Learn the basics on how to weed vinyl correctly, what tools you should (and shouldn’t) be using, and helpful tips and tricks to make it easier and tear less vinyl pieces with this super detailed guide.
Ahh weeding. You either love it or hate it. I personally love to weed vinyl, and sometimes I pick a more intricate design just because I want to weed more. I find it therapeutic. But whether weeding is your favorite thing, your sworn enemy, or you’re a total beginner and don’t even know what weeding even means, this post is for you. I explain what weeding is, how to do it, what tools you need, and how to use them all. So break out the first aid kit, prepare for a few accidental stabs along the way, and let’s perfect this weeding process so you can rock your tool like a pro.
The Basic Weeding Tool
This guy right here is the basic weeding tool. He’s your BFF in the vinyl crafting world, and you’ll be inviting him to help out with every single project you make. His job is simple. He helps pull excess vinyl off your design without you having to have the salon give you long pointy cat claws for nails. Seriously, nobody can function like a normal human being with nails like that.
The weeding tool is a hook on a handle. Simple as that. There are all kinds of specialty weeding tools on the market, and we’ll talk about those in just a minute, but for now, I want you to just get familiar with the basic tool and how it works.
How To Weed Vinyl
To use your weeding tool, you’ll hold it by the handle and push the hook through an excess piece of vinyl you want to remove at an angle. You want to go through the vinyl but not the paper backing, and slide the hook underneath it. Then you just lift the excess vinyl away from the backing, remove it from the hook, and jump right back in to do it again for the rest of your project.
Everyone has their own process for weeding vinyl, but since you’re a beginner, you can copy mine until you create your own methods. I start by removing the biggest outer piece of excess vinyl first. Then I pull away each inner piece of excess vinyl starting from the top left and working my way to the right, then down to the next line. As if I’m reading a book and touching each word as I go.
Using Specialty Weeding Tools And Tweezers
Once you’ve gotten the hang of weeding with a basic weeding tool, you might be feeling the itch to add to your tool arsenal. There are quite a few specialty weeding tools you can get your hands on (ha! get it?) and they all have their own super powers. Here’s a quick rundown of what each of these lil’ sidekicks can do for you.
This is the hook weeder, and he’s the big brother to the classic weeding tool. He’s pretty much got a hook on his hook. Talk about some major puberty, huh?! He’s sharper, stronger, and more agile than his little classic-style brother, but he’s also a little harder to work with. The hook weeder is great for vinyl that’s thicker and more difficult to weed, like glitter, thicker iron-on vinyl, and mesh. It really grabs hold of those thicker materials and frees them from their stickier-than-normal self.
This tool is called a piercer, and she’s more like the classic weeding tool’s cousin. She technically doesn’t “weed” anything, she mostly just stabs a tiny hole in your excess vinyl so you can access it more easily. But her superpower is actually more in the realm of placing vinyl versus removing it. If you’re working with teeny tiny cuts, you can use the piercing tool to place them where you want them. This is especially helpful when it’s not feasible to use transfer tape in crevices and awkward spaces.
Here’s the hook tweezers. It’s the baby that came from the hook weeder and the tweezers you pluck your chin hairs with. These grab onto little pieces of excess vinyl with their handy dandy hook, then grasp onto them with their tweezy hands. I’m sure there’s a more technical way to describe this. But you get the picture. I use the hook tweezers for removing bigger pieces of jagged excess vinyl, like wavy or scalloped outlines.
And the last member of the Weeding Tool Family is the set of fine tweezers. She’s the quiet sister of the hook tweezers, and she feels a little jipped that her brother got a fancy hook and all she got was a sharp pointy end. But honestly, she got the sharp end of the stick after all. (Sorry, I had to!) The fine tweezers help you remove tiny delicate pieces like teeny lines and the tiny triangle in a one inch tall letter A. Instead of hooking and pulling, it just squishes and squeezes it out. Sounds violent, but it’s not that bad. Unless you’re the vinyl, of course.
Tips For Getting Better At Weeding Vinyl
I’ll admit, weeding vinyl isn’t something you get the hang of during your very first vinyl project. But it is a skill that you can pick up quickly. Here’s some of the ways I improved my own weeding abilities when I was a beginner.
- Using a light board like the Cricut BrightPad is really helpful for small words and designs with lots of excess
- Sans Serif fonts are easier to weed than Serif fonts. Only choose Sans Serif ones until you’re more skilled. (sans serif means letters without the little “feet” on them)
- Use scrap vinyl to practice your weeding skills. Anytime you have a few pieces of scrap vinyl leftover, have your Cricut cut increasingly more difficult words and designs on them so you can get more comfortable with your weeding tool.
- Keep some bandaids nearby…you will poke yourself at least three times and you’ll bleed. Especially when the hook goes under your finger nail. Owza!
A Note On Weeding Paper
I know this post is all about weeding vinyl, but can we just talk about paper for one sec? If you’ve tried using weeding tools on paper, you’ve probably noticed they don’t work that well. Your best bet for removing excess paper is to remove the paper from the mat by flipping the mat upside down and pulling the mat from the paper, instead of pulling the paper from the mat.
Most of the excess will stay on the mat and your cut design will be left on the table. Then just use your fingers or tweezers to pull of any stragglers. You can also use the spatula tool to pull small pieces of paper off your mat.
Reminder For Infusible Ink Transfer Sheets
Never ever ever use weeding tools on Cricut Infusible Ink Transfer Sheets. These tools can scratch your material and ruin your design faster than a five year old bumping the table during the heat transfer. Only use clean, oil-free fingers to pull off excess Infusible Ink Transfer Sheet pieces. And if you have a hard time with tiny pieces, you can use silicone-covered tweezers, but try to keep that to a minimum.
Want More Info On All The Basic Cricut Tools?
Here’s a post I wrote that breaks down exactly what comes in the Cricut Basic Tool Set, along with what comes in the Essential Tool Set. I tell you how each tool works, when to use them, and whether they’re worth buying as a set or just picking up individual tools as needed. It’s definitely something every Cricut beginner should read, bookmark, and Pin to your craft board on Pinterest for reference.
You can also stay up to date with all the Cricut beginner tutorials and organizing projects I share weekly on the blog by dropping your email address below. I’ll send you an email every Wednesday with a link straight to my newest post so you never miss a thing.
My plan today was to buy the necessary tools and vinyl for my new cricut joy. No need to research! You covered it. Thanks😊
Brad Gandy says
Always glad to help Cricut beginners! Have fun. 🙂
Thanks for the helpful tips and the little fact I can’t believe I didn’t know – definition of sans serif. I’m less intimidated now!
Lela Burris says
Oh good!! Don’t be intimidated at all. Treat it like practice instead of like completing a project the first few times and you’ll be a pro in no time.