What is a Cricut machine and what does it do? I’m answering all your most frequently asked Cricut questions in this blog post and video!
My Cricut machines are some of my favourite tools in my craft arsenal. I get lots of questions about Cricuts whenever I feature one in a DIY blog post or a video. Whether it’s making personalized gifts, vinyl decals, unique home decor or clothing, my Cricut is one of my favourite tools to use.
Today, I’m sharing all about the Cricut. You’ll learn what it is, how it works, which Cricut you should purchase in 2022, and so much more!
Watch my video on What is a Cricut
What is a Cricut machine?
A Cricut is a cutting machine that can cut a wide variety of materials for your craft projects like paper, vinyl, HTV (heat transfer vinyl) and cardstock. Some Cricut machines can even cut thin wood, leather, fabric and more.
How Cricut machines work
You can connect a Cricut to your computer wirelessly via Bluetooth, create or download designs onto your computer, and them send them to your Cricut for cutting. Cricut has software called Design Space. It’s available for Windows, MAC, tablet & iOs (iPad & iPhone), and Android smartphone. Design Space allows you to create and import designs to cut with your machine. The Cricut houses a tiny blade (or rotary cutter, or pen, or scoring tool) inside.
Once you have a design ready to cut in Design Space, you can fasten your desired material onto a 12 inch wide cutting mat. Then, send your design from your computer to your Cricut wirelessly, and then load your material into your machine. With the press of a button, your project will begin cutting. Click here for a quick overview on the Cricut website about the Cricut machine experience.
Can Cricut cut fabric, wood, and leather?
Yes, along with paper, vinyl & cardstock some Cricut machines can cut materials like fabric, leather and even wood! Read on to see which machines can cut thicker or more delicate materials.
Can I upload my own images to cut with my Cricut?
Yes, you can upload your own images into Cricut Design Space to then cut with your machine. You can also upload your own fonts for use in Design Space. Learn how to do that right here.
Which Cricut should I buy?
There are currently 5 types of Cricut machines on the market: Cricut Joy, Cricut Explore 3, Cricut Maker 3, Cricut Explore Air 2, and the Cricut Maker,. Choosing which machine to buy will depend on what types of project you’d like to make. All machines come with Cricut’s free Design Space software, and they all cut different types of materials. Here’s an overview on the different types of Cricut machines currently available to buy with their capabilities.
The Cricut Joy is a more compact machine than the other two for quick, everyday DIY projects. It can only cut materials up to 5.5 inches wide. You can purchase material that is very long (up to 20 feet). It cuts over 50 materials and it’s very portable. The Joy can use 2 tools for cutting and writing – the fine point blade and the pen. You can also use the Card Mat with the Joy to create quick and beautiful greeting cards.
I’d recommend this machine if you are a beginner crafter, want to spend less, and want to create simple projects like vinyl signs, cards and small iron-on designs. Shop the Cricut Joy here.
Cricut Explore 3
The Explore 3 is similar to the Explore Air 2 in that it will cut most materials that you’ll want to craft with like vinyl, iron-on material and paper. The main difference is that this machine can use Smart Materials. Smart Materials do not require Cricut’s mat to cut them. Your machine can cut up to 2x as fast when using these materials. The Explore 3 also has a sleeker design than the previous version (Cricut Explore Air 2). Shop the Cricut Explore 3 here.
This is the machine I recommend to most crafters because it can cut a variety of materials. Plus, it’s less expensive than the Maker 3.
Cricut Maker 3
The Maker 3 does everything the Explore 3 does, with the addition of being able to cut thicker materials or more delicate materials like leather, thin woods and fabrics. You can cut over 300 materials with this machine. You can use over 12 tools for cutting, writing, scoring and other pro-level effects. The knife blade and rotary blade tools are exclusive to the Maker machines. You can also use the Print then Cut feature with the Maker.
I’d recommend this machine if you want to venture into more complicated projects and experiment with a wider range of materials. It’s like the Explore 3 in that it can use Smart Materials that don’t require a mat. It cut up to 2 times as fast as the previous model. This is a more versatile machine for a pro-level crafter. Shop the Cricut Maker 3 here.
The Venture is Cricut’s newest machine launched in 2023. This is a wide-format professional cutting machine that cuts over 100 materials and cuts at commercial speeds. It’s compatible with 7 tools to write, foil, score & more. The benefits of this machine is that it can cut material up to 25 inches wide, and it’s faster than any of the other Cricut cutting machines. However, this is a pricey machine and it’s quite bulky to store. You can purchase a stand for it which I find extremely handy and well-designed.
