Slicing the Side:

Insert the can fully in the sleeve. Lock the can in place with one or more pushpins stuck into its side at the upper holes (the "anchor" holes). Use another pushpin to pop starter holes in the upper left (or upper right, for lefties) corner of the top of each slot. The starter holes aren't strictly necessary if you're only cutting eight slots around the can. But, they'll make your work easier and quieter, and you're less likely to bend the can by the force of your initial penetration with the slider.

The key to this particular step is holding the can and slider properly. The can should be held in your non-dominant hand like you were shaking hands with the sleeve (with its bottom pointing away from you, and the top rim facing toward you, and the relevant slot at a comfortable angle for your other hand to reach). The bottom edge of your pinky should be above or wrapped around the top ledge, so the whole thing won't push forward out of your hand as you make the slots.

Then place the tip of the slider in a starter hole and poke it through. A flat side of the slider shaft should be in full contact with the flat side of the edge of the slot, resting fully against it without a tilt. Then make your cut by dragging the slider forward against the edge of the slot with firm, steady, and smooth pressure.

You'll want to press the slider both forward, toward the bottom of the can, also a bit sideways, so the slider drags gently along along the edge of the slot. If you don't keep the flat edge of the slider against the edge of the slot continuously during your stroke, the slot won't be straight.

Be sure to keep a relatively consistent angle between the slider and the can. The angle between the slider and the wall of the sleeve should be no more than 90 degrees, but preferably about 45 degrees off that mark, as shown in the photo below.

penetration angle

If necessary to overcome resistance from the can, you can "wiggle" the slider to a slightly flatter slope for more inward pressure.

As the number of slices you'll make around the can exceeds eight (e.g., in making the turtle, octopus, jellyfish, scorpion, or spider), you'llwant to either: (i) add extra pushpins in the sleeve or (ii) brace the top lip of the can in the sleeve using your thumb. You'll hold your thumb against the edge of the rim at the very top of the can to keep it from being dragged forward by the slice, so the can maintains its position in the sleeve. It's not necessary to brace it for only 8 perimeter slices, since the can has enough remaining internal support.

The key to making this easy is this:  do not stop the slide halfway through the motion. If you run into any problems, it's probably because you changed the angle of the slider to the can as you went deeper into your slice; in other words, you didn't keep the flat edge of the slider flat against the slot edge.

You can give the slider a firm extra push downward at the very end of the stroke, since you can get a bit more length from your cut if you do. The side of the can is stiffer towards the very bottom. Likewise, after you remove the can from the sleeve, you can use the slider to give the slot a little more length at its top by pushing it against the end of the slot.

If you mess up the slotting severely, just start over with a new can. Don't try to salvage the old one.


Extra Slices

Making more than 8 slices along the sides gets a little tricky. This could take some practice. The difficulty arises because the can loses structural strength as more slices are made in its side. Still, some designs require a 12-slice can (turtle, scorpion), a 13-slice can (spider), or a 16-slice can (octopus, squid); so it's worth learning.

After making the your initial 8 slices, remove the pushpin and lift the can up so that the pushpin-anchor-hole you popped in the can is exposed. Rotate the can a 1/16th turn so that the next sleeve-hole is directly below the pushpin-anchor-hole. Re-insert the can in this new orientation and then (this is the first tricky part) insert the pushpin through both the next sleeve-hole and the original pushpin-anchor-hole. It can be difficult to find the original pushpin-anchor-hole by feel with the tip of the pushpin.

Congratulations. You've now made a half-panel rotation in the can and locked it in place. Insert a second pushpin in the opposite sleeve-hole (i.e., on the 180-degree, opposite side of the sleeve). Make the same starter holes and slots as before as needed for your design, but be careful to support the can as you work the slider. I've identified three tricks that help. First, hold your other thumb over the top lip of the can while slicing to give it extra stability. Second, do the middle slots first (the ones farthest from the pushpins), as these are the least supported by the pushpins; then the ones next to it, and lastly the ones under the pushpin (if your design needs those last slots). Third, if you run into any problems making slots 9 to 12 (e.g., the can collapses in the sleeve), start over with a new can. Don't try to salvage the one you started with.


To learn specific designs, click: DESIGNS