It was love at first site! I am sure you know what I am talking about if you have a Cricut yourself. The possibilities are endless and I do not like boundaries. Especially when I am being creative.
I have watched videos, talk to fellow scrappers, and read endless amounts of information on the internet regarding the Cricut. I will include, what I found to be helpful and/or useful information here. I have also included links (on another page) to the sites I believe have the least complex, most thorough, most non-boring way of explaining how to’s on the Cricut.
For those of you out there doing videos on various items on the Cricut, scrapbooking, etc. Please, I beg of you, SPICE IT UP! You want me to watch a video for 8 minutes and you are using the same tone? I just can’t. You are suppose to be excited about what you are doing. I know I am. For those of you who are…Thank you very much!!
Please remember, if you have something to contribute, go right ahead. This is all about helping each other.
Blades – Comments from Make The Cut Yahoo Group
Cricut blades wear out quickly, particularly if you are cutting a lot of Bazzill paper. Bazzill has polyester fibers in it that cause blades to dull rapidly. Good blades cost more, but they last a very long time. I prefer the blades for the Pazzles Inspiration. They fit the Cricut just fine, and last a lot longer. The Gazelle blades are also excellent, particularly the ones for medium to heavy cutting projects, and they fit the Cricut as well. I reserve my Cricut blades for cutting vinyl, vellum, and thin scrapbook paper.
You may need to adjust the blade depth a bit if you use the blades for the other machines. Do some test cuts to determine the best setting for you. Even if I have a good quality blade, I would still use a new blade for these intricate designs. They take a long time to cut out, especially if i am cutting them 11.5″x11.5″ and I don’t want to waste time and paper should the blade wear out halfway through cutting one of these designs. I always keep extra blades on hand, because I never know when my blade will go bad, and it is never convenient to get a new blade in the middle of a cutting project. They can go bad very suddenly – good for one cut, and bad for the next. If a tiny tip of the blade gets broken off, you may not be able to see a difference, but you will get more tearing than cutting when this happens.
Environmental factors are important. If you live in a humid climate, paper can get mushy and become very difficult to cut cleanly. Air conditioning can also affect the way your paper cuts. Store your paper in sealed bags for best results. Some papers just don’t cut as well as others even with excellent climate control. I like World Win papers, especially Treasures. It looks like Bazzill’s original paper, but cuts so much more cleanly. World Win’s Colormates do not have texture. They always cut very nicely. Prism Papers cut very nicely as well, but they are going out of business. Bazzill is picking up some of their papers. Coredinations cuts well. It is not so much the thickness or weight of the paper that matters. It is the content of the paper that makes a difference. I purchased a bunch of clearance papers that I use for test cuts. Some of these will never cut intricate designs without tearing. So I never cut Monica’s files with it. I get excellent results with Treasures.
If you are trying to cut textured paper, try cutting textured side down, and cut the mirror image.
I had a problem this week with every cut on my Cricut tearing. I didn’t think it was the blade, mat, or paper. So I check my blade holder. When I took out the blade, I found that a lot of paper debris had collected inside of the blade housing, and the blade was not able to rotate properly. I cleaned it out thoroughly, so it should cut better now.
Paper Saving Tips
A lot of us want to know the dimensions of a shape before cutting it out. For instance, if you set the size dial at 3 inches, you can be sure that the shape will be 3 inches. However, does that mean that the shape will be 3 inches wide or does it mean the shape will be 3 inches long? To get around this issue, some have cut out each shape in each size and saved it in a book for future reference. This can be fun, but it is not necessary.
If you want to avoid wasting expensive paper, it is wise to know the orientation of the shape you desire to cut out and what its dimensions will be. To avoid an unexpected outcome, try cutting an “air shape” before you cut the actual shape on the paper of your choice. Here’s how to do this:
- Set the blade depth to 1.
- Set the pressure dial to 1.
