More Bleach T-shirts! (With a CNC Router)

two tiger paw bleach t shirtsAlthough I’ve made a bleach T-shirt with a CNC stencil before (see this post), the .005 Duralar that it was made of was functional but flimsy.  It had to be loosely glued to the shirt every time the process was started.  In order to speed things up and be able to reuse my stencil as much as possible, I had the idea to make it out of 1/8 inch PVC.  After all, I have a CNC router, so I don’t have to be restricted to material that I can cut out with an exacto knife!

supplies for making bleach tshirtOther “innovations” that I used in my second round of bleach T-shirts was using a catalog behind the front of the shirt to prevent bleach from reaching the back side.  I’d used a towel before, but the catalogs keep everything straight*.  One thing I should have done was rinse and probably dry off the stencil before using it for the second shirt.  I had a lot of excess bleach on the second shirt that I did.

There’s an animated GIF (after the break) showing the bleach doing it’s magic on the fabric.  I’ve also included a video of the PVC being machined.  The Dremel 200 tool used for this had to be set to the high speed as low just kind of scratched the surface.  I didn’t cut quite deep enough, so things had to be finished off with a Leatherman and deburred using my “spare” Dremel tool.

Tiger paw bleach tshirt

So that’s the animated .gif file. (Check out how I made this with GIMP) I probably could have done a few more shots to see how everything turned out, but I did make this video of the process (mostly machining).

Some other details of the process included that I used 100% bleach on the shirt applied with a small spray bottle.  After waiting a few minutes I rinsed the shirts in the sink and then washed the shirts by themselves to make sure it didn’t bleach any other clothing.

*At work, my monitors are propped up by catalogs by Misumi, Bimba, and Eunchner.  It really drives salesmen crazy, but like the Rockler and Grizzly catalogs used to make this post, I do appreciate their giving me something useful for “free.”  I’ve spent money (either mine or my employer’s) on all the catalogs mentioned here, so I don’t feel too bad about “misusing” the catalogs.  Besides, I guess they’re getting some extra advertising in the deal…

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  1. The Chemistry Behind Bleach T-Shirts | JCOPRO.NET - pingback on November 30, 2011 at 7:02 am
  2. Making an AT-ST Stencil with a CNC machine | JCOPRO.NET - pingback on January 19, 2012 at 5:03 pm
  3. what did you do to prevent the bleach from bleeding under your stencil?

    • Hi Steve. I didn’t really have to do anything besides keep the stencil on there for a while to keep it from soaking outwards. I put a catalog between the front and back of the shirt to prevent another paw forming on the back.

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