Lettering a Decal with a Vinyl Cutter- Some Useful Tips

Whether you’re an entry level crafter or you already know how to work your magic when using a vinyl cutting machine, there’s never such thing as too much information.

It’s great that you find a new hobby, but why not get the best out of your vinyl cutting machine from the very beginning?

First thing first: what’s the best vinyl cutting machine? The main tip when buying? Get one that fits your skills and needs so that you don’t end up with one that surpasses your entry-level skills.

Once you got your vinyl cutting machine, the next question would be: how to make the best out of it? Scroll down for some tips to use and steps to follow so your ideas come to reality exactly how you imagined them in the first place.

  • Blade depth, speed balance and cutting strength

No matter your project, before setting the blade depth and cutting speed it’s best to begin with a slower cutting speed. This way, you’re going to be sure that the higher cutting speed isn’t going to leave any areas marred because of the fast moving cutting blade.

If you’re a beginner, here’s a number for you: a low range of 10 up to 70 when you’re testing and if you’re making, for instance, letter on a 4” decal a 120 speed is going to be the best choice.

Keep in mind that the blade pressure setting depends on how you use the right blade depth. When you’re doing some test print and you’re using more than 180 as pressure setting on some regular vinyl, you may want to go with a greater cutting depth for the blade when making your project.

For a thick material, like mirrored vinyl, a cutting pressure at 300 is going to be just fine.

  • Always double check the settings

Getting consistent results is essential when using a vinyl cutting machine so you need to keep an eye on your settings. Even though sometimes you may not have the time nor the patience and you’d like to jump in and start cutting, it’s important to make several test cuts to dial in the right settings group.

In case you’re wondering what a setting group includes, here’s what you should have in mind:

  • Speed
  • Pressure
  • Vinyl type
  • Roller location (work holding)
  • Weeding and post processing requirements

Keep in mind to line up the vinyl edges both of the rulers on the vinyl cutter in front and the back as well.

  • Keep this in mind before weeding

You always need to visualize your results when you’re going through a craft project and getting the best results all the time is what you want to have.

You should start angles to test weeding and, in case you’re making a text, you should pay attention of what letters pull away when weeding.

Each vinyl piece needs a specific weeding angle and if you get it, you’re going to be able to pull off the whole inverse image and actually use it as its own decal. Of course, this isn’t quite typical, but if you’re able to use the weeded vinyl again, it means you’ve done great with the settings right from the start.

  • Weeding the inside of a letter

As we’re going through our text example, it’s important for you to remember that it’s a matter of time until you have to weed the inside of a letter.

It’s better to do each vinyl decal one at a time, which lets you save the weeded letter insides on a different piece of vinyl backing for use. This way you may keep the weeded portion in addition the main letters and the inside of the letter is going to come off best at angle.

You may want to start the weeding inside of a letter with its sharpest corner and try to fold the letter back on itself.

Look carefully where the cut stops and begins and start with that part so that you may avoid lifting the letter away from the backing.

  • The application

If you’re using transfer sheeting (typically used to transfer the vinyl to the final surface), you need to keep the roll of the vinyl, while rolling of the transfer sheeting in the same direction. The risk for getting bubbles and creases when you apply the transfer sheeting at a 90 degree angle to the natural roll of the vinyl is quite high.

When you’re all involved on your own in a larger piece, it’s best to place the vinyl onto the transfer sheeting and unroll the transfer sheeting with its sticky side up. You have to place the pre-cut section of the weeded vinyl onto the transfer sheeting that is already upside down.

Some final tips

If you’re sitting on a fence and can’t decide whether to go with hand lettering or typography, keep in mind that hand lettering has an artistic feel and looks nice, even though some find it a bit more challenging to read. You’re going to get best results if you’re having a consistent approach to the letters.

You may, for example, blend two approaches, using a font for vector tracing so that the hand lettering looks more consistent and even. Making the hand lettering inside of a box so that the top and the bottoms are even is going to help a lot too.

If you’re going for visibility and easy reading, you should go with typography (existing fonts) for both small and medium size projects.

How long is it going to take you anyway?

If you want to make an idea about how much time you’re going to need on your project, you should keep track of time from start to finish and divide it by how many final pieces you already got.

10 minutes for one vinyl decals is a good amount of time, but a dozen in 2 hours is also good to get, as long as it includes all stages from design to printing and final cutting.

Keep in mind that if it’s taking you more than 10 minutes for a single decal, you may want to make some changes in the technique such as making the weeding process a lot simpler. Using the weed portion (the inverse image by placing it intact onto the vinyl backing) is also a good tip when you want to finish your project as soon as possible.