NOTE: The Cricut blade will not cut anything if the blade depth is turned to 1 and the pressure dial is set to 1.
- Load the cutting mat into the Cricut machine with the plastic cover, some regular computer paper, or the paper you are planning on using.
- Select the shape you want to “air cut” and set the size dial to the size you desire.
- Press the CUT button and watch the outline of the blade as it moves in the air above the mat. Make a mental note of the dimensions of the cut and how much area the blade moved over on the mat.
- If the shape was not big enough or small enough, simply adjust the size dial only and cut another “air shape”. Watch the Cricut blade and make mental notes again.
- Once you have found the desired size, set the blade depth higher to the appropriate depth for the paper you are using and set the pressure dial to a higher setting appropriate for the paper you are using.
- Load your mat with the paper you desire to use and position the blade where you wish to commence cutting.
- Select the shapes you wish to cut and press the CUT button.
How to Cut Foamcore on the Cricut
The Cricut Expression is a great tool for creating beautiful projects simply and quickly. You can use your Cricut to cut paper, chipboard, cardboard and even foam core with ease. To use your Cricut Expression to cut anything other than vinyl and paper, you need a couple of extra tools to perform the same operations, but you won’t need additional skill.
Things You’ll Need:
- Deep cut blade
- Deep cut housing
- Cricut cartridge of choice
- Adhesive mat
- Make sure your Cricut machine is turned off. Install a deep cut blade in the machine: Twist and pull the old blade housing off, and then attach the deep cut blade housing.
- Turn on your machine to make sure blade is properly installed and moves freely.
- Set the Cricut’s speed to the slowest setting and the depth of the blade to 6. Insert a Cricut cartridge of your choice into the right-hand side of your machine.
- Stick the foam core firmly to the upper-right corner of the sticky mat and press the “Load Paper” button on your Cricut machine. Make sure your foam core is not thicker than 1/8 inch.
- Select an image you would like to cut using keypad. Be sure to choose a cut that is not too intricate, or you may have to make multiple attempts in cutting before you get a successful cut.
How to Use the Vinyl in the Cricut Expression
The Cricut Expression cutting machine is one of the hottest scrapbooking tools. Although this machine is commonly used for scrapbooking, it can also be used for vinyl cutting. A sheet of vinyl can be placed in the machine to cut out designs, words, numbers or shapes. Vinyl can be purchased at any craft store that carries the Provo Cricut brand. Packages contain two sheets of vinyl cut to the correct machine dimensions.
Things You’ll Need:
- Cricut Expression machine
- Vinyl sheet
- Cutting mat
- Align the vinyl sheet to the Cricut cutting mat. The vinyl sheet should be the exact dimensions of the mat. Align the upper left or right hand corner of the vinyl with the mat. Smooth the vinyl to adhere the vinyl to the mat.
- Insert the cutting mat into your Cricut Expression. Press the “Load Paper” button to load the cutting mat. The machine will latch on to the cutting mat and position the mat to begin cutting.
- Each Cricut machine uses cartridges with pre-designed fonts, characters, symbols, and numbers. Insert your cartridge into the machine. Place the rubber cartridge overlay over the keypad.
- Using the keypad, enter the word or characters you would like to cut. These items will be cut directly into your vinyl sheet, so it is important to make sure they are the correct items.
- Adjust the size of your letters or characters by using the size wheel. If you use a value of “2,” each of your items will be sized to 2 inches in height.
- Press the “Cut” button to begin cutting your design.
- Press the “Unload Paper” button once cutting has completed. Your design is finished and ready to be removed from the cutting mat.
- Remove your vinyl design from the cutting mat with the Cricut spatula tool. Your vinyl creation is now ready to be used.
How to Cut Vinyl Wall Words With a Cricut
The Cricut is a versatile machine. In addition to using it for traditional scrapbooking, you also can use the Cricut to cut out vinyl shapes or letters to decorate the walls of your home or office. Provo sells packaged vinyl pages that can be purchased where Cricut products are sold. These packaged sheets are easy to use. They are also easy to apply to your walls for a unique look.
