Best Software For Designing SVG Cutting Files
What is the best design software for creating SVG cutting files? There are a number of design software choices available. Learn which is the best for you. The most important factor in your design software choice is that it works with your cutter. The design software does not have to have drivers to cut directly to your cutter. But the design software does need to have options to export designs that will work with your cutter. So the cutter you are using, and its software requirements will be a huge factor for you in your design software choice.
Cricut Design Space
Cutters are usually shipped with software that works with the machine. But not all software is created equally. Some machines come only with the drivers necessary to make the machine work. This is true with many professional vinyl cutting machines. Other cutters come with some very basic free design software, such as Cricut Explore and Cricut Maker. Software required to work with these Cricut machines is Cricut Design Space. Design Space allows you to save your designs on their Cloud, but you cannot save them to your computer or export then for use with other cutters.
You may be satisfied with cutter software that allows you to use only designs provided by the cutter distributor for awhile. But eventually you will want to spread your creative wings to make some of your own designs. Some companies do not provide software with their cutters. They prefer to give you a option of purchasing the software of your choice. In this case, you need to make sure that the software you purchase has drivers for your particular machine.
Brother Canvas Workspace
Some cutter software allows you to open or import files that you or others have created. But they provide only basic software features. They have very little in the way of creative design and editing tools. For example, Brother has provided the free Canvas Workspace software for Scan N Cut and Design N Cut users. It includes basic design features. But you will likely need to use what is called “third party software”, software made by another company. This third party design software can be used to create your cutting projects. In order for third party software to work with your cutter, it needs to have the option to export designs that will work with your cutter.
Software Import and Export Options
Some cutters are provided with full featured design software. This software allows you to import, customize, and create cutting files. But the software may not allow you to export your work in formats that can be used with other cutters. For example, the free basic version of Silhouette Studio is excellent design software, but importing and exporting files in other formats requires paid software upgrades. Being able to export cutting files from your cutter software will be important if you want to use your cutting files with more than one cutter, or if you want to share or sell your files with someone else who uses a different cutter. Be sure to check the import and export options of the software you choose. Another thing to keep in mind is that Silhouette Studio does not allow the export of purchased designs from their online store in SVG format.
Cutters with Full-Featured Design Software
Finally, there are some cutters that are shipped with full-featured design software, that allows you to import and export cutting files. For example, Pazzles includes full-featured design software with the purchase of their cutters. Their software, InVue, (which may be purchased separately from a machine) allows you to import, create, customize, and export your cutting projects in SVG format. It included basic and advanced design functions. Therefore, this software serves as an excellent low-cost, third party cutting software.
While there are excellent cutters that do not have these important software options, it is essential that you consider creating your designs in software that does have these options. Therefore using additional design software may be necessary. In this case, make sure that the software you have chosen for your design work will work with the software provided with the machine you plan to use.
Design Software Options
The best time to evaluate software options is before you make your cutter purchase. This gives you more freedom as you consider design software options. So if you are looking into purchasing a new cutter, now is the time to consider your design software options. Every design software has a learning curve. So once you select a design software, you will need to stick with it for awhile. Learn all of the basic functions in the software that are needed for creating projects for your cutter. Then you can learn to use many of the advanced features in the software. Have patience as you learn.
Free Design Software
Inkscape is open source software that is free. This software has no plugins for cutters, so it is used strictly for designing. It does have many import and export options. Many cutter crafters use Inkscape for creating their cutting files, then export their designs in a format that can be imported into cutter software. Most cutter software will import SVG or DXF files that Inkscape can export.
The down side to using Inkscape is finding adequate support for using it for cutting purposes. There are many more tutorials available covering Inkscape features today than there were in past years. Inkscape is so full of features for designers of all types, that finding the tools needed specifically for designing cutting files can be hard to find. The best course I have found for learning to use Inkscape for designing cutting files is one produced by Jennifer Maker called Cut Above SVG Design Course
Affordable Design Software for Sale
Pazzles InVue Software
Pazzles InVue is the most affordable third party design software for sale. It is excellent software for designing SVG cutting files. It cuts directly to the Pazzles Inspiration and Pazzles Vue cutters.InVue also allows for importing and exporting SVG and WPC cutting files, making it a great option to use as third party software for use with cutters that have more limited design tools.
