Large Scale Central

CRICUT Explore Air

OK So I talked the wife into the idea that she really really needed one of these machines for her scarp booking. So She bought one. I told her that I had plenty of room for it down stairs on my work bench. I have had it for about 5 weeks now but finally fired it up. To only a few minutes to set up and register.

So for those that don’t know what these machines do they are a multipurpose cutter/plotter. It can cut a wide variety of materials from paper and viynal to even wood veneer aluminum and leather. It can cut up to a thickness of 1mm, thicker cuts require multiple passes. I have it primarily for cutting my own vinyl decals and stencils as well as cutting styrene parts. Although I also do wood inlay work so it will get used there and I am intrigued with its ability to cut aluminum as well for making real metal bits. I am also thinking it could make some killer filigree cutting the adhesive colored foil. Make it like metal leafing I am thinking. We will see.

So for a review I cut a very simple project for my daughters school project. Just some simple letters out of 12X12 scrap book paper. The Cricut design software is basic but for this that all you need. You can get the font, size, and space all perfect. then just hit go and it spits it out. You get a sticky cutting mat that holds the materiel your cutting and lined up on it just so is what allows the machine to know where its at. Pretty cool device. Can’t wait to play more with it.

As I work with projects I will update as I push its limits.

So, that’s what the so called flux capacitor is. A doohickey cutter.

Yep finally found the on off switch

I’ve been using an older model Cricut machine to make decals, using white decal paper. You have to cut them out letter by letter, but they certainly look better than any painting I could do!


I have fussed with single letter water slides before and that is tedious. Thats one of the main reasons for getting this machine is to replace waterslides with my own vinyl. But I do have a bunch of white water slide paper that I will use. I hadn’t really thought about it until you mentioned it. Will be interesting to try.

So I played with the machine a bit more. My wife and I are celebrating our 25th this year and I am throwing her a party. I was able to very easily (once I figured out how to make things stay put between design and cut phase) make a two part party invitation with an outer and inner piece of paper that has a cut out that shows the inner paper.

Not exactly MAN work but it is teaching me what the thing can and can’t do. One thing it can not do at all very well is cut fine detail. Its has to be fairly large cuts or it lifts and tears. Another thing so far that I have noticed is that even with the .03 pen which is the finest I have it is a felt type and bleed a bit. Would be nice to have fine point ball points.

Devon, I’ve got (my wife’s got) the same machine. I’m going to be playing with making some vinyl paint masks here in the coming weeks. I know I can cut the vinyl easy enough, and I can certainly go that route if the masks don’t work out.



Yeah Kevin,

I was thinking the same thing. I almost think if it makes good masks then that would be better than the actual vinyl decal maybe. Either way you know you will get what you need. I was thinking of seeing if it will cut the adhesive back foils. Could look a lot like metal leafing or gold or silver paint as a decal.

It’ll cut it, as the cut depth can be controlled fairly well. The question is, can you then peel the backing without tearing the foil to apply it? The “chrome” foil I’ve used for various projects is pretty thin. I don’t know that I’m patient enough to cut some filigree or anything too fancy. Maybe the foil tape I use for roof panels might work, but that’s about the same thickness as the vinyl.



Mention cutting of masking material .

I was wondering if the Badger line of ‘frisket’ would work with your Cricut ?

I’ve been meaning to try out it’s compatibility with the Roland vinyl cutter.


I have some frisket paper. I will have to give that a shot. Good idea.

So I finally got around to cutting some lettering with this thing in vinyl.

This is on a Bachmann lil hauler combine. The letters are .33 tall Engravers Bold. I like that you can use the design center to set true height instead of font size in points. This was cut with ease with a pretty used blade. I think it would cut smaller in a less detailed font. I want to give it a try. How small have people cut letters? I cut the letters and then trimmed the whole strip at the bottom the same height I wanted the letters of the bottom of the letter board. I then put masking tape over the top of the strip. I peeled the back of and set the letters and then carefully peeled the masking tape first and then the surrounding waste. Took two tries to work out the technique but once I got it it was easy.

Also in this thread earlier we talked about cutting foil and such. Well Cricut makes adhesive foil in all sorts of colors. I think the copper would make for some very cool lettering. But I still think you could use the vinyl as a stencil and paint it as well. Anyway I just thought I would post an update.

Devon, Next time try weeding the background vinyl before putting the letters on the car. Then place the transfer tape on the weeded graphic. If you use a clear transfer tape, you can see where you are positioning the letters.

