Marilyn knows how to present the dullest topic in an interesting and easy-to-read way. When she’s not teaching English Literature at a local school or writing for our site, Marylin loves to knit and bake for her two grandchildren.
Julie owns a shop specializing in sewing equipment and accessories. No wonder she knows everything when it comes to technical specifications of practically anything we review. In her free time, Julie loves quilting and scrapbooking.
Last updated: February 09, 2021
Crafty Hangouts is reader-supported. We may earn a commission through products purchased using links on this page. Learn more about our process here
Crafty Hangouts is reader-supported. We may earn a commission through products purchased using links on this page. Learn more about our process here
Not all best vinyl cutter machines are glorious. If you think you know what to look for in a vinyl cutter, your assumptions might be misleading. How do you shop for the right vinyl cutter? Finding the right cutting machine can be very hard, especially for beginner crafters. However, we’ve done the hard job putting together a detailed review to lift the weight off your shoulder.
We considered a range of features to find the best cutting machines. They include type, weight, dimensions, connection, cutting force, cutting mat size, and accessories. These features are essential for both home cutting and professional use. Weight is important when it comes to portability. Dimensions, on the other hand, should help you when making storage decisions. Cutting force, cutting mat size, type, and accessories come in handy based on the type of use.
Are you looking for a convenient DIY vinyl cutter? Cricut explores air 2 is the best place to start for beginners. The machine will save you a ton of researching time. All you have to do is buy it and sign up for a community of crafters and makers for project inspiration. Professional crafters can also enjoy a lot from the cutter. From over 100000 images to exciting fonts and designs. Create and design spending images from your tablet, computer, or smartphone using Cricut’s free design space software and enhance your experience. Using the machine is straightforward, and its speed is twice that of previous models. It’s ideal for custom stickers and apparel, home décor and gifts, greeting cards, and party favors.
Many options are available when it comes to types of materials that you can cut. You can precisely cut iron, cardstock, poster board, premium vinyl, faux leather, specialty paper, adhesive foils, among others. The machine includes 12×12 inch light grip adhesive cutting mat, fine point blade, and housing, access to Cricut’s design software, and Cricut black fine point pen. Besides, it’s compatible with the deep-point blade and scoring stylus and uses Bluetooth wireless technology. While the machine is amazing, several things are crucial to note. The first thing is that there’s no application to install on your computer or device – you must be connected to the internet. Secondly, you need a monthly subscription for you to use their online services. However, there’s a two-week trial program.
USCutter MH 34in Vinyl Cutter is the best way to get started with decals. Don’t just take our word for it – be careful because using it gets addictive. First, the machine is overkill and can be inappropriate for the hobbyist. However, it is perfect for a startup cutter. Note that it’s a big unit, and you’ll need enough storage space. That said, USCutter MH 34in is one of the best vinyl cutters for small businesses. Comfortably start a home-based business and make amazing graphics such as banners, decals, signs, and heat transfer for apparel. The machine is fully customizable with three adjustable pinch-rollers. Also, it boasts a robust ball-bearing dual roller system and an adjustable pressure and speed feature.
The best of it all is the general bundle – supplies, design and cut software, tools, and sign making kit. Some of them include vinyl cutting blades, magnetic blanks and sheets, Greenstar vinyl (real red, black, canary yellow, and white), hobby knife, and a squeegee. It’s compatible with VinylMaster cut, and you get the software too. While the machine can cut card stock, paint mask, standard and heat transfer vinyl, paper, and craft paper, it cannot cut some materials. What it can’t cut include tint, low and high intensity reflective, sandblast resist, and unlined media. Enjoy a variety of text tools, shapes, logos, and the ability to import EPS, PDF, and AI files. Please note that it is not compatible with Mac computers but works well on windows. However, you can use a special MacBook program if you want it to work with one.
Does your job involve a lot of cutting away stamped images? If that’s what you do, then Brother CM350E is what you need. The machine automatically scans and cut out a stamped image. It’s incredible how it does detail cutting leaving out tiny and amazing cuts. The built-in scanner is 300dpi and enables you to cut your designs as well as place them accurately without counting blocks. It supports FCM and SVG file formats. With 631 built-in designs, 100 quilt designs, and seven lettering fonts, DIY projects have never been that simple. What’s even more, is you can add your SVG design files through the Canvas Workspace account using wireless technology or the USB port.
