How to cut without a mat on your Silhouette (V3&V4)

…instructions for V3 and V4

How to cut vinyl up to 10 feet long on your Silhouette without a mat.
This post includes affiliate links to help you find the products I used. Read my full disclosure here.

The Silhouette Cameo can cut lengths of vinyl (or anything with a backing) up to 10 feet long. Of course, there isn’t a ten-foot mat available (OMG, how would one store such a thing?), so if you want to cut longer than 24″, cut without a mat. If you’ve never done that before, don’t be intimidated by the idea of going matless. It may feel like flying without a net, but it’s actually quite easy. Here’s how.

STEP ONE: Choose a large work surface
If the vinyl catches on something or bumps into a wall as it cuts, it could send the vinyl askew in the machine. So, find a work surface that will allow the vinyl to move freely while entering and leaving the machine. A large dining room table or kitchen island would be great. Alas, I have neither, so I used the floor. Here I am mid-cut on a piece about four feet long:

How to cut and apply a large wall decal.
STEP TWO: Adjust the settings
Change the page size and cutting mat settings so the machine knows to cut longer than 12″. To do that…

…in V3: Click on the ‘Open the Design Settings Window’ icon (D). Use the slider bar or change the page size ‘Height’ (E) to the length of the design plus a few inches (for me, that was 45″), and change the ‘Cutting Mat’ setting (F) to ‘None’.

Make sure the ‘Show Cut Border’ box (G) is checked and that your design stays within the red borders.

How to cut and apply a large wall decal.

…in V4: Click on the ‘Open the Page Setup Panel’ icon (H). Move the slider bar until the page size ‘Height’ (K) is the length of the design plus a few inches (for me, that was 45″), and change the ‘Cutting Mat’ setting (L) to ‘None’.

Make sure the ‘Show Cut Border’ box (P) is checked and that your design stays within the red borders.How to cut and apply a large wall decal.

In V3 & V4: This is what it will look like as you make each of the changes.

How to cut and apply a large wall decal.#1 – Regular settings for using a 12″ x 12″ mat.
#2 – After adjusting the page size to longer than the mat…mat’s still underneath.
#3 – After setting the cutting mat to ‘None’…the screen mat has disappeared.

STEP THREE: Position the design on the mat
The rollers may leave an indentation along the edge of the vinyl, like this:

How to cut and apply a large wall decal.To avoid these lines going through some of your design be sure to position the design at least ¼” from the edge.

STEP FOUR: Prepare the vinyl
Cut a piece of vinyl the length of your design plus a few inches. Although the maximum cutting width for the Cameo is 12″, you can load widths up to 15″, so if you can, cut your vinyl wider than 12″ and load it into the machine centered with the rollers. (Siser Easyweed HTV is available in 15″ widths, and Oracal 631 and 651 adhesive vinyl in 24″, which I cut down to 15″ for wide cuts, and when my design is narrower than 9″, I load 10″ widths and move the roller bar one more place to the left.) Using wider vinyl than necessary like this gives more vinyl for the rollers to keep gripping even if the vinyl goes a bit askew.

The trick to getting a length of vinyl to load straight into the machine (and not come off the rollers) is to make sure the edge you load into the machine is completely straight, so trim off a bit if you need to to get that straight edge. It’ll totally be worth it. I use a quilting ruler, rotary cutter, and self healing mat to get an accurate straight edge.

STEP FIVE: Adjust the roller
Push down the lever (A) (it’s in the up position in the photo below), then hold the metal bar with one hand while you twist the white roller out of the far right slot (B) and slide it down and twist it into the next slot (C). It’s stiff and will take a little effort. Push the lever (A) back up to lock the bar in place.
How to cut and apply a large wall decal.How to cut and apply a large wall decal.
STEP SIX: Load the vinyl
—Instead of lining up the vinyl with the line/arrows as you do with a mat, position the vinyl so it’s evenly spaced between the rollers. This will give more vinyl for the left roller to grip to reduce the chance that the vinyl will come off the roller.
—When entering the machine, the vinyl should go under the roller bar and over the next metal bar (you can see the second bar in the photo above).  Make sure the vinyl enters the machine straight and the entire edge of the vinyl is in place. If only part of the edge goes over that second bar, there’s a good chance the vinyl will get smunched and crinkled when you load it.
— If you have a Cameo 3, click load on the panel to load the vinyl into the machine. If you have a Cameo 1 or 2, select LOAD MEDIA from the panel. If the vinyl doesn’t load straight, unload and reload until it does. If it doesn’t go in straight, it won’t be long before it goes awry.

STEP SEVEN: Send it to cut.
If you’re unsure of your cut settings, be sure to do a test cut first so you don’t waste several feet of vinyl. Because of the potential of so much wasted vinyl, I also double check the design when it’s finished cutting: before unloading the vinyl from the machine, I do a “test weed” where I try to weed a couple of small pieces, say, one of the counters, such as the center of an ‘e’ or ‘o’. If it weeds easily, I’m good to go, unload from the machine. If it’s not quite cut all the way through, I adjust the cut settings (increase thickness or blade) and send to cut again WITHOUT UNLOADING THE VINYL FROM THE MACHINE. Don’t think of me shouting that at you so much as me saying it slowly with exaggerated pronunciation to add emphasis. :^) As long as the vinyl hasn’t been unloaded from the machine, you can send it to cut again and the second cut will line up exactly with the first.

Tools…

The longer the cut, the greater the chance the vinyl has of going off the rollers if the vinyl has entered the machine askew, so you might find it helpful to use a Silhouette roll feeder when cutting longer than, say, four or five feet.

What I was cutting…

If you’d like to see the rest of this design (which I cut from temporary adhesive vinyl and applied to my studio wall) or you want some tips and tricks on applying a large wall decal, you can find the creativity quote wall decal project HERE.

How to cut and apply a large wall decal.

effCheers!

–Eff

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