How to Use a Cricut Machine

    by Alexis Rohlin

    About the Author

    Alexis Rohlin is a professional writer for various websites. She has produced works for Red Anvil Publishing and was one of the top 10 finalists in the 2007 Midnight Hour Short Story Contest for Rohlin holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in English from Madonna University.


    A Cricut machine looks like a computer printer. It is used to cut customized shapes and letters out of paper and card stock for a variety of art projects. The machine has removable cartridges that contain different designs, shapes and fonts. Insert the cartridge into the machine and then use a keypad to program the Cricut to cut out the desired shapes and letters.

    Things You'll Need

    • Cricut cartridge
    • Card stock or paper
    • Craft knife

    Place the Cricut machine on your work space, allowing 1 foot of clearance space in the front and back of the machine for the paper to move in and out of it freely.

    Plug the machine into an outlet and turn it on. When you press the "on" button, the doors of the machine will open. Position the provided keypad overlay onto the Cricut machine's keypad, located at the top center of the machine under the top half of the door that opened.

    Insert the desired Cricut cartridge into the machine with the letters on the cartridge facing the same way as the letters on the keypad overlay. If you have the Cricut Expression machine model, install the green cutting blade by loosening the screw with your fingers. Place the green blade into the black plastic blade cradle with the black arrow on the blade housing facing you and finger tighten the screw.

    Set the paper or card stock onto the provided cutting mat. Your Cricut can cut paper that is 6 inch by 12 inch down to 3 inch by 3 inch in size. Line up a corner of the paper or card stock with the "Align Paper Corner Here" icon located in the lower left corner of the mat. Press down onto the paper to adhere it to the tacky surface of the cutting mat.

    Insert the cutting mat with paper or card stock into the machine with the arrow on the top of the mat facing the machine. Hold the cutting mat firmly between the roller bar and deck of the machine and press the "load paper" key on the keypad overlay. The machine will spool in the mat and paper the same way a computer printer does. If the cutting mat does not load properly, press the "unload paper" key to make the Cricut machine eject the cutting mat and try loading it again. Do not attempt to force the cutting mat over into the proper position, as this may damage your machine.

    Type in the letters, phrases or shapes you want cut into your paper or card stock. You can type in 16 characters at a time. What you type will appear on the LCD display screen located above the keypad on the machine. The keypad has keys with a single letter, shape or phrase, and keys with a large letter and a smaller shape or letter in the upper right hand corner. This means the key is used to type two different shapes. To type a shape, letter or phrase that is printed on the upper right corner of a key on the keypad, press "Shift" and then press the key with the desired shape or letter on it. Press the "Shift Lock" key if you are going to be using consecutive shapes or letters from the upper right hand corner of the keypad keys. The "Shift Lock" key has a green indicator light to tell you it is on.

    Select the size setting to the height or size that you want the cuts. The sizes are given in inches on the left and in centimeters in parenthesis on the right. The size you select will show on the LCD screen. Letters are cut in proportion to the tallest letter or the "key height character." To make all the cut-outs the same size, press the "real dial size" key on the keypad. If you want capitalized and lower case letters to be different sizes, don't press this key.

    Push the "cut" button located on the right of the machine, next to the "on" button. Press the "stop" button, located above the cut button to stop the machine while it is cutting. When the Cricut machine has finished cutting your paper or card stock, press "unload paper" key, located in the lower right corner on the keypad to eject the cutting mat.

    Lift off the paper or card stock cutouts carefully from the tacky surface of the cutting mat. If the cutouts do not release easily when you attempt to lift them off, slip the thin blade of a craft knife under the paper or card-stock to release it from the cutting mat. Remove all cutouts and scrap paper from the cutting board.

    • To repeat the last selections you made to cut out the same design on a new piece of paper or card stock, press the "repeat last" key on the keypad. The last letters or shapes you entered into the Cricut machine will appear on the LCD screen.
    • Handle craft knives with care to avoid injury.