Thu 3 Jun 2010
Custom Vinyl Cutting: Out of the Machine and onto the Wall
By: Tay Silver | Creative Cuttables & Commercial Vector Designer
All week we’ve been walking you through all the steps of turning your Cricut, Silhouette or Wishblade digital die cutter into an at-home vinyl cutting machine. If you’re just beginning, you’ll want to check out her previous posts here. Ready to cut some vinyl? Read on!
So you have your supplies, you know what graphics your machine accepts, you even played around with our commercial vector graphics and have read your Users Manual about cutting thin media (vinyl). You’re ready to begin cutting vinyl!
It’s time to perform a couple test cuts to ensure your machine will cut your graphics and word art smoothly. This is especially important if you are going to sell your vinyl since customers will insist on flawless cuts that have no jagged edges. (Peppermint Creative Vector Graphics are designed and already optimized to produce superior vinyl cuts with ultra-clean edges.)
In the beginning, you’re going to rely heavily on your users manual for directions on how to set up your machine to cut thin media. Unfortunately this process is different for each machine, so a bit of time invested in performing test cuts is wise. The goal of the test cut is to ensure your machine is cutting all the way through the vinyl but not all the way through the vinyl backing paper. (The blade will “etch” the backing paper, leaving a drag line where it indented, but did not cut through, the backing.) When you can easily weed the vinyl AND peel the backing paper away from the vinyl swiftly and cleanly, you have found your ideal machine settings. Avoid the temptation to ask someone with the same machine which settings they use because very slight manufacturing differences in the blade installation position mean your individual machine settings will not be the same.
You’ll notice that after you have run a sheet of vinyl through your machine it comes out looking the exact same, just with thin cut lines all over it. You must do the removal of the excess vinyl, called “weeding”, by hand. Using your Xacto™ Knife or other weeding tool, remove the vinyl that surrounds your letters first and then any unwanted vinyl on the interior of the letters, such as the circle in the center of the letter O.
When weeding is complete you will have a beautiful vinyl design sitting on the backing paper, looking exactly how it would go up on your wall. So how do you get it from the paper to the wall? That is what application tape is for! Simply place the application tape over the vinyl and backing paper together then flip over and press firmly on the back, which helps the vinyl adhere to the tape so it will peel from the backing paper.
The rest of the process you are probably already familiar with from using rub-ons or cut vinyl products. Simply peel away the backing paper, exposing the sticky side of the vinyl and the sticky side of the tape. If the backing paper doesn’t come away cleanly, use the tip of your Xacto knife to gently help the backing paper separate away from the sticky side of the vinyl. (This often means your machine’s depth settings are slightly too deep. Correct any cutting depth problems now so if you do sell vinyl your customers won’t have the same difficulty. See your Users Manual for directions.) Once you peel away the backing paper and have revealed both the vinyl adhesive and the sticky side of the tape, place the vinyl graphic carefully on your clean, prepared surface and press firmly to adhere. The vinyl will grip the surface more tightly than the tape so you’ll be able to easily peel the tape away, leaving behind your beautiful vinyl graphic. Stand back and admire your work!