The ultimate guide to Papercraft with Cricut for Beginners
Cardstock is one of the most versatile materials you can use with your Cricut machine! It can be cut, shaped, printed on, engraved, embossed, and curled. There are just so many things you can create….how about a birthday card for your mom? Or a valentines gift box for your partner? You can make all sorts of projects using paper and cardstock, including cards, banners, party decorations, home decor, gift tags, 3D boxes, flowers, and so much more.
If you’re new to Cricut, cutting cardstock with your machine can be a bit overwhelming. It can be hard to find the right instructions for applying these materials with a Cricut machine. Plus, there are so many different types of paper and cardstock – how do you know where to start?
In this blog post I will guide you through the simple steps to cut paper and cardstock with your Cricut machine. You’ll learn about the different types of paper and cardstock you can cut, and the best brands of cardstock to use. You’ll also learn tips for cutting intricate designs, and how to remove the paper from the cutting mat without tearing or curling, as well as my best tips and tricks to avoid common paper-cutting mistakes.
What Types of Paper and Cardstock can I cut with my Cricut?
Cricut can cut all sorts of different types and weights of paper and cardstock, from delicate papers like crepe and tissue paper to heavier materials like thick cardstock and poster board. The list of paper products you can cut with your cutting machine includes: scrapbook paper, cardstock, printer and copy paper, notebook paper, photo paper, corrugated cardboard, chipboard, construction paper, poster board, Kraft board, freezer paper, parchment paper, vellum, washi paper, Post-It notes, crepe paper, tissue paper, Cricut Smart sticker paper cardstock (for the Maker 3, Explore 3, and Joy), and so much more!
Which cardstock should I use with Cricut?
Cardstock can come in a variety of thickness, weights and textures. Choosing the right one will either make or break your project, and will vary depending on the type of project you wish to create.
Paper and cardstock are measured in GSM (grams per square meter) or lbs. Below 40lbs/105gsm is classed as paper, such as office printer paper.. Anything above 40lbs/105gsm is classed as light cardstock. Ordinary household printers can cope with cardstock up to around 100lbs/271gsm. Over 110lbs/300gsm would be classed as thick card.
Cardstock weight can vary from brand to brand (even when the number is the same), but the most common weights used with Cricut are:
“Lightweight” cardstock (65lbs/176gsm) tends to be a little thin however it is fantastic for layering, creating shadow boxes and crafting delicate paper flowers.
‘Medium weight’ cardstock (80lbs/216gsm) is good for most projects (this is what Cricut cardstock is) and is great for embossing, card making, scrapbooking, 3D alphabet ornaments, gift boxes.
“Heavyweight” cardstock (100lbs/271gsm and 110lbs/300 gsm or more) is almost like pasteboard. Cardstock this heavy can be challenging, and I use the double scoring wheel when scoring it with my maker.
Solid Core Vs Colored Core Cardstock
All card comes as either solid core or white core.
White core has color on both sides but is white in the middle. It’s cheaper to make and lower quality. If the cut isn’t perfect, you’ll be able to see the white when you cut it (it’ll be particularly noticeable with intricate cuts).
Solid core cardstock is best for your projects as it is dyed with the same color all the way through.
The only exception to this rule is Cricut Deluxe paper which, although white core, is incredibly high quality so does well with straight cuts. This paper usually comes patterned with a solid color on the underside.
*Tip: if you have no solid core available, you can make the white edge less visible by touching up with a similar coloured marker.
Textured vs. Solid
Paper and cardstock come in smooth and textured versions. Choose what you like, depending on your project. If you are going to be using ‘write/draw’ or ‘print then cut’ then I find smooth cardstock is better. Textured cardstock is usually smooth on the other side anyway, so it’s easy to put the card textured side down on the mat if you wish to use the pens with your Cricut.
Plain – this is completely smooth and untextured in a variety of colours. This tends to be the type of finish that you’d use in a printer or as a card base
Super smooth – if you want a bleed-free base, this is the finish for you!
