Links of Interest on Imagine That Plus

Free cut files designed by Everything Cricut (this link has been updated & should work now!)
Design Studio Help

THIS POST has links to many sites that will help you with your Cricut including videos, tips for new users, basic Cricut maintenance....definitely worth checking out.

Feel free to visit our parent site, Imagine That
(I mean, talk about loads of great information!!)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Cricut Tips for a New User

Cricut Tips to get you started

Paper Saving Tip

Many Cricuteers want to know the dimensions of a shape before cutting it out. For instance, if you set the size dial at 3 inches, you can be sure that the shape will be 3 inches. However, does that mean that the shape will be 3 inches wide or does it mean the shape will be 3 inches long? To get around this issue, some have cut out each shape in each size and saved it in a book for future reference. This can be fun, but it is not necessary. To avoid wasting expensive paper, it is wise to know the orientation of the shape you desire to cut out and what its dimensions will be. To avoid an unexpected outcome, try cutting an "air shape" before you cut the actual shape on the paper of your choice.

Here's how to do this:
Set the blade depth to 1.Set the pressure dial to 1.NOTE: The Cricut blade will not cut anything if the blade depth is turned to 1 and the pressure dial is set to 1.Load the cutting mat into the Cricut machine with the plastic cover, some regular computer paper, or the paper you are planning on using.Select the shape you want to "air cut" and set the size dial to the size you desire.Press the CUT button and watch the outline of the blade as it moves in the air above the mat. Make a mental note of the dimensions of the cut and how much area the blade moved over on the mat.If the shape was not big enough or small enough, simply adjust the size dial only and cut another "air shape". Watch the Cricut blade and make mental notes again.Once you have found the desired size, set the blade depth higher to the appropriate depth for the paper you are using and set the pressure dial to a higher setting appropriate for the paper you are using.Load your mat with the paper you desire to use and position the blade where you wish to commence cutting.Select the shape you wish to cut and press the CUT button.Paper Saver ModeWith all the swooshes and extended lines of Jasmine, you may want to cut it with Paper Saver Mode on. If not, you may type in a 4" "Ty" or the like and get an error message claiming "Character(s) won't fit...". At first thought this doesn't seem right. But with further investigation it's actually correct (see picture).The top of the capital "T" all the way to the bottom of the lower-case "y" is well beyond the 6" maximum width the Cricut can cut. If you don't need the "negative" space of the cut, simply select Paper Saver Mode and try again. The result will be the "y" moving up, to fit well within the 6" width.
Another mode you may want to be aware of, especially with Jasmine, is Real Dial Size. If you need an exact sized cut, you'll need to turn this on. Otherwise, you'll engage proportionate sizing to the set's Key Height Character. And once again, Jasmine has a lot of swooshes and curves that may affect this. Just keep these two modes particularly in mind with this set.

Materials that the Cricut can cut

The Cricut is really just a paper/cardstock cutter. A range of vellum to Bazzill is very safe (this is with the normal blade. The deep cut blade can cut much more). Other products may be tried, both of the thinner or thicker variety, but results are not guaranteed. In fact, using something extreme will most likely void the warranty. The Cricut creators don't say that to scare you away from experimenting, but there are just too many materials out there to know what the results would be. That said, the basic guidelines are that the material (paper or otherwise) needs to be stiff and firm enough for the blade to drag through it. So a more stretchy fabric would probably not work, unless it had Wonder-Under or something to keep it in place. However, they've had good results with vinyl types of materials, as long as they aren't too thick (.05 mm or less). Although it's built to cut paper-based materials, the Cricut has many settings onboard that allow for paper-like products to be cut, including thinner Mylar or vinyls. You can reduce the pressure applied, the blade depth and the speed. It may take a bit of experimenting (small samples!) to make sure it's set right, but that's not very hard. Since some of these products are fairly costly, I'd suggest careful experimentation first, of course.

