As many of you know, Mr. Modern Typography bought me a Silhouette Cameo for Christmas.
Best. Gift. Ever. Now that I've cut 8 million tags on it (slight exaggeration) I feel qualified to throw some money saving tips out there.
Let's do it!
1. Don't buy the Designer Edition software.
You won't need it. Everything you need comes with the machine. Surprisingly, the program is easy to use but is also capable of most of the tasks I use in Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop. Boom, I just saved you $50 dollars.
2. Do buy extras.
Chances are your machine came with an extra mat and blade. I find having 3 or 4 mats helpful when cutting large quantities of the same thing. I prep the extras with the paper I'm going to cut next. This saves me a lot of time, and time is money for me.
The reason you'll need extra blades is that they dull over time. Buy these before you need them so you don't have to pay added shipping charges. By the way, I cannot find a place to buy these items locally, chances are you will also be forced to buy everything online.
3. Buy yourself some Krylon Easy-Tack.
Why? Because the mats don't last forever, which anyone who has had these awhile knows. Instead of constantly spending $15 on a new cutting mat, you can spray the ones you have with Easy-Tack and get the same results. It's $7.59 at Hobby Lobby, but you can use a coupon on it. You'll get multiple uses out of the can, saving tons of money. I'd say I sprayed about 5 mats 10 times. By the way, I am STILL using the original mat that came with the Silhouette.
4. Move your paper, shapes or mat between cuts.
The reason the mats don't last forever is the adhesive that holds your paper in place loses it sticky. It's even worse if you cut in the same spot over and over. 1 Easy way to do this is to change the orientation of the paper (landscape/portrait) in the program. OR you can move the shapes in the program before each cut. If you are worried about cutting outside the paper, use registration marks. This is my favorite Silhouette feature. If you haven't learned how to use this yet, you should! Last, you can turn the mat 180 degrees and get more use out of your mats.
5. Avoid the double cut.
This will save both your mats and your blades. The only shapes I've had to use double cut on are my really intricate feathers and headbands for my Thanksgiving headdresses There is some trial and error here, but I'd rather save my blade which costs $11 than a piece of paper that costs me 4 cents.
To take your cut items off the mat, simply bend the mat and the items will pop off.
They stick a little more when the mats are new or right after you spray Easy-Tack, but after that it's super easy to pull things off. I use the squeegee to scrape off any remaining paper, such a tiny circles from holes. Why pay $10-20 dollars for name brand tools when you can pick up a squeegee for a couple bucks at a hardware store or sign shop. I like the roller squeegee because I smooth items onto my mat with the roller side, and pop off small pieces with the scraper side.
7. Switch out your blades for different types of papers.
The same is true for hand held paper punches. When you cut a thicker paper, your blade dulls more. I keep one blade set on 3 and one on 7. I find all paper works with one or the other and switching blades is easy. My very first blade wore out quick.
8. Clean out your blades when it seems dull.
It's easier than you think. You just set your blade to zero. Then twist that little white cap off the end, just below the red line (lefty loosy). Clean out of the goop and paper shreds and give the blade another whirl.
9. Buy through Amazon.
If you haven't noticed already I don't buy anything straight from Silhouette. Its way more expensive. AND I have Amazon prime, so everything ships for free. This is a huge savings for me, and I get everything in 2 days!
10. Design your own shapes.
When we first got the machine, I was concerned about the price of buying additional shapes. I was also concerned about using purchased shapes in my business, did you know you need a commercial license to use them? I decided to design all of my own shapes. It's so much easier than it sounds. Once you see how it's done, you'll realize why the machine is called a silhouette ;)
Here are a couple tutorials on converting images to cutable shapes on the Silhouette.
Hope you found these tips helpful! I'd love to hear if you have any of your own!