Hi everyone! This post is going to be all about how to pick out the best Cricut machine.
I’ve researched just about every Cricut machine comparison I could find, and I wanted to save it all in one place so that in the future when I’m asked about which Cricut someone should choose, or which features each machine has, I can just point them here!
There are three main machines worth talking about, and each has its own value to be fair: the Cricut Maker, the Cricut Joy, and the Cricut Explore Air 2. There is a whole Explore series of machines, the ones with “Air” in the title just mean they support Bluetooth and cost a little bit more.
A lot of the reviews I’ve looked at go over the features of each machine, but instead I’ll just compare different types of crafters and then which machine would work best for each.
First, the novice crafter. If you’re just getting started with vinyl cutting or home crafting and you’re looking for a Cricut, I’d definitely recommend the Cricut Explore Air 2. For just about anything you’d use it for, it can do it well, and it won’t break the bank. The Explore Air 2 doesn’t have all of the features of the Maker, but there are a lot of tutorials available for it in the Cricut community. With the money you save, you can buy a nice set of starter materials and tools (paper/adhesive vinyl/heat transfer vinyl/blank shirts) and get right into the scene.
The nice thing about Cricut machines is that they keep their value pretty well, if you decide to upgrade to the Cricut Maker later, you won’t lose too much as you can just trade up and basically pay the difference. It also means if you, like a lot of crafters, wind up keeping your machine on the shelf, you won’t be too disappointed by the money you spent (but don’t do that!).
Second, the experienced crafter. Maybe you already knit, sew, or do some woodworking. Or you have a friend that’s shown you around their Cricut in the past. For this person I’d recommend the Cricut Maker. It’s one of the most powerful home cutting machines you can buy, it doesn’t cost all that much more than the Explore Air 2, and it can work with a lot of materials (like wood/leather/metal/fabric) that the other Cricut machines can’t.
Third, the crafter-on-the-go. If you don’t have a lot of space at home, you move around with your materials a lot, or really like making greeting cards or personalized tags, the Cricut Joy is the machine I’d recommend for you. It’s incredibly small and limited in what it can cut, but its super portability means that for crafters who have very little space it’s the only sane choice.
All Cricut machines use the same Design Space software, so you actually get a lot of value from just buying the Cricut Explore Air 2 as it has the same software as the more expensive Cricuts. They also can use Cricut Access to subscribe to really great starter designs, and Design Space will allow you to work with other designers’ SVG files for free, you just have to import them and you’re set.
Hey! Randall here with a great tip on scoring with a Cricut.
So as a lot of you know, Cricut has a tool called a Scoring Stylus, it’s really great for scoring fold lines on cards, boxes, basically anything you want to go from flat to multi-dimensional!
Well, it’s been out of stock for a while and a lot of people don’t want to purchase additional tools for their Cricut unless they have to, so I wanted to share my hack for scoring with a Cricut Maker or Explore Air without the scoring stylus. If you do have the scoring stylus from an older Explore Air, you can use that instead of the Cricut Maker’s scoring wheel. Just drop it in the second pen slot and you’re good to go.
What can I use as an alternative to a Cricut scoring stylus?
Cricut scoring stylus alternatives:
- Flat side of a knife
- A ruler
- A pen or pencil
- Bone folder (if you do any bookbinding)
- Back of scissors
Basically you can use anything you have handy that won’t tear through the material you’re using.
Should I buy a Cricut scoring stylus?
A lot of people say that you don’t really need a scoring tool when you first get your Cricut. That couldn’t be further from the truth!
Sure, it’s possible to do all of the same projects, but they take a lot longer and the folds don’t look quite as neat. They’re also not terribly expensive, maybe $10 which is probably the cost in materials you’ll save from not cutting through your paper.
It can be hard to find the score line, especially on lighter materials, but the crease it gives you does make your work a lot easier and faster.
If you make a lot of or work with:
- 3d projects
it’s really great. And it’s for more than just scoring, too. I like to use it as a guide for making cuts.
What’s the difference between the scoring wheel and the scoring stylus?
Both devices have the same goal, to make folding paper a lot easier, but how they approach it and look are completely unalike.
The Scoring Wheel:
- can only be used with the Cricut Maker
- comes with two different tips for different thicknesses of materials
- uses the new adaptive tool system which changes the pressure in real time to compensate for the material you’re using
- offers more than 10x the pressure of the Scoring Stylus
- can purchase a Double Scoring Wheel for two score lines at a time for working with really thick materials like cardboard
The Scoring Stylus:
- Works with all Cricut Explore and Maker machines
- single tip which works with fewer materials that the Scoring Wheel
- a lot cheaper (~$10)
My recommendation is that if you can afford and use the Scoring Wheel, definitely get that. If you have a Cricut Explore and you’re thinking about upgrading to the Maker in the future, I’d stick with the scoring stylus for now.
If you notice your materials cracking, make sure that you’re placing the pretty side away from the score!
Thanks for reading! Please get in touch with me if there’s anything you think I left out of this tutorial, or if there are tips & tutorials you’d like to read about Cricut or Silhouette machines in the future!