After my own trial and error experience, I decided to post the tips/info that I think might be helpful for the Cricut machine beginners out there.
The most common e-mail I get from new cricut scrapmasters is the “help, my paper is ripping.” First tip is: use the right type of cardstock on the correct settings. I almost always use 65lb cardstock which is the medium weight/thickness cardstock. I prefer this because the thinner cardstock doesn’t cut as well on smaller more detailed pieces, and the thicker cardstocks wear out the blades quicker.
I ALWAYS cut with the cutting blade number 4 (it is the number on the blade holder that the arrow is pointing to) and I ALWAYS have the speed setting on 1 which is the slowest. The only setting I adjust depending on the type of paper is the pressure setting (the second/bottom knob on the left side of the machine when you are looking straight at the machine). For medium weight cardstock, the 65lb cardstock I regularly use, I have the pressure setting on 4. For the rare occasions that I use thinner cardstocks, I have the pressure setting on 3. And when I use regular thickness patterned papers, I have the pressure setting on 2 or 1 depending on how thin the paper is.
With the above-mentioned settings and papers, the only time I have issues with the paper ripping is when the blade or cutting mats are “old.” Usually the problem is the cutting mats because they don’t stay sticky for very long. There are many sites out there that talk about how to keep the mats sticky longer. I have read tips such as washing them, using a lint roller, or a spray adhesive. I don’t know how well any of these tips work because my Cricut is still under warranty (if you use adhesives on it, your warranty could be void). Once my warranty runs out, I will experiment with the mats.
While your cutting mats are not brand new, but still have some stickiness left I have one tip: press your paper down FIRMLY. I lay the mat on the desk with the paper where I want it. Then I make a fist and run the pinky side of my fist across the paper firmly a couple of times. This makes sure that the paper remains attached to the mat while cutting. If the paper doesn’t cut properly after that then it’s time for a new cutting mat.
I also rotate cutting mats, I don’t just cut using one mat. I use 2-3 if I am cutting out multiple shapes. This is supposed to make the mats last longer also.
I have read somewhere that you can sharpen the cutting blades so that they last forever, but I haven’t tried this either.
Finally, if your paper has ripped, make sure that there are no little pieces of paper in your blade holder. To do this turn your machine OFF and press the top little sticking out part of the blade holder so that your blade sticks out. If you can see little pieces of paper, get them out. If you can’t see the blade sticking out, then take the blade holder off your machine and then check for little pieces of paper. These little paper bits will cause your cutting blade not to work properly.
If you have any questions please send me an e-mail and I will be happy to help if I can.