The Pazzles Craft Room offers excellent video training for using this software. You can find some free video tutorials for using this software on my YouTube channel. I also offer free Cutter Software support for this and most cutter software at the Cutter Software Facebook Group (Join to access free files and discussion group.)
Some third party design software will cut directly to a number of different cutters. This is handy, as you can design and cut your projects from the same software.
Sure Cuts A Lot (SCAL)
The most up-to-date of these software options is Sure Cuts A Lot version 5 . You can download a free trial of this software for 15 days to see how you like it. Even if you cannot cut directly to your particular cutter, you can still create your designs in this software, and export your projects in most common formats, including SVG, SVG for Cricut, and Brother FCM. It can also import a large number of embroidery file types.
Learning Sure Cuts A Lot
ScrappyDew has an excellent course called SCAL Classroom covering how to use Sure Cuts A Lot, including a User’s Manual. There is a special offer for a discount for this course when you purchase the software.
Make The Cut (MTC)
The Make The Cut software is excellent software for designing SVG cutting files. This software is available for purchase online. You can download the free trial version from this site, and use it indefinitely. The trial version does not allow SVG export or printing.
Make The Cut is not cloud-based. It is extremely important to protect your user registration number, in case your computer crashes. Save your entire Make The Cut! directory as well as your registration number to a thumb drive or a CD, in case you need to install Make The Cut to another computer. Copy everything from this folder C:\Program Files (x86)\Make The Cut! to the thumb drive. Then you can plug in the thumb drive to a new computer and copy these files to the new computer.
Make The Cut is full featured cutting software that will cut directly to many different cutters. It includes many advanced design features. The software imports and exports many different file types. There have not been updates to this software in several years, so plugins for newer cutters are not available. But the software is still quite competitive in the market for those designing SVG cutting files. You can create your own cutting files, or customize or edit designs that you have. Then you can select all (ctrl+a) and export as SVG (Ctrl+Shift+S). These SVG files may be imported into your favorite cutting software.
The User Gallery in Make The Cut is partially functional. You can still download thousands of designs from that Gallery. If you own Make The Cut, see this document to learn how to Retrieve your registration key by Sandy McCauley. She has also made some of the archived gallery files available for FREE download:
Files contributed by Dave (AKA Berry One) Dave contributed files primarily in MTC format. There are a few SVG files among his collection that even those who do not own Make The Cut can access.
MTC Gallery Rescue by User Paul Zingah These are primarily files in MTC format with PNG thumbnail images.
Learning Make The Cut
Support for Make The Cut software is available in the free User’s Manual as well as at the Make The Cut Forum, at the free MTC-Tuts Group (join to access free tutorials and cutting files), and at my YouTube channel.
Popup Card Studio
Those interested in making popup card designs will appreciate the option to copy and paste designs from the Make The Cut software to its companion software, Popup Card Studio (PCS). Popup Card Studio is no longer for sale. However, those who have purchased this software in the past can still use it to create popup cards. There are free YouTube tutorials for creating popup cards using Popup Card Studio on my YouTube channel. The user gallery is no longer functional. You can download an archive of most of the designs that were available in the PCS user gallery in SVG format. Even if you do not own Popup Card Studio, you may access these SVG files for making nearly 100 different popup cards.
Not So Affordable Software For Designing SVG Cutting Files
Adobe Creative Suite
Illustrator is the professional vector design software. This cloud-based software includes tools for a wide variety of design professionals in many fields. Hence, it is quite complicated, and difficult to learn the specific design tools we need for designing SVG cutting Files. Illustrator does not offer plugins for direct cutting to cutters. But the files created in Illustrator can be exported for use with other cutter software. Illustrator became popular among crafty cutters who use MAC computers, when most cutter software did not offer support for MAC. Now it is more common to find cutter software that includes MAC support.
