Scratchthejeepguy

newbie questions on my first job worth more than $5.00

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I have a couple of questions and I'm hoping I can get some help from you more experienced people out here.  I'm pretty new to vinyl cutting as I've only had mine for about 2 months.
I have a local business that wants me to make them some vinyl decals for their walls.  They are a dance studio that my daughters have been going to for the past 16 years.  I want to take "friendship" out of the equation though.  I want to see what you would charge a regular customer for this job, and I have a few other questions too...


It's a very basic decal they want, and I've included an image of it.  The HDS letters are 24" tall, and all three total about 46" long.  The HELMER DANCE STUDIO letters are 8" tall, and about 73" long.
They want the HDS to be glossy gold so I was thinking about using some Oracal 651 that I already have.  The HELMER DANCE STUDIO they want to be matte black, so I was planning on using 631 for that.  I tried a sample of 651 and it installed very easily, and also peeled off ok too.  They need three of these complete identical signs, for three different dance rooms.

My questions are:
1. Since the 651 still seemed to remove fairly easy for future painting, is there any advantage to using 631 over 651 on painted sheetrock walls other than matte vs gloss?
2. Is there a reason I wouldn't want to mix gloss and matte on a sign other than personal preference?
2. What would you charge to cut this, they will be installing it. (I'll probably help them for free since they are friends)
3. I need wider transfer tape so I'll have to buy some.  I have the Transfer Rite Ultra Clear 1310G right now so I'd like to get some of the paper stuff, any suggestions?
4. I have the 28" SC2 so I shouldn't have any problems, but to save material, instead of cutting the words like this:  HELMER DANCE STUDIO and using 73" of vinyl..... 
I could cut them like this:
HELMER 
DANCE 
STUDIO

 
Arranging them this way would only use a 24"X 24" square of vinyl. Then they could just either apply them separately, or I could use blue painters tape (?) to attach them together in a line.  Would you do that to save material, or not?  The HDS I will have to cut separately unless I shrink them down an inch or so which I don't want to do.


Any input from the masters?

Screenshot (47).png

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Honestly, I didn't know that 651 came in matte... I thought that all 651 was gloss and all 631 was matte.  Silly me...

Ok, so I'll definitely use matte black 651 on this job, but I'd still be interested to know the answers to my questions.

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Black and White are the only two colors in 651 that can come in matte. Q1: Matte is typically easier to read because there's no glare.

Q2: If they want glossy gold, but matte black, give them what they want. The customer is (most of the time) always right - whether they have bad taste or bad sense or not. Different strokes for different folks (and whatnot).

Q2a: I'm not sure what you were planning on charging them in the first place, but if you charge them enough that covers the cost of your materials then you're ahead of the game - buy some rolls of the vinyl that you need, for the size that they're looking for, and you get to keep the rest on the roll. I'm a hobbyist and do a commercial project now and then. Sometimes I just charge for the materials of a new color, and smidge more for the app tape and my time. If have the color in-stock, then I just charge them whatever I would normally do - with exceptions for family, friends, and difficult customers. Know your hard cost and go from there. There isn't a commercial job that I will do that will ever be under 0.05 per square inch <- That'd be my wholesale price.

Q3: Matte might need a higher tac app tape than the gloss. Depending on the size of your existing app tape, you do not necessarily need to buy bigger tape, just overlap the edges of the tape until it's all taped up ... unless you're cutting huge and only have a 6" roll, then save yourself time and buy bigger.

Q4: You don't state what machine you have, so if tracks well, then you can do the black in one shot. If it doesn't track well, then you might want to cut the words separately and use blue tape on the wall/glass for alignment.

 

This is just one girl's opinion on it, and I'm sure others have differing opinions on what to use, how to use it, and how much to charge.

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HDS cannot be 24" tall, because your effective cutting width on 24" vinyl is just around 23" (routinely, I design anyting for 24" vinyl at 22.5", and if I need larger, I'll jump right to 30" vinyl which gives me 28.5" width to work with, or 29" if I really must).

Same thing for the other words, you cannot have 8" letters, and then stack them like that -- the math doesn't work. You have to allow a fraction of an inch between the words, and then a slight margin at the edges of the vinyl. You better have tracking dialed-in perfectly if you want to have less than 1/2" on each side of the vinyl for margins.

 

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Totally forgot to mention ...

There was a kiosk at one of the local malls here (hahaha ... I live on an island, they are all local), ANYWAY - they were charging $1/inch, based on whatever the longest side was. Those prices were from about 10-years ago and the kiosk is long gone. But based on those prices, that's about $120 right there.

Slice is right, but you can still get the HDS at 24" if you're going to cut it from a roll and just do one letter at a time, and it would need to be installed individually. I would totally cut the HDS separately, especially if it's going to be a self install.

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The transfer tape I have is 12" wide so with overlapping one edge, I could probably get 'er done.  Maybe I'll just use that since I really only need it for the 3 letters anyways.  The 12" stuff I have will be fine for the 8" high letters.

