Are you inexperienced in using a Cricut? Then you are in the right place. Here, you will learn everything about one of the most powerful precision-cutting machines. With this machine, you can cut through any material that would be difficult or cumbersome to cut using a pair of scissors. Cricut enables you to cut faster and more precisely. What is more, the fact that it is easy to use makes the machine even more appealing to users of all cadres!
Below are tips to help you use Cricut, as a beginner.
What do you get when buying Cricut?
As you would mostly discover by visiting the official Cricut website, you can get different items with this machine depending on the package you select. That simply means that you should not expect to get the same items that somebody who paid more than you did. For more money, you get more items. The opposite holds true when you go for a less costly package. That is just how Cricut operates. Nevertheless, the most common items you get for settling on the basic package are:
• Storage bag
• Cricut machine (such as the Cricut Maker or similar)
• Power cord
• USB cable
• Getting started manual
• Silver Pen
• Standard grip cutting mats
While you will not get the all you will ever need with a basic package, you will get enough items to help you get started. A starter set is a great place to start your journey into the world of precision cutting. Why? It offers you more accessories that will prove beneficial to you. In addition to the above, the starter set also exposes you to other incredibly useful stuff that makes your work easier. This stuff includes the following:
• Extra mats
• Tools craft basic set (spatula, scraper, scissors, and tweezers among others)
• Additional blades (such as the Knife blade)
• HP instant ink subscription
• Essential tool kit
• Scoring stylus
Always Read the Instructions
Since you now know what to expect with your Cricut do not forget to read the manual or instructions that come with it. Some users can try their luck and get the machine working without reading the instructions. However, skipping the instructions can make it unnecessarily difficult to operate the machine. You are better off familiarizing yourself with the machine by going through the instructions. This way, you will know its parts and features and how to operate it quickly.
Moreover, you are likely to retrace your steps easily if it does not work by following instructions.
The first step is to set Cricut up. To do that, you have to understand its features. More importantly, you need a deep appreciation of what each part or feature does. After all, each one has a specific role. As you will discover from your Cricut Explore Air 2, your precision-cutting machine will most likely have seven parts. These seven parts are:
• Button for opening lid
• Smart set dial
• Power on/off
• Dual cartridge
• Accessory cup
• Accessory drawers (2)
• Cartridge port
The second issue to tackle as you learn how to use Cricut is that of space. Where do you intend to set it up? Now that you’ve ordered and received it, the most important issue to contemplate is its location in your home or office. The two critical factors to remember when thinking about its location are access to power and flat surface. Use an extension cable if the socket is a bit far from the place you have chosen for the machine. You should also set it up next to the computer you intend to design from!
Role of Design Space
Now that everything is set up, you have to learn how to use the Design Space. First, download the app which you get here! Thereafter, install it in your smartphone, tablet, laptop or computer. While doing this, confirm that the machine is plugged into a source of power. In addition to that, enable Bluetooth on the device you intend to use for designing the stuff to cut with Cricut.
Pair your gadget’s Bluetooth with that of the Cricut. The name to look out for is CricutAIR. Enter 0000 as the passcode if prompted to do so. However, where it’s difficult for you to enable Bluetooth or pair the two items, you can take a different approach. Here, get the USB cable that came together with the Cricut. Then connect it from the machine to your phone or computer. This way, the two machines would communicate easily with each other.
Cutting for the First Time
Being a beginner, you’ll probably kick off your ‘career’ with the “Enjoy Card” Project. Don’t worry about where to find this project. You only have to check the machine since that’s where it is. The project welcomes you gently into the world of precision cutting. More importantly, it offers you more insights into the different ways of using Cricut. What is more, Design Space will prompt you to embark on this project thus saving you the hassle of looking for it.
What do you need for this project?
a) Follow the step-by-step instructions
b) Use the appropriate tools, features, and accessories
The project has a simple objective. It seeks to fill you with confidence to take on more jobs or projects. That will happen the moment you finish this project and are happy with the results. Within no time, you would be moving upwards to the more difficult projects. Strive to complete this first one since it will open the door for you to more exciting tasks. The Enjoy Card Project is the key that opens the world of precision cutting to you.
Changing the Blade
The first time you buy a Cricut, you will notice that it comes with a pre-installed blade. That should be a big relief to you since it means you don’t have to worry about installing it. However, the blade will get blunt with repeated use thus calling for the need to replace it with a new one. For this reason, it’s vital for you to know how to replace blades on this highly impressive precision cutter.