Things You’ll Need:
- Cricut cutting machine
- Sheet of vinyl cut to size
- Press the vinyl sheet onto your Cricut cutting mat. Make sure the vinyl is flat against the mat so it is ready for cutting.
- Load your Cricut cartridge into the machine. Place the keypad overlay to the keyboard.
- Enter the characters you have selected into the keypad of the Cricut machine.
- Adjust the measurement wheel to the size of each letter.
- Press the “Cut” button to begin cutting the vinyl letters.
- Once the machine has finished the cutting process, press the “Unload Paper” button.
- Using the spatula tool, remove the vinyl sheet from the cutting mat.
- Each vinyl letter has a backing material. Use a ruler to draw pencil marks so the vinyl letters line up.
- Remove the backing material and then apply the letter to the wall.
- Place a plain piece of paper over the top of the letter. Press your hand across the letter to make sure it is completely applied to the wall.
- Continue this process until all letters are applied to the wall.
How to Restick Cricut Cutting Mats
The Cricut machine is a great tool for the paper crafter. It allows you to cut many different things out of paper or vinyl in minutes. The sticky mat for the Cricut machine allows the material to stay in one place while cutting, and after some uses, it can lose its stickiness. There are certain ways you can re-stick your Cricut mat to get many more uses out of it.
Things You’ll Need:
- Zig two-way pen
- 24 hours drying time
Pull any paper fibers off the mat with your fingers. You want to prepare the mat for washing and this will allow you to do so.
- Wash your Cricut mat in hot water. Make sure your faucet is running hot water and use a mild liquid hand soap to help remove the remaining fibers. You can use your hand, and for the stubborn pieces, you can lightly scrape with the Cricut scraper provided with your machine.
- Let your mat air-dry on a towel, face up. You cannot use anything on the mat to dry it quicker, and it is best to let it dry overnight. This will allow your mat to go back to its original sticky form, but you will need additional help to keep the paper sticking to it.
- Take the Zig pen and go in staight lines across the mat. It takes about 5 minutes to complete the whole mat.
- Set the mat aside and let the Cricut mat air-dry for about 24 hours before using it. Works like a charm!
How to Cut Foam Stamps With the Cricut Machine
Things You’ll Need:
- Cricut machine
- Deep cut blade
- New Cricut cutting mat
- Fun foam sheet
- Thick cardboard
- Cricut cartridge with desired design
Purchasing stamps from a craft store can be rather costly and you will be limited to what designs you are able to purchase and what size those designs will be. You can use a Cricut die-cutting machine to make your own stamps with inexpensive foam sheets from your local craft store and pieces of thick cardboard. By making your own stamps this way you can choose from several different designs and choose what size you would like your stamps to be.
- Load the cartridge with your desired design into the Cricut machine and place the keypad overlay in place. Switch out the regular Cricut blade with a deep cut blade. Set the blade to 5, the speed of the machine to 1 and the pressure to 5.
- Peel the plastic off of your new cutting mat and place the fun foam sheet down onto the sticky surface of the mat. Rub over the fun foam a couple of times to secure it to the mat. Do not attempt to cut fun foam with an older mat; the heaviness of the fun foam sheet requires the stickiness of a new mat.
- Load the cutting mat into the machine with the fun foam attached.
- Select the design that you want to cut from the foam using the keypad. Make sure you select any special features that you would like, such as shadowing, before making the cut. Press “Cut” on your machine and wait for the machine to complete the cut.
- Unload the mat and foam from the machine and carefully peel the fun foam from your cutting mat.
- Remove the cut-out design from the rest of the fun foam sheet. Take your time when doing this so you don’t rip your design if the machine didn’t cut certain parts all the way through. Use scissors to snip any parts of the design that might still be attached to the foam sheet.