 

Im using an SC2 which I think has like a 144" length rating so I should be fine with doing it all in one shot, but I hate the idea that I'll have about a 14" by 75" piece left over. I was hoping that it was a standard practice to nest images together to save material, then just tape them together when applying them.

 

thanks for your input!

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L+W
   2

That is the formula I still use for RTA.

24 + 24 = 48 \2  = $24 for the stacked words.

24 + 46 = 70\2  = $35 for HDS.

(RTA is Ready To Apply decals --- although the 3 words require some finesse for the customer to apply, as you noted, so that's another story, but yes, it is a standard practice to nest objects together to save material, and then arrange them onto your substrate individually later)

 

Overlapping transfer tape is a terrible idea. (creates bubbles when applying)

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I see what you're saying. For "filler" I usually throw in some names of the kids in the family as giveaways (unless I don't have the time to weed all that extra stuff).

You can totally stack the text and just apply it separately, hence the blue tape for alignment during application. Totally doable!

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5 minutes ago, slice&dice said:

HDS cannot be 24" tall, because your effective cutting width on 24" vinyl is just around 23" (routinely, I design anyting for 24" vinyl at 22.5", and if I need larger, I'll jump right to 30" vinyl which gives me 28.5" width to work with, or 29" if I really must).

Same thing for the other words, you cannot have 8" letters, and then stack them like that -- the math doesn't work. You have to allow a fraction of an inch between the words, and then a slight margin at the edges of the vinyl. You better have tracking dialed-in perfectly if you want to have less than 1/2" on each side of the vinyl for margins.

 

I was planning on cutting the HDS letters separately and having them 24" long, and like 18" wide (or whatever the scaling works out to be) I'm happy with that amount of waste, and you're right... The math doesn't work out for the other 3 words but I think I could stack two words then turn the last word 90 degrees and put it at the end.

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5 minutes ago, slice&dice said:

L+W
   2

That is the formula I still use for RTA.

24 + 24 = 48 \2  = $24 for the stacked words.

24 + 46 = 70\2  = $35 for HDS.

(RTA is Ready To Apply decals --- although the 3 words require some finesse for the customer to apply, as you noted, but that's another story)

 

Overlapping transfer tape is a terrible idea. (creates bubbles when applying)

Thanks for your formula for RTA.  I was hoping someone had a price per inch they used and would share.

 

so if the 8" stacked words worked out, (which they won't I now know at 24" x24") you'd charge about 59 per sign?

 

also thanks for the overlapping tip with the bubbles.  bubbles are for blowing... 

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9 minutes ago, Scratchthejeepguy said:

I was planning on cutting the HDS letters separately and having them 24" long, and like 18" wide (or whatever the scaling works out to be) I'm happy with that amount of waste, and you're right... The math doesn't work out for the other 3 words but I think I could stack two words then turn the last word 90 degrees and put it at the end.

No, why would you do that? Just reduce the vertical heights on everything a teensy bit. Nobody is going to look at these decals and notice a slight 1" reduction in height. What possible reason do you have to avoid making that 1" adjustment? This is a big sign, six feet long and three feet tall. One inch less won't be a problem.

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I would like to say that I am so jealous that y'all have access to very competitive prices for vinyl. I think the prices here are much more inflated, due to the fact that it's too costly to bring the vinyl in, unless you're willing to buy a pallet worth of it. Most of the materials here are probably twice the cost :blink:

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5 hours ago, haumana said:

I would like to say that I am so jealous that y'all have access to very competitive prices for vinyl. I think the prices here are much more inflated, due to the fact that it's too costly to bring the vinyl in, unless you're willing to buy a pallet worth of it. Most of the materials here are probably twice the cost :blink:

When you say "here" do you mean buying from USC?

where do you buy your materials from?

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Have you checked around your area to see if there is local vinyl shop that sells to the public? I have one here in NC that is like 15 mins from me. I like going there because if someone orders a color I know I'm not going to use again, I do not have to buy a whole roll of that ugly/crazy color. Prices at my local shop are not to bad. Also if I need something printed on 3M I can get that done there too crazy cheap if I do the artwork. 

Just a thought.

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2 hours ago, Scratchthejeepguy said:

When you say "here" do you mean buying from USC?

where do you buy your materials from?

She lives in Hawaii,  costs there are much more. 

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Personally I buy most of my stuff through USC. Hard to beat the prices and the Oracal/Orafol vinyl is awesome and is about 2 days to my door. I do occasionally buy local. I'm sure there is a sign supply shop somewhere near you. Most will sell cast vinyl by the yard. 

A note about the 24" height on the large letters if I understood that right. Size of graphic can be controlled at the point of sale. As you gain experience some of that experience is in sales. I steer my clients or potential clients in the direction that makes my job easier. In the case of the large lettering I would offhand mention that the letters will be cut from a 24" roll and be about 22" tall. If they are set on them being 24" and make that point then you get into a conversation about wider 30" vinyl and additional cost due to waste or if your cutter is maxed out you have a conversation about tiled work. Either way you can get a little more $$ if you feel you need it. I rarely find a job that has any single string of text graphic that won't fit on a 24" roll. You DO want to pay attention when you figure it all out to just how much waste you will have. Some designs are JUST large enough that they end up too large for a 15" roll but waste a lot of a 24" wide roll. You also want to plan on messing a few up and I always add a mistake factor into most of my work so I have some extra $$ just in case and a bonus if all goes well. 