It’s hard to beat the Brother CM350E machine when it comes to convenience. The 4.85” touchscreen LCD that’s easy to use is at your disposal for editing your designs. The machine precisely cuts up to 2mm of materials such as vinyl, fabric, paper, foam, among others. You get a standard tack mat, touch pen, spatula, standard blade and holder, red and black pens, pattern collection, and a ScanNcut online activation card when you buy the machine. Several critical things to note about the machine, though. It has a very steep learning curve. Prepare to spend quality time on YouTube to get a better understanding of how it operates. Be ready to mess up a little bit along the way. However, ensure you read the manual. Secondly, it’s difficult to print or cut stickers without a black outline. Also, forget about cutting stamped images that lack a fully enclosed design.
Silhouette White Cameo 4 is one of the best vinyl cutters for t-shirts. It boasts several useful features for seasoned crafters. It’s a Cameo 3 upgrade with thrice its speed. What’s more, is the 5kg of downforce carriage that enables users to cut more and thicker materials. Other features include a LED touch panel, a built-in cross cutter, and a roll feeder, and a dual-motor system. That’s not all, and there’s Bluetooth for easy design transfer and no need for internet connection. Also, you can use tools from the previous models such as a scraper, ratchet adjustment, and hook with the cutter. The best of it all is that there’s no need to buy fonts or designs from elsewhere.
The machine comes with sheets of premium Oracle vinyl, six sheets of durable swing design heat transfer vinyl, premium transfer tapes, a pack of 24 sketch pens, and a cutting mat. Note that the machine has a smart detection tool and a reset feature that automatically adjusts the blade to match the material. Also, you can download exclusive designs from the Silhouette design store. The machine can cut out stencils, vinyl, cardstocks, and stickers. However, you’re likely to encounter problems when cutting materials such as basswoods, cardboards, and chipboards. Overall, Silhouette White Cameo 4 is a great vinyl cutting machine.
Are you looking to up your crafting game? Brother ScanNcut SDX125E is an ideal cutting machine for all crafters regardless of their experience. However, it boasts high-end features that seasoned crafters find exciting. The machine cuts fabric for quilting perfectly and allows cutting multiple pieces hence time-saving. Still, on time-saving, an automatic blade detects the thickness of the material and acts accordingly – no more manual adjustment of your blade. What’s more? The machine scans up to 3mm thick. Scan your handwriting, hand drawings, photos, printed stickers, labels, and more with ease. Note that there’s no need to count your mat blocks anymore. You can cut materials such as vinyl, fabric, balsa wood, paper, felt, chipboard, and foam.
Brother ScanNcut has all your DIY needs covered. A whooping 682 built-in designs, nine fonts, and 100 quilting patterns are at your disposal. Also, you can customize your patterns and designs then add them using the wireless technology or the USB port. A 5-inch touchscreen LCD is available to ease your editing and other operations. The machine comes with a pen holder, standard tack mat, touch pen, black pen, accessory pouch, spatula, a collection of patterns, an auto blade, and a blade holder. Extra pattern collection includes flowers, birthday and greeting cards, and valentine’s collection. Drawbacks to note include lack of a detailed manual, you can only insert the blade when the machine is on, and finding the supplies is hectic.
Have you been looking for a compact cutting machine? The Silhouette Portrait 2 Electronic Cutting Tool is a small vinyl cutter yet powerful. It’s easy to store hence one of the best home vinyl cutters. While the machine is tiny, you can cut countless types of materials using the auto-adjusting blade. The machine works best with vinyl, cardstock, fabric, and paper. It’s capable of cutting up to eight inches wide and ten feet long. The higher 2mm clearance enables it to work with a deep-cut blade. Silhouette Portrait 2 is lightweight and highly portable. You get an auto blade, power cable, Bluetooth adapter, USB cable, 8-inch cutting mat, and 50 exclusive designs as part of the package.