I have cut less then 1/4 inch letters, using a san-serif font ( helvetica type ). Big pain in the a$$ to weed.

Two hints:

New sharp blades will cut smaller detail cleaner.

Premium vinyl is thinner and cuts cleaner in smaller fonts.

Prep the area you’r placing the graphic on with an alcohol based application fluid/cleaner before applying ( the smaller the graphic the more important this becomes ).

Don’t touch the adhesive side of the graphic ( the smaller the graphic the more important this becomes ).

Use fresh new dated vinyl ( fresh adhesive ) ( the smaller the graphic the more important this becomes ).

If possible slow down the cut speed, for some reason it does seem to help for cleaner corners.

If you are going to use the graphic as a painting mask, positive or negative, us a repositional adhesive vinyl, and remove before the paint drys.


Weeding the design first makes a heck of a lot more sense. As for clear transfer tape what do you recommend. I figured scotch tape wouldn’t work so didn’t us it. Packing tape? or is there a special tape and where would one get it.

I do have a new blade but can’t figure out how to get the old one out (

I have not even tried to mess with cut speed. Thanks for all the advice. I want to do some more work with it and cut some smaller stencil font style letters as small as I can get them.

Scotch tape works. (See my article in the current GR). Also, Cricut sells transfer sheets. I picked up a roll of it a month or so ago when buying vinyl for a project my wife was doing for my cousin. Haven’t used it, but I’ve not done anything yet for which Scotch tape wouldn’t work well enough.

Careful with the smaller fonts, as if the lettering is too thin, it will not cut out the entire letters, or they will cut as a line and not something you can actually lay down.

Of the three methods I wrote about in my article (direct lettering, stencil, and mask), I found the results of using it as a mask to be the least acceptable. Using them as a stencil works well if you’re doing something where the thickness of the vinyl sheet would be decidedly noticeable, though the Cricut vinyl sheet is pretty thin. I tend to be a stickler for that kind of thing, and comparing the diesel I just did with vinyl artwork to the one I did with dry transfers, I can’t tell the difference unless I’m right on top of it.



With the family’s Cricut I’ve done .25 inch lettering. Trouble is these old machines are only able to use their proprietary cartriges, and most of the fonts are too cartoon like for my taste. I have used the block lettering (like Helvetica) and their serif font on car bodies. The attached photo shows Cricut font lettering on our donation caboose.

I, too, use masking tape after I pull the weed out. I also have been using my Cricut to make stencils.

I just did some letter that were about 3/16 in the stencil font. Well way too small for actual letters, the lines too thin and they tore up a bit. But the negative was ripe for a stencil. It worked fine but my painting technique needs work. I forgot the old trick of applying the base color or a clear first to seal the edges. But actually did a fairly nice job. I will take pictures of it when I get the other side done.

I like the looks of the painted letters better, especially on a weathered car as this one is, not so stark. I like hte pic above of bobs the paint gives a batter textured look especially since I will need this weathered. I am thinking I like it enough that I might even remove the vinyl above and stencil and paint it. We see.

But I do like the possibilities of it. I did figure out how to get the new cutter in there, who would have thunk to just pull it out. I did a test cut at .25 and the letters looked goosd.

Devon, Stop by your local sign shop, explain what you are trying to do, Politely ask for any tips, and ask for some scraps. Offer to buy a few feet of the clear transfer tape. You will be amazed as to how much waste there is in making big commercial signs. Their cutters generally can’t except small chunks of vinyl, and screwing around with trying to use them costs more in time then they will save $. If you are using them for paint masks (positive or negative ) the color doesn’t matter.

e-bay has many listings…look around.

BTW: you can re-use it.

“.. How small have people cut letters?

Roland SV-8, 2mil (outdoor) vinyl;

On actual recent project 9mm Arial. And 9mm with Courier New TUR .

7.5mm on a Text size sampling page, Franklin Gothic Medium

On same pg., at 5mm text size, while weeding I had about 2of13 letters give me problems. But i usually design at least 1 extra ‘piece’ within the file, just in case there is a problem weeding.

At next size (3mm) the vinyl did not work smoothly with the (SV-8) blade !

doug c

Doug that’s impressively small. I can’t justify spending $500 on a specialty vinyl cutter. At least with the circuit I was able to convince the wife she needed it. But 5 mm is small.