Electronic cutter tips. Feel free to add yours.

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Posted 1/23/2014 by Scrapn Nana in General Scrappin'
 

Scrapn Nana
PEAring through my camera lens

PeaNut 272,954
August 2006
Posts: 8,491
Layouts: 26

Posted: 1/23/2014 12:31:31 PM
I have seen a lot of comments lately about cutters that chew up paper, or can't cut all the way through heavy cardstock.

This will be a long post, but I am going to share some tips that I have learned in the last 8 years of using four different electronic cutters, which I hope will be helpful to someone.

If others are getting a successful cut with a particular machine, but you aren't, then please be willing to consider that the problem could be user error rather than the machine.

Even if you know several other people who are having a problem, it doesn't necessarily mean that the machine is faulty. Electronic cutters have a learning curve. Cricuts have a very easy learning curve. Most of the other electronic cutters require a bit more time and effort to learn how to use than the Cricut does.

**The question to ask yourself is this: Are a lot of people happy with their machines, and are they getting good cuts even though I am not?**

If the answer to that question is yes, then please continue to read to the end. Hopefully some of these tips will help you get better cuts with your machine, and perhaps you will even learn to love it the way I love mine.

I have consistently and successfully cut a variety of papers/cardstocks, but most of the time, I cut heavy, textured cardstock. I have had no problem cutting my favorite cardstocks with the Cameo, the Cricut E (both original and E2), and the Gazelle. Even my old, blue Wishblade did okay, although I usually got better results if I did a double cut rather than increasing pressure. All my machines have gotten a lot of use.

Blades can get damaged more easily than you might think, especially if they go off the mat, or are improperly set so they cut too deep. If they cut all the way through your mat, your settings are definitely wrong, and you may have damaged your blade. Your mat will get scored with normal cutting, but the cuts should not even come close to going through the mat.

If your blade is not giving you clean cuts, hold it up to the light, and look carefully at the tip with a good magnifying glass to make sure it still comes to a clean, sharp, distinct point. If the tip looks at all like even a tiny bit could have broken off (not quite a true point), replace it with a new blade. I always have a spare blade on hand. Always. However, I rarely need to replace blades. They usually last a long time unless they accidentally get damaged.

Check the blade periodically to see if bits of paper/cardstock have gotten caught up inside next to the blade or in the blade housing. That can cause issues, too, and make it difficult to get a good, clean cut because the blade can't turn as freely when paper bits get packed in the housing with the blade.

You should keep one blade JUST for glitter papers. A blade that has been used on glitter paper is likely to do a poor job on everything else afterward. It is also helpful to have a separate blade housing, too, because the glitter can get caught up inside and cause other issues. Clean all moving and related parts carefully after cutting glitter papers. The glitter seems to go everywhere. You should also keep another blade separate just for cutting fabric. Mark them somehow so they don't get mixed up with the blades you use for cutting paper or cardstock.

Being too frugal to change a blade as needed doesn't pay in the long run if you ruin materials rather than getting a clean cut.

Some machines are better than others at cutting heavier materials, but they usually require a special blade for the thicker, denser stuff (like chipboard). Heavier materials will dull a normal blade pretty quick, even if they manage to cut it.

Too much pressure can cause cuts to go wonky as well as cause other problems. If you aren't getting a clean cut all the way through heavy cardstock, sometimes setting the machine to cut the design twice is the best solution, rather than increasing pressure for cutting only once. That was especially true of the blue Wishblade, but I have had it happen with my Gazelle and Cricut, too. So far my Cameo has cut even the heaviest textured cardstocks like butter.

I started with a Wishblade, and it was far more difficult to learn how to use it back then than learning how to use electronic cutters today. The manual was pathetic, and there were no YouTube video tutorials, just written ones available at the Wishblade Yahoo Group (written by other users). Those tutorials required careful reading and following the written directions step by step, but they really helped me learn how to do many different things with my machine. A lot of people complained that the Wishblade was a crappy machine, but it was actually a great machine and worked very well for me for years. However, I made myself spend a fair amount of time (without distractions--I shut my door and told my family to fend for themselves) to learn how to use it. The rare times something went wrong, I also took the time to figure out what I had done wrong instead of blaming the machine. The Cricut was a lot more popular because it was much easier, but seriously, the blue Wishblade was a far superior machine. (The pink Wishblade was reportedly more cheaply made and sometimes overheated.)

