I know everyone is always looking for the “perfect cut settings”.
Well, let’s just start with
That is a myth!
What you will see is many “suggested settings”.
Even in the Silhouette software, there are “preset settings“.
These are just a starting point.
Well, the first reason is
Not all materials are created the same.
You may have variances in products even within the same brand, colors, style, etc. There is no magic one size fits all cut setting.
This is why you will see so many “suggestions” from user’s when someone asks on a Facebook post. It is also why you will see each different retailer have their own “suggested settings.”
The next reason is
There are many other factors that play into it.
The settings that might work for one user may not work for another because the factors may not all be the same.
The biggest of these factors is whether the blade is installed properly and adjusting correctly.
This is still the #1 cutting error issue and it affects ALL Silhouette machines.
This is one of the best things you can learn to do for yourself & to save yourself headache in the future. It doesn’t matter if you are an experienced user or a beginner. If the blade is not installed properly with no gap and adjusting properly, you WILL have cut issues.
This is an important step no matter what blade type you are using. If you have a gap between the lip of the blade and the housing, you will most likely experience inconsistent cut results.
This is how the blade should be installed on a
Cameo 4, Cameo Plus, Cameo Pro, or Portrait 3.
There should be absolutely no gap between the lip of the blade and the housing.
AND the lock on the front of the blade needs to be pushed in completely.
For those using the Autoblade watch as the machine does it’s “tap dance” at the beginning of the cut, does the red line inside the blade adjust properly and to the correct number?
If it does not, we can start troubleshooting it with a photo of the blade installed with the cutting mat or vinyl loaded if you post on the Silhouette Secrets+ Facebook group or check out this video by Silhouette America on Cutting Machine Maintenance and how to Reset the Motor at 4:38 in the video. This should reset the housing so that it is properly aligned to hit the adjustment holes correctly.
After the blade installation other factors that play into a cut are:
Blade life? How old is the blade? Or more importantly, how much as it been used.
What else has the blade cut? I would recommend keeping dedicated blades for each material you do cut. This can increase the lifespan of the blades and get you better cuts. For instance, glitter eats a blade and can sometimes even take chunks out of it. If you’ve cut glitter and then go back to cutting vinyl, it may not cut well again. Or another examples is cutting cardstock. Paper dulls a blade at a different rate than vinyl.
This is one reason that fabric people & people who sew have separate scissors for cutting fabric vs paper scissors.
Also keep in mind that thicker, denser materials are going to dull a blade faster than thin materials.
Cutting with a 3rd party mat? Third party mats can be different sizes and thicknesses. This can affect the cut quality. It is not recommended to use 3rd party mats for many reasons. It can affect not only the cut quality but also the lifespan of the machine’s rollers as well.
Is the cutting strip damaged? This is a rubber strip under the blade housing that provides the pressure from the bottom of the mat/material. Any nicks, dings, holes, slices in it can affect the cut.
Are you re-sticking your mats? Re-sticking mat can cause all kinds of cutting issues. It can gum up the machine or blades. It can cause the rollers to not function properly. It is not advised.
Cheap materials? Sometimes it’s a get what you pay for situation. Cheap vinyl/htv, etc. can be a headache and it may not be that you are doing anything wrong, it’s just difficult to work with.
Silhouette machine model? Yes, each machine can vary because they are different.
All of these are factors that can affect the cut quality.
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So what do you do?
Test cuts are going to be your BEST FRIEND!
I start with the preset in the software that is the closest material to what I’m using.
For instance, if I’m cutting a solid color Heat Transfer, I select Heat Transfer Smooth and do a test cut with the recommended settings. If I’m cutting Oracal 651, I start with the Vinyl – Glossy setting. If it doesn’t cut, adjust the cut settings and do another test cut. I recommend only changing 1 thing at a time and doing a new test cut. If you change too many things at once, you don’t really know what worked.
As you do this more and more, you will start to see patterns. For instance, on the Cameo 4 models I find I have to increase the blade depth up 1 on almost all materials.
There are 2 ways you can do a test cut.
1 – Use the Test Cut feature in the Silhouette software on the Send tab.
The default test cut option is in the upper left corner of either the mat or the material loaded.
If you need to move the test cut to do it again, you can do so in 2 ways. You will need to move the test cut to the exact location you want it to cut on your material.
To do this, use the arrows keys next to the test cut button on the Send tab in the software or the arrows on the Cameo touch panel on the right side.
To move the housing, you will need to move it both over to the right and down. The housing will perform the test cut in the exact location it is placed. If it is only moved over to the right, it will cut the top of the cutting mat.
Or the second way to do a test cut is use a shape or object.
I use a capital B that I type out and then I will place it on my virtual mat where my design is not located at. I love this way because it is faster than adjusting the housing and a bit more accurate since you place it where you want.
Click on the Send tab, click exactly on the design to select it and choose No Cut to turn the cut lines off on the design and only cut the capital B.
Select the material you are cutting and click the Send button at the bottom of the Send tab to cut the B. Did it cut? If not, adjust the settings, move the B and send it to cut again.
It is much better to use a small section of material to make sure the settings will work versus sending a full 20″ design and it didn’t cut well. This will save you both time and headache.
Note: if doing a print and cut project, you do not want the test cut to cut from the top left of the printed page or it can interfere with the reading of the registration marks.
This was one of the habits that I found the hardest to get into. I was a Silhouette user for many years before I knew about the test cut feature. But, if you think about it, it makes complete sense and it will save you time, materials, and headache in the long run!
While there are NO one size fits all “cut settings”, the more you cut, you will get familiar with what you are working with.
Now the next question I see all the time is “How long should a blade last?“
Again, there is no “perfect” answer to this!
As a beginner I do feel you will go through blades and cutting mats faster than an experienced user.
Because you are learning!
Learning how this work, learning how things cut, learning what works and what doesn’t.
As you continue to cut things, you will find tips and tricks that work for you!
Many of the same factors go into the blade life as the cut settings, such as materials you are cutting or settings you are using.
While I know that may not be the news you want to hear – that there is no “magic” button to cut all materials, I hope that it will help save you some frustration and headache in the long run.
Test cut, test cut, test cut. Now repeat it to yourself!
Whether you are a new user or an experienced user, I would love to see what you create with your Silhouette machines & software.
Feel free to post photos or questions on my Facebook group at
Silhouette Secrets with EllyMae.
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