How Can I Make Weeding HTV Vinyl Faster & Easier?

Weeding Heat Transfer Vinyl can be tedious and time consuming if you don’t use the proper techniques for getting rid of excess material. We can save you time and money by following our simple, proven HTV weeding tips to increase the speed that you prepare designs.

Using the tips below will definitely help to make HTV Vinyl designs much more quickly and easily:

  1. Perform A Test Cut.
  2. Use A Weeding Border.
  3. Use A Weeder.
  4. Make Sure You Have Good Lighting.
  5. Warm Up The HTV Vinyl.
  6. Remove The Inner Cavities First.
  7. Pull In The Right Direction.


 

1: Perform A Test Cut

It’s not directly related to weeding itself, but performing a test cut is the best way to reduced wastage in general by ensuring that you’re cutting at the right depth and speed.

Always perform a test before you cut the full design, even when you’re using the same HTV material in a different colour, as there can be slight variations from colour to colour that can affect the required pressure – A quick test in the corner of an HTV sheet is quick and effective, and can certainly save money if there’s an issue.

In addition, if your blade started to blunt or the thickness of the HTV has changed, checking the pressure and speed will save you lots of time (and money) with having to re-cut vinyl unnecessarily.

A test cut usually does a small square with a triangle inside (although different plotters vary) – If you could easily weed the square without removing the triangle, if the square is neat (i.e. not jagged), and the triangle can be removed leaving a small indentation on the mylar carrier (the semi-clear backing sheet) you’re good to go! If the cut isn’t perfect, adjust the pressure (and speed, if necessary) to get it right before proceeding.

HTV Vinyl Weeding Tip - Perform A Test Cut
Performing a simple test cut saves time and money if the plotter isn’t set up correctly



 

2: Use A Weeding Border

A weeding border (weed box or bounding box in some software) adds a rectangular border around the outside edge of the design. This allows you to find the corner of the design much quicker and therefore start weeding much faster.

It also enables you to separate multiples of the same design into individual designs to make them much more manageable, and helps to prevent breakage on detailed designs, such as script fonts. This allows you more control to figure out which direction to weed the design too when you’re ready to weed the entire design.

Bending or rolling the HTV once it’s been cut also helps to make it easier to find the square weeding box, rather than individual text or elements.



 

3: Use A Weeder

A vinyl weeder, or weeding hook, such as the STAHLS EZ Weeder™, is made with a curved hook to easily allow you to penetrate the HTV and lift it from the backer to remove the excess elements that you don’t want to print.

You want to hold the weeder with the hook at an angle, dig the point into the vinyl where it’s not wanted, and lift it away to remove it. It’s much simpler than tweezers, pins or craft knives that some crafters use, and massively speeds up production time.

There are a wide range of weeding hooks available, but the STAHLS EZ Weeder has been a firm favourite with our customers for many years, in addition to the Stahls LED Weeder and Stahls LED Pin Weeder which have been introduced more recently and allow you to identify the unwanted elements even quicker.

STAHLS EZ Weeder Vinyl Weeding Tool
The STAHLS EZ Weeder is the most popular weeding hook in our range



 

4: Make Sure You Have Good Lighting

Weeding is far quicker when you can shine a light on the HTV Vinyl to easily identify the unwanted elements and a dedicated light greatly helps, particularly on light-coloured HTVs where the lines are difficult to see!

A desk lamp with an adjustable neck is the cheapest and easiest method to provide strong directional light, and placing it at the left-hand side of the area you’re weeding offers the best position to see the lines much clearer. Alternatively, the Stahls LED Weeder and Stahls LED Pin Weeder also provide the same function.

HTV Vinyl Weeding Tips - STAHLS LED Weeder
The Stahls LED Weeder helps to find the cutlines much quicker



 

5: Warm Up The HTV Vinyl

For Heat Transfer Vinyls with a sticky carrier, heating the vinyl slightly softens the adhesive and enables you to pull the vinyl away with much less resistance and less material breakage.

