2014-11.6: Cricut product review - Bonus

04 Dec 2014

Average: 4.3 (16 votes)
7:41 - November 2014 Bonus - Cricut product review (2014)

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The Cricut "Explore" is an electronic cutting machine often used for scrapbooking, cardmaking and decorating, retailing for about $200.  Miles Hale shows us some ways it can be used by modelers to make things like structures, signs and masking friskets.

This video is available for non-subcribers to TrainMasters TV as well.  There's an open thread of the Cricut and its potential uses at the MRH Magazine forums at mrhmag.com/node/20528.


And after watching this review, I'm going to ask for one of these...



Very informative and I can see the printer one of these days in my model workshop.  

I'm wondering if it is compatiable with Google's Schetchup?  Will have to check that out.



Do you know what is the thickest styrene that we can cut with this??  It looks like a marvelous tool for the model railroader's workshop!!


Thanks, Andy Keeney

I keep telling myself I have to learn to use a CAD program and now it's even more necessary. This is awesome, I'm thinking frisket masks and building walls.

Did you cut the windows with the Cricut? 



Do you you think this could ease the problem getting white heralds printed on-demand instead of going to custom decals?  With the scarcity, expense and age of Alps printers, this might be a great solution.  Even if it can't handle the data markings, at least you can get data sheets from decal makers or data-only cars from model mfrs.  I'm thinking of something along the lines of a Nickel Plate herald.



Any of the Cad based programs seem to work but the Cricut needs one of the following: .jpg   .gif   .png.   .bmp   .svg  but the best for me has been  .dxf.



Yes, the windows were cut with the machine and they are all press fits for the Grandline widow castings. The frisket masks I used were the self stick clear shelf paper sold at Wal-Mart. It has low tack and works great in the machine, just don't pull the backing off until you have finished cutting the logos out.

My next project is to run a test and see how small we can cut the lettering. But we have also consideered the possibility of cutting the logos or larger lettering for cars with the white decal stock. The only draw back may be that the lettering will have to be applied individually. But htis is a small problem if we can get really cheap white lettering!

The cab I just cut out for the Sw-9 is .030". It scored and I snapped the parts cleanly out. I have not yet tried but because of the snap feature I would think that very thick styrene could be scored and then snapped. The limit will be what thickness can pass under the blade and not be scored unless you want the cutting to occur. My guess is that .100" would bve pushing it a bit.

What CAD program would you recommend ,

that is simple to use and easy to learn.





I have found that TurboCad ver8 works the best when I need a .dxf file. I am on a MAC but the TurboCad can be purchased for PC also. I called Cricut and they recommend Adobe Illustrator or "InkScape" I could not get Inkscape to run and I don't want to pay the monthly fee for AI so I have no experience with these programs on the Cricut. I do have AI ver3 and I may try it soon to see how it works. Thanks for watching!

I like the idea of layers, Miles.  Doing window mullions, window frames and other details on separate layers helps build up what ever thickness you need.  Wonder how this might work with car or trolley sides?  I know what I'm going to ask Santa for this year!  Thanks for some great ideas!

CN6401's picture

I love it, where can I get one?


Awesome...my grand daughter wants some cartridges and NOW this grandpa wants need too.

Thank you Miles..

Making pulleys just got easier...

I hope Sketch up lo works with it.

Rich Dickeson

I like this idea. I would sure love to see some more how to's on using this. MY problem is that i have to see stuff done to understand. So this video gives me the taste and interested, but if I bought the machine, I would likey not use it to its potental. Kinda like using Photoshop/Paintshop for making photo structures. photo flats, and photo back drops. 

Just food for though for upcoming episodes of TMTV. I am sure lots of other viewers feel like I do.

I think Ryan has a GREAT idea ! It would be a huge help if you made a string of " How to videos " on the Cricut.

I would love to see more videos of things being made on this machine.

TMTV Station Agent's picture

I knew we would have lots of interest in the Cricut but I have to admit it took me by surprise how much everyone wants to see more of it.  Miles and I will be doing some more segments in a few weeks, so we'll see if we can come up with some projects for the machine.  Stay tuned.

Barry, TrainMasters TV producer

Santa left a Cricut Explore (with a whole bunch of accessories) under the tree for me.  I have not fired it up yet, but I see a whole lot of possibilities for this machine. Beyond the ability to cut through styrene and bassword, the sheer variety of paper/cardstock that is available at craft stores for the scrapbookers, I see the potential of cardstock as a modeling medium (perhaps for smaller structures) using the veneer approach - chipboard core, layered over by appropriately colored cardstock.  Lots of ideas come to mind - I agree with the others, would love to see more TMTV segments with specific projects, tips, etc.  There's some real potential here...


What a great tool. Another must have for the workshop. Miles, please do a how-to on converting your S scale diesel to ON30. I would really like to see that!

Great overview. Do you need to maintain the monthly subscription to use the machine for your own projects, or is that only for access to existing cardmaking files?

I watched your ideo a couple weeks ago and told my wife how it could work for both of us. Well she surprised me with it for my birthday. YEA ME !!

I got it all hooked up. You HAVE to download the FIREFOX  browser. I had to make a call to Cricut and they were aware of the issue I was having with the dxf file as I uploaded it to the cricut. the cricut take the file apart. You have to reattach everything in the Cricut program. Just a little issue. However it cuts 1/16" bass wood perfectly. We cut a small building out of 1/32" basswod also. The Tichey windows and doors snapped right in. We are building a library of doors and windows so we can pick and drop them into our drawings. This is a fun little machine. It is worth every penny. I'm sure the next update they make to it will be a little more user friendly towards the modelers. We are a brand new group to them. I will most likely have to buy my wife her own machine...  ;)


Rail Runners Model Railroad Club

Bloomington, Mn

I  bought my wife one for Christmas and would like to see more designing and cutting videos. Something other than circles please.

Thank you


John Frankforther

Miles, when you loaded your file of your little wooden building to the cricut design space, did you have to resize it?

I have a Cricut and I use Auto-Cad. I drew a small building front that measures 3"x4". When I upload it as a vector

drawing .dxf file it enlarges the drawing to 29"x29". I have tried to talk to the people at Cricut and they just tell me 

they sent my issue to their IT department. I have tried several cad programs and also tried .svg file. Thanks for your time.

Went out and grabbed mine this last weekend. It's sitting here on the counter looking
at me wondering when I'm going to use it. :)

I ordered a couple of the deep cut blades off of eBay, they should be here Monday,
so I think I see this machine and I having an encounter pretty soon.


I also have a whole package if the plain white decal paper here, and was thinking I
might try that in this machine as well. Will find out how small we can go. I model in
both N and HO scales.

So....any update on having some demo videos on using this with a CAD program? Would love to see some tutorials!



same request as others: start in your CAD program and show us the steps to get the building drawing into the Cricut design space and correctly sized to cut. Please and thank you! (Cool machine!)

TMTV Station Agent's picture

You might find some useful information here: 

Cricut tips


This is the first I heard about the cutting machines and I think it has a lot of posibilities. Here is a link to other reviews https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCXAHpX2xDhmjqtA-ANgsGmw?v=1fadgv-F560


I just got my cricut this past week. I am having the same problem as others with using cad programs and .dxf format when uploading to design space.  Are you building your library of doors and windows in a cad program or just using the design space to draw them?