Silhouette,  Vinyl

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If you’re a seasoned Silhouette Pro or craft machine user- you’ll know how important it is to have good weeding tools and technique. However, if you’re a newbie, you may not know this yet. You will find this out through a series of ruined, frustrating and possibly expensive mistakes. But I’m hoping I can cut down on that learning curve by showing you my favorite Silhouette vinyl weeding tools and a few technique tips.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned that you start having weird ass ‘favorite things’. Favorite frying pan, favorite brand of cheese, favorite vacuum…. the list of weird favorites goes on… but doesn’t get much more exciting. I do have to say that the more I’ve started to have a favorite set of weeding tools,  the easier my day goes- so thats a plus for being a boring adult.

But first…a word from your friend….

When I first bought my Silhouette, I ruined SO much vinyl. Not even the cheap stuff- I ruined perfectly good Oracal 651. Every single time I messed up a project cause of bad weeding, I felt SICK. To be honest, it’s just really part of it. I don’t know a single Silhouette user that jumped right in and pumped out perfect projects. You’re gonna f*ck stuff up- be okay with it and don’t beat yourself up- just learn from it.

Straight Pin Pen

HA! I made that name up. I don’t have a CLUE where I got this weeding tool….or even what it’s called. If I could only have one weeding tool, I’d pick this baby every time. Aside from the fact that I’ve almost impaled my feet a billion times cause it rolls off my desk- this thing is perfect. With that being said, if you decide to purchase one of these things, use caution all of the time with it. I called it a ‘Straight Pin’ cause it might as well be a thick fricken sewing needle or straight pin on an x-acto handle. It’s SERIOUS.

Can you tell how sharp that bad boy is? OUCH!!!

This allows me to pick up vinyl off finished wood signs without damaging it. I do a LOT of signs with Oramask 813 on very delicate barn wood.  Oramask makes a pretty decent seal to make sure I don’t get bleeds. However, this makes removal a bit more tricky. I found that with the Silhouette weeding hooks that came with my machine, I was GOUGING my wood. Especially if my paint was a bit more dry and the vinyl was really burnished on, I was making big dents in my wood trying to get the vinyl to hook on my tool.

Tailwind Visual Marketing Suite
Can you see in the middle of the ‘O’ where the hook weeding tool gouged the wood? This isn’t the best example because it is a minor dent- but I’ve had some serious boo-boos.

Laying the end of the pin flat and using a side-ways poking movement will minimize the chance of gouging the wood.

When I use this tool, I lay the needle almost flush with the vinyl and poke it sideways. Just to get the tip of the needle under the vinyl without scratching the wood (most of the time).

Again, just be safe and smart when using this tool. It will save you time and frustration but I’m guessing it’ll do some damage to a toe or nice hardwood floors. OUCH! FYI- the link goes to a straight weeder that is flat on one side so it doesn’t roll. MUCH safer than mine- but I’m a creature of habit and like my dangerous one.

Tweezers

This is probably the random one that you’re thinking ‘does she know she’s writing an article on vinyl….not eyebrows?’ Yes, yes… I know this is strange, but hear me out. Have you ever been weeding something that has a weird little cut-in? Maybe that letter that’s super curvy? How about those rude pieces that are a bit ‘squirrely’ and like to stick to your vinyl you DON’T want to come up? TWEEZERS!

Also, tweezers will be your best friend when removing vinyl stencil from a painted piece of wood. I peel most of my designs when they’re still a bit wet, so when I’m removing my stencil from the wood, I usually have my ‘Straight Pin Pen From Hell’ in one hand and tweezers in the other. Works like a CHARM! 

Again, I have NO clue how I happened to become the proud owner of these weird tweezers, but look for some like these. They give you leverage when you’re trying to pull at pieces or keep a piece steady as you weed another section. Good stuff!

X-Acto Knife

Not sure how quick I would quit everything if I didn’t have my X-Acto knife…. seriously. I use it for every step of most of my projects- most importantly sign making. This is one Silhouette vinyl weeding tool I think they should include with every Silhouette at purchase… or maybe like a coupon for one.

My weeding lines didn’t go all the way to the edge of the stencil, so my awesome X-Acto finished the cut!

While I love to boast that my Silhouette Cameo is a God-send and she is perfect….and I’m a master so I sure as hell never mess up… that is all a lie. My Silhouette is Queen Bee 95% of the time and she cuts perfectly. I also tend to be a general hot mess and manage to make things harder on myself about 25% of the time. So if my math is correct, that means 30% of the time, my cuts aren’t ‘perfect’. Sometimes, I use my knife to run a line the rest of the way across so it doesn’t pull up un-weeded areas. I also use it as a mini-spatula-type thing to hold down parts that want to peel up while I’m weeding.

The sharp corner of the 7 wanted to peel up every single time I tried to weed. I use the side of the X-Acto knife to hold down pieces to keep from ripping the stencil. 

This is also a no-no, but I can promise you’ll end up doing this at some point and time. You’re laying your stencil or vinyl down on your project to burnishing it. And that one long skinny piece that lays in between two lower-case, cursive l’s….WONT BURNISH. It is holding on to your transfer paper for dear life. And a part of you thinks ‘Could I just edit that line a bit?’ and your X-Acto knife answers ‘YEP! GO FOR IT!’. OR, you can use the knife to gently peel that little piece off the transfer tape- totally just depends on your life goals. I say cut, baby, cut!

Honorable Mentions

As you can see from the main picture, I have a HOARD of weeding and vinyl tools. Aside from the 3 I mentioned above, the others really only come out once in a blue moon.

  • Spatula– I honestly only really use this when I’m too lazy to get up and get my plastic scraper to burnish. It is more of a paper cutting tool than vinyl.
  • ‘Pick me up’ pen– I can think of maybe 3 times I used this with vinyl. Those tiny little frustrating lower-case i dots… GOTCHA (after like 10 minutes trying to catch you with tweezers).
  • Silhouette Weeding Hook– This sucker is decent when you’re trying to quickly weed vinyl and you don’t care about the background. I do a lot of car decals that I sell at festivals. I had to stop using this tool when weeding those because it looked bad giving the customer a poked and mangled sheet. I’ll still occasionally use the hook when I’m weeding a stencil or a decal I’m gonna use for myself. I also use it with HTV cause it’s so stretchy and the hook holds on to it pretty well.
Don’t forget to treat yourself for all your hard word. Dress up your desk with a cute way to store all of your weeding tools!

Well, I’m hoping that I may have helped lead you in the right direction for becoming a weeding pro. It’s so frustrating how weeding can either make or break your project. I’ll teach you a bit later on about weeding lines and simplifying your design to make weeding a breeze. For now, just practice and be patient with yourself- while you’re DAMN NEAR PERFECT in my eyes, its okay to f*ck up sometimes.

Love ya’ll!

-MJ

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