Heating up the lower platen of your heat press, or ironing board with an iron for crafters without access to a press, and laying the vinyl over it to warm it up for a few seconds helps for low volumes, but the Stahls HTV Vinyl Weeding Table is highly recommended for high volume usage.

The STAHLS® EZ Weeding Table™ has a 20 inch by 36 inch workspace, which allows for a large amount of weeding capability with low, medium and high temperature setting to warm the HTV at the optimal temperature. Its ergonomic design also allows the table to be tilted into an optimal incline for the job or user, making it as comfortable as possible for the operator. It also has a clamp to hold the HTV in place, and a handy storage area for keeping your weeding tool when it’s not in use.

HTV Vinyl Weeding Table For Heat Tranfer Vinyl
The Stahls HTV Vinyl Weeding Table warms the HTV and is a proven time-saver.

In tests compared to weeding the HTV cold, the total weeding time can be reduced by as much as 80% to hugely increase your productivity if you weed a large amount of Heat Transfer Vinyls.

Although many Heat Transfer Vinyls from other suppliers are compatible with the Weeding Table, the following HTV Vinyls from STAHLS have been extensively tested:

In addition, the video below shows the features of the Stahls’® EZ Weeding Table™ for Heat Transfer Vinyl:



 

6: Remove The Inner Cavities First

Removing the inner elements of your design (e.g. the centre of an “O”) makes it much quicker to weed, particularly on HTV Vinyls with a sticky backer, as there’s less risk of the excess parts falling off and sticking to the design whilst removing them.

It also reduces the amount that your hands will stick to the backer while you remove the excess material, as you don’t have to go back over the design once you’ve removed the outer excess vinyl.

With the STAHLS EZ Weeder you can penetrate the vinyl and allow them to build up on the weeder, rather than cleaning it off each time. You can let 5-10 different components gather on the weeder and then clean it off all together, saving more time than stopping and cleaning after removing every single cavity.

HTV Vinyl Weeding Tips - Remove Cavities First
Removing the cavities first is beneficial, especially on sticky-backed HTVs

You can also maintain a clean workspace by reusing a scrap piece of sticky carrier to collect the inner cavities on without having to find the bin each time! This also helps to prevent any bits from accidentally getting stuck to your design and makes cleaning up afterwards quicker too.



 

7: Pull In The Right Direction

Once you’re in a position to remove the outer excess HTV, assuming that it’s a text-based design, most transfers are best weeded from the upper left-hand position due to the shape of English language fonts.

It’s more tricky for left-handed operators but it certainly reduces the amount of breakage in removing the vinyl as you’re usually weeding into the cavities. If you weed from the wrong side, it’s more likely to result in breakage, particularly on thinner HTVs, as you’re not giving yourself a good entry point into the individual elements.

In not having to revisit the design to go back and remove the broken sections, it will definitely save you time and money!

HTV Vinyl Weeding Tips - Start In The Upper Left-Hand Corner
Starting in the upper left-hand corner is usually advised



 

Video Demonstration of How To Weed HTV Faster

The video below demonstrates most of the points mentioned in our guide in order to weed Heat Transfer Vinyl faster and easier:


 

We hope these vinyl weeding tips helped you to start weeding faster, and all of the accessories highlighted are available to purchase via the website with free delivery on all stock orders to Mainland UK over £100 excluding VAT (conditions apply).

If you have any questions or suggestions related to our guide, we’re available any time between 9am and 5pm from Monday to Friday. You can contact us on 01253 349917 or by email to info@heat-transfers.uk and one of our friendly team would be happy to assist you.

To keep up to date with other guides and additional information, please feel free to check out the Heat Transfer Help Guides and Blog section on our website. Our team are also available by telephone or email if you have questions on any of the products we supply, such as heat press machines, custom heat transfers, heat transfer vinyls, heat transfer papers and heat press accessories.