until all rows are completed.

Note: You don't need to use every hole. It could be every 3rd, 4th, 5th, or more. The holes are meant to give you options for how you would prefer to assemble it. Also, you can see that the fasteners I used were quite long. These are handy if you want to stack many layers, but you could also go for something shorter.

Step 4: Attach Straps

Cut the straps to length. Use a heat gun to seal the ends of the straps so that they don't fray. Pass the end of a strap through a triglide. Pass it through a hole slat on the back panel and then back through the tri-glide. Repeat for the other side of the strap as well as the other strap. Adjust to size.

Step 5: Fold the Spikes

Fold back the spikes so that they will stick out rather than up.

With spikes pointing to your right, position one ruler on tip, with its right edge where you would like the fold to be. Slip another ruler underneath the set of spikes and use it to fold them to the left. Repeat for the remaining sets of spikes.

Step 6: Make It Your Own

There are may ways you can alter this design to suit your own style or up the elegance. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Trim the spikes to match the profile of the back panel.
  • Use a needle and embroidery thread rather than brass fasteners and washers.
  • Use less spike rows for a sparser design.
  • Layer spikes for a denser design.
  • Make a spikey front!
  • Use shapes other than spikes.
  • Try a different material.
  • Paint it with a fancy design.
  • Design a mechanism so you can retract and release them.

Step 7: Take Up Space!

Now you're ready to take up some space! Wear your spikes to a dance party, on a subway car, or in an elevator.

If you make some cool mods or take your spikes on any awesome adventures please use the "I Made It" button or post about them below!