Mirror – this is a shiny, metallic finish that’s ideal for adding a touch of glamour to your projects
Glitter – add a touch of sparkle to your projects with glitter cardstock
Pearl – pearlescent card has a stunning lustre that shines in the light
Patterned – these are great for whole host of projects with various themes and color combinations that complement each other.
Foiled – foiled card or paper usually features a plain base with stunning foiled details or patterns
Kraft – this cardstock has a rough finish and a natural brown colour. It’s made from recycled paper, so it’s a brilliant, environmentally-friendly option
Cardstock comes in a variety of sizes. Letter-size (8.5 x 11’) is great for printing. You can also use scrapbooking size sheets (12″ x 12″) which will cover the entire standard cutting mat.
What is the best cardstock to use with Cricut?
1. Recollections cardstock – Recollections is a brand by Michael’s craft store, but they can also be found online! I use this brand the most for my papercrafts.
2. Cricut cardstock is designed to be cut on a Cricut and cuts intricate cuts beautifully.
3. American Cardstock is good quality and is widely available. They have bulk packs of single colors as well as variety packs. The cardstock is packaged in boxes with tear-away tops for easy storage.
4. Cards and Pockets – This site has been with me for years and for good reason, the color options are unparalleled to most.
5. Bazzill -This is a high-quality cardstock with a canvas texture and solid core. It comes in a variety of colors and finishes.
6. Clear Path Paper – Clear Path Paper comes in a wide variety of colors and weights and is usually smooth textured. It’s available on Amazon
If you would like to have a quick and easy reference to all the best suppliers, free svg and font websites, must have Cricut knowledge then grab my Download My Cricut Handbook ! It has this ultimate list of material and supply vendors plus so much more!
What Settings Should I use For Cutting Cardstock and Paper with Cricut?
Each Cricut has a selection of material settings loaded into Cricut Design Space. Choose the setting that is closest to your material if your exact material isn’t available. Then, you can do a small test cut to make sure your settings are correct before you cut your whole project. Getting the settings right can be a bit of trial and error. It a case of trying one if it doesn’t work. Read my Cricut cutting problems and solution post here for more information.
Which Cricut Mat do I use for cutting cardstock and Paper?
The Blue LightGrip mat is best used for most paper and cardstock. I find that the adhesive on the blue mat is the best at releasing paper materials. Some of the heavier cardstock might need the Green StandardGrip mat or even the purple StrongGrip cutting mat. I almost always start with a Blue LightGrip mat first and then move up to the green StandardGrip mat if I need a stronger hold.
Which blade do I use for Paper and Cardstock?
For nearly all paper projects, you’re going to be using the Fine Point Blade. There may be a handful of very thick cardstocks that require the Deep Cut Blade, but your Cricut should prompt you to use the Deep Cut Blade if needed. With some of the more delicate materials like crepe paper, many people find that using the Rotary Blade or Wavy Edge tool gets better results.
When you purchase a replacement blade for the Cricut Maker/Explore ALWAYS MAKE SURE that you purchase the blade with the white cap. not the gray cap (as this for older models and will not cut correctly)
Download my free blade list pdf here for quick and easy reference. I laminated mine and pinned to my pegboard!
CHECK OUT MY GUIDE TO CRICUT BLADES AND DOWNLOAD MY FREE BLADE LIST PDF HERE
Writing and Drawing with your cricut
I love using the pen tool with my Cricut. You can include pen and ink illustrations and coloring page designs and even address an envelope or write inside a greeting card with your machine. You can convert almost any cut design to a drawing design or add drawing elements to any project. play with the designs and see what looks good as a drawing. Just remember what you see on screen in design space is what you will see on paper. Make sure you do a small test run first so you can see how your pen interacts with the cardstock’s texture. If the ink bleeds or the pen skips, you may want to choose a different pen or a smoother cardstock.
