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Cutting Cardstock with Silhouette CAMEO: Secrets and Cut Settings from the Pros!

I'm so excited that the queen of Silhouette Paper Crafts and Designs, Lori Whitlock is on the blog today! Lori's here to share her pro tips on cutting cardstock cleanly with Silhouette CAMEO and Portrait!

Hi everyone! I’m Lori Whitlock and I’m so excited that Melissa asked me to do a guest blog post for you all today. I’ve been designing for Silhouette for over 7 years now (since the beta version of the Design Store was around). If you’ve seen my work you know that I do a lot of card making and 3­ D design so I am using my Silhouette to cut paper and card stock all the time.

With over 5400+ designs I would say I’ve practiced cutting paper A LOT. At some of the events that I attend I’m astounded at the number of people that I have met that have never tried to cut paper/card stock with their Silhouette.

Let me just tell you a little secret... it’s really not that hard! So, let’s give it a try! You should be able to get beautiful clean cuts from card stock or patterned paper. I’ve taught several classes and find that Silhouette crafters can get frustrated trying to get clean cuts. But, I’m here to tell you that if you get everything set up properly your Silhouette CAMEO or Portrait should cut card stock just like butter. It might take a little practice, but I promise you can get it figured out.

Here are a few tips: First, use a good quality card stock. Cardstock is made up of fibers. Lesser quality cardstock has fibers that tear and pull apart easily (think construction paper). These fibers will create a cutting mess and clog the blade housing. 

A good quality card stock has tighter fibers and cuts beautifully. I also design for Echo Park Paper Co. and their printed card stock is excellent quality. Most scrapbook companies print on a good quality paper. 

Second, make sure you have a nice sharp blade especially if you’re cutting intricate pieces. However, if you are cutting larger items without intricate pieces a blade that has some use on it will typically do just fine. 

Also, make sure that your blade is clean. 

Next, do a practice cut on a scrap piece of paper so that you don’t waste the paper you planned for a project. Adjust the settings until you get the desired result. 

Lastly, get your settings adjusted properly. I am here to tell you that everybody has a little different formula for their blade setting, speed, and thickness (pressure) when it comes to cutting paper. There are a lot of variables here. You have to consider the weight of the paper, your machine, how old your blade is, how intricate the design is, etc. So, I can’t give you an exact formula that works for EVERY situation. 

Here’s what works for me: I cut A LOT of card stock and I’m always on a deadline, so I cut card stock as quickly as I can at a speed of 10 (unless it’s really intricate... then I slow it down). I use the card stock setting in the Cut Settings window. It recommends a blade setting of 5, however, I’ve found that if I set my blade one notch higher to a 6 I get a much cleaner cut (do not change it on the screen... this does nothing, you have to physically remove the blade from the machine and change it). 

If my test cut isn’t quite clean I will move the thickness up to 21-­25 depending on what works (I don’t like to set the thickness deeper than necessary as this will dull your blade and is rough on your mat). 

I don’t automatically double ­cut (remember, I’m in a hurry). BUT, after I cut, I NEVER remove my mat from the machine until I check to see if it’s cut cleanly. To do this I just use the spatula or my fingernail to lift a piece of the cut design off the mat (90% of the time it's a clean cut on the first round). If it comes up cleanly then I remove the mat from the machine. If it’s not a clean cut, I simply hit “Send to Silhouette” again. The machine will cut the design again in precisely the same position. Then, I check it again. If for some reason it’s still not clean, then I can adjust my blade depth or thickness and send again. But, I usually don’t have to do that. Here's a little video I put together that might be helpful with a few more tips...

That’s the way I do it, but as I mentioned, there are several methods or systems that people use for cutting paper. So, I surveyed my Creative Team (the best paper cutters I know) to find out what works for them.

Here are some tips from them:

 “I used to cut on cardstock on the cardstock setting, but I found that the shapes didn't always cut well. Now, for most basic projects I set the Silhouette to Glitter Cardstock so I know it will automatically double cut. I also cut most items at a blade depth of 6 and a cut speed of 8, unless the design is very intricate or I'm using vinyl or vellum.” –Teri  

“These are my preferred settings: textured cardstock (80lb) speed 4, blade 6; Patterned paper speed 5, blade 5; Silhouette Chipboard speed 1, blade 7, double cut; Sticker paper speed 8, blade 2; sketch pens ­ always double write.” – Kathy  

“If my shape I am cutting is really intricate, has a lot of curves, or includes letters, I always double cut. Nothing is more frustrating than having your shape not cut all the way out! It takes a little longer, but I waste so much less paper this way.” –Tya  

“I like reversing/mirroring the image before cutting. I think the underside always looks nicer than the cut side so this solves that problem. It's particularly helpful when using a paper with a white core or for intricate designs & scripty titles.” – Mendi  

“My favorite mat is the Silhouette mat. If it has lost it's grip you can wash it using a vegetable brush, a drop of dish soap and tepid water. Don't scrub too hard, rinse well and hang dry. This will help the mat be sticky again.” – Teri  

“You can clean your blade by removing the blade, setting blade depth to 10 and blow air through the blade area to dislodge any paper dust and fragments.” – Kathy  

Make sure your mat is relatively clean. If you have lots of bits stuck to the mat, and try to cut another piece of paper over them, the blade may skip and not cut as cleanly. ­ - Kathy  

"If you're cutting lighter weight paper or vellum it's best to use a "seasoned" mat (somewhat used) or a light grip mat so that you don't have troubles removing the material from the mat." - ­ Teri

Hopefully you picked up a few tips from all of us. I challenge you to go grab your mat and put down a piece of card stock give it a try. I promise it’s not that difficult. My Silhouette CAMEO is the one paper crafting tool I could never give up. It has literally opened up a whole new world of paper crafting possibilities for me over the past decade.

Please feel free to check out the blog for more cutting inspiration and tutorials. In fact here is a list of where you can find me: Blog: Silhouette Shop: SVG Shop: YouTube: Facebook: Craftsy Class: 50% OFF Instagram: Pinterest:

Another article filled with great paper cutting tips was written by Melissa and shared with my blog readers is in THIS post. You might want to check that out, also.
Thanks for joining me today!


Note: This post may contain affiliate links. By clicking on them and purchasing products through my links, I receive a small commission. That's what helps fund Silhouette School so I can keep buying new Silhouette-related products to show you how to get the most out of your machine!

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