The greatest advantage of Silhouette Portrait 2 is that you do not need an internet connection to use the design software. It’s super easy to use and beginner-friendly. You can cut out just about anything that you want. Note that the machine is also a great desktop size. The electronic machine plugs into your Mac or PC with a USB cable. Use the Silhouette studio for your designs. Two ways are possible to print and cut with this machine – either use the PixScan mat with a phone app or create a file in the Silhouette design studio. Either way, the two options are straightforward.
USCutter 14-inch MH Craft Vinyl Cutter is a high-quality cutting machine that has been around for a long time. It has a maximum pressure of 350g, cuts a maximum length of 8ft and 10-inch wide. The model works great for decals. However, you can cut out banners, signs, and heat transfer for apparel. A large digital control panel is available for easy selections and customizations: two-position carriage – a front for cut-through and rear for standard vinyl. Also, you can use different types of materials by utilizing the two fully adjustable pinch-rollers. Use the Roland compatible blade holder to access available economical blades. It comes with three connectivity options – serial, parallel, and USB.
The machine includes VinylMaster Cut design and cut software. Crafters can increase their production with the software. It’s possible to produce unlimited pinstriping, vinyl lettering, and general signage. Besides, the software comes with a suite of curves, text, and object tools. Cutting computer image files is straightforward with the customizable interface. Other possible things to do with the software include creating logos, editing images, customizing the text, modifying signs, and drawing shapes. Note that the cutter is not compatible with Mac computers. On the downside, the cutter wastes a lot of material. It’s 14-inch but has only a 9.5-inch useful cutting width.
What we liked:
Gets the job done
Large display panel
What could be better:
Waste a lot of material
Things to Consider
Chances are you either want a new vinyl cutting machine, or you’re trying to upgrade your model. It’s also possible that you’re finding it difficult to make the right decision. You don’t have to worry because our buying guide covers the critical aspects that you must know. Read through to find out how you can make the right decision on your next purchase.
Why do you need a vinyl cutter?
While seasoned crafters already know why they need a vinyl cutter, a beginner might not have clear intentions of owning one. However, a crafter must own this tool. The machine is easy to use and helps you complete a lot of projects quickly. Besides, cutting materials such as vinyl and paper into specific or unique shapes has never been that simple. That’s not all, and it’s difficult to compromise on the precision of your designs. A vinyl cutter is a must if you want to make exciting homemade cards, magnets, scrapbook designs, fun foam designs, among others.
Features to consider before you buy a vinyl cutter
Whether you need a commercial cutting machine or you’re just looking for one to use while at home, you need to know what elements to consider when shopping for one. We’ve put together the features that you should pay attention to before spending your money on any vinyl cutting machine. They include type, weight, dimensions, connection, cutting force, cutting mat size, and accessories.
Before deciding on a cutting machine, check out the type. However, you should be aware of the type you need. Types vary from brand to brand. We have two types on our list – electric and stepper. Your interests and nature of work should guide you on what to buy. Moreover, it’s critical to understand how each function. Define your goals and know our workload. The main difference between these machines is the electric type is smooth, and the stepper is often noisy.
Electric types will require electricity – keep that in mind.
However, expect them to work fast and accurately. A good electric type is the Cricut Explore Air 2. A stepper type, on the other hand, is economical and moves in small steps. Its accuracy on small graphics may be poor. However, it does a great job on the large images. Check out the USCutter MH 34in vinyl cutter if you want a stepper type.
Next, you want to consider the weight of a cutting machine. How would you like to move around your machine? If your work is always on the go, then you need a portable, lightweight machine. Some retailers do not indicate the weight of the product. Try and find out about it before purchasing it. Two cutting machines on our list weigh very little hence ideal for crafters who love moving around. Brother ScanNCut SDX125E is only 1 pound while the Silhouette Portrait 2 weighs 3.52 pounds. However, if you need something heavy, then check out USCutter MH 34in Vinyl Cutter Bundle.