To change the blade, you would have to access the cartridge. As you will notice, this part of the machine has two sections; namely, A and B. A refers to the accessory cartridge. B refers to the blade housing. A comes pre-installed with the machine and has an adaptor too. B is the area of interest for anyone interested in changing the Cricut blade. First, however, you would have to remove the blade housing before doing anything else.
After removing the housing, the next task involves opening the gray clamp B. Next, pull housing right out of the cartridge. As you pull the cartridge out, watch out for the thin plunger that is located directly over the housing. Push the plunger inward while removing the small blade you encounter carefully. If you do this right, you will notice the blade being released right under the housing. Once it is out, dispose of it safely.
Since the dulled blade is now out, you are ready to replace it with a new one. First, though, you have to remove the green cover that protects the new blade. After that, insert the new blade into the housing’s shaft. Again, you will notice that the blade locks itself automatically in this part of the machine if you do it correctly. Feel free to drop the housing right back into the B section of the cartridge. Finish everything by closing the gray clamp.
Taking Good Care of the Mats
The mats are essential to successful precision cutting. You need them for holding the materials in place. Without the mats, you will struggle to cut through the entire material. For this reason, the mat needs more attention from you. Take good care of it since you now realize that it could determine how your entire cutting project goes. Failing to grant them the care they richly deserve would mean opening the door to a great deal of mess.
What is more, a test cut that involves the mat is highly recommended.
Otherwise, you end up damaging a perfect mat by setting the cut excessively high.
The best care you can give the mats is to wipe them down using non-alcoholic baby wipes. Water wipes would also serve you just as well. Wipe using these items after each cut. As you do this regularly, you will be helping the mats to remain cleaner much longer. Other than that, you would also be ensuring that the mats remain sticky for a longer duration. On top of all of that, cleaning the mats makes them last longer too.
Importance of a Test Cut
As stated above, a test cut is essential before determining whether the mats are effective for the job you have planned to do using Cricut. A test cut helps you to know whether you have everything in place for the project. Moreover, the test cut saves you some of the costly losses you stand to incur if you go straight into cutting the material. More significantly, you only need a few seconds to perform the test cut. In essence, a test cut:
• Determines whether extra cuts will be required
• Determines whether the pressure from Cricut can cut right into the mats
What Materials Can You Cut with Cricut?
Cricut is capable of cutting diverse types of materials. However, it’s worth noting that different models of this machine exist in the market. Each model has specific capabilities. For example, you will find that one model has no problem cutting specific types of materials compared to another one. Therefore, select your Cricut based on the types of materials you wish to cut now and in the coming days. Nevertheless, you can cut the following materials with Cricut:
• Paper such as poster board, vellum, cardstock and standard
• Vinyl such as chalkboard, dry erase, premium and standards
• Iron-on such as Heat Transfer Vinyl, which is also known as HTV
• Craft materials such as glitter paper, craft foam, and washi tape
• Upcycled materials such as aluminum cans, cereal boxes, and chipboards
• Fabric such as canvas, burlap, polyester, denim and felt
• Plastic such as silicone, window acetate, and stencil
• Thick stuff such as magnetic materials, leather, and balsa wood
Tips for Cutting through Fabric
As shown above, Cricut is capable of cutting through all types of fabric. However, always be ready and on the lookout for a bit of disappointment. Why? Because the machine cuts some fabric better than it does others. One day it could be cutting a specific type of fabric cleanly only to create a mess the following day. In such instances, what you need to use to protect your fabric is heat and bond.
Heat and bond make the fabric stronger and thicker thus able to handle the pressure and force that Cricut bears down on it. Bond the fabric to something that makes it resistant to tears. On top of that, you could always attach the fabric to a bit of interfacing. Remember, you’re doing all this to protect the fabric and save yourself some money in the process. Failing to do this could mean spending more money on new fabric to replace those you already damaged.
Machine Cleaning Tips
Lastly, keep the machine clean and neat at all times. This way, you are guaranteed the sort of machine that will not disappoint you. Instead, it will perform optimally at all times. At times, you may be required to clean the machine during the cutting session, especially when debris seem to be gathering massively thus preventing Cricut from functioning, as it should. If that doesn’t happen, limit yourself to cleaning it after each cutting. Schedule the cleaning sessions.
Therefore, enjoy using your Cricut now that you know more about it.