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Written by Paul D. Race for HobbyCutters.com™

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HobbyCutters.com Home Page

Craftcutters like Silhouette's Cameos® and ProvoCraft's Cricuts® were initially designed for the purpose of cutting vinyl and other materials for craft projects, but since then, they have found many other uses and become much more flexible and robust.

Although many hobbyists are adopting more sophisticated products like 3d printers and laser-based woodcutters, there is still room for the sorts of things craftcutters do well.

This site is intended to:

  • Help hobbyists who are just getting into craftcutters make good choices and avoid both common mistakes and popular myths,
  • Suggest ways to use craftcutters' capabilities in model-building and related hobbies,
  • Provide templates and other downloadable files that will help you make quick progress, and
  • Collect and share tips, tricks, and resources with fellow hobbyists.

Craftcutters For Hobbyists and Designers

A modeler, designer, or putz house builder who wants to get the best use out of any computer/craftcutter setup will need:

  • A computer connected to the Internet,
  • Software that talks to your cutter, and
  • A cutter that your computer can talk to.

Fortunately, there are many options and multiple combinations. One reason for this site is to help folks find the best combination for their needs (and avoid some "urban legends" that are still prominently posted on countless amateur sites).

Another is to share ideas and resources that will help modelers, war gamers, and countless others make optimum use of their cutters.

About Time-Sensitive Material - When talking about individual products or even product lines, it's possible for everything you "know" about them to be overturned by one decision on the part of the manufacturer.

For that reason, we are including the month and year of publication prominently in some of our more time-sensitive articles. That way if for some reason we don't keep up and you come across the article five years from now, you'll have an idea of how outdated it is. Frankly, a lot of other folks could have saved me some trouble if they'd been doing the same thing all along.

About Our Resources - When we started writing articles about simple craftcutter projects for another resource, we realized that the vast majority of reader questions were not about our projects, but about hardware, software, and related issues. Consequently, we realized that this site also needed to answer those questions before some of our project articles would even "make sense" to beginners.

We have a number of project articles in the works, and we created this site as a place to make them as accessible as possible. If they're presently outnumbered by reference articles at this time, please don't assume that's our long-term plan. :-)

Topic Index

Introduction to craftcuters, includes definitions and summaries of the current state of things.  Click to go to article.Introduction to Craftcutters Redux - This article was written for another resource several years ago, and so much has changed that the original article became flat-out-wrong on several important points. The current version is an overview of the current classes of machine and what they're most likely to be useful for.



Craftcutter Applications for Hobbyists - summarizes several craftcutter uses for model railroaders, war gamers, putz house builders and others. Click to go to article.Craftcutter Applications for Hobbyists - Suggests several craftcutter uses for model railroaders, war gamers, putz house builders and others. Includes suggestions about the kind of software and hardware combinations you should consider for specific applications.

This article even includes suggestions for projects you can attempt if you are just using a cartridge-based first-generation Cricut.


Plotters and Signcutters - describes the industrial predecessors of the modern craftcutters, explaining how X/Y coordinates can generate shapes.
Plotters and Signcutters
- describes the industrial predecessors of the modern craftcutters, explaining how X/Y coordinates can generate shapes. This is most useful for folks transitioning from industrial equipment or trying to dig a little deeper into the history and operation of their craftcutter.



Graphic Software for Craftcutters - reviews the software that Cricut and Silhouette supply with their machines, as well as useful third-party software; explains the difference between vector and bitmap graphics.
Graphic Software for Craftcutters
- Reviews the software that Cricut and Silhouette supply with their machines, as well as useful third-party software; explains the difference between vector and bitmap graphics.





Craftcutter Projects for Hobbyists - A collection of ideas and resources for folks whose main interest is some other hobby besides 'crafting.'  We're just getting started on these.
Craftcutter Projects for Hobbyists
- A collection of ideas and resources for folks whose main interest is some other hobby besides "crafting." We're just getting started on these, but this is where future projects will be listed.



Legacy Cricut Articles

The following articles are written for folks trying to kid a first-generation Cricut along, or to use it with original and downloaded images. Most of them are still in working condition, but without manufacturer support, what can you do? You might be surprised.

Legacy Cricut Frequently Asked Questions - Information about what can be done and what can no longer be done with first-generation Cricuts, especially Personal Cutter, Expression, Create, Cake and Cake mini.  Updates and debunks 'urban legends,' and provides links to helpful resources.
Legacy Cricut Frequently Asked Questions
- Information about what can be done and what can no longer be done with first-generation Cricuts, especially Personal Cutter, Expression, Create, Cake and Cake mini. Updates and debunks "urban legends," and provides links to helpful resources.



Cricut History So Far - Explains how Cricut created an industry, then 'switched gears' in ways that left loyal users feel left out, as well as current statusCricut History So Far - Explains how Cricut created an industry, then 'switched gears' in ways that left loyal users feel left out, as well as current status. If you ever wondered why so many people seem to love their devices and distrust their manufacturer, this should give you some clues.

It might also help you decide if that old device in your garage is worth dusting off and trying new things.


