Posted by: sbarrett | 2008.01.17

Quickutz Silhouette First Impressions

Well, we have had a little over a week with the Silhouette.  We have cut a few items and it seems to work fine, although it will take some time to get the settings right so it will cut completely through the paper.  I am still going through tutorials and learning how to use the software and some support programs that others have suggested using. 

 First off, let me say that I think this is a neat machine.  It definitely has lots of possibilities for making decorative craft items.  I think it will be used quite a bit considering we have two kids in school, church activities, home decoration, holidays, etc not to mention the scrapbook uses it was intended for.  However, that said, it is a complex piece of work.  As always, with extra flexibility comes other responsibility.  If you are not a computer person: one who can make their way through Photoshop or other photo program, a vector drawing program where you deal with objects and their placement, or are good at PowerPoint or some other presentation progam, you may want to find someone who has a machine like this prior to purchasing it yourself and check it out.  I am not saying that you can’t learn it, lots have.  But there is a bit of computer work required if you want to do beyond just the basics of cutting a shape or a few letters.

We have made a few items for scrapbook pages and by and large, it works as advertised.  Our only real trouble is figuring out the adjustments for the paper thickness.  This seems like it could take some black magic.  In looking for help, I stumbled upon the forums at Paperthreads, a most helpful place.  I am sure there are more, however that is one place I go besides the Yahoo Wishblade group.  With some tweaking we have been working our way through a few titles and embelishments.  I have started to keep a journal to list the paper types and the settings we used for reference.

 The reason we got this machine was that, although it gives some flexibility with using Truetype fonts and purchasing stuff from Quickutz (I and my wife both like their designs), it was not crazy expensive like the next level of machines, nor was it as limited like the Cricut in that you had to purchase their cartriges.  My wife has used the Squeeze hand tool for a while now and this jump to a computer operated cutter seems a big one.  Obviously it is an investment in the machine itself, as well as the commercial files you can purchase.  Yes, you can get THOUSANDS of fonts and designs for free, and you can always make yor own, but I am sure we will purchase some too.  This machine is compatible with the machine from Xyron and Graphtec/Craft Robo, so there is a large user base.  It seemed like a good combo of price point and flexibility.

 As I mentioned, it takes some computer use knowledge though.  If you are one to fret and shy away if something does not go right, this may not be the machine for you.  There are software crashes, things to load, files to manage, different software to use to do different things (tracing, word welding, font management, etc).  Although it is ok, I would not place it in the leagues of Microsoft or such vendors.

Here is an example – I could not find a picture of a sweet pea for a page.  I had to search the net for a graphic.  I import that jpg file into a REAL NICE vector drawing program called Inkscape.  I then proceed to trace the item, to produce an outline.  I have to save that as a DXF file to import into the cutting machine.  From there I have to assign pen colors for different cuttings of different paper colors, then try it out and see how it looks.  Not earth shatteringly hard, mind you, but it does take some time and acceptance of trial and error.

I hope I did not scare anyone away.  I do like this machine, really!!  And I am sure, as most others have come to conclude, it is a good piece of equipment.  However, as I said, with flexibility comes responsibility.  If that is not for you, you may want to look for another solution, either self contained electric (Cricut) or a hand or crank tool.



  1. Thanks for the article, it was helpful. I am familiar with software such as Inkscape. I don’t want to buy any designs online but as I understand from your article, I could buy this machine and create all my die cuts myself as vector images.

  2. Thank you so much for the detailed review, I really appreciate it. I am really looking forward to getting a silhouette digital craft cutter!

  3. I just came across your blog and this entry about the Silhouette. I’ve ordered one and its on its way. Are you still enjoying it abilities? Have you got past the learning curve? Out of all that is out there, the Silhouette seems like the best bet around for the price.

  4. For the price, yes, however it looks like the new Pazzles machine has more capabilities if you are into advanced stuff.

    The issues we have had recently are more related to advanced use. There have been more welded words being made and more custom mods to existing designs. These being done in the standard software, as well as with the Inkscape program I mentioned are time consuming. I may try the funtime software to see if that is any easier to work with these advanced uses.

    That, plus always having different paper to cut makes using this difficult. You really need to know the settings for each type of paper you use. Best off using only a few paper types (Easier said than done, I realize because of patterns and such).

  5. one of the LSS is having a quickutz rep come in tonight and they are offering this machine at a substantial discount. I’m probably going to get it. thanks for your thoughtful recommendation of it. on balance, it will be worth the learning curve to gain the flexibility.

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