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Your vinyl cutter is the most imperative element of your business. Keeping it operating smoothly is obviously crucial…not only to your production, but your sanity if you are the one weeding your designs. An often overlooked consumable part of vinyl cutters is the cutting strip. Our technicians are frequently dishing out direction on when and how to replace them.
The cutting strip is a thin strip that runs across the front of your cutter, on the bottom where your material lays. Its main job is the support your media while protecting the blade from “resting” on a hard plastic surface should it puncture through the release liner.
So how do you know when it is time to replace this strip? A simple test you can do is to lightly run your fingers over the surface of it. If you feel any imperfections or gouges, it may be time to change it. A red flag you may run into is cut lines that look perforated or like the blade was skipping. These tiny, uncut sections can be the result of the blade hitting divots or scores in the cutting strip. Another potential sign is if you have a large design that is cut as it should be towards one side of the graphic, but starts bunching or showing snags on the other side. This is a common symptom as your cutter is often starting its cuts on one side and wearing the strip more in that area.
Test cuts are an essential tool for preventing unnecessary damage to your consumable parts. They are quick and easy to do so ensure that you do one each time you load a new material! If your blade is cutting all the way through the carrier of your vinyl and you don’t do a test cut, you are risking damaging your blade, cutting strip, and not to mention the wasted vinyl. Coincidentally, the worst only happens when you are working with a strict deadline. To avoid running into any obstacles we recommend keeping spare parts such as cutting strips, blades, and blade holders on hand at all times.
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This Old House general contractor Tom Silva replaces a pair of sidelights on a front door with new, insulated ones. (See below for shopping list, tools, and steps.)
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Shopping List for How to Replace Sidelights on a Front Door:
- Insulated-glass sidelights
- Acrylic-latex caulk, for weatherproofing the sidelights
- Exterior-grade primer and paint
Tools List for How to Replace Sidelights on a Front Door:
- Utility knife, for slicing through dried coats of paint
- Stiff-blade putty knife and flat bar, used to pry off stop beads
- Circular saw, for cutting new sidelights to length
- Hand plane, used to trim new sidelights to width
- Air compressor and pin nailer with 1-inch pins, for installing stop beads
- Caulk gun
Steps for How to Replace Sidelights on a Front Door:
1. From inside, use a utility knife to slice through the old paint along the outer edge of the stop beads, and in between the stop beads and sidelight sash.
2. Then, use a stiff-blade putty knife and flat bar to carefully pry the stop beads from around the sidelight sash.
3. Move outside and use the utility knife to cut through the paint bead around the exterior of the sidelight.
4. Use your fist to gently tap the wood frame of the sidelight to free it from the opening.
5. If your front door has two sidelights, repeat Steps 1 through 4 to remove the second sidelight.
6. Trim the new sidelights to fit the existing openings. Cut them to length with a circular saw, and trim them to width with a hand plane.
7. Brush a coat of exterior-grade primer onto all four edges of the sidelights.
8. Apply a continuous bead of acrylic-latex caulk around all four sides of one opening and press the sidelight into place.
9. Reinstall the original stop beads around the inside of the sidelight. Secure the stops with a pin nailer and 1-inch pins.
10. Repeat the previous two steps to install the second sidelight.
11. Prime and paint the inside and outside surfaces of both sidelights.
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