Tips for Using Your Vinyl Cutter
For a while when we’d work on a tabletop terrain, I’ll be honest, we’d absolutely dread it. There would be endless painting, sculpting, and in the end, even though you’d wind up with a one-of-a-kind piece of art, it would still be frustrating.
If I wanted to send that same terrain out to a friend or a fan that really liked it, it would be too expensive to craft another. So what does this have to do with vinyl cutting?
When I got started with using a vinyl cutter, it was to make a new outdoor vinyl sign for our store. Then I realized that the beautiful thing about working with a Cricut or Silhouette machine was that you could repeat the process over and over. If you made something once, you could save that design and make it as many times as you needed, like printing an image.
What a breakthrough!
Not only could I use vinyl instead of paint in some places, I could make 3-d art with cardboard and remake the same pieces over and over. I could ship them flat and have them assembled at the location. It opened up so many crafting opportunities.
So on to the tips, this is a bit of what I learned when using my vinyl cutter. I hope some of these help you too.
Our vinyl cutting tips
1 – Make sure you’re using the correct offset
Many machines, like those from Cricut and Silhouette have the offset automatically detected and set for the blade and materials you’re using. If your cuts are coming out too shallow or too deep, this is the first setting that I’d check.
2 – Use a fresh blade if you’re having trouble cutting through your material
Blades don’t all last the same duration. If you’re cutting through thick or harder materials, you’re going to find that you need to replace your blades more often. You can do what we do here and use certain blades for certain purposes. I don’t mind a duller blade if it’s just going to be making straight cuts on a thick material, but if I’m trying to make curves and cut out fancy fonts, I’ll use a fresher blade.
3 – Check the minimum arc of the machine
You can think of the minimum arc as the smallest circle that your cutting machine can cut. If you try to cut something smaller than that, you’re going to have issues. Sometimes with fine fonts a part of the font will have a very sharp curve that’s small, especially on serif fonts. If you’re having difficulty with these cuts, either make the font larger or it might be time to look at getting a new machine.
If your designs aren’t quite working out, try using a design someone else made. Most Cricuts let you import the SVG files that other crafters made, so try those out because you know they were designed by someone with more experience.
4 – The product will only be as good as the effort you put in
If you’re frustrated with your design, consider improving it. I know this sounds a bit too obvious, but a lot of people will blame their machine instead of the process. I usually don’t worry about the quality the first few times I try making something new, but you should always be looking to improve your design over time. That’s the great thing about these digital cutting machines, you can iterate and improve over time.
Even though you might feel pressured to rush through, it’s always best to take your time and really pay attention to what you’re doing.