Vinyl 101: The Best Tools and Accessories for Working with Adhesive Vinyl

Today in part three of our Vinyl 101 Series we are talking all about the tools and accessories you need when working with adhesive vinyl

Part One- Vinyl 101: Getting Started with Adhesive Vinyl

Part Two- Vinyl 101: The Best Places to Buy Vinyl (and Where I Avoid!)

There’s a lot to be said for having the right tool for the job. It makes all the difference in the world! Before you start a project using adhesive vinyl, there are some tools and accessories that you will want to have on hand to make the process easier and to keep you from tears.

Vinyl 101: The Best Tools and Accessories for Adhesive Vinyl

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Cutting Machine: Cricut Explore or Maker

Since this is a Cricut blog, it would only make sense that I recommend a Cricut as your cutting machine. Any model will work great at cutting adhesive vinyl. Of course other machines like the Silhouette can be used to cut vinyl as well.

Tools for Weeding

After you cut your design you will need to “weed” it. Weeding means peeling away any piece of the vinyl that you do not need, like the insides of letters for instance.

The main tool I use when weeding is the Cricut weeder. It has a hook on the end that you can stick into the vinyl and pull the extra off with. Depending on how intricate your design is, other tools may come in handy like tweezers.

The Cricut Tools Basic Set has scissors, a scraper, tweezers, spatula and a weeder. If you don’t have this set already I highly recommend it. You can also buy the Cricut Weeder separately. (Yes, I admit I have more than one. I am always setting it down and finally decided to just get another so the likelihood of me having one when I need it is doubled!)

Cricut also has the Weeding Tool Set. If you plan on doing intricate designs you will likely appreciate all of the different tools in this kit. It has five pieces: fine tweezers, hook tweezers, the classic weeder, piercing tool and hook weeder.

Transfer Tape: The Must Have Accessory for Adhesive Vinyl

If there is one accessory that is a must have when working with adhesive vinyl, it is transfer tape (sometimes called transfer paper). Transfer tape is the magic that allows you to hold everything you cut out perfectly in place while moving it from the cutting mat to the surface you want to apply it to.

There are several kinds of transfer tape and you will most likely need to experiment a bit to find what you like best. There are clear versions as well as ones that have more of a paper like feel to them. Each brand has their own strength of stickiness as well.

The perfect transfer tape is strong enough to adhere to your vinyl and pull it up off of the vinyl backing, but at the same time isn’t so sticky that it is hard to get it to release once you have it on your surface.

Cricut Transfer Tape

Cricut transfer tape is available in regular and strong grip. The strong grip is for glitter vinyl. A 12” x 12” sheet of it is included when you buy a roll of the glitter vinyl.

Each roll of transfer tape is 12” wide and 48” long. It has the grid right on the tape which helps to line things up. Like many transfer tapes, it has a backing that you peel off before using.

The Cricut brand tends to be a little too sticky for me so I make sure and pat my hands on it or stick it to my shirt a few times to make it not so sticky.

Oracal Transfer Tape

Oracal transfer tape has a waxy paper backing to it that has a grid on it which makes it easier to cut straight. Once you peel the backing off the transfer tape itself is perfectly clear.

If you use Oracal vinyl you may want to try the Oracal transfer tape as well since they were designed to work together. It is available in 12”x12” sheets and rolls.

Transfer Tape Tip: Keep the backing and place the tape back on it when you are done. You can reuse transfer tape several times before it loses its stickiness.

Other Transfer Tape Options

There are many options to choose from in addition to the Cricut and Oracle brand. You may have also heard of people using contact paper, press n seal, painters tape etc to transfer their designs. I personally don’t use household items like that to transfer my vinyl. They may work in a pinch, but I prefer using the actual transfer tape so I can have consistent results.

Scraping Tool

When working with adhesive vinyl a scraping tool is also a necessity. Once you lay the transfer tape on your cut out design, you need to use the scraping tool to “burnish” it. Burnishing just means rubbing across all of the area with the scraper so the transfer tape sticks completely to the vinyl.

After you apply the vinyl to the surface you are using you will need to burnish it again so the vinyl will stick down and you can remove the transfer tape.

The small Cricut scraper is found in the Cricut Tools Basic Set. I prefer the XL Scraper since it is larger.

Don’t have a scraping tool on hand? (Or you laid it down somewhere and cant find it now like I always do?) A credit card is a good substitute.

Bright Pad

The Cricut Bright Pad is not a must have for working with vinyl, but it can make weeding so much easier. If you have worked with intricate designs or glitter vinyl, you know that sometimes it can be really hard to tell where the cut lines are. The Bright Pad illuminates those lines so you can actually see what you are doing.

We R Laser Square 

Another tool that isn’t necessary but that is a definite help is the Laser Square by We R Memory Keepers. It has a mat and a ruler and laser at the top as well as the side. This is especially helpful when applying lettering to wooden signs. You just push the ruler/level against the side of the wood and a laser shines across. If you are anything like me, if I “just eyeball it” it won’t even be close to straight!

Vinyl 101: The Best Tools and Accessories for Adhesive Vinyl

I hope you have a better feel for what accessories you need to work with adhesive vinyl now. Is there a tool you would recommend that I didn’t mention? Leave it in the comments. The best way to learn is from each other!

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