Another one of the big problem areas I hear about is with the blades and the housing.
I know, as we’ve discussed before, we all want to take the machine out of the box and start popping parts on here and there where they look like they fit. We’ve all done it. Sometimes it even works.
Or sometimes we install things backward or not tight enough or too tight and end up causing ourselves a lot of unnecessary stress.
Take a few moments to read through the instruction manual. It will be painful, but it won’t kill you. I’ll be the first to admit that Cricut manuals aren’t that great, they leave out a lot of details. However, in general you’ll do better reading the instructions then ignoring them and just winging it.
Also, if you do have a problem you can’t fix and need to use your warranty; you want to be sure you’ve followed directions and haven’t done anything that would void your warranty.
For an extra safe tip always remember to unplug your machine or at the very least make sure it is turned off when installing or replacing the blade. These cutting blades are sharp and you do need to take common sense precautions. If you have small children make sure they can’t access the machine when you’re not around.
Installing the Blade
When you first get your machine; you’ll need to install the blade housing. Your machine should be set on a stable table that won’t shake and has at least two feet of space to load and unload your cutting mat.
Look through the box and make sure you received all the parts. This will include the blade and housing, your power cord to plug the machine in, the USB cord to connect to your computer, and all your manuals and quick start guide. (If you lose your manual you can do a search and find an online version in PDF form and save it on your computer.) You should also have some plastic dust covers that pop into your machine to …well…keep the dust out.
Open the front of your machine and take out any cardboard you see. This is placed in the machine to keep everything in place during shipping. You need to remove any cardboard or tape that will prevent the parts from moving.
Your blade should already be installed in the housing unit. To double check you will need to push the little button on the top to get the blade to pop out. If the plastic covering is still protecting the tip remove it.
You then need to unscrew the blade holder in the machine so it will swing out. Don’t unscrew it so much that the nut completely comes off. Remember “righty tighty, lefty loosey.” In other words, turn the knob to the left to loosen it. Install the blade housing with the arrow facing forward and the blade on the bottom. Then tighten the nut so the blade housing is secure. It shouldn’t be wobbly or loose.
Watch out for this newbie mistake when installing your blade housing for the first time. Make sure the arms fit around the first indentation and not the second one closest to the blade. No matter how much you increase the blade depth, it will never cut in this position because the blade will never reach the paper.
The blade depth is actually located there on the blade housing (numbers 1 thru 6) as opposed to the other settings that are controlled by the screen and keyboard or by dials. You’ll probably want to set the blade depth at 2 or 3 in the beginning. But you will need to adjust this if your cuts are not being made properly or when you use extremely thick material.
Changing the Blade
After a while you’ll notice that your cuts are not as clean as they once were. Make sure there is no lint or adhesive glue sticking to the blade. If you have adjusted your settings to make sure the pressure and blade depth is correct for the material you are cutting and that the speed is correct for the size and type of image you selected and nothing has improved, it may be time to replace the blade.
It’s estimated that each blade will last for 500 to 1,500 cuts. But that is determined by what material you’re cutting. So it’s very hard to estimate how long a blade can last.
You remove the blade housing by unscrewing the nut on the side of the housing until it swings out. Pull the housing out of the machine. Push the button on the housing and very carefully pull the blade out with tweezers or stick it into an old eraser and pull it out. Dispose of it carefully where it can’t be picked up or stepped on accidentally.
The new blade will usually come with a plastic cover over the sharp edge. Be careful as you remove the plastic tip on the blade for obvious reasons. It’s sharp! It’s a good idea to place this plastic tip over the old blade before throwing it away.
Then slide the new blade into the housing. It is held in place by a magnet. The magnet will pull the blade into the housing with a snap and hold it in place. You won’t need to push it in to get it to stay. You will hear it click when the magnet sucks up the blade.
Then put the housing back into the holder in the machine and screw the nut on the side until the housing is secure.
Deep Cut Blade
You’ll want to use the deep cutting blade when cutting thicker material such as vinyl or chipboard. It comes with its own housing so you’ll replace the entire housing, not just the blade.
You may have seen the suggestion that tells you to turn the blade around using the dull end to emboss or score with. I know a lot of people have tried this and liked it but let me tell you what happened to a friend of mine who tried it and wished she hadn’t. Apparently, the bearings were scratched inside the housing and she had to replace it.
If you don’t want to buy a scoring blade at least you have been warned what may happen.
Carbon Steel Blades
There’s nothing more frustrating than buying replacement blades that are dull right out of the package. The lack of quality control has caused some Cricuter’s to look for alternatives.
It seems there are a number of compatible blades on the market. These other brands make a 45° blade that is compatible with the Cricut regular blade and 60° blade that works like the Cricut deep cut blade. Here are some suggestions.
Clean Cut Blades
These carbon steel blades may be more expensive but they tend to be sharper and last longer. Just do a search for the brand name and the size you want like this 45° Roland cutting blade to find a variety of price points to choose from.
If you’ve adjusted all your settings and the material is still tearing then you may have to call the Provo Craft service desk to ask for help. There have been some machines sold that have defective housings. If you’re unfortunate enough to get a defective machine then you want to be sure to return it to the company before your warranty has expired.
It’s always a good idea to try your new machine on several types of material within the first few weeks. This way, if there’s a problem you’ll find it quickly.
Make sure you save your receipt! Provo Craft will not honor your warranty unless you have your receipt.
I’ve talked to some crafters who prefer to buy their machines through Amazon because they feel their return policy is better than buying directly from Provo Craft.