Please refer to the following links for the respective warranties:

Machine Warranty: Click Here Cartridge Warranty: Click Here

Blade Housing AssemblyQ:

How should I install the green cutting blade housing assembly? A: To install the cutting blade housing assembly: 1. Locate the silver thumb screw and turn it counterclockwise until it loosens enough that you can swing it to the right. Be careful not to loosen the screw too much or it will fall out. 2. Open up the black plastic braces and place the cutting blade housing assembly in between them with the black arrow facing toward you. 3. Make sure the cutting blade housing assembly is inserted so that the plastic braces fit around the groove area in the middle of the cutting blade housing assembly. ATTENTION: The cutting blade housing assembly can easily be mistakenly inserted at the lower groove area. Do not insert the cutting blade housing assembly so that the plastic braces fit around the skinny groove area on the bottom end of the cutting blade housing assembly. You will not be able to cut anything if the cutting blade housing assembly is assembled incorrectly because the blade will be too far off the mat and will never come in contact with the paper. 4. If in doubt, refer to pg 15, Figure 1 of your Cricut User Manual. Compare Figure 1 with your own cutting blade housing assembly. 5. Make a test cut.

USB Port

The USB port is on the machine for two reasons. The first is that it can be used for downloading future firmware updates that govern the machine's operations. The second reason is the Design Studio software.Cutting Small Fonts (this applies to those who do not have Design Studio....that software program's rules for height adjustment also include adjusting the arrows; see the Design Studio section on for further information)

Will the Cricut™ cut out a font smaller than 1"?

This is a good question and concern. We had to balance the size choices between what the machine could literally cut at with the majority of images, considering heavily the more detailed images that, going too small, just chew up the paper. So 1" is where the bottom dial setting ended up. However, there are a couple of ways that images can get smaller. 1. The default is proportional sizing, meaning that the 1" setting is for the tallest character of a font. For instance, a lower case "a" set at 1" dial size will actually come out at about 1/2" because it needs to proportionately go with a larger letter, say an upper case "A". The upper case will come out at about 1". You can turn this off and literally cut the exact dial size for every character by pressing the Real Dial Size button. 2. Many of the Creative Features enclose a letter or shape inside a larger shape that comes out VERY small. For instance the "Sign" feature on George. With this selected, the inner cut of the letter or shape itself comes out MUCH smaller than 1". There is a feature that affects the cut like this on nearly every cartridge. So we had to keep that in mind when we looked at the overall range of the size dial and smallest possibility combined. Cricut creators wanted to create a pretty big playground that tapped into the depth of creativity but allowed them to create structure as well.

Key Height Character

Each font set has one character that is its "Key Height Character." What this means is that this is the tallest character in the font and that all other characters are sized proportionately to it. So unless Real Dial Size is turned on, this is generally the only character that will cut to what the Size Dial indicates*. All other characters will come out respectively smaller so that when used together they will look correct. If Real Dial Size is selected, each of the chosen characters will cut exactly to the size indicated, regardless of proportion. You can refer to page 15 of any of the font cartridge handbooks for samples and more information.

*One exception can be the phrases included in each font set. These match the Key Height Character in size that is measured from the lowest to the highest possible peaks of each phrase.

Paper SizeQ: Can I use a smaller paper size than 6" x 12"? A:

Absolutely! Just align a corner of the smaller paper to the bottom left corner of the mat. Once loaded, use the navigation arrows to move the blade down to the upper right area of the new paper. Then press "Set Paper Size" on the Cricut Keypad to let the Cricut know that you've inserted in a different paper size than the default 6"x 12".


Did you know that you can insert the cartridge either direction? Even though the label indicates a specific "front", the cartridge actually works both ways. This may prove useful if you ever have a cartridge that has difficulty reading when inserted. Just flip it around and try again. (Powering off first is recommended.)

Loading PaperQ:

I am having problems loading mats into my Cricut. The mat won't load when I push the "Load Paper" button. Does anyone have any suggestions? A: Solution 1: If you have already tried to load the paper at least once, you'll need to press "Unload Paper" first before attempting again. The machine "thinks" that the mat is loaded the first time. Solution 2: Try pushing the mat slightly in the rollers as you press the "Load" button. This is best done my holding and pushing the mat on the side near the front of the mat. Solution 3: There is something wrong with the roller bars themselves. The Cricut needs to be serviced.