Those aspiring to become professional designers may want to dive in to learning to use this software. Comprehensive support for cutter users is severely lacking for this software. I do recommend that if you want to be a design professional, that you get the entire Adobe Creative Suite, as you will likely need more than just Illustrator. I find that I use Adobe Photoshop and Acrobat Pro as much or more than Illustrator. If you plan to tackle Illustrator for designing SVG cutting files, I highly recommend Jennifer Maker’s Cut Above SVG Design Course . Jennifer is extremely diligent to provide personal help for her students in learning to use advanced software tools to create some amazing cutting projects.
The CorelDraw suite is another expensive vector design software that imports and exports files in many formats. Many professional cutters use this software, especially those who work with laser cutters and wood cutting machines. However, there is not much support for home cutter crafters using CorelDraw.
Favorite Features of CorelDraw
There are only a couple of features that I use in CorelDraw for my design work. My favorite is the Word Envelope that automatically fills a shape with text. See my video tutorial on how this works. The other feature in CorelDraw that I use is their TTF file export. I use this for creating fonts. CorelDraw does not provide plugins for cutting to our craft cutters, but many laser and CNC machines are shipped with plugin software that works with CorelDraw. If you have a machine that requires the use of CorelDraw, then you will need to invest in this software.
Design Software for Cricut Machines
Your older Cricut machine did not come with design software. You learned to use designs available on cartridges to create some amazing scrapbook pages, cards, 3D projects, and decorations for events. But there are times that you have some very creative ideas that you would like to try with your cutter, and you cannot find exactly the right cutting files in your cartridge collection. So perhaps it is time to learn to use cutter software so you can bring those creative ideas to life.
There are some older software versions that work with your older Cricut, including Cricut Craftroom, Make The Cut 4.1.0 or earlier, Sure Cuts A Lot 2.0, and FairyCut. But those are no longer being produced, and Cricut Craftroom is being closed. If you happen to have one of these, it would be a good idea to start learning to use it. Even very basic software can be used to create some amazing projects. The latest versions of Make The Cut and Sure Cuts A Lot allow you to use the latest and greatest software features, and transfer your designs to the older software so you can cut to your machine.
After Cricut Craftroom closes in mid-July, 2018, you will need to make some decisions. If you have a huge collection of cartridges to use with your older Cricut, you might want to consider upgrading to a Cricut Explore or Cricut Maker. Cricut Design Space, which is required for using these machines, does allow you to register your cartridges. Hence you can use all of your cartridge images and fonts on the newer machines. Cricut Design Space does have some nice design features to help you use your cartridge design collection more creatively. The software also allows you to import images and SVG files from other sources. For more information on how to use SVG files in Cricut Design Space see my post on How to Use SVG files in Cricut Design Space.
Do You Need a New Cutter?
You may need a new cutter if your creative needs have outgrown the features available with your current setup, or if support for your cutter has been discontinued.
If you decide you do need a new cutter, it is important to consider your cutter software needs as well. Take some time to research the options available to you. An electronic cutter requires some kind of software to drive it. You need to make sure that the machine and software combination suits your needs. If you already have a favorite software for designing SVG cutting files, will it work with the cutter you are considering?
Note: I use some affiliate links in this post only with products that I use. When you purchase products using my affiliate links, it does not cost you any more, but I will share some commission. Thanks!
Would you like to see some of my FREE SVG projects? Check them out in my FREE Resource Library.
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How to Use the Regal Split Monogram Font
Learn to use the Regal Split Monogram Font in your cutter software to create lovely personalized gifts for weddings, anniversaries, and other occasions. You will find the FREE font in my Free Resource Library.
Please note: Some affiliate links may be used in this post. I am affiliated only with products that I use. When you purchase products using my affiliate links, it does not cost you any more, but I will share some commission. Thanks!
