Maybe you have just bought a new Cricut machine and want to know exactly what to do with it before getting stuck in. Or perhaps you are considering buying a Cricut and want to get an understanding of how to use it before committing to your purchase.
First we will take a tour of the three different machines, look at how to set them up (including the Design Space software) and look at how to create your first project.
A tour of your machine
All three machines look a little different, so here is a breakdown of what you’ll see when you get each machine out of its box.
A tour of the Cricut Maker
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We just find the Cricut Maker so swish and smooth – when you open the lid everything just softly slides open, showing you the inside of the machine.
Take a look at the top – you can see the following buttons on the right-hand side:
- The on switch (which I think you can figure out how that works).
- The feeding button (that feeds your cutting mat through the machine).
- The confirm button (which you use to tell your Cricut Maker that you definitely want to start cutting).
- The pause button (we’ll let you guess that one too).
The little compartments at the bottom are where you can put your tools and pieces of materials, so you can keep everything nice and near.
Your fine points blade is already in the machine so you don’t have to fit the blade for your first project, but you will need to swap to a rotary blade that comes in your box if you want to use more dense materials, like any kind of wood (which you will probably want to do once you’ve got familiar with your machine).
When you do want to replace the blade, press the lever on the front to pull out the metal housing. Push the plunger to reveal the blade and simply pull it out. A magnet keeps it in place so you don’t have to worry about it slipping. The same advice goes for putting a pen and other tools in the other housing.
A tour of your Cricut Explore Air 2
The Cricut Explore Air 2 has the same buttons as the Cricut Maker (on, feed, confirm, and pause). As well as those, you also have a handy dial so you can set whichever material you are using (for example, vinyl, paper, cardstock, fabric, and so on). When you start cutting, you need to turn the dial to select the material you are using.
There is also a custom mode so if you can’t see your material on the dial, you can use this setting.
You will see that there are two slots on the left. The one towards the back is for placing pens or tools. You might be wondering what the front slot is for. That is for the old-style physical cartridges (which Cricut no longer make). If you don’t have these cartridges, don’t worry, because they now come digitally and you can get the images on Design Space instead of something you hold in your hand.
You replace the blades and tools similarly to the Cricut Maker – just press the lever and you can take out the housing.
A tour of the Cricut Joy
The Cricut Joy is smaller and more compact than the other two machines. There aren’t the slots and buttons that you get on the larger machines because it feeds in automatically and uses fewer types of materials. So it’s a bit simpler in that respect. (Not to mention super cute!)
When you open up your Cricut Joy, you can see the blade housing. The blades for the Cricut Joy are different from the blades for the other two machines, so be aware that you cannot switch blades with a blade from one of those machines. Just like the Cricut Maker and Cricut Explore Air 2, you just need to press the lever to swap out the blades and tools.
Setting up your Cricut
This set-up advice applies to all three machines, so whatever Cricut you have, just follow these steps!
First up, put your Cricut Maker somewhere you can plug it in and the cable doesn’t stretch. Also make sure you have you have enough room to feed the mat through from the back – about ten inches from the wall is best!
Go online on your device and download Design Space. If you are using the desktop version, you only need the internet to actually download the program or if you want to get new images and projects – you can use the Design Space software offline. Follow the prompts on the screen. You will also need to set up a Cricut ID.
If you’re using Design Space on a mobile device, you need to download the app from the App Store or from the Google Play store.
Design Space is pretty cool and allows you to take a tour to learn how to use it.
To connect your Cricut Maker to your device, you need to turn Bluetooth on your phone or computer. If you don’t know how to do this, a quick web search for your model will show you how.
Next, go ahead and turn on your Cricut. Your machine should show up on your device’s Bluetooth settings for you to connect. If you asked for a password, try 0000 or 1234. Then press the pair button. Your device and Cricut should now be connected and you can start using Design Space.
If you do have any problems with Bluetooth for some reason, don’t panic – you can use the USB cable that comes with your device.
Creating your first project
Your machine will come with some test materials for you to make your first project with, so you can practice using your machine before you shell out on any other materials. Bundles come with extra sampler materials, so have a look at those if you want a bigger range of test materials.
Design Space will help you to create your first project. To get used to using your machine, you can use one of the pre-loaded projects in the ‘projects’ section (the ones with ‘a’ need you to have a subscription to Access, which is a monthly membership to thousands and thousands of designs on Design Space).
You can also check out lots of YouTube tutorials on making your first project. It’s worthwhile practicing with some cheaper materials, like paper and cardstock, before moving onto more expensive materials and bigger projects.
Let’s jump in! On Design Space, select your machine. Click new project. You will see your blank canvas where you are going to make a project. This is where you create your design. You can add images, shapes or text to your project from the sidebar. It might look a bit confusing at first but check out the tour in Design Space to have a look around!
When you save your project, you have the option to make it public so that others in the Cricut Community can make your project. Although you might want to wait until after you’ve practiced a bit!
Once your design is ready, click ‘Make It’. That will take you to the design area that looks like your cutting mat. If you use the app on a mobile device, you can position the device over the mat to get the exact positioning.
Take the plastic sheet off your mat. If you don’t know which mat to use, Design Space will tell you. Place your material onto your mat and press it down. There is a tool called a Brayer that comes in some of the Cricut tool sets (although it can be bought as a standalone) that helps you smooth your material down even more.
Make sure your tools and blades that you need are loaded into the machine and feed your mat with materials into the machine. If you are using a Cricut Joy, Design Space will tell you when to switch the blades and pens out.
Click go, and before you know it, you will have your very first amazing Cricut project!
All of these neat Cricut machines are fairly straightforward to set up and use, and if you’ve followed these steps, your Cricut addiction will have truly begun! As we’ve mentioned, there are plenty of tutorials available, including on the Design Space YouTube channel and website, so check them out and happy cutting!
Tip: When you get started, it’s worth checking out the bundles so that you have more materials to practice on as well as some of the tools that will make your Cricut crafting a ton easier.