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Tip and Hints on working with a Cricut Personal Cutting machine

Updated on May 31, 2012

The Cricut machine

Cutting shapes and creating projects is made so much easier and fun when you have a personal cutting machine such as one of the Cricut machine models along with any one of the cartridges available. Cricut takes all the work out of cutting out a perfect shape in the size you want. Also the intricate patterns are easy to cut using the Cricut machine.

Some of the models included in the Cricut lineup are:

  • Cricut Create (the basic no-frills model perfect for a beginner)
  • Expression (features a screen to see your cutout image and a wider mat area
  • Expression 2
  • Imagine
  • Cricut Cake ( used to make decorations for cakes)

I have used my Cricut Create for almost 2 years and love it!!! And now I've added the Cricut Expression to my crafting area; a larger machine with more features and I'm so excited to begin new and exciting projects with my Expression.

I've tried to include some of the tips and a few tricks I've learned in the 2 years I have used my Cricut machine. Hopefully these will help and I will add to this Hub when new ideas come to me.

Cardstock choices

Cardstock can be purchased in individual 12"x12" sheets and in stacks. The stacks usually have a common theme or color scheme. Try to get the better quality cardstock which is colored all the way through; not a "white core". Quite often the white core is found in cardstock of solid colors. The problem is the white core will show on the edges of your cutout.

I've used different types of cardstock and each one has its own unique purpose.

  • Heavyweight can be used for the base greeting card and intricate cutouts come out better too.
  • Normal works well for a card background piece and the large shadow cutouts where intricacey isn't required. This cardstock will tear more easily with small cutouts too.
  • Shiny/Layered/Glittered works great for background pieces and large cutouts. It doesn't work that well for a base card as the folding process often "cracks" the finish.

The Cricut personal cutting machine settings need to be adjusted depending on the cardstock type. For a heavier weight I use a Blade depth setting of #3; lighter weight is #2.

Cricut Replacement Blade
Cricut Replacement Blade

Cutting with the Cricut

Intricate shapes and phrases:

  • Try putting the cardstock facedown on the sticky mat and use the Flip button. I find that the cutout comes out cleaner and if there is any fraying it will be on the top side of the cutting (which is the backside of your cardstock when flipped).
  • Make sure to completely smooth the cardstock/paper onto the mat before cutting. I use a clean cloth so that my hands never touch the mat's surface.
  • Experiment with the blade depth settings. Typically I use #3 for most cardstock; however, if the cardstock is thicker I will use #4.

If you find excessive tearing on your shapes or it becomes more difficult to get a clean cut, consider replacing your blade. It is very easy to do so:

  • Loosen the screw to the side of the blade housing
  • Push on the plunger at one end of the housing you removed and let the dull blade slide out. It is still sharp to your fingers so be careful.
  • Remove the rubbery cap over the new blade (again, be careful).
  • Keeping the plunger pushed down; slide your new blade up into the housing and release the plunger.
  • Slide the housing into its cradle and replace the screw.


Caring for your Sticky Mat

The stickiness of your mat is essential for creating great cutouts with the Cricut. When the sticky mat no longer is as sticky the paper can slide back and forth, totally ruining the cut.

Remove the excess cardstock from the sticky mat first when the cutting is finished. Then use the spatula tool and carefully slide it under one end of your cutout and gently peel the cutout from the mat.

Always make sure you remove all tiny pieces of paper after using the mat.

Don't leave your cardstock and cutout on the mat; remove right after the cut is done.

Always cover your sticky mat with the clear cover provided.


Cricut Accessories

I've written over and over about how useful the Cricut Essentials Kit is. My first Cricut Machine, The Cricut Create, came with the kit included; however, that isn't always the case. It is worth it to spend the extra to get this kit; you literally will use it every time you cut a shape with your Cricut.

There are a number of different kits currently available and can include:

  • Poking Tool: Often tiny holes and slits can be made perfect by poking out or defining. I have a self-healing mat on my craft table that I use just for that purpose.
  • Spatula Tool: Used to remove your shape from the sticky mat without ripping the cardstock.
  • Paper Folding Tool: Insures clean and sharp folding of the cardstock.
  • Scraper: diamond shaped tool which helps remove debris from your sticky mat.
  • Scissors
  • Sharp Blade Tool: for cutting edges clean if needed.
  • A 6" Ruler
  • Paper Trimmer: perfect for trimming square pieces of cardstock or if you need 6"x12" cardstock for your Cricut machine.
  • Pack of 2 replacement blades
  • Pack of 2 replacement 6 x 12 cutting mats
  • Cricut paper: Celebrations and Cricut cardstock: Rainbow (both great starter packs of paper for your cricut.
  • Zippered Green Case for your tools


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