Vinyl can be tricky to apply exactly where you want it. It’s sticky and awkward, and will easily adhere to you, your clothes, and itself in process. And once vinyl sticks to something, it’s stuck. No second chances. Sometimes two hands just isn’t enough!
If you struggle with getting vinyl on straight, you MUST try this center hinge method. It is a sure-fire way to get the vinyl where you want it, and straight, the first time every time. I’m sure I heard angels singing the first time I saw how well it worked. I use it pretty much every time now, and my vinyl application goes without a hitch.
It’s called the center hinge method, because you create a tape “hinge” to hold the design in place while you apply first one side of your vinyl and then the other. The beauty of this method is you do all your measuring and getting-it-straight adjustments while the adhesive vinyl backing is still on, not while you’re awkwardly holding a sheet of sticky vinyl/transfer paper and trying to keep it from sticking to everything.
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What you need…
- Design cut from adhesive vinyl and weeded
- Transfer tape
- Item on which to apply design (a sign, glass cutting board, mirror, cup, wall, anything…)
- Blue painters tape
- Measuring tape
- Squeegee or scraper
For this tutorial, I’m applying a design to a glass cutting board.
STEP ONE:: After the design is weeded, apply transfer tape, burnish (rub) it really well with the squeegee, and then, with the vinyl backing still attached, position the design where you want it.
If you want to center the design, get out your measuring tape, and make sure the measurement from side to design is the same on both sides, and the measurement from top to design is the same as from bottom to design. On a design like this, I like to have a little more space at the top, rather than centering it perfectly.
STEP TWO: When you have the design positioned where you want it, tape it in place with a piece of tape on each corner. I like to use blue painters tape because it has just the right amount of “stick” to hold things in place, but come off easily without leaving a residue. Then apply a long strip of tape across the middle as below. It doesn’t have to be exactly in the middle and it doesn’t have to be perfectly straight, but it does have to be longer than the design so it holds the design in place on the item you’re applying the vinyl to. This long center tape strip is “the hinge” (you’ll see why in a minute)
STEP THREE: On one side of the hinge (center blue tape), remove the two corner tape pieces, separate the transfer tape & vinyl from the backing, and peel back the transfer tape/vinyl to the hinge. If parts of the vinyl don’t want to stick to the transfer tape, roll the transfer tape back down onto the vinyl, give the stubborn area a rub, and try again. Trim the backing close to the hinge.
STEP FOUR: Slowly roll the transfer paper/vinyl onto the glass, smoothing out from the hinge with a squeegee as you go. Taking it slow and squeegee-ing outward as you go will help to prevent air bubbles.
STEP FIVE: Remove the rest of the painters tape, including the hinge, peel back the transfer tape/vinyl on the other side, and remove the rest of the backing. Then slowly roll the transfer tape/vinyl onto the glass as you did before, smoothing out with the squeegee as you go.
STEP SIX: Burnish all over really well with the squeegee and then gently peel the transfer paper back on itself to remove it.
And yo, the design applied exactly where you want it.
And if you’re curious about Mr. Skull Chef, you can find his cutting board project here, complete with free file download.
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