This past week I was working on a very large, intricate adhesive vinyl decal and thought I’d share some of the tips I use for weeding projects.
What is weeding?
The word “weeding” can bring to mind different things to each person.
In this case, I am referencing the process of removing the excess material around a design you have cut with a cutting machine.
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This design is from Design Bundles and is called Take What You Have by TrueNorthImagesCA and can be found HERE.
I am cutting Oracal 651 adhesive vinyl and this decal is 21.5″ x 21.5″. It is a very detailed design and I am not sure how it would cut at a smaller size. Some areas even at this size have very small dots, but you never know until you give it a try.
Tips for Weeding Success
1 – Good Cut Settings!
Test cut, test cut, test cut or be prepared to either sacrifice some materials if the cut doesn’t come out or spend a lot more time than needed on weeding.
Check out this tutorial
for 2 ways you can set up to do test cuts.
2 – PRACTICE!
It’s a new skill for most and practice is the only way you get better at anything!
And you will still make mistakes, like weeding the wrong piece or going to fast.
3 – Weeding Tools
Find a good weeding tool that you are comfortable using.
For years, I only used these EK Tools Reversable Tweezers
I tried new tools and always went back to these EK Tools Reverse Tweezers. I even bought several pairs to have in different locations or if one happened to be in a “safe” place and I couldn’t find it when I needed it.
But, for a larger project or one where I weeding multiples of a design, I found my hand would start to cramp up after awhile holding these.
I still really love them because it has a sharp point and also tweezers to grab pieces with quickly, but I forced myself to again try some new ones.
I recently started using this Siser Easyweeder Tool
When I first tried it, the heavier handle was hard to get used to but, over time, I got used to that and found that I really liked this one, especially for HTV and larger sections.
You can find this Siser Easyweeder Tool at The Vinyl Spectrum or Michaels.
In the video link I share below, you’ll see me use this several times.
Another one I’ve been using is the Pin Pen Weeding Tool.
This one is nice because it is designed with the pen body and has a silicone grip that can be more comfortable for some users. The Pin Pen also comes in several colors in case you are one to match your tools.
But, the one I found that I used the most on this particular project was the Sparkly Pink Pin Tipped Air Bubble Release Pen that I recently received in the Crafter Cuts 7-piece Vinyl Tool Kit.
I don’t think the sparkle pink has anything to do with it, but I loved the sharp pin point on it for this particular decal I was weeding. You will see that I used it quite a bit in the weeding video below.
Why did I list several different ones?
Because I see the question of what weeding tool is the best asked all the time.
And the answer is – whatever tools works best for you!
I have seen some amazing work done with just a thumbtack as the weeding tool or a sewing pin. It’s not something I feel comfortable doing, but you need to decide what works for you and develop a method for that.
Check out this post on New Tools – A Great Gift Idea HERE for more details on these
new Vinyl Tool Kits from Crafter Cuts.
A good pair of Tweezers can be helpful when weeding to pick up small bits.
The first tool I shared, the EK Reverse Tweezers, has the tweezers built in, but some have a hard time getting used to the reverse part.
I am a big fan of having multiples of tools in my studio. Mostly because my tools seem to find “safe” places that I can’t even find because they are so safe.
I used 2 different pairs when weeding this decal depending on what was closest to me.
These are Stab-n-Grab Tweezers from 143 Vinyl and come in a variety of colors as well.
The next ones are Angled Anti-Static Tweezers from the Crafter Cuts 7-piece Pink Vinyl Tool kit.
Scissors are another great tool to have handy when weeding!
Some designs you can create weeding lines and have the machine cut the design into smaller sections to weed, however, this particular design was all one piece and there wasn’t any way to add weeding lines to it.
For more on creating your own weeding lines, check out these tutorials on the blog HERE.
I recommend having a pair of detail scissors for smaller areas. I just added these Fiskars 5″ Soft Grip Detail Scissors to my studio shop a few months ago. I actually ordered 3 pair so I could have them available in different areas of my studio.
However, if you are looking for a fine point detail scissors, I’d recommend these EK Success Cutter Bee Precision Scissor, Small.
And then for larger areas, I use these Westcott 8″ Soft Handle Titanium Scissors.
A lint roller is a handy tool to have around to help with holding onto those pieces that you pull out from a design.
4 – Good Lighting!!!
My husband purchased this LANCOSC Magnifying Glass with Light and Stand for doing some small detail hobby work and he didn’t even get to unbox it himself.
Upon delivery, I highjacked it and had it set up and put it to work. It made weeding this very small, detailed cut do-able.
You can see how thin these cut lines are and weeding was interesting, but the magnifying light helped out so much!!!
Here it is in action as I was getting ready to weed this rose decal.
Now something to note here, I cut this decal as a test. When cutting small decals such as this, keep in mind that the thinner the design is, the less surface area there is with adhesive on it, so it may not be ideal for a lot of projects.
Another tool that some find useful is a Light Tracing Pad like this LitEnergy Portable A4 LED Light Pad
I have one similar to this one above that had good reviews, but I don’t use it often. But, it is probably more a matter that I need to take time to practice like when using new weeding tools. I know many others who use it for weeding all the time.
5 – The Design
The design you are using can make a difference too!
Some designs are just a bugger to weed no matter what you do.
The size of the design can make a difference too!
Some designs do not cut well at smaller sizes.
As I mentioned at the beginning, this design is Take What You Have by TrueNorthImagesCA had some really tiny small circles within the mandala sections even at the 21.5″ size.
This is not a design I would attempt to cut super small.
In my experience, it’s just not going to cut properly.
One thing you can look at in a design is the Edit Points and see if you can simplify things a bit to help it cut better. It won’t always work but it’s worth a shot.
Check out more information on Edit Points HERE.
A design that has been traced will most often have more Edit Points than a svg file of the design. The svg file should be the cleanest cut that you can get. However, this is also designer dependent as well. A bad file is just a bad file and most likely not worth your time or headache.
I hope those tips will help you in your future weeding projects!
I see videos of projects online all the time and I did a timelapse of this project to share.
I am creating both the long and short versions of this project.
When I did the calculation, the entire project took me 2 hours and 20 minutes to weed completely.
Check out the videos by clicking the links below. I used almost all of the tips I shared above in the full video, except weeding lines and the light box.
5 Tips to Weeding Success – Long Version – found HERE
I encourage you to watch the first few minutes of this video as I am sharing some tips, the feel free to fast forward as desired.
5 Tips to Weeding Success – Short Version – found HERE
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