Regal Split Monogram font in TTF format from the Free Resource Library
12″ square ceramic tile
outdoor vinyl 12″ square
12″ square vinyl transfer tape
Vinyl Pick Tool for weeding
How to Download and Install the Regal Split Monogram Font
To use the Split Regal Monogram font, you will need to first download it. You can get the zipped font from my Free Resource Library. Save the zipped file to your computer. Double click on the saved file, and select Extract All. Now you can right click on the extracted font, and select Install. The font will be installed into your computer’s system fonts folder, and will be available for you to use in any software that allows use of True Type Fonts. You can use it in your cutter software, just as you use any other font.
How to use the Regal Split Monogram Font in your Cutter Software
Once the Regal Split Monogram Font is installed in your computer’s system fonts folder, you can access it from your cutter software. Select the font in your cutter software by clicking on the T. Scroll through the font list to the R fonts. Select the Regal Split Monogram1.ttf font. Now type the capital letter you wish to use for the monogram. The design for that letter should appear on your screen. Resize the design to 10″ with the aspect ratio locked. If your project will be smaller or larger, size the monogram to fit. Since my tile is 12″ square, I chose to size my monogram to 10″. This allows for some room under the monogram for additional text.
Using fonts in each software is slightly different, so I have made some video tutorials on how to use this Regal Split Monogram Font in the most popular cutter software programs. Click on the software name to view the video.
Brother Canvas Workspace – Scan N Cut
Adding Custom Text to the Regal Split Monogram
There is a space in the middle of the monogram for you to add customized text to the design. You will need to select a font from your collection for this text. I used Caslon BD BT for my text. Upper case letters may work easiest, although I used upper and lower case letters for this particular project. After you have selected the font you would like to use for the remainder of the project, type your text. I used the last name of the couple for whom I made this tile plus the word “Family” in the space in the middle of the monogram.
Resize Your Custom Text
Resize your text to fit the space in the middle. You need to unlock the sizing tool, and drag the text to fit the available width and height. You may slightly overlap the top edge and bottom edge of the text with the bars of the two sections. Then select All (Ctrl+A) and weld all pieces together. Another way to do this is to make the text slightly smaller than the opening in the middle of the monogram. The text can fit in between the two parts of the monogram. But I think the welded version is easier to weed and apply.
Adding Custom Text Below the Regal Split Monogram
You can leave space below the monogram design where you can add additional text such as an important date. My project is a wedding gift for friends, so I added their wedding date under the monogram design. I used the same font that I used in the middle of the Monogram. Once you have added the text of your choice, resize it to the same width you used for the monogram design. You can change the height of the text to fit your available space.
Save Your Completed Monogram Design
Next, give your design a name, and save the file in your software. I like to save the design before I weld the customized text, so that the design will be ready to use for another gift. But once the design is saved, I weld overlapping letters. It is also a good idea to group everything together. But if you are using Cricut Design Space, rather than grouping, you should select all, right click, and select Attach. This keeps all of the design together when you go to cut your project.
Cutting your Regal Split Monogram Design
Be sure to do a test cut on your vinyl before cutting the large design. See the post on Performing a Test Cut . You need a very accurate blade depth and cutting pressure for this project. Make sure that your blade cuts cleanly through the vinyl. The blade should NOT cut through the backing material on the vinyl. If the cutting pressure is inadequate, you will have an extremely difficult time weeding the vinyl that will not be used on your project. Too much pressure may also cause bunching and tearing of your vinyl. Use a slower cutting speed, as the monograms contain some very intricate, fine lines.
Weeding Your Regal Split Monogram
Weeding involves removing all of the vinyl that you do NOT want to place on your tile. I put boxes around the text at the bottom and around the main monogram design before cutting, so that weeding was a bit easier. Use a sharp, pointed object to lift the unwanted outside vinyl pieces away from the backing. Use scissors to trim away sections of the vinyl that you are pulling away. Don’t allow vinyl pieces to attach themselves to portions of the design that will be placed on your tile. After you remove the large outer pieces, work very carefully to remove the tiny pieces inside of letters and designs. Be careful not to lift any of the design pieces away from the backing.
