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Tips for Cutting Intricate Designs with Silhouette CAMEO

Do you love the look of small and intricate designs such as mandala cut files, zentangles, and thin fonts but often get frustrated when cutting intricate designs with Silhouette CAMEO?

These tips for how to cut small letters on silhouette and detailed designs will help with prevent ripping, tearing, and bad Silhouette cuts.

I love mandalas and zentangle designs and the Best of Wispy Willows Bundle on So Fontsy is filled with nature and animal inspired designs that feature some small & intricate cuts.  The problem is they can be a real headache to cut when they're at a small scale. Even simple mandala SVG or studio designs be a challenge just due to the number of cut lines and small areas.

The blade in your machine will often drag the vinyl as it goes down up and down and changes direction to cut out your design.  So I have some tips for you today to avoid bad Silhouette cuts.

Remember to adjust one thing at a time so you can figure out what is causing the poor cut to begin with...then you can use these tips to get the perfect cut each time.

Thicken Small Letters and Intricate Designs

Sometimes the design or text is just very thin and needs to be thickened. You can adjust this by adding a small offset around your design. The Offset tool panel can be opened from the right sidebar. It looks like a star.

Using the Floral Arrows set from the So Fontsy Best of Wispy Willows Bundle, I created a small offset of just .002 to beef up the edges of the design a bit.

This will thicken the lines ever so slightly so the blade isn't coming so close to areas it's already cut when it goes up and then back down.

Delete the original design and keep the offset layer to cut.  This is also the best technique if you're trying to figure out how to cut small letters on Silhouette but experiencing cutting issues. 

Create a Weeding Box Around Your Design

Place a weeding box around your design. Use the Rectangle tool to draw the box.

A tightly cut weeding box means you have less vinyl that's 'pulling' at the design when you go to weed it. 

Slow Your Speed - Just a Little Bit

The next thing you should adjust for smaller and intricate designs is the speed of the cut.

Go into the Send Panel and adjust the speed to anywhere from a 1-3.

Slower isn't always better. Sometimes when the design is being cut too slow the vinyl gets stuck on the blade for a split second and is then moved out of place. But if the speed is SLIGHTLY faster it doesn't have time to catch.

Play around with the settings to find what works best for you.

Turn On Segment Overcut in the Silhouette Studio Send Panel

Be sure to turn on the Segment Overcut option in Silhouette Studio's Send Panel (found by clicking "More") and adjust the distance to at least .1.

The segment overcut forces the blade to pick up and create a new line at corners rather than pivoting, helping to prevent the vinyl from tearing.

Reduce the Force

Lowering your force (ie. pressure) of your blade will stop the vinyl from tearing as it's being cut.

A sure sign that you need to back off the pressure is if the vinyl backing is getting marked up like this:

Use a Sticky Silhouette Cutting Mat

Make sure your cutting mat is pretty sticky when you are cutting vinyl. A sticky cutting mat will hold vinyl in place and stop it from shifting around while it is being cut. This applies to all sizes of cuts.

Use a Graphtec CB09 Blade

The Graphtec CB09 Blade is my preferred blade when cutting small and intricate designs. The angle of the blade goes into the vinyl at a slightly different angle than the regular Silhouette ratchet blade or Auto blade which prevents the vinyl from being torn. It is also called a carbide blade.

For more information on how to use a carbide blade with your Silhouette Cameo or Portrait machine, click here  >>> How and When to Use a Graphtec CB09 Blade

I highly suggest the mandalas and zentangle designs in the Best of Wispy Willows Bundle on So Fontsy. There are 64  SVG cut files that you can easily cut and weed now that you have some great tips for cutting intricate designs with Silhouette CAMEO.

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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  1. Thanks for helpful guides! These tips is really helpful for designers like me.

  2. Can anyone suggest adjustments to be made when cutting intricate designs from cardstock? I am cutting a doily from cardstock and not getting a clean cut and having the paper on the back tear. I have increased the blade by 2.

    1. Turning Segment Overcut on for me often helps with Cardstock. And sometimes, just rotating the paper 90 degrees helps to - paper has a grain and cutting against it sometimes makes it better or worse. Also, on paper, having too sticky a mat can make it hard to remove intricate paper cuttings.

  3. I would also love to see some similar tips for cutting detailed design from cardstock :)

  4. I have Silhouette Cameo 2 ~ version 4.3. How limited am I doing the new things coming out for Cameo 3 & 4?

  5. I assume that to use the CB09 or the ratchet blade, you would use an adapter. Is this the case?


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