- Trim any rough edges with your scissors to smooth them out. Set the cut-out design aside to allow time for the impressions from the machine’s rollers to come out of the foam.
- Glue your foam design to an appropriately sized piece of thick cardboard with glue. Let the glue dry completely before using your new foam stamp.
Mat help – Various Opinions
Not sticky enough:
The best thing I have found to make the mats re-stick is Krylon fast tack spray. It is $5 a can at Michaels. Tape the edges of the mat and spray a light coat on. Let it dry for 5-10 mins. I like it better than the original stick that comes on the mat and it stays stickier longer.
Spray the mat with stamp cleaner (Stampin’ Up! mist or Close to My Heart is what I’ve used) wipe with a clean towel and fan to dry, it works amazing well!
I use a stencil spray. I also use Zig repositionable glue on my mat. I’ve had my Cricut for a year and a half and have only bought 4 mats. I prefer the stick I get over the original mats, too.
I have been using a lint roller to remove small particles from my cutting mats,(the ones for pet hair work best) and found that if you roll them over a old mat it brings back the stickiness to the mat.
Have to say, the best stickiness results I see are from the Krylong Tacky spray. Easy to use also.
I really did a number on my first mat and hopefully I will be able to keep it going a lot longer. To clean and restore tacky surface I first use liquid dish soap undiluted. I just use my fingers, no cloth, to rub the soap over the whole surface. Then I start rinsing with warm to hot water and keep gently rubbing surface. You’ll see all the lint and paper bits just rinse off. If I am in a hurry to use again I will dry the mat with a blow dryer. Works for me!
Never put lighter weight paper on a new mat. I use it for heavier cardstock only for the first several cuts. Then, when it’s not so sticky, I start to use if for the lighter paper.
Place the mat on your shirt, pants, some piece of clothing, then peel off, the lint/fuzz from the material will take some of the tackiness away. Don’t do it on anything that says knitted, you’ll get too much fuzz. You can do the same thing with the Heidi Swapp masks; sometimes they’re too sticky also.
I cut quite a few letters, from 2 1/2″ down to 1″ today. I used tightly woven cotton that had Heat N Bond fused to the back of it. Before I place the fused cotton, Heat N Bond side to the mat, I removed the backing paper. I’ve found that the fusing process loosens the paper, in some places, from the Heat N Bond and the fabric shifts in those areas during cutting. Once the fabric is down on the mat very smoothly, I use a bone folder or the flat side of a table knife would probably work too, and sort of burnish the fabric into the sticky on the mat, especially all around the edges. Every once in awhile the blade will sort of skip a little and not cut a very little bit. When I take the fabric off the mat I just carefully snip that uncut area or use my Exacto knife. The hardest letter to cut is the dot on the 1″ letter i. I think I’ll use a very small paper punch to cut the dot. I used a broad font like Learning Curve. I don’t know how some of the thinner letters would cut. Heat N Bond recommends washing and drying the fabric first to remove the coating normally found on new fabrics. It’s also important that the mat has “good sticky” and the blade is sharp. My settings were: blade 6, Pressure about 5 and speed 4 or 5. A little tweaking of the settings may be necessary. Hope this helps.
Blades & Markers
- The blade housing should have the arrow marker facing forward so that you can change the depth of the blade without removing the blade housing.
- Setting the blade depth to 1 will allow moving the blade around the paper without cutting it.
- To recut images that did not cut all the way through, do not Unload Paper. Instead Load Paper, then Repeat Last, then Cut.
- To use the Markers and cut images, replace the blade with the marker, set speed and pressure, and draw the image (Cut). Do NOT Unload Paper. Replace the Marker with the blade, reset speed and pressure, then press Load Paper, then Repeat Last, and then Cut.
- In a pinch, sharpen the blade on a stone sharpening slab or knife sharpener.