The dimensions are critical because of storage and the working space. Your functional space should help you decide on the right dimensions. Vinyl cutting machines vary in sizes. Again, don’t forget to find out about dimensions if they’re not indicated. If you need a small cutter, consider the Silhouette Portrait 2. It will fit perfectly in a small space. Cricut Explore Air 2, on the other hand, fits perfectly on most working desks because of its standard dimensions. However, if you enough space or you’re looking for a bigger commercial cutter, then try the USCutter MH 34in Vinyl Cutter Bundle.
Vinyl cutting machines have different connections. While some have wireless connectivity, others don’t. Some have several connections, while others lack completely. Popular connections include USB cables, wireless connections, Bluetooth, Mac, and PC. It’s essential to consider this feature based on how you want to use your cutter.
Note that not all vinyl cutters are compatible with all computer operating systems.
Also, some come with special apps or require you to download specific software before using them. Cricut Explore Air 2 is the best cutter when it comes to connection – it’s compatible with iOS, Android, Windows, and Mac.
Consider speed and precision. Cutting force is crucial when it comes to accuracy. Also, what type of materials are you likely to cut the most? That’s where speed comes in. Remember that commercial work will require a huge cutting force than domestic work. Put all these aspects together, then decide on the cutting force. Ensure you consider this feature if you want to work on bulk projects. Ideal cutters for bulk projects would be the USCutter 14-inch MH and USCutter MH 34in. You can always ask around for exact cutting force or depth.
Cutting mat size
What’s the nature of your projects? What’s the length and width of the materials that you want to cut? Knowing the length and width, you can cut should guide you when deciding on the cutting mat size a cutter should have.
If you do commercial projects, you’ll need a bigger cutting size.
The best commercial vinyl cutter is USCutter MH 34in with a max cutting length of 96 inches, and a width of 30.63 inches Cricut Explore 2, on the other hand, can cut up to 12 x 24 inches, which is ideal for many domestic projects.
Accessories come in handy when you want to enhance your crafting skills. A beginner crafter might not need them as much as an experienced crafter will want them. Too many accessories are available on the market. From cutting blades to power cables. Having a good understanding of the accessories that you use frequently is important when buying a cutter.
Popular accessories include holders (a blade, pen), spatula, tack mat, pens, touch pens, pattern collection, among others. Some vinyl cutters come with many accessories, such as the Brother ScanNCut SDX125E and Cricut Explorer Air 2. However, for others, you must buy extra accessories to meet your needs.
Definitely. Vinyl cutters are safe to use and even safe for children to use if you offer to supervise them. Most models provide safety instructions for users. However, you must be attentive when using them. Moving parts and the blades can pose a danger to the user is they’re careless with the machine. Note that the safety of each machine varies according to its construction.
Many models are straightforward to use. You don’t have to assemble anything, and little to no installation is required. They’re ready to use out of the box. You can cut designs from your computer, hand-drawn, or scan photos. Hundreds of pre-existing designs are available for you to use. Watching YouTube videos is the quickest way to get started with a vinyl cutter. While reading the user manual is important, it takes quite some time to understand the concepts. Facebook groups can also provide you with immediate answers to your urgent questions.
Vinyl cutting machines have different connections. Popular connections include USB cables, Bluetooth, internet, Mac, and PC software. Each machine comes with clear connection instructions. While some cutters have more than one connection, others have only one. However, connecting a vinyl cutter doesn’t require technical knowledge. For instance, a USB connection is a plug and play thing – nothing more than that. Likewise, once you pair your Bluetooth connection, you’re ready to start cutting.
Vinyl cutter machines are ideal for domestic and commercial use. The market has hundreds of brands and models. We can’t tell you exactly which one will best fit your needs. However, our buying guide should help you make quick and right decisions. Different crafters prefer different models based on what they do. But if you need our recommendations, Cricut Explore Air 2, the editor’s choice is the best model for everyone. We love it because it’s precise, dependable, and versatile. If you want a large machine for bulk projects, we recommend USCutter MH 34in Vinyl Cutter Bundle, our premium pick. It cuts and plots, has huge cutting force, and an excellent vectorization. Finally, if you’re looking for value, check out Silhouette Portrait 2, our best value pick. It’s small but mighty. Portable, economical, easy to use, and versatile. Remember, the best vinyl cutter is one that meets your immediate needs.