Apply Vinyl Transfer Tape to the Weeded Vinyl
Apply a 12″x 12″ piece of vinyl transfer tape over the cut and weeded vinyl design, a little bit at a time. Avoid getting air trapped between tape and weeded design. Pull away the backing material slowly, while pressing down on the transfer material from the top.
Use a squeegee tool firmly across the front of the design to remove all air bubbles and wrinkles. Rub firmly on front and back of design to get the vinyl pieces to stick to the transfer paper. At the same time you want the backing to release the vinyl pieces. Check the front and back of your design to make sure that everything is firmly in place where it belongs on the transfer tape. This is the time to fix any crooked pieces of vinyl.
Pull up on a top corner of the transfer tape. Make sure that the cut vinyl pieces stick to the transfer paper as you slowly peel it away from the backing.
Clean the Tile and Apply the Vinyl Design
Remove all dirt and oils from the tile. Use an alcohol wipe to clean the entire surface so that the vinyl will stick to it.
The large 12″ square design may want to jump onto the tile before you are ready. Once this vinyl sticks to the tile, it will NOT want to come up. So it is very important to place the vinyl exactly where you want it to be the first time.
Place the backing paper over most of the tile to prevent the design from sticking to the tile prematurely. Place the lower edge of the design where you want it on the tile. Use the squeegee to remove bubbles and apply the vinyl design smoothly to the tile. Move the backing back little by little, as you press the cut vinyl to the tile. Inspect the vinyl to make sure that all air bubbles and wrinkles are smooth and flat to the tile surface. If you have some bubbles, use the squeegee to move the bubbles to the edges of the cut design. You may use a heat tool to remove stubborn bubbles or wrinkles. Poke smaller bubbles with a needle or tip of your pointed tool to let the air escape.
Remove the Vinyl Transfer Material
Once all of the vinyl pieces are in place on the tile, slowly peel back the transfer material 180 degrees over itself to remove it. Make sure that the vinyl pieces stick to the tile as you peel away the transfer material.
Check your vinyl to make sure it is all secure on the tile. You special gift is now ready to give. The vinyl will last for many years. Your project is sure to be a blessing for its recipient.
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Cricut Explore or Cricut Maker
You have done your due diligence, and have decided that you must have a Cricut machine, but you cannot decide which would be the better purchase for you. Should you get the Cricut Explore or Cricut Maker. You want one of these machines because they allow you to use your huge collection of Cricut Cartridges with the Online Cricut Design Space software. Third party software can be used to create your own designs to cut, and import them into Cricut Design Space to cut on one of these cutters. Import images, and the software will create cutting lines for you. What does one do that the other cannot do? We will take a close look at the differences to help with this tough decision.
Cricut MakerCricut Explore Gold
All of the models of Cricut Explore and Cricut Maker use the same free software, Cricut Design Space™ . The prices for these machine vary greatly. Depending on the package or bundle that you select, you may purchase a Cricut Explore for as low as $149.99 plus tax or a Cricut Maker for as low as $399.99 plus tax. The price difference is about $250.00. Are the extra features available on the Cricut Maker worth the price difference for you?
Cricut Machine Basic Features
The original Explore machine was produced with dual tool holders, a single speed, and no built in wireless. The Explore Air machines boasted of the added wireless feature. A lower priced version, the Explore Air One had only a single tool holder, plus the wireless feature. Next the Explore Air Two came out, with its dual tool holders, built-in wireless, and a new dual speed option. All of these different versions of the Explore machines were sold in a variety of “bundles” and colors. But they are all basically the same machine with the same cutting ability. You can see a comparison chart for the available Explore and Maker models here.
Cricut Maker Features
The Cricut Maker, the newest of the Cricut machines, has the added ability to use two new tools. The Rotary Tool shipped with the original Cricut Maker.