Cutting Paper Smaller than 6x12

Line up the bottom left corner of the paper with the bottom left corner of the mat. Remember that after you've navigated the blade to the upper right corner of your paper prior to cutting, you need to select the "Set Paper Size" button. This will tell the Cricut that you have selected a smaller paper size. Otherwise it still "thinks" that a 6x12 paper is loaded.

Online Demonstration Videos

Cricut online demonstration videos are an excellent instructional resource for Cricuteers who are just getting started or who would like a refresher course on the "how to's" of using the Cricut machine. Just go to the Cricut Homepage and click on the "View Demonstrations" power button icon located on the right side of the screen. You will see a "Demonstrations" category on the left side of the new screen. Simply select and view any or all of the following instructional video demonstrations: Introduction Basic training Advanced training Maintenance

Key Height Character, Revisited

In relation to a font set's Key Height Character, there are uses of Key Height found within the Shape Cartridges as well. One example is within Doodlecharm's Card Creative Feature and the respective Envelope image. When an image is cut using the Card Creative Feature, it will cut smaller, in proportion to the larger and associated Envelope Image (found in the lower right corner of the Overlay). This is so the larger envelope, when folded down, will enclose around the card (see picture). This is the basis of Foundation Shapes and their associated Companion Shapes. A Foundation Shape is the base shape of a Creative Feature. In this example, it is the plain card in the very bottom right corner of the overlay. A Companion Shape is any image that is specifically "linked" to that Foundation Shape, such as the Envelope in this sample.

Cricut Machine Freezing?

If you've encountered any "freezing" or "hanging" while trying to cut, please try the following: 1) A simple power cycle should recover you completely (press the power off, wait a few seconds and press it back on). 2) This may be associated with "hot swapping" of cartridges, or switching out cartridges without turning the machine off first. While "hot swapping" will not hurt your Cricut, you may try powering off first before removing/inserting a new cartridge, then powering back on. This just cleans out the memory and starts fresh. Try this awhile and see if it makes any difference if you are encountering any periodic freezes.

Problems with Adjusting the Cutting Size?Q:

I just received a new Cricut machine and when I try to adjust the sizing using the knob, it does not work. The LCD does not show that the knob is being used and the machine only cuts one size no matter what setting I use. Any suggestions on how to fix the problem?
A: Try the following: 1. Unload the mat if it's still inserted. 2. Move each of the dials, one at a time, all the way up to the top and then all the way to the bottom again. 3. Press the "Cut" button. (This actually doubles as the instruction to match up the dial settings to the LCD display.) 4. Try your settings again to see if they register correctly on your LCD screen. If this doesn't work, and the dials are still not displaying correctly, the machine most likely needs service.

Return the Blade to its Starting Position

If you ever have the need to return the blade to the page starting position and don't want to unload the mat, you can press the Load Paper button. This will return the blade housing to the upper left corner of the paper that is currently in the Cricut.

What to do if Your Machine is Producing Rough Cuts

If your Cricut is producing rough cuts when using the appropriate setting for your paper, you may have an insufficiently sharpened blade. Please call the Cricut customer support team 1-877-727-4288 M-F 7am-6pm MST. They can help you determine whether this is a dull blade issue or another issue. Even though your blades may be new, you may have purchased some occasional insufficiently sharpened blades which can be replaced with some blades which our team has lovingly tested and approved.

Easy Blade Height Adjustment

One of our favorite tips is to make sure that the black arrow on the green blade assembly is visibly facing out when installed. If the assembly is already installed, just loosen the arm thumbscrew and gently turn the entire assembly to face the front, then tighten the screw back up. Once this faces forward you can easily reach in and twist the top of the assembly to change the blade height WITHOUT needing to remove the assembly itself.

These tips & tricks can be found at