I Really Need Opinions


New Member
Hello. I am new here. My husband is looking at buying me a vinyl cutter and some equipment to learn how to and begin making signs. It would be a nice home business for me, since I am a mommy of three! He is alos wanting this equipment because he owns his own business and I could do all his signs and vinyl truck lettering for him.

My question is what equipment would I need to start up and which cutter is best. He told me to go ahead and order the LYNX, but I want other opinions first. I have no experience in this at all, so I definetly need some help here. We don't have alot of money for equipment yet, but I don't want something that won't work well. Please give me some advice and recomendations. Than you all who answer.


New Member
I'll tell you right now with three kids, there is little to no chance of growing a business like this from home. You will have no time for your kids.

Also if you have no experience, this is not a business you an just jump into. It is not easy to just make signs. Often people in your position try to get into the business and end up losing a lot of money on it.

As for the Lynx, it sucks it is a second rate plotter. Any plotter with an animal name is crap.

Seriously if you have no graphic design or sign experience then you are not going to do good in the business. You are better off doing something you know about.
my opinion would be to buy no equipment and buy yourself Corel X3 learn the software first, place your orders with a real sign company so that you are not making a substandard product as that will do nothing to help you build a customer base. even better go work for a sign company part time and see if this is something you are interested in doing before making a investment and you will learn more working for someone who knows what they are doing than teaching yourself bad habits...i know that will not be easy with a family but neither will building this business.

i can tell you of one person that i know of that started in this industry with no experience who has seen any financial success...and he had very deep pockets..very few people stick with this business when they find out it was not as easy as they thought it was going to be, not as profitable as they thought it was going to be, that the learning curve was greater than they thought it would be, there was more competition than they thought there would be....etc etc etc


Just Me
Sibole - I have to agree with the postings above. We are only part-time sign people (we do graphic design and screenprinting too), but the learning curve - even KNOWING the programs in advance - was fairly steep. Of course it didn't seem like that when we started... we thought we had a pretty good handle on it - then we saw the "rookie" mistakes we were making... using the wrong vinyl on the job, not trimming out the MDO board... things that if we had researched more before we started wouldn't have happened.

If your husband thinks this is a good thing because you would be able to do his jobs, you really need to stop and think about whether you would have time to learn this new endeavor with three kids. You didn't mention their ages, but it would be very hard to work with little ones. Believe me, I know - I used to watch my 3-yr old granddaughter at the office while her mom went to school. I couldn't get anything cut while she was around - you have to "babysit" the cutter too - especially if you get a lower quality cutter. It can be done - but it's not as easy as it looks from the outside...
On the plus side - the 3-yr old is now 5 and loves to weed vinyl!!!


New Member
Think long & hard as that is the time it takes to become a signmaker. did your Husband just jump into his own business with no knowledge think about it & how long before he was profitable assuming he is now


New Member

Well, I wanted to start this business out little first. My husband started his own business with no help and is now doing great. We have a small town and everyone knows our name and uses him alot. He does construction. He even built our house all by himself.

My kids are little. 4, 2, and almost 2 months. I'm not looking to do this full time. Just when I have time. My husband would watch them when he gets off work. I also have their nap times. This is more for something for me to do.

I like learning software, I love being creative and designing things. And there is only one other sign business in town, and he is looking to moving. So I may get some work if he does move. I also know alot of people who would like me to design decals for their cars. I just need to know what machines to get. And of course I'm going to learn the software before I do anything. I never like messing things up, so I always over study things.

What machines do you guys use? What ones have you had good luck with, bad luck with? I'm starting small, under $2K. I'm not looking to actually start a big business or anything. If it leads into that, then I can get the better machines and stuff. My husband just wants to start with something good, but cheaper first.


New Member
Do yourself a favor, sister.
Before you buy any plotter or program, learn a little about design.
But yourself the book "Mastering Layout" the art of eye appeal by the late great Mike Stevens.
Then buy yourself some sort of sign pricing guide so you know what to charge.


New Member
WOW With kids that young you are making a huge mistake. HUGE MISTAKE Trust me within a very short amount of time you are going to burn out. This is a very demanding business. It is not as easy as just putting material in a plotter and having it come out.

And on the note of your husband starting with no help..... I am sure he knew about construction and had at least worked for other construction companies.

There are a million people just like you who thought it was going to be easy. That is why there is a market for crappy machines like the LYNX.....

Without knoweledge of the business you are throwing your moneydown the drain.

if u decide to buy equipment (which my opinion is that it would be a premature investment) make certain that you buy name brand quality tools so that you have some resale value if/when you burn out....you get what you pay for and if you do a search on this site you will see MANY posts regarding plotter brand and selection....Suma, Graphtec, Gerber would be my top three brands but again I do not think this is money well spent


New Member

I already said I wasn't starting a business. My husband mostly wants me to do his own signs and vinyl work for him. He does not mind investing money in me to learn how to do this. And three kids for some people may be difficult, but it is not that hard. I do have spare time to learn this stuff and to work on it, even with three kids. I am not looking at buying the equipment tomorrow. I am going to study it, and try to find out the best equipment so I don't make mistakes. I am just asking for help with what you all had good experiences with. Thank you Striker for recommending the Gerber and Suma and Graphtec. I have been looking at the Suma. And thank you Jill for the book recommendation. I was also looking into doing t-shirts. So maybe if this works out (or doesn't) I will try that.
in the price range you are looking at i would recommend the Suma D60 i would strongly encourage you to stay FAR away from the discount plotters (lynx etc) you are preparing for a huge learning curve and don't need to be fighting with poorly made equipment additionally just like a contractor you simply need good tools.