The new Knife Blade tool is a separate purchase. These two new tools can only be used with the Cricut Maker. They cannot be used with the Cricut Explore machines.
Material Settings for Cricut Explore
All of the Cricut Explore machines cut with up to 350 grams of pressure. Pressure settings may be adjusted in the software, when Cricut Explore machine is chosen, and the dial on the machine is set to Custom. Here are some instructions for using Custom Settings with the Cricut Explore. See the Cut settings for the Cricut Explore machines here.
Material Settings for Cricut Maker
The Cricut Maker can cut all of the same materials as the Cricut Explore machines, plus many, many more. When using the Cricut Maker with Cricut Design Space, a much longer list of Material Settings is available. The Cricut Maker can use the same standard and deep cut blades used by the Explore machines to cut similar media. The pressure settings for those materials may be adjusted up to 350 grams of pressure. Settings for materials requiring use of the Rotary Blade may be edited for pressures up to 4,000 grams! Settings for materials requiring use of the Knife blade may NOT be edited. The heaviest built in pressure for use with the Knife blade is 750 grams. The advantage of using the Knife blade is the length and thickness of the blade itself. Tough materials are managed by the software using a combination of multiple passes and pressure settings.
Material Settings for Cricut “Legacy Machines
The older Cricut “Legacy” machines, Personal, Create, Expression I, Cake, Cake Mini, Expression II, and Imagine, were able to cut heavier media to a certain extent. See the Legacy Settings Chart for Cricut machines, for use on the older Cricut machines.
The “Legacy” Cricut machines primarily used cartridges. Your cartridges could be linked to your Cricut account by signing in to Cricut Craftroom, and linking your cartridges to your account. All cartridges that have been linked with the Cricut Craftroom automatically become available for your use with your account in Cricut Design Space. However, the Cricut Craftroom is soon to be shut down. While it is still open, you can use it If you have cartridges still not linked to your account at Cricut.com.
Using Cartridges with Cricut Explore or Cricut Maker
The Explore machines include a port on the top left side of the machine. Use that for linking cartridges to Cricut Design Space. To use it, go here , Login, and click on Home in the upper left corner of the screen. Select Link Cartridge, and this window opens.
Select the green Link Cartridge button. Then the cartridge will automatically be linked to your Cricut account for use with either Cricut Explore or Cricut Maker machines.
However, Cricut Maker does NOT have a port for linking cartridges to your account. You can purchase an optional Cartridge Adapter for linking your cartridges to your account. The process for using this adapter will be the same as Linking a Cartridge on the Explore, except you will plug the adapter into the small USB port on the side of the Cricut Maker, and plug the cartridge into the adapter.
If you have the Cricut Maker, but do not have the Cartridge Adapter, you can take photographs of the front and back sides of your cartridges, contact Cricut Support. Send these photographs to them, and they will manually link your cartridge to your account. Then you can use the cartridge content with your Cricut Design Space account on your Cricut Explore or Cricut Maker without charge.
Will Your Choice be Cricut Explore or Cricut Maker?
Think carefully about what you want to cut. If you want to cut some of the materials that only the Cricut Maker can cut, consider saving your money to get that machine. But if you want to get started cutting right away, and have a limited budget, you could purchase the Cricut Explore now. Then later you can upgrade to the Cricut Maker.
For example, I have always wanted to cut tissue paper, crepe paper, and inexpensive construction paper on my cutters. But the Cricut Maker is the only machine in my collection that will cut these very light weight papers without some kind of stabilizer. Cricut Explore can cut through felt and fabric, but you will need to stiffen them or use a backing of some kind. But the Cricut Maker cuts all of these very nicely without needing a backing or stabilizer. Cricut Explore cannot cut through basswood, but Cricut Maker does an excellent job cutting through Basswood that is up to 1/16″. The Maker’s knife blade cuts through thicker and tougher media better than blades in other machines.
What Will You Cut First?
Once you make your choice, get ready for a great new cutting adventure! Check out some of the resources available to you in our FREE Resource Library. Whichever machine you choose, these posts will help you get ready.