Using Sure-Cuts-A-Lot With Legacy Cricuts - describes a currently available solution for using the 'latest and greatest' version of Sure-Cuts-A-Lot (SCAL) to drive most first-generation Cricuts, so you can cut downloaded and original graphics. Using Sure-Cuts-A-Lot With Legacy Cricuts - describes a currently available solution for using the "latest and greatest" version of Sure-Cuts-A-Lot (SCAL) to drive first-generation Cricuts, so you can cut downloaded and original graphics. You can even download a trial version of SCAL to test the process before you even spend any money on it. Unlike several other pages that allude to this content, we also tell you where the potential 'gotcha's' are and suggest some troubleshooting steps if it doesn't work the first time.

Click to see articles and resources specific to Silhouette products.Cameo Corner

As we come across or create materials that are speciic to Sillhouette's cutters and software, we will post links on the "Cameo Corner" page. At the moment, there are only a few links, but we're just getting started.

Conclusion

I realize that so far our reference material outweighs our project material, but we're just gettig started. Hopefully, we've provided a necessary foundation for other articles and resources I hope to provide shortly.

In addition, if you've been thinking about getting a cutter for your own or your club's purposes, I hope this helps you avoid any critical mistakes.

Watch this page: more articles are in the works.

As always, we want to hear your suggestions, criticisms, additions, etc. Enjoy your hobbies, and especially any time you can spend with your family in the coming months!

Paul


Note: HobbyCutters.com™, Family Garden Trains™, Garden Train Store™, Big Christmas Trains™, BIG Indoor Trains™, and BIG Train Store™ are trademarks of Breakthrough Communications (www.btcomm.com). All information, data, text, and illustrations on this web site are Copyright (c) 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 by Paul D. Race. Reuse or republication without prior written permission is specifically forbidden.
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Click to see new and vintage-style Lionel  trains.
Click to see new and vintage-style  Lionel trains

Click to see collectible  Christmas villages and trains.


Visit related pages and affiliated sites:
- Trains and Hobbies -
Return to Family Garden Trains Home page
Return to Big Indoor Trains Home page
Garden Railroading Primer Articles: All about getting a Garden Railroad up and running well Big Indoor Trains Primer Articles: All about setting up and displaying indoor display trains and towns. Garden Train Store: Index to train, track, and other products for Garden RailroadingBig Christmas Trains: Directory of Large Scale and O Scale trains with holiday themes
On30 and O Gauge trains to go with indoor display villages and railroads
Visit Lionel Trains. Click to see Thomas Kinkaded-inspired Holiday Trains and Villages. Big Christmas Train Primer: Choosing and using model trains with holiday themes Free Large Scale Signs and Graphics: Bring your railroad to life with street signs, business signs, and railroad signs Click to see HO scale trains with your favorite team's colors.
- Christmas Memories and Collectibles -
Visit the FamilyChristmasOnline site. Visit Howard Lamey's glitterhouse gallery, with free project plans, graphics, and instructions. Click to return to the Old Christmas Tree Lights Table of Contents Page Click to sign up for Maria Cudequest's craft and collectibles blog.
Click to visit Fred's Noel-Kat store.
Visit the largest and most complete cardboard Christmas 'Putz' house resource on the Internet.
- Family Activities and Crafts -
Click to see reviews of our favorite family-friendly Christmas movies. Free, Family-Friendly Christmas Stories Decorate your tree the old-fashioned way with these kid-friendly projects. Free plans and instructions for starting a hobby building vintage-style cardboard Christmas houses. Click to find free, family-friendly Christmas poems and - in some cases - their stories. Traditional Home-Made Ornaments
- Music -
Heartland-inspired music, history, and acoustic instrument tips.
Best-loved railroad songs and the stories behind them.
Visit musings about music on our sister site, School of the Rock With a few tools and an hour or two of work, you can make your guitar, banjo, or mandolin much more responsive.  Instruments with movable bridges can have better-than-new intonation as well. Acoustic-based, traditional, singer-songwriter, and folk music with a Western focus. Check out our article on finding good used guitars.
Carols of many countries, including music, lyrics, and the story behind the songs. X and Y-generation Christians take Contemporary Christian music, including worship, for granted, but the first generation of Contemporary Christian musicians faced strong, and often bitter resistance. Different kinds of music call for different kinds of banjos.  Just trying to steer you in the right direction. New, used, or vintage - tips for whatever your needs and preferences. Wax recordings from the early 1900s, mostly collected by George Nelson.  Download them all for a 'period' album. Explains the various kinds of acoustic guitar and what to look for in each.
Look to Riverboat Music buyers' guide for descriptions of musical instruments by people who play musical instruments. Learn 5-string banjo at your own speed, with many examples and user-friendly explanations. Explains the various kinds of banjos and what each is good for. Learn more about our newsletter for roots-based and acoustic music. Folks with Bb or Eb instruments can contribute to worship services, but the WAY they do depends on the way the worship leader approaches the music. A page devoted to some of Paul's own music endeavors.