Friday, May 24, 2013

Silhouette Cameo: 10 Money Saving Tips

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.

6. Buy this squeegee, not this scraper or spatula or the pick me up tool.
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!


  1. Looks like a cool machine.. a version like cricut...

    Happy creating!


  2. Much nicer than cricut in my book. I love mine.

  3. I agree with most of your tips, but I would buy the Designer Edition again any day. Loading .svg files directly gives much more accurate results than converting png or jpg files. And you can get it for as low as $25 on ebay or with the right code directly from the source.

  4. Thanks for all your tips! I just bought the Silhouette Portrait and LOVE it. After having a Cricut for years, I found I could never get intricate cuts on it. This machine is amazing for that and so many other reasons.You mentioned about buying the squeegee instead of the silhouette items. I also found they didn't work as well for taking cuts off of the mats, so I purchased a set of 3 different sized plastic putty knives for $2 and they also work like a dream!

  5. I stock up on extra supplie when Silhoutte has a 25% off sale. I also used quilt basting spray to refresh my mats.

  6. Thanks for all your tips. I recently purchased the cameo to help with all the little cut outs I needed for invitations, programs, etc. I decided it would be worth the purchase bc I can use it after the wedding is over on cards, etc.

  7. I use the zig blue wide tip glue to restick my mats works perfectly dries clear so i can see where I put it. Also in a pinch you can use a cricut mat in it. I also use an old gift card as my scraper....LOVE IT! Also you can register as an educator and get 25% off at silhouette that includes on the cameo and stuff like that.

  8. I buy those plastic chopping boards at the plastic store - super cheap, and after some masking tape and easy tack it works just as well as the expensive mats.

    1. I have the KNK Zing and I've been buying those cutting boards for mine as well! Tehy are just wonderful and for a dollar or two instead of $8-15!

  9. I have found that has cutting mats for $8.99. Cheaper then Amazon.

  10. I too would like to use the Silhouette for commercial use. As soon as I figure out how to make my own files, I'm buying one. Thanks for the very useful tips!

  11. Most of your tips sound good, but a must have is the Designer Edition, you can find alot of places for 32. bucks with a 10 gift card, this is a must have to cut SVG's very easily , This is an awesome machine

  12. I'm so glad I came across your advice! I have a Silhouette on the way (it's scheduled to arrive Monday!) and I'm very excited. Thanks for all the money saving tips!

  13. Thanks for your helpful tips I am NEW to the machine and all the software are a bit confusing and trying to find out what I need and what I don't need. I will keep looking around on how to use this. But thank you

  14. I use and old CD as a scraper and find that it works better than the one I bought online.

  15. I have a few Pampered Chef scrapers. Work like a charm!

  16. Joann Fabrics just started to carry this machine and supplies. I am very happy because I've had this machine for about 3 years, and I can finally buy su] lies local!

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