I would love to see a photo of your first project! You can send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Get Your Cutter Out of the Box
You were so excited to purchase a new electronic cutter so you could start creating fabulous projects. Is that Cricut, Cameo, Scan N Cut, Pazzles, Klic N Kut, Silver Bullet, or other fine cutter still sitting in its unopened box? It is time to get your cutter out of the box! Don’t let the warranty expire on your machine before you even have a chance to use it! Do you need some help getting started using your cutter? Do you want to make some of those lovely projects you have been admiring for so long? I have helped many crafters get their cutters out of the box, set up, and started using them. If you live near me in the Pacific Northwest, you might want to come for a visit. Or perhaps you can attend a class that I am teaching in your area. Alternatively, the following tips can help you get started. You can begin to create some of the projects you envisioned when you invested in your cutting machine.
I was frightened to take my cutter out of the box when I first received it, about 13 years ago. It took me 4 months to actually start using it! Some private help from the company who sold me the cutter gave me courage to get my cutter out of the box. Perhaps you don’t have the advantage of hands-on help where you are. If not, I hope I can help you a bit here to get you started. Here are some steps to help motivate you get your cutter out of the box, and set up. Then you can get started using it for some creative and fun crafting!
Prepare a Space for your Cutter .
While you are waiting for your new cutter to arrive, decide where you will be putting it once it arrives. This is a great time to prepare a space for your cutter. You need a space as wide as your cutter, and about 36 inches deep. Your machine can sit on a desk, or under a shelf on your desk. Leave some room behind and in front of it to allow the cutting mat to move in and out of the machine smoothly without interference. If you don’t have room on your desk, you can set up a sturdy table, stand, or rolling cart behind or beside your desk. Cutters equipped with bluetooth may be used further from your desk after you get it set up. You will find it much easier to get bits of crafting done if you don’t have to worry about taking care of these details each and every time you want to create something. You will use your cutter more if it is within arm’s reach of your computer work space, plugged in, and ready to use.
- Prepare a place for your cutting supplies near your cutter. Having a shelf above the cutter could be a workable solution. Do you have some space under or near the table, stand or rolling cart where you can keep your cutting supplies? You will need a place for your mats, blades, and frequently used tools. Mats need to be stored flat. I keep my covered mats stacked neatly on top of my drawer cubes. Get the free list of Five Must-Have Cutter Crafting Tools in the Free Library.
- Learn while waiting for delivery day. You can watch some unboxing YouTube videos . Find the company’s support page, join some cutter support groups, and learn about your new purchase. Unboxing videos will help you to warm up to the idea of getting your cutter out of the box, and become friendly with the possibilities waiting for you with this new tool.
- Delivery Day! Think about why you purchased this machine in the first place as you head toward that box. Place the box on a large table with room for all of its contents.
Unpack the Box
. You can use scissors, a box cutter or knife to cut through the packing tape and open the box. There is another box inside of the shipping box, so you don’t have to worry about damaging the machine when you are opening this outer box. You may see a packing list which you can check as you unpack the contents of the box.
- Remove the inner box from the shipping carton. You may need help pulling it out. It may be easier for you to get the inner box out by turning the carton on its side or upside down to pull the outer box off.
- Open the inner box. The cutting mat is often wrapped loosely around the body of the machine. Take it out and allow it to lie flat while you unpack the remainder of the box contents.
- Remove packaging. The machine is wrapped in plastic foam or bag to protect it from moisture during transit. Remove this wrap and other packing material used to stabilize the machine during shipment. Save all packing materials. If you ever need to ship your machine for service or repairs, etc., it will be much easier to ship if you have the original packing materials.
- Look for the “Quick Setup” instructions that are most likely near the top of the box. This will guide you through each step of setting up your new machine. Continue unpacking the contents of your box, to make sure everything is present that you will need. Your Quick Start Guide will list everything that should be in the box.
