Cricut 101 – Tools

Cricut 101 – Tools

Welcome back for another Cricut 101 Monday! Today we are going to discuss tools and accessories for the Cricut. These tools can be used with the Explore Air 2, Maker, or Joy (not all will be compatible with the Joy). 

First up – the items I debated on whether they were materials or tools. I landed on them being tools because I felt that materials were things you cut and these items didn’t fall into that category. 

Transfer Tape: This is what you use to get your vinyl masterpieces off the backing and onto the blank. You will find that everyone has their opinions on what works best. I’ve found you can make just about anything work if you have patience. Below are some of the common ways I’ve seen people use. 

Cricut brand transfer paper – comes in two strengths, regular and strong. The regular is very sticky and can be difficult to work with if your design is intricate; however, it is not impossible. The biggest tip I have when using regular strength Cricut transfer paper would be to stick it to your ironing board, jeans, shirt, or extra fabric laying around. This helps make it less sticky and a little easier to work with. As for the strong transfer paper, only use this for glitter vinyl! If you try to use it with regular vinyl you will be extremely frustrated and possibly ruin your design. An easy way to tell them apart is the regular transfer paper has grey guidelines while the strong grip has purple. 

Contact paper – usually found at Dollar Tree or Walmart. I tend to reach for this more than the Cricut brand. This one you can cut the size you need and use it there is no prepping it by sticking it on something. 

Painters Tape/Lint Roller Sheets– I’ve seen people use blue painters tape or sheets of a lint roller to transfer their vinyl, the one benefit to doing this is being able to remove the tape in smaller sections. When dealing with an intricate design sometimes it is hard to handle, especially for bigger projects. I don’t typically use these methods just because I feel that it is time-consuming and uses a lot of tape/lint roller sheets. I also reuse my transfer papers so the rolls last a very long time. However, this method is good to know in a pinch. 

Wax PaperI use wax paper to save HTV designs that I have cut and weeded but am not ready to place yet. I tend to batch my project so I design everything, then cut everything, then weed everything, etc. So at any given time, I may have 3-4 projects in one stage of the process. Because I don’t want to get my EasyPress out for each little design I save them up and once I have a couple I’ll press them all at once. 

Freezer Paper – I use freezer paper to cut fabric with the Explore Air 2. Since the Explore Air 2 can only cut bonded fabric, I sandwich my fabric between two pieces of freezer paper and press to secure. I can then cut my fabric and just peel off the freezer paper when done. 

Parchment Paper/Butchers paper – used as a buffer between the heat source and HTV/Infusible Ink. You can also use a Teflon sheet for this. While this is technically not required with the Cricut EasyPress I always feel better by having something between the press and my material just in case there is something on my EasyPress. 

Remember you can save and reuse transfer tape, wax paper, and parchment paper!

Common Tools: 

Mats – There are multiple mats available from Cricut, including light grip (blue), standard grip (green), strong grip (purple), and fabric (pink). The mat you want will depend on the material you are cutting as well as how sticky your mat is. For example for card stock you usually want to use a blue light grip mat, however, if you have an old green (standard grip) mat that isn’t very sticky anymore you can use that. One recommendation I have is to move the design when cutting so you aren’t always cutting in the top left-hand corner of the mat, which is where Design Space places the designs by default. This allows your mat to get more even wear and makes it last longer. I confess I have NEVER cleaned my mats; if my mats are dirty and I’m unable to use them I will typically just throw them away and write it off as a consumable expense. 

Blades – I could do an entire post on blades for the different machines, instead, I am just going to list the different options for the Explore Air 2 and the Maker. The Maker has an amazing “blade” called the Quick Swap Tool which gives you so many options!

Explore Air 2 – Fine, Deep, Fabric, (can score but must use the scoring tool in the marker spot on the machine)

Maker – Fine, Deep, Fabric, Rotary, Knife, Scoring, Quick Swap Tools: Scoring, Perforation, Wavy, Debossing, Engraving, 

Below are a few other items I always reach for while using my Cricut machine. The photos are the packages of tools I have purchased, while I only use a select few tools from each package they don’t have an option to build your own package.

Ball of foil – I use this to clean my blades, please keep in mind this will not sharpen your blade. This will, however, help remove any residue from your blade allowing it to cut nicely. 

Markers/Pens – I have a stock of Cricut brand but you can use any as long as they fit in your machine or you have an adapter to make them fit. 

Scrapers – These will help clean off your mat as well as make sure your vinyl is stuck nicely on the transfer tape or blank. 

Weeding tools – While I have a lot of Cricut tools my go-to is a mechanical pencil with a needle/safety pin glued into the end. I have pictures below of the Cricut tools as well as my homemade tool.

Brayer – The final tool I want to talk about is the brayer, this little tool comes in handy when placing items on your mat. This will make sure it is stuck well on the mat and won’t move while cutting, it also helps make sure there are no wrinkles or bubbles in your vinyl which can affect how the design will look once cut. 

A couple of other items I use regularly are the EasyPress and the BrightPad. Both are Cricut brand however off-brand heat presses or light pads work well also. I love the BrightPad for weeding dark vinyl when it is hard to see where the cut lines are. The EasyPress is the only way I apply iron-on or Infusible Ink! The consistent easy to control temperature allows me to get perfect results each time and eliminates the guesswork of using my iron. 

I think that is the majority of the tools I use on a regular basis. I’m sure I have others but these are the ones I use most often. Make sure you are subscribed to my newsletter to get notified when any new classes are announced. I’m always looking for more courses to help you out, let me know below if you have any requests for a course!

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