If you haven't read the directions/manual, watched tutorials, or found ways to help you figure out what could be wrong, then I encourage you to do so. I know manuals are boring, but unless they are really poor (like the Wishblade manual was), they can be very helpful. I taught myself how to do things in Illustrator CS2 that few other Wishblade users could do, because I was willing to look up how to do the things I wanted to learn in the bulky manual.

I know this post was long. A lot of people probably won't bother to read it all the way through, but I hope what I have said will help at least one person who has been disappointed in their electronic cutter.

If you are frustrated with your machine, please give it another chance, especially if others are using the same machine successfully.

And if others have additional tips to add, please feel free to post them.


My Scrapn' Blog

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Amy Grace
PeaNut

PeaNut 356,994
January 2008
Posts: 307
Layouts: 6

Posted: 1/23/2014 12:38:40 PM
Wow - great tips!

Most of the time I've ever had trouble was operator error :$

I keep a second blade around that I use just for fabric.

denij1
PeaNut

PeaNut 104,220
August 2003
Posts: 485
Layouts: 3
Loc: Wisconsin

Posted: 1/23/2014 1:03:29 PM
PAPER PAPER PAPER!!!!! Not all card stocks are created equal!!!!

I work at Archivers and taught Cameo classes there. I did TONS of troubleshooting for customers and the problem was almost always the card stock they were using. They were having tears, not cutting through, corners pulling up, etc.

The paper cannot be too fibrous. An example of an extremely fibrous paper is construction paper----you can just feel it. Many card stocks don't have that feel, but can still be difficult to cut.

If you are cutting 3" circles--no problem with practically any card stock, but anything small or intricate needs attention. Many people Pre-Cameo only think about card stock color. Post-Cameo, you need to think about manufacturer and texture.

--Most smooth card stocks will cut OK. Some textures/manufacturers will give you trouble,

--Bazzill smooth & Dotted Swiss cut fine. Most of the other Bazzill textured papers cut poorly. Tears & shreds.

--American Crafts smooth & textured cuts great…My Favorite!!!! (but harder to find considering my Archivers is closing. )

--Sorry Hobby Lobby Paper Studio---yours is not good, especially the textured.

--Recollections from Michaels & Coordinations from Joanne's (in the packages, smooth) cuts OK. Nothing to write home about, but usually OK.

--Stampin Up--Nice, but you have to double-cut to get through it. Same with Club Scrap.

--Archivers started carrying the Colormates by WorldWin. Very thick, thought it would have to be double cut--it does not, and cuts very well.

--DCVW--not a fan. Tears (& some of it is white core)

--Any cheap white core card stock ( I'm looking at you, Walmart and others). Yuck. Some might cut OK, but then I have that ugly white edge……yuck.

Iowa_girl
PeaAddict

PeaNut 225,620
October 2005
Posts: 1,492
Layouts: 0

Posted: 1/23/2014 1:20:06 PM
I do have great luck cutting the ColorBok paper from WalMart - but I agree - white core - looks yucky when making some things that are folded.

But if it is something that does not need to be folded, it's a good option for less $$. It is great to print on. $5 for 30 12x12 sheets is hard to beat. I don't have any other stores within an hour of me, so it is my go-to paper.

LOVE the American Crafts paper though. Yummy!

SATC
PeaNut

PeaNut 599,325
January 2014
Posts: 11
Layouts: 0
Loc: Arizona
Posted: 1/23/2014 5:04:21 PM
Like what has been said above the blade being sharp and not having any chips is key.
We have also discovered that the paper must be firmly stuck to the mat.
Another tip we found was cutting speed. We just assumed that slower would cut better but that is not true. Most papers have a sweet spot for the speed and many times we have found that faster is better.


Sandy and Dale
www.scissorsandthecity.com

JannyGirl
BucketHead

PeaNut 58,996
December 2002
Posts: 801
Layouts: 12
Loc: The City That Never Sleeps

Posted: 1/23/2014 5:44:53 PM
Great tips so far! Here is what works for my Cricut machines:

Make sure that your mat is sticky. If your mat isn't sticky enough, that will make your cuts go awry and can cause tears as well.

If you're cutting thick materials, such as chipboard or acetate, have a dedicated blade, and use a blade depth & pressure setting of 4 + multicut of 3.

Thin papers just don't cut well on my Cricuts.