Scoring Paper and Cardstock
Whether it’s for folds in greeting cards or assembling 3D paper and cardstock projects, Your Cricut can also score cardstock to help you create crisp creases and sharp folding lines quickly and effectively.
When it comes to scoring your craft projects with Cricut, there are two different tools you can use. One is the scoring wheel (Cricut Maker) and the other is the scoring stylus (Cricut Maker and Cricut Explore)
You’ll want to use the scoring tools on the inside of the project, or the “valley” of the fold. That means that you’ll place your cardstock “pretty side down” so the Cricut can make the creases on the backside of the cardstock.
Top Tips for Crafting with Paper and Cardstock
- Always test cut prior to starting so you can see whether it cuts correctly sooner rather than later
- Getting your paper or cardstock to release from your mat can be quite a pain. For best results, remove your cardstock by turning the mat upside down and gently bending it, peel it away from the material you have cut. In this way, you can keep your paper materials flat and prevent curling!
- Be sure to keep your blade clean before cutting cutting paper or cardstock with it. You can clean your blade by poking it into a small ball of aluminum foil over and over again. This helps remove any dirt and debris from it.
- Start with the Blue Cricut LightGrip Mat. It works well with almost every paper material. If you feel it’s not cutting so great then progress to the Green StandardGrip Mat.
- If you are using glitter cardstock mirror your image and turn over the paper. This allows the machine to cut without the glitter getting stuck on the blade and in the housing. This also technique also helps when using textured paper, try cutting the smooth side up for better results.
- Be sure that you actually have the image set to cut and not print or write.
Troubleshoot common problems
My Cricut is tearing and snagging as it cuts. Why is my Cricut not cutting properly?
There are many reasons why your Crciut is not cutting your paper project properly. These usually come down to the 5 following reasons:
- Your blade maybe dirty or blunt. Clean your blade or replace it.
- Make sure you are using the correct blade for the material you are using.
- Use good quality cardstock.
- Check to make sure that your material is lying flat on the mat. USE A CLEAN STICKY MAT.
- Check your settings and pressure.
My Cricut isn’t cutting all the way through the cardstock
1.Check that you are using the correct blade and that it is inserted correctly (not placed too high up)
2.Choose different materials settings and increase the cut pressure. For example, you may need to switch from Light Cardstock to Medium Cardstock. Or, you can select the More Pressure option on the Make Screen.
3. Try a double pass or multi-pass. e.g Cut the design more than once. For example, if you select Glitter Cardstock as your material setting, Cricut will cut with a similar pressure as Medium Cardstock, but it will make the cutting pass twice instead of once.
Why is my Cricut cutting slow?
If your Bluetooth connection between your computer and Cricut Maker machine is not very strong this can slow down your work. You can try connecting your Cricut to your computer with a USB cable instead. It often helps to check if you need to update firmware for your machine . You can do this in the account menu.
Do I need to Calibrate my Cricut?
If you find that your Cricut is cutting the wrong part of your design it could be that the calibration is off. This can happen when you are crafting lots of projects and you’re changing your blades and tools frequently. To make the right cuts, your Cricut machine has to be able to recognize what tool you’re using.
The knife and rotary blade tools for the Cricut Maker cut differently from the premium fine point blade. These tools are different sizes, so the Cricut has to adjust how it moves and cuts to accommodate these differences.
You should calibrate your machine the first time you use it and any time you switch tools or experience inaccurate cuts. You can do this by accessing the calibration option in the Account menu. Select the type of calibration you need and print the appropriate calibration sheet.
For best results, print the calibration sheet actual size rather than fit-to-page. Your machine aligns itself with the measurements on that sheet during calibration, so if you print it a different size from the actual size, your machine’s adjustments will be wrong.
I hope that you found my guide to papercraft for beginners helpful when cutting out your beautiful paper projects, mandalas, intricate designs, paper cuts & zentangles!
Do you have any awesome hacks that you do when your Cricut will not cut correctly?? Post in the comments below or just give me a shoutout if you are needing additional help!
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