Hi there! this information is tailored for silhouette users, but you can apply it to your Brother scan N cut too, to help with settings when you are unsure what blade settings you need for your media. I learnt the hard way about just guessing!
The information below was given to me by Brian at Graphtec UK, and he was happy for me to make it available to anyone else who wanted to see it. It literally saved my life this morning, and my cardstock has been cutting like a dream after spending ten minutes sat doing test cuts, and tweaking the settings one notch at a time… (I only had to change my blade holder depth once, and ended up using a speed of 1 and 0 pressure, to beautifully cut an intricate card panel!
so what does Brian recommend?
“The easiest way to test your blade is to get a piece of normal printer paper, fold it in half and half again, then take the blade out of the Cameo and set it to 1 on the blade dial. Then, holding the blade in your hand and making sure to keep the white cap flat on the paper, move the blade over the folded paper. If the blade is ok it will cut through the top two layers, if it is worn it will just cut the top layer and if the tip has gone it will not cut at all.
Once you know if you have a good blade or not you can move on to adjusting the settings so they are more relevant to the specific media you are using. The Silhouette machines are wonderful little cutters that can cut very precise and intricate designs but to do this it is very important to set the blade correctly.
The number one rule when setting the blade is: Always use the least amount of blade possible.
The Silhouette machines are what we call drag knife cutters so the blades are on a spindle that rotates on a bearing. When the cutter changes direction the blade must rotate around for the cutting edge to face forward so it can cut the media. The tip of the blade is shaped like a triangle; the more blade you have exposed the wider the triangle becomes and the bigger the surface area that needs to be rotated.
Also, to give a consistent cutting force on the blade, the white nose of the blade holder needs to be pressed down on to the surface of the media but this cannot happen if your blade is set deeper than the media you are trying to cut as all the pressure is on the blade itself and not the nose of the holder. As you can imagine this leads to poor cutting results, reduced blade life and excess wear & tear on the machine itself.
I find the easiest way to correctly set the initial blade depth for any media (card, paper etc) is to do the following:
- Take a sheet of the media you are trying to cut and fold it in half.
- Take the blade out of the machine, set it to 1 and hold it in your hand as you would a pen but held vertically as it would be in the machine.
- Get your folded media and with your blade held like a pen but kept vertically press firmly down on the media and ‘draw’ a line.
- Next have a look at the media; with the correct setting you should have just cut a line through the top layer of the folded card without cutting in to the back layer. If you have not cut through the media, increase the blade by 1 position and repeat from step 3.
- Keep doing this until you reach the correct setting to cut the top layer without cutting the back.
Once this is done the blade can be put back in to the machine.
Next we need to head into the software so we can set the correct cutting speed and force.
In the Silhouette Studio software open the Cut Settings, go to the Material type options and press the + to create a new preset and give it a name, then set the thickness to a setting of 8. Next load some of the media you wish to cut in to the cutter and press the Test Cut button located at the bottom of the Editing: settings page.
- When doing a Test Cut the machine will cut a square with a triangle inside it, if the Thickness setting is correct you will be able to lift the triangle from within the square of the test cut and there will be no marks from the test cut on the cutting mat itself, or at most a very light outline just on the adhesive.
- If the test cut does not cut cleanly, increase the thickness setting by 2 or 3 and do another Test Cut.
- Repeat this until you find the right setting to cut the media. Once you have the correct setting for the type of media you are using, you can then keep and use this setting each time you cut this specific media.
Whilst setting your blade in this way can initially seem long winded it soon becomes second nature and the important thing is it will save you a lot of wear & tear on your blades and will give you the best cut quality.”
thanks once again Brian, and I hope some of you find this useful… I’m going to print and laminate it to keep with my machines, as a go to reference guide!
I also recommend once you have worked out the settings for a particular cardstock, write them down, along with the card /paper/vinyl manufacturer and the GSM !