Just Me
Stay away from the master's cutters... I own one and it will drive you NUTS with it's quirks... that's one headache you don't need!
If you are looking to do smaller graphics - say under 15 inches - you may want to look at a Roland - actually you may want to look at one even if you go with a 24" cutter. Roland has some Dr. Stika software that isn't too hard to use for straight cutting on decals.

And as hard as it may be... you can start a business with a 2 month old... especially with a husband that will truly help out. Good luck to you whatever path you choose to take.


New Member
Graphtecs are good.

But I Would tell your husband that he needs to stop being cheap and go to a real sign shop. 3 Kids Easy? Yea tell yourself that after you start being a vinyl slave for your husbands business.

But if you are dead set on jumping on to this train wreck then I would go with a Graphtec or an Ioline. At least that way you might be able to resell it.

Also keep in mind that you will need software to run that nice new little plotter. The software could cost you more than the plotter. As far as software Flexi is on the higher end but be prepared to spends thousands or Corel would also work Still be prepared to spend some big money.

You also need to find a vinyl supplier. and there are a lot of other supplies that you are going to need besides just a plotter.

Transfer tapes, something to hold the transfer tape, a Big Work Table, squeegees, cutting tools, rulers, and a million other little things


New Member
I have to agree with most of the posts above. I am not going to say you can't do this, but it will be difficult. Make sure you keep your story straight as well, your husbands truck, decals for people, maybe some sign work. Then you say it's not going to be a business. Think long and hard about that statement, If it's not going to be a "business" then what happens when YOU screw up and damage some ones property and have no business license, insurance and so on? A hobby is one thing but doing REAL JOBS is a whole different world.

Now on the upside, buy good quality products to start with and good quality software to learn on. Like I said, not saying you can't do this but please look at the whole picture before jumping in like so many have in the past and destroyed the market in their area.


New Member
Hi Sibole.
Firstly, welcome to S101.
Unlike the other posters above( who , BTW, are excellent sources of ideas and knowledge...you're probably looking at 100 years plus experience there)
I urge you to look a little deeper into how to set yourself up with some basic equipment and software. You MAY have a flair for design, you say you over-study things. You're probably the bookkeeper. Being a Mom of 3 young ones is not an easy task, but you also need to "take a break" now and then. In the evening, when the kids are in bed, if you have any energy left, you should be able to put this together.
A low-priced cutter that I have made good use of is the Creation CT-630 ( sometimes called P-Cut.) It is a 24" machine. Choose the Sign-Max software if given a choice. It will design and cut well on this machine. Get the one with the stand and vinyl roll holder.
Keep reading on this and other forums.
I would recommend CorelDraw X3 for design software but the Sign Max software is really all you need to get started.
It really is a big learning curve, but with some patience and practise, you can do it.
Good luck...Ken


New Member
If it's not going to be a "business" then what happens when YOU screw up and damage some ones property and have no business license, insurance and so on? A hobby is one thing but doing REAL JOBS is a whole different world.

I have to Strongly Agree with this. Above everything I mentioned above as things you will need, I would say that these are the most important.

You could find yourself in a world of trouble, if you don't have the proper licensing and Insurance in place. This industry is racked with home based people working without insurance or a business license. Don't let yourself become one of those, it could cost you dearly. Also, you might want to check at what license your city requires to run a home based business.


New Member
you should look throught he posts here under plotters, i have a summa
and love it, graphtec, and roland, ioline are also good machines
if you cannot afford them wait till you can. the chinese made machines (see posts) under equipment are crap..
and to quote Old paint,
"meow meow meow, if you want a pet get a cat if you want a plotter get a real machine" (god i think thats funny)

but there are more costs other than the plotter, you will need a good design software I think that corell is the cheapest at arround 500.00-600.00 bucks
or you could go with flexi, sign warehouse sells that also ( they sell graphtec plotters too)
I am just suppling you with info but be carefull these guys sound harsh but they are trying to help you they just dont want to see you loose money
and put your kids in the poor house..//chopper


New Member
Thank You

Thank you to everyone who has given good advice. And I would never try to sell anything without a license or insurance. That is why I said it would not be a business, not at first anyways. I am only going to start with my hubby and friends who just want decals and little things. If I am good and like this job, then I will get all the proper licensing and stuff. That was the first thing my hubby mentioned for if I get better. As for money, it's not to much of a problem, my hubby just wanted to start with something cheap and work up just in case it doesn't take off, or I am horrible at it. (I doubt I would be.) And I usually do have 3-4 hours of time after the kids go to bed. So thank you to all with the help and if I do decide to buy a machine and start trying this out, I will let everyone know how I do. Thank You again!


New Member
I have to side with the less supportive posts.
buy Adobe Illustrator or Corel Draw & spend time doing design work.

Have yo or your husband take your designs to this one other sign shop & don't spend money on signs... invest money on signs. They aren't so expensive that a good carpenter should have to have his wife make them to make ends meet... Buy Real Signs... from a Real Signshop!!

If they do a decent job from designs YOU created, you & your husband can still take a littkle extra pride in that acomplishment & you can continue to learn design... submit files to the Real Signshop... & next thing you know, they might respect your abilities, you might be able to finagle some part time work as a sign designer at home while raising the little one... & when you can use a daycare facility (if you are into that... or otherwise when in all 3 are in school) you might work part time for them at their location & see if you really like this trade.

Your 2nd and thrid posts seem like you don't appreciate the naysayers & just want the names of plotters (I want names! ...name names! :rolleyes: :Oops: just kiddin around here...) I think all the discouraging words on this thread are the best advice you could get really.


Work for the other sign guy part time for a while to learn some skills.

Much better way to learn that trial and error.