You CAN layer smaller app tape on wider jobs but it's not a great idea. You'll often find a row of bubbles that develop all along the overlap. If you are getting into wider signage you will probably want to find and use some sort of app tape installer. I use the Big Squeegee Cut Vinyl Tool. Works great once you learn how to use it. There are several other options. Wide and long tape applications are challenging. I have taped off items over 20 ft long several time and do it on my 8ft long dinning room table. Never happen without my Big Squeegee, its amazing. 

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2 hours ago, Wildgoose said:

Personally I buy most of my stuff through USC. Hard to beat the prices and the Oracal/Orafol vinyl is awesome and is about 2 days to my door. I do occasionally buy local. I'm sure there is a sign supply shop somewhere near you. Most will sell cast vinyl by the yard. 

A note about the 24" height on the large letters if I understood that right. Size of graphic can be controlled at the point of sale. As you gain experience some of that experience is in sales. I steer my clients or potential clients in the direction that makes my job easier. In the case of the large lettering I would offhand mention that the letters will be cut from a 24" roll and be about 22" tall. If they are set on them being 24" and make that point then you get into a conversation about wider 30" vinyl and additional cost due to waste or if your cutter is maxed out you have a conversation about tiled work. Either way you can get a little more $$ if you feel you need it. I rarely find a job that has any single string of text graphic that won't fit on a 24" roll. You DO want to pay attention when you figure it all out to just how much waste you will have. Some designs are JUST large enough that they end up too large for a 15" roll but waste a lot of a 24" wide roll. You also want to plan on messing a few up and I always add a mistake factor into most of my work so I have some extra $$ just in case and a bonus if all goes well. 

You CAN layer smaller app tape on wider jobs but it's not a great idea. You'll often find a row of bubbles that develop all along the overlap. If you are getting into wider signage you will probably want to find and use some sort of app tape installer. I use the Big Squeegee Cut Vinyl Tool. Works great once you learn how to use it. There are several other options. Wide and long tape applications are challenging. I have taped off items over 20 ft long several time and do it on my 8ft long dinning room table. Never happen without my Big Squeegee, its amazing. 

Yeah, it was my fault that they decided on 24" tall letters.  I could have easily said 23" was the max and they wouldn't have cared.  They just wanted really big letters.  I'll know better next time.  Still not sure if I'm going to just make them smaller, or end up turning them 90 degrees and cutting them separate.  Either way... I'm going to get some wider transfer paper.  I want to try the paper stuff anyways.

 

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You said you tested removing the 651, how long did you leave it on the wall though? That'd be my only concern with using 651, a year or two down the road you might not be able to remove it without damaging the wall.

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4 hours ago, Scratchthejeepguy said:

Yeah, it was my fault that they decided on 24" tall letters.  I could have easily said 23" was the max and they wouldn't have cared.  They just wanted really big letters.  I'll know better next time.  Still not sure if I'm going to just make them smaller, or end up turning them 90 degrees and cutting them separate.  Either way... I'm going to get some wider transfer paper.  I want to try the paper stuff anyways.

 

Paper tape is WAY better. 

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"  I want to take "friendship" out of the equation though. " 

Well, in this case, you will have to lean on it. What to do is prepare a job sheet, and create a 'proof' of their finished work using a technique called Mock-Up ---  You take pictures of the three walls as they are now. You then work inside the design program to superimpose the design you've got (with the 23" letters!!!) onto the walls in the photos.

Most professional sign shops do that -- so should you.

They say OK to that, and you're golden.

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Mock-up's go a long way, especially when the customer has an idea of what they want, but really have no idea how quickly something will scale up (or scale down).

For some customers, when possible, I will take a picture and do the mock-up on the photo, just so they have an idea of how big or small their request is.

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25 minutes ago, haumana said:

Mock-up's go a long way, especially when the customer has an idea of what they want, but really have no idea how quickly something will scale up (or scale down).

For some customers, when possible, I will take a picture and do the mock-up on the photo, just so they have an idea of how big or small their request is.

I do the same and I use that pic to scale my work. Just take a pic as square to the world as you can because screwed pics don't work as well. Then suck that into your design program and lay your work on top. I either take a measure on something like a door so I know exactly what the dimension is or I take a pic with a tape measure in the pic so I can scale properly. Then scale the drawing up to actual size and your design will be set to the correct size along with it. 

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12 minutes ago, Wildgoose said:

I do the same and I use that pic to scale my work. Just take a pic as square to the world as you can because screwed pics don't work as well. Then suck that into your design program and lay your work on top. I either take a measure on something like a door so I know exactly what the dimension is or I take a pic with a tape measure in the pic so I can scale properly. Then scale the drawing up to actual size and your design will be set to the correct size along with it. 

Exactly! Sometimes, it becomes very enlightening for the customer.

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