- Turn off your Cricut when changing cartridges.
- Register all cartridges and machines at Cricut.com.
- Use the shadow feature to make any font fatter.
- The cylinder shape on the George cartridge makes a great dog tag.
- The Silhouette feature on George makes great picture frames.
- The shadow feature on any cartridge makes a great base for the paper piecing.
- Cut letters first, then shadows. Letters can be mounted on shadows before the shadows are removed from the mat.
- To make items or letters smaller than 1”, use the Creative Features on some cartridges that enclose letters or shapes inside larger shapes – i.e. the Sign feature on George.
- If you know characters of a certain height should fit the paper size, but have a “tail” like the letter “y” on font cartridges, turn on the Paper Saver option.
- To make proportionately smaller items larger, turn on the Real Dial Size option.
- Create a Unifont from lower case alphas by turning on the Real Dial Size option.
- Cricut mats can be loaded from either leading end.
- Load mat aligning left side with flat edge of casing to allow the mat to load straighter.
- Roll a brayer over your paper and mat several times to help it stick better. You will not have to clean it as often.
- Date the back of your mats when you start using them so you know which one to get rid of first.
- Use a lint roller over the mat to remove dust and particles from a mat.
- When cutting a 3×3 piece of paper or smaller, use a newer or tackier mat.
- When a mat starts to lose its tackiness, move the blade in 1/2 inch (1 move) and over 1/2 inch (1 move) before making your first cut.
- If you press “Load Paper” without unloading the mat, the blade will move to the start of the mat.
- When cutting thick or heavy paper, use a newer mat. When cutting thin paper, use an older, less tacky mat.
- Add a sticker to or mark the transparent cover of a mat so you know which way it lays on your mat.
- Cover your mat with the transparent cover when not in use.
- The mat cover can be used like a transparency after the mat is thrown away. The cover can be cut by your Cricut.
- When using a new mat your paper will not curl when you remove it from the mat if you roll the mat and remove the mat from the paper while holding the paper taut.
- Every now and then, move the Cricut blade to the CENTER of the mat so that portion of the mat gets used. Saves paper and the mat.
- Use an old mat to hold letters you have cut to keep track of them. It also comes in handy when gluing letters to their shadows.
- You can use Repositionable Spray Adhesive like Quilter’s Spray, 3M Spray Mount Adhesive, Excel Stencil Spray, Krylon Repositionable Glue Spray, etc. to make your mat tacky again. (Will nullify warranty.)
- Many tools work to “scrape” the built up lint and paper fuzz off the mat including a spatula, putty knife, art palette knife, dummy credit card, Pampered Chef scraper, etc.
- Use warm water and “scraper” to squeegee the water, lint, and paper off when cleaning mat. Let dry thoroughly.
- Use a “scraper” to dry scrape the mat when it starts to lose its tackiness to remove much of the built up lint and give you a better surface to use.
- To cut multiple colors, put 6×6, 3×6, or 3×3 pieces on a single mat, and then move your blade to the top corner of the next color without unloading the mat.
- Add a shim (piece of paper) under the mat to help cut thicker paper like Bazzill.
- Use negative space for a stencil for chalking or other special effect.
- Keep a list of settings for your Cricut that work with different types of paper.
- If backing paper with Xyron before cutting, tape Xyron backed paper to mat to keep it from slipping.
- Use junk paper from packaging for making sample cuts to see how they will work.
- You can cut on a 12 x 12 paper by folding it in half and sandwiching the mat in the fold. The same thing can be done to cut on a card of any size.
Cricut Blade Placement – Be sure your Cricut blade if facing you as you are facing the opening of the machine and the number and arrow are aligned. If you have the blade loaded just to the left of the insertion point, by just a smidge, that should be perfect.
Getting The Most From Your Mat – Bring your Cricut mat over to the center of your mat if you are cutting something smaller to get additional use of your mat. Just use your arrow keys and cut away!