Return to our home page.
You Are Here.
Jump to other pages.
Craftcutter Projects for Hobbyists
Learn about running trains outdoors from Family Garden Trains, helping folks get started and stay on the 'right track' since 1996
Click to see articles and resources for O, S, and On30 modelers.
Visit the largest and most complete cardboard Christmas 'Putz' house resource on the Internet. Visit the FamilyChristmasOnline site.
Garden Train Store: Index to train, track, and other products for Garden Railroading
On30 and O Gauge trains to go with indoor display villages and railroads
Free Large Scale  Signs and Graphics: Bring your railroad to life with street signs, business signs, and railroad signs
Big Christmas Trains: Directory of Large Scale and O Scale trains with holiday themes What is a Glitterhouse?  - Click to see an introduction to putz houses and related collectibles.

Written by Paul D. Race for Family Garden Trains(tm) and Big Indoor Trains™

Please Read: How to Help Our Site at No Cost to You - Some of our articles contain recommendations for products we like and vendors we personally trust. Some of those vendors may pay us a very small commission if you click on a link and buy their products. This costs you nothing at all and helps offset the costs of what we do. So if we point you to something you decide to buy later, please make certain you come back through our site and click on the link directly. Thanks.

Visit our Garden Train Store™ Buyer's Guide Pages

Craftcutter Projects for Hobbyists

This article was originally written for our model railroading pages, in the "Structures" section. However, we wanted to share information about this topic that would overlap into several other areas, so we are republishing it, with updates and additions here.

We define "craftcutters" as tabletop machines that are designed chiefly for the purpose of cutting vinyl and other materials for craft projects. These machines are mostly interesting to me because they can also be used to cut out objects used for other hobbies such as model railroading, wargaming sets, dollhouses, putz houses, and more.

Dateline, March, 2021

Since I wrote the original article, much has changed. Unfortunately, that means that many of the amateur sites describing things you can do with specific products are outdated or just plain wrong.

For that reason, the approximate date of publication is prominently displayed, in case I don't update this page and you come back to it in five year. At least you'll know it may ot be current.

About "Projects"

The wonderful thing about these machines is that once you have an idea of any kind, it's possible to take it quite far. For example, if you download .svg files that will allow you to cut the windowframes for a two-story building, it's relatively simple to tweak the same file to make it cut windowframes for a ten-story building. (Your cutter just stays busy longer.) If you see an example of a slate roof pattern you like, and it's in the wrong scale, it's not hard to change it to the scale you use (although HO can be tricky with some patterns, and I'm not going to vouch for N).

So while we will be providing original patterns here for various projects, we'll also try to link to examples of other folks doing projects that should inspire you to try your own.

About SVG Files

Most folks who share cutter-friendly files share them in .svg (Simple Vector Graphic) format. That's a format that stores images as lines and curves. Not all .svg files are cutter-friendly. But most cutters' software, including Cricut's newest programs, can import .svg files easily. To me it's important to save any graphics you create as .svg files as well, in case you change cutters later, or your vendor abandons support for your machine (which HAS happened).

Note about Silhouette Studio and .svg Files: For some indiscernable reason, Silhouette's "free" software does not import .svg files, though it will import several other formats, including .dxf (an Autocad format). If you have CorelDraw, Adobe Illustrator, or Inkscape (a free program), you can export .dxf files for your Silhouette to read. Alternatives include:

  • Paying $50 "upgrade" fee to get the Silhouette Studio "design" upgrade. (Some places offer it on sale, too.)

  • Buying Sure-Cuts-a-Lot 5 for about the same amount of money and using it to drive your Silhouette directly.

More information about graphics programs and file formats is contained in our Graphic Software for Craftcutters article.

Our Projects

This section will contain projects we have done with our cutters. Right now, it's a pretty short list, but I hope it keeps growing.

