If you've had the pleasure of owning a Silhouette or Cricut cutting machine for a while, you know they are amazing and what these machines can do is a technological marvel!
They have the ability to cut out anything you can imagine and they open up a whole new world for tinkerers and designers.
The Silhouette and Cricut cutting machines can be used for everything from monograms to making stencils to cut out of wood, painting signs, party decorations, etching glass and even custom t-shirts.
The sky is really the limit… or rather the amount of free time you have and of course your budget is the limit.
Some of these tips are specific to one machine or the other, but most are pretty universal for all!
So sit back, with a cup of tea or coffee, relax, and prepare to be amazed by the 'secrets of the trade'.
Note: Please note that we have not personally tried all of these tips. Some can save time or money at the risk of damaging your machine or creation. Use your own judgment and try them at your own risk.
Still looking for a good cutting machine? Then read my review of the best electronic cutters of 2021
What we discuss in this comprehensive post:
Tool hacks for your device
- Use a safety pin to remove and lift small pieces of vinyl and attach a small magnet to the side of your machine so you always have your safety pin to hand.
- Use an old credit card instead of a spatula to scrape paper scraps off the mat.
- You can use a scalpel hobby knife to apply lines if you forget to do so in the software
- Dentist Tools is a great quick win
- A pointed tweezers is also useful for cleaning jobs. Dip the tip of the tweezers in glue, just enough to make it tacky, to pick up small loose pieces, such as freezer paper or tickets.
- By using a lamp, the lines are much more visible!
- Use foil to sharpen your knife.
- Use a 2 inch putty knife instead of the small spatula to get things off the mat.
Tracing Paper Hacks
- Use adhesive film instead of transfer paper. There is normally a lot more on the roll for a lot less money and you can find it more easily.
- If you don't have enough transfer paper, use a roll of self-adhesive fluff remover!
- Adhesive tape can even be used as transfer tape for smaller prints.
cutting mat hacks
- Cheap flexible cutting boards can also be used as a cutting mat. Cut these cutting boards to size and use painter's tape to hold small pieces of vinyl in place, for example.
- You can spray over your mat with a temporary glue spray, this is when the mat loses its stickiness. Make sure to tape the edges of the mat with painter's tape, then spray it on, peel off the tape, and let it dry.
- If you accidentally cut through your mat, you can fix it with good quality packing tape on the back of the mat. We recommend you to use Gorilla products because they are super flexible and sturdy.
- Use Aleene's Tack it Over & Over to recoat your mat after you have cleaned it completely. Add 1 part Aleene's to 1 part water, then take a sponge and brush on one coat, let dry, then apply a second coat. It will look like a new mat. Let dry completely after the second coat.
- baby wipes are great for keeping your mat clean and maintained. The wipes can be used at the end of each session.
- Use a Cricut cutting mat with your Silhouette cutting machine. They are not that expensive.
- If you are using a Cricut mat with your Silhouette cutting machine, make a line on the right side of your machine with a sharp pen when you have positioned your mat correctly so you know where to place it each time.
- Use double-sided tape to hold down the corners of your mat that have lost their adhesive in some places.
- A good tip is to use a lint roller to remove bits of paper from your mat.
- Flip your mat over and pull it through backwards as you repeat the same cut over and over to avoid damage.
- Wash your mat with soapy water to make it sticky again. It's an amazing magic trick!
- Use washi tape to make two 12×12 mats to connect with each other. This gives you up to a 24″ length in cutting space
- You can also use a 12×24 mat cut in half to make two 12×12 mats.
- Clorox wipes can also be used to clean cutting mats between projects.
- Want to cut all the way to the end of a roll of vinyl? Then stick a piece of paper over the entire width of the loose end. The rollers still have something to grip when the entire length of the vinyl is under the blade when cutting without a mat.
- Use adhesive film to cut out your templates so you don't waste the more expensive vinyl.
- Cut open empty toilet paper rolls to place around vinyl rolls. This way the vinyl does not roll out and it remains clear.
- Turn simple and small designs or monograms over, then put the back of the transfer paper back on to save the blank space on a design you will be using, so you can use the design now and use the blank space as a template later.
Heat transfer vinyl hacks
- Draw a sharper line with a Sharpie to make it more visible.
- Use baking paper to iron over the heat transfer, or if you need to iron again if it starts to peel.
- You can also use kraft to iron over heat transfer vinyl. It works just like a Teflon sheet, but it doesn't make the heat transfer vinyl super shiny, which is ideal if you prefer a more matte finish.
- Using sketch pens to outline your heat transfer vinyl can help with rubbing.
- Add a mnemonic on your machine to flip or mirror the image, if you do many of these projects.
- If you are using an iron for heat transfer vinyl, use a wooden cutting board rather than the ironing board itself. The hard surface makes it easier to apply more pressure to get it bonded properly.
Sketch pen hacks
- If you remove the felt and ink from a children's felt-tip pen you can use the marker case as a holder for any pen you have, such as gel pens, sharpies or ballpoint pens! Instant pen holder!
- If your pen is too thin for the pen holder, tape the pen around the holder so that it fits in the holder.
- Fine scribers, ultra fine point fine scribers and even gel pens are great to use instead of sketch pens.
- To get that really popular chalkboard look on black paper, use white gel pens.
For more tips on cutting machines and pen holders, read my review (+hacks) of the Brother pen holders and markers
- Put ruler marks on the edge of your cutting table so you can always measure correctly without having to reach for the tape measure or ruler.
- Instead of a lamp holder, place the design you are cutting on a glass coffee table and turn on a flashlight (or use your phone,) and place it on the floor under the table. Boom.. instant light source
- If you are using a headlamp for cutting, you have a cheap and convenient hands-free way to get a lot of light!
- Always make extra dots for the tops of j's and i's or dots. Lots of extras, but those things like to disappear in the blink of an eye!
- Write the name and size of the font used on the side of each design in case you need it again. Once you have modified a font, you will no longer be able to see its name in the Silhouette software.
We hope you enjoy our tricks for Cricut and Silhouette machines. Have fun with your craft projects!
For even more inspiration for your cutting machine, check out my 50 fun Silhouette cutting plotter project ideas