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Silhouette Studio Knife Tool: How to Use It To Its Full Potential

One of the best benefits of Silhouette Studio is the being able to design my own files and images. Part of the designing knowledge comes from knowing the tools at your disposal inside the software. In the mix of various shapes, fonts, tracing and modifying, one simple tool often gets left behind: the knife tool.

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So today, we're going to look at the various functions and a few ideas of how you can use the knife tool to your benefit.

The first thing to know is that the knife tool is located on the left toolbar, and the knife menu populates on the right side of the screen.

The knife tool is used to cut through cut lines or images in Silhouette Studio. For the most part, it is a freehand design tool.

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As you can see, I have a multitude of knife tools at my disposal. Keep in mind that some of these functions are exclusive to Silhouette Studio Designer Edition, but the basic knife tools are available for all users. However, if you're in the market to upgrade, it's totally worth it!

When you first start playing with the knife, you'll see that when you hold and drag the mouse pointer, you will see a red line where the knife is going to cut. While this is useful, it still leaves the actual cutting up to your hand-eye judgement. 

I'll let you in on a little secret: If you hold down the SHIFT key, the line will immediately stay in a straight line, either horizontal, vertical or diagonal. This is more useful than you realize right now, but just tuck this little gem of knowledge away for later.

The next function to discuss is the Auto Apply button at the very bottom. If Auto Apply is checked, when you use the knife tool, the cut will automatically process in the software.

This isn't necessarily a good thing or bad thing, it's just personal preference. I'm a cut-and-go girl, so I usually have Auto Apply turned on. If I need to make more precise cuts....or I want to adjust the size of one of the shaped knifes, I will turn it off.

Third, let's talk about the difference between SOLID and OUTLINE cuts. This applies to UNFILLED shapes only. When you choose SOLID and cut into a complete shape, it will form two individual, complete shapes. More specifically, you'll see a new line appear along the cut line where you have cut into the shape.

For the OUTLINE option, you will only see an interruption in the cut line, not a new line. This is something you'll learn to value as you start to use the knife tool.

When you start playing around with the knife choices, you'll see that (for DE) there are more than a few choices to choose from.  Depending on the type of designing or file editing you are doing, you may choose to use a decorative edge. Think of these as those cool decorative craft scissors we all used to use?  They are also useful if you are cropping an image, as there are options for curving and poly cuts that you can manually manipulate.

So to sum it up, why is the knife tool so important? Let's use an example. A friend of mine bought planner stickers off Etsy (I know! The horror...she could have made them using my book The Ultimate Silhouette Sticker Guide!). She received a file full of planner stickers that were imported as an image, not individual shapes. With that being said, her only option was to print and cut an entire page at a time, when she really only needed a few.  Using my knife tool, I was able to cut into the image, using the SHIFT key to keep my lines straight, and form individual areas for her to print and cut.

I also love the knife tool for font and glyph manipulation. From time to time, I want to use glyphs with fonts that don't come with them included. So using the knife tool, I'm able to cut a glyph off of one font and weld it with another for a custom look.

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And, the best part is that it's super easy! Once you get the hang of the knife tool, you'll be a pro and image and font editing in no time!

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! 
Thanks for coming to class today at Silhouette School.  If you like what you see, I'd love for you to pin it!
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  1. Ah ha! A great tip. I never turned off the auto apply before. Now I can see the full potential of the fun shapes in the knife menu. Thanks Melissa.

  2. Thank you! (I think you mean flourish, not glyph. A glyph is like é or æ)

  3. Merci Mélissa pour cette nouvelle astuce
    Bises de France

  4. A lot of the self-defense classes I teach are certainly based on the things we know that we're going to have with us at the time of a bad situation... our hands. I

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Don't get caught in the woods with the wrong knives. In this article you will learn how to pick the best hunting knife for your next hunting trip. Find out which handle and blade will work for you under extreme conditions. Which knives are best for a dedicated hunting knife, or an all purpose work knife.More Information

  7. Thanks for the great tutorial. Can you tell me if it's possible to increase the thickness of a single cut? To make stencils from fonts I find I have to make 2 or 3 cuts beside one another so they will be thick enough.


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