Yelise
PeaNut

PeaNut 517,470
August 2011
Posts: 371
Layouts: 10
Loc: NC

Posted: 1/23/2014 8:40:31 PM
I love my Cameo, but I can always use more tips. Thanks peas! I agree with what's been said so far. My fav paper is American Crafts. I have also had good luck with the $5 Colorbok solid black or white at Walmart. The Coredinations is horrible (I had so much hope for that - LOL!). I appreciate the tip about having a special blade for glitter paper. I'll be bookmarking this for more.

TriciaDoll
PeaAddict

PeaNut 48,731
September 2002
Posts: 1,049
Layouts: 544
Loc: Trabuco Canyon, CA

Posted: 1/24/2014 10:51:03 AM
Colorbok Glitter 2pack Paper from Walmart - cuts on Silhouette but leaves glitter everywhere.

Hobby Lobby by the sheet Glitter Paper - cuts on Silhouette and leaves virtually no glitter on the desk


Tricia


mdoc
Peaing under the Radar

PeaNut 61,691
January 2003
Posts: 12,447
Layouts: 0
Loc: In the Middle

Posted: 1/24/2014 12:40:05 PM
Thanks for the tips - very helpful. I just pulled my blade off and while the blade is perfect, there was paper stuck in the housing that I just cleaned out. And great advice on the glitter paper - I'm always afraid to cut it for fear of screwing up my machine, but hadn't thought of the obvious solution to just dedicate a blade for only glitter paper. Duh.

I have a question on settings. I have an Expression and I've seen conflicting advice out there. The Cricut manual says one thing, experienced users say another, so I'd like to hear what those of you who have gotten great cuts do. My standard settings for normal cardstock are blade depth of 4, pressure of 4 and speed of 2. For thin cardstock and patterned paper I change the blade depth and pressure to 3 with speed of 2 (I almost always use a speed of 2, but someone upthread said sometimes faster is better). For really thick cardstock, I'll change my blade depth to 5. I never cut chipboard, so that's not an issue. My biggest problem is with thin paper - I just don't think the Cricut is good with thin paper. To be honest, I don't see a lot of rhyme or reason to why my cuts are sometimes bad. Sometimes they turn out great, other times I have an epic fail despite trying multiple settings.

smcc2005
PeaNut

PeaNut 208,308
June 2005
Posts: 173
Layouts: 0

Posted: 1/25/2014 9:05:26 AM
Here's a summary of the tips I put into the KNK User Manuals. I include a lot more information with each tip, but these should make sense as written:

You Have To Make Mistakes to Master Your Cutter

Begin with Easy Materials and Easy Shapes

Record Your Successes

Use the Correct Blade for the Material You Are Cutting

Set the Blade Length/Exposure To Match the Thickness of the Material

Set the Blade Tip Height above the Material: Have Some “Punch Room”

Adjust the Speed, Force, and Number of Passes Based on the Material and Shapes

Keep the Cutting Mat Clean and Sticky

Perform Test Cuts

Know Where Your Images Will Cut Before Cutting

Adjust Blade Offset for the Blade Type Being Used

Don’t Get Frustrated, Get Help!


Sandy McCauley
Project Manager: knkusa.com
My blog: iloveknk.com

crazy4scraps
PeaNut

PeaNut 157,905
July 2004
Posts: 421
Layouts: 0
Loc: Midwest

Posted: 1/25/2014 10:25:43 AM
One thing that hasn't been addressed is how much of a factor humidity (or lack of humidity) plays in getting good cuts. If it is really humid when/where you're cutting the settings may be very different than they would be for someone cutting in a less humid climate.

I live where the change in seasons means wide changes in humidity too. Humidity makes the paper soften up and that makes it harder to cut. We have allergy issues so we pretty much keep our A/C on all summer and that helps, but I've heard of people resorting to putting their paper (in a ziplock) in the freezer for a bit or hitting it with a heat tool to dry it out before cutting to make it easier to cut. In the winter it's dry as a bone here, so during the cold months it's never an issue.

Another thing is that smooth paper is much easier to cut than textured paper. If you need to cut textured paper, stick the more heavily textured side face down on the mat and mirror your image so you're cutting in reverse. Sometimes it helps to cut textured paper in two passes too.

darlenemcg
PeaNut

PeaNut 183,783
January 2005
Posts: 244
Layouts: 3

Posted: 1/25/2014 5:15:54 PM
My favorite paper to cut on my cutters is Worldwin...also consider slowing down the speed when cutting thicker material
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