Introduction: How to Weed Vinyl
Weeding is not only associated with pulling weeds out of the dirt, outside, and with old dirty gloves, it is associated in the graphics business. Weeding is the process of, after cutting the vinyl, peeling the excess vinyl off of the cut part to see the design or lettering that has been created. The final goal is to have no objects peeled up and clear of air bubbles if they are and to have no dirt under or in the finished product.
Step 1: Supplies
The supplies needed for this process are an Exacto Knife with a decently sharp blade, a nice and solid, clean surface, and if needed Oratape mt80p to cover the vinyl when completed. The vinyl tape does not have to be used but it will protect the surface of the vinyl when applying it to another surface.
Step 2: Types of Vinyl
There are a lot of different types of vinyl used and some are a whole lot easier to weed than others. 751 vinyls are easier compared to 220 and 651. There are also various types of lengths of vinyl coming in 15 inch, 24 inch, 30 inch, all the way to 54 inch.
Step 3: Clean Surface
The first step for weeding vinyl would be the make sure the surface the vinyl is going to be on is clean even before setting it on the table. Clean the surface with either Sprayway glass cleaner or 90% rubbing alcohol. If any dirt gets under the paper, it could ruin the whole piece. Be sure to always clean more than expected to use so there is no chance for dirt to get into bad places. Once the surface is clean and dry, move onto the next step.
Step 4: Taking Excess Vinyl Off
To identify what has been cut, the vinyl will reflect light off of it; look into a light reflection to see what is ahead. Assume you are working with 651 black vinyl. The next step would be to start taking the excess vinyl off. Depending on how large the vinyl piece is, this could take a while. To start, just hold the exacto knife in your dominant hand and peel up the corner of the same side as your dominant hand on either the top or bottom (ex. Right hander peels right side). For this step, when reaching the first thing cut on the vinyl, ball up the vinyl that has already been peeled off in the non-dominant hand until reaching the cut line. If the vinyl gets to be too much to hold, cut it off and start from where the cut was made for that.
Step 5: Removing "Fs"
After the peeled vinyl is out of the way, look at what the obstacle is on the vinyl to figure out the best way to weed it. Corners always rip when weeding and circular objects do not. Say the object is the letter “F”, the easiest way to take this off is to poke the exacto knife just into the vinyl between the two horizontal lines on the letter and peel straight out from there. The vinyl will then rip on both of the corners where the lines stop and will allow access to peel the rest of the vinyl around it and just follow the cut line until reaching another object. Letters that have similar qualities to the “F”, such as the place that was peeled out first, would require the same steps to weed out.
Step 6: Removing "Qs"
After the first object has no other vinyl touching it, that step is complete. This step will be very similar to the prior step. Once the vinyl is to the next object, say it is a “Q”, be very careful with letters like these because remember, corners rip. When approaching a “Q”, start by cutting the excess vinyl ball in your hand off and start over from where the cut is made. The closer the cut is made to the letter, the better it will be. Start by making a slit in the vinyl from the tip of the tail to where the cut was made from the ball, then grab the top piece of vinyl and slowly pull upwards following the cut line around the letter. Follow the cut line all the way around to where the bottom side of the tail starts. Be extra careful when pulling vinyl to the corner a letter/number. The vinyl will rip if it is pulled too hard. So once the vinyl is close to the corner of the bottom side of the tail, with the exacto knife, pull up of the corner and pull downwards so it combines with the little ball in your hand and comes right off the tip where the first slit was made. The vinyl remaining inside the “Q” can simply be pulled off with a fingernail. Similar processes are used on “0” “O” and “P”s so use the same knowledge from the “Q” and apply it on other letters.
Step 7: Cut Rows
If there are rows of objects in one set of vinyl, when reaching the top or bottom of the letter/number, depending on where the first corner of the vinyl was peeled, cut the vinyl so it does not interfere with the other objects on the piece. Another thing that works is just making a slit from one end of the vinyl to the other so there are rows and it won’t interfere with the other objects on the page.
Step 8: Conclusion
Weeding is actually very simple and could be done very quickly and efficiently when done correctly. The best trick is that if there is an end in a letter like in a “W”, just simply peel straight out where the two points are made on the top and the one on the bottom, make a new slit from a corner where the letter starts to grab and peel the rest of the excess vinyl around the letter. Few minor cuts may need to be made if the vinyl does not continue to rip around the letter.
Step 9: Final Words
Following these basic steps will have anyone being able to weed vinyl quickly and efficiently. Here is an example video of making a cut line through the vinyl so I can take the row of letters out. Also in the video is an example of how to remove the vinyl around the letter "A".