- Power Cord and Converter Box. The converter box may look like many others that you have around the house. However, this one is unique to this cutter. Do not use other power supplies intended for other cutters or devices, as not all electronic devices have the same input and output power ratings. Use some tape to label these cords with the cutter name to avoid confusion in the future.
One end of the black cord plugs into a surge protector strip, and the other end plugs into the black box. You should invest in a surge protector power strip if you don’t already have one, in order to protect your machine from sudden surges of power that could destroy your machine.
- USB Cable If your cutter connects to a computer via USB, it probably shipped with an A toB USB cable, similar to one that a printer uses. One end of the cable plugs into the cutter, while the other plugs into a USB port on your computer. Plan to use a primary USB port on the back of the computer, rather than an auxiliary port or hub. If a hub becomes necessary, use only a self-powered hub. Even if your machine is equipped with blue tooth wireless technology, you may still need a USB cable when first setting up your machine. Check your instructions and follow the recommendations for setting up the machine and software used to run it.
Software – If your cutter purchase included software, there may be a software CD in the box. Some companies provide software downloads in lieu of an installation CD. Software frequently requires updates, so even if you do have an installation CD, you will need to install software updates once your machine is set up. If there is a registration number in or on the CD packaging, be sure to put that number in a safe place. Be sure to register your machine and software with the company. This software has the License Key number on the back of the CD envelope.
- Don’t let your warranty run out without doing some test cuts on your new machine. There should be a warranty document included in your box. Take a look at that to see if you have any warranty time left, if you delayed in opening your box. Most electronic cutters come with a one-year warranty. If that time is drawing short, you should plan to dive right in to using your cutter as soon as possible! There is likely a warranty registration card. You should definitely register your machine right away, either by sending in the card, or registering its serial number online with the company.
Find and record the Serial number on your machine. You will need this number to register your cutter. It is usually found on the bottom of the machine.
- Remove packaging Tape. Moving parts of your cutter may have been taped down for protection during shipping. Your quick setup instructions should direct you to locate the positions of the tape or other packing materials, so that you can remove it before starting to use your craft cutter.
- Insert the cutting blade into the blade holder, and insert the blade holder properly into the carriage on the cutting head. The blade should barely be peeking out from the end of the blade holder for most cutting purposes.
Be sure to position the blade holder in the carriage so that the depth setting is visible from the front of the machine. This will make it easier to make adjustments to blade depth without having to remove the blade holder from the carriage.
Plugging in your Cutter
- Take a look on the machine to find the power port. The USB port will be located near the power port. Plug in the power cord to the converter box. Plug the other end of the power cord into the machine, and plug in to a power source. Don’t turn the power on until you are directed to do so by the instructions that came with your machine.
- You may find some extras in your box such as sample materials to cut, depending on the machine package that you purchased.
- Install the software that will be used to drive your machine as directed by the manufacturer’s instructions. Some cutters use online software, while others come with stand-alone software that you will install on your computer. Some also have apps for your mobile devices. Go ahead and get the software loaded on your computer and/or your mobile device.
- Once you get your cutter power plugged in and get it to connect with your computer or mobile device, you may be directed to do some firmware updates. Most cutter manufacturers provide updates for the machines they produce. You may need to access the most recent Firmware updates for your machine online. Firmware is the programming that is built in to the machine. The update process is usually simple, and often it runs automatically. During the software installation process, the drivers necessary for your computer to communicate with your cutter will be installed as well.
Get Support if Needed
- Don’t let this process get in the way of setting up your machine. You can always contact the company from which you purchased the machine for direct help in setting it up. Don’t be afraid to call them, email them, fill out a support ticket on their web site, or post your questions in online forums. Even if your machine is now out of warranty, most companies are willing to provide the help you need to get your machine and software up and running.
You now have your cutter out of the box, set up and ready to use! Don’t forget to grab your free list of Five Must-Have Cutter Crafting Tools from the Free Library, and get them in their new home near your cutter. Then you are ready to move on to making some test cuts and get started on making some of those great projects you have envisioned!
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