I’d recommend this machine if you want to use your Cricut to create items to make and sell. It would also be ideal in an educational setting like a classroom or a library. Shop the Cricut Venture here.
Cricut’s Older Machines
Cricut Explore Air 2
The Explore Air 2 will cut most materials you’ll use for a wide variety of DIY projects like vinyl, paper, cardstock and chipboard. You can cut over 100 materials with this machine, and you can use 4 tools for cutting, writing and scoring. The Explore Air 2 also features the Print then Cut feature where you can use your printer to print designs onto printable vinyl and then cut them with your Cricut. This is a great way to make custom stickers. Even though it’s an older machine, you can still use Design Space with the Explore Air 2. It’s also more affordable than the Explore 3. Shop the Cricut Explore Air 2 here.
This machine does everything the Cricut Explore Air 2 does, with the addition of being able to cut thicker or more delicate materials like leather, thin woods and fabrics. You can cut over 300 materials with this machine. You can use over 12 tools for cutting, writing, scoring and other pro-level effects. The knife blade and rotary blade tools are exclusive to the Maker. You can also use the Print then Cut feature with the Maker.
I’d recommend this machine if you want to venture into more complicated projects and experiment with a wider range of materials. Shop the Cricut Maker here.
So, what’s the best Cricut machine right now?
The best Cricut machine for you will vary wildly on what you want to make. For the general crafter, I recommend the Cricut Explore 3. It cuts the most popular materials – iron-on vinyl, vinyl, cardstock etc. – and it’s cheaper than the Maker & Venture. If you want to use the Cricut for commercial reasons like creating dozens of t-shirts at a time, the Venture might be the best investment for you because of its speed. It can also cut more designs at a time because of its wide-format.
Who sells Cricut machines?
You can buy Cricuts directly from Cricut’s website (here), or Amazon is another good place to purchase the machines and accessories. Click here to shop Cricut on Amazon. Major craft retailers like Michaels and JOANN also stock Cricut machines and supplies.
Cricut machine coupon
Use code THEDIYMOMMY10 to get 10% off any Cricut cutting machine or heatpress* (no minimum). Click here to shop.
*Excludes: materials/accessories/mystery boxes/etc. US/CA only. Unlimited uses per code Expires 12/31/23
Are Cricut machines hard to use?
Cricut machines come with a thorough online manual and there are a lot of other Cricut resources online, so they are fairly easy to learn how to use. Design Space and the Cricut machine itself are both designed to be very user-friendly. You don’t need lots of graphic design experience to use them (though it does help if you want to create your own designs from scratch).
There’s a library of images and designs in Cricut’s Design Space that are simple to import as a new project. Some are free, and some can be purchased at a low cost. You can also purchase a Cricut Access subscription for a monthly fee to access all of the Cricut Design Space fonts and images.
How to get started using a Cricut
To start using a Cricut right out of the box, follow along with the guide that’s included with your machine. Type in a URL, and the guide shows you how to connect your Cricut to your device via USB or Bluetooth, and how to setup Design Space.
Watch my video on how to use a Cricut for the first time
I’ve created a step-by-step tutorial video on how to setup a Cricut Explore Air 2 right from the box. Watch it below for a visual example on how to use a Cricut for the first time:
Cricut How-To Videos
Watching video tutorials is a wonderful way to learn how to use a Cricut. I have many Cricut video tutorials on my YouTube channel, and you can find them here. You can also find all of my blog posts with Cricut DIYs and inspiration right here. You can also find many helpful video tutorials on Cricut’s website here.
What materials do I need to get started making things with my Cricut?
There are some essential materials and tools that I’d recommend purchasing with your Cricut to get started:
Are Cricut machines worth it?
If you love to craft – especially with paper and vinyl – a Cricut machine is a good investment. It will make your cut projects look crisp and professional. Plus once you are confident using it, your crafts will be much quicker to create. There are also may ways you can make money with your Cricut like selling custom t-shirts, mugs, decals etc. online or at craft fairs. I have definitely used my Cricut machines a lot, and continue to get more and more ideas on things I could create with them!
Cricut Project Ideas
Click on one of my blog posts below to start making fun DIY projects with your Cricut.
Tell me: Would you ever buy a Cricut? If you have one, what do you use it for?
This post was originally published March 2020 and has since been updated.