  • Using a Craftcutter to create building fronts. Click to go to article.Using a Craftcutter to Cut Out Building Fronts Years ago, a request from an arboretum gave me the idea of mass-producing buildings for a temporary display with a signcutter and vinyl. While researching the feasibility of such a project, I created a number of SVG files, then used my cutter to cut three layers of vinyl that make up the little building front shown at the right.

    The biggest advantage of this sort of approach is the ability to cut out many complex windowframes precisely in a single operation even if you use other materials.

    SVG files for two different storefronts in Large Scale, O, and S are provided in the article.

  • Click to go to articleUsing Stencils to Make Buildings - While I was experimenting with the cutter for the article above, it occured to me that if you needed to make something inexpensive to represent large scale buildings on a display railroad, you could do a lot with stencils.

    The truth is, I never got very far beyond cutting the stencils, though I hope to get back to it eventually. I put this article up about the project in case anyone else wanted to try it. It actually uses the same .svg files as the article above, but, obviously, there are different directions and suggestions.

  • Windowframe Patterns for Putz Houses. Click to go to article.Windowframes for Putz Houses - Many of my friends make and restore "putz" houses - those little cardboard houses with the holes in the back that people used to put around Christmas trees in the mid-20th century.

    A big need has always been replacement windows - the old red cellophane widows fell victim to decay and "pokey little fingers." When illness forced the hobby's biggest supplier of those to stop making them available, I stepped in by creating a substitute you could cut on a craftcutter. I also made .svg files that included every common window size. The article that resulted also describes settings I used for various kinds of materials.

Other Hobbyists' Projects

The more I look for answers to questions online, the more I find projects that inspire me to try new things, as well as projects that I had thought about trying but wasn't sure they would work.

Here are a few resources from other folks that include project ideas (and in some classes plans you can download), plus a lot of supplementary information abut cutters, materials, etc.

  • George Downer's O Scale lobster shed, cut almost entirely on a Cricut Explore.  Click to see the discussion forum.George Downer's Lobster Shack - In 2018, forum moderator George Downer began documenting his experiments with a Cricut Explore, starting with making an O scale "lobster shack," complete with cedar shake siding and double-hung windows, all cut out on the Cricut.

    Another contributor volunteers photos of his "slate roof."

    The link takes you to a forum page which, and you have to step through the pages to see the entire project, but it's worth seeing what George accomplished.

  • RMWEB.CO.UK's Craftcutter Forum (Mostly Silhouettes). This forum has been active since 2013, and the contributors have done some amazing projects. Including things I've considered, like building sidewalls for cars, but imagined would be too tricky with styrene only being cuttable up to about .015". I didn't go through the whole forum - so far there are 100 pages, but I kept finding great ideas and helpful hints. Here are a couple project photos I especially enjoyed seeing - a classic British coach and a window detail from a switch tower. There aren't many details on these projects per se, but there's a lot of information on what materials you can cut, etc.

    JCL's GNR coach sides cut with a Silhouette Cameo.  Click for bigger photo. JCL's switch tower windowframes and windows cut with a Silhouette Cameo.  Click for bigger photo.

  • My friend Lucy's PaperGlitteGlue site has countless useful articles for folks wanting to make putz houses and other cardboard buildings.  Click to go to a page that provides some basic information about doing this with a Cricut.Make a Paper House With Your Cricut - "My friend Lucy's PaperGlitterGlue site has countless useful articles for folks wanting to make putz houses and other cardboard buildings. Click to go to a page that provides some basic information about doing this with a Cricut.

    If you sign up for her newsletter (free), you'll have access to any number of downloadable .svg files for buildings, shingles, and other details.


We have more articles about specific projects planned, but we got so many questions from the first few things we posted, we thought establishing some context would be helpful. Consequently, this article is mostly background information for people who are just getting their feet wet, but if that describes you, I hope is helps steer you in a good direction. And maybe clears up some common misconceptions.

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!


Note: Family Garden Trains™, Garden Train Store™, Big Christmas Trains™, BIG Indoor Trains™, and BIG Train Store™ are trademarks of Breakthrough Communications ( 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.
Family Garden Trains is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

For more information, please contact us

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.