The original Cricut Maker is the cutting machine that made crafting approachable. It can cut almost any material but is it still worth the money?
If you don’t have a Cricut Maker you’re missing out on something special. The Cricut Maker is an impressive piece of kit that can cut over 300 different materials from paper to balsa wood. It also works with up to 13 tools to cut, write, score and engrave. Here we’re reviewing the first Cricut Maker (it first released in 2017), can it still cut it even when a newer model is on sale?
Cricut have three machines in their lineup: the Cricut Maker, Cricut Joy, and the Cricut Explore. The Cricut Maker is the flagship and most powerful out of all the machines. The Cricut Explore is a similar size as the Maker but has some limitations. And then there is the Cricut Joy, a compact machine perfect for smaller craft projects or those who want a portable second machine.
Cricut recently released the Cricut Maker 3; the new machine doesn’t make the original Cricut Maker any less of a good buy. Cricut also has a wide range of different accessories that go hand in hand with the Cricut cutting machines. You can catch up by reading our Cricut Mug Press review and scour our Easy Press 2 bundle deals for a bargain.
Cricut Maker review: what is it?
The Cricut Maker is a smart cutting machine capable of working with over 300 different materials and handling a range of different projects, from card-making to creating 3D models. This machine is so powerful, with over ten times more cutting power than the Cricut Explore machines, that it can handle large scale cutting projects such as vinyl cutting right through to those items that need intricate details like papercraft.
The Cricut Maker is shipped with everything you need to get started. It comes with two blades; a fine-point blade for cutting items such as vinyl, paper and balsa wood and a rotary blade for cutting fabrics including leather. It also comes with a LightGrip machine mat for general materials and a FabricGrip mat with stronger sticking power for fabrics. It ships with a fine point black pen and a pack of sample materials to practice before you get going.
The Cricut Maker is also compatible with 13 tools that can be purchased separately that will cut, draw, emboss, embellish, foil and engrave, so there is plenty of room to grow once you’ve gotten used to the basic cutting functions of the Maker. Take a look at our guide to the best Cricut accessories to discover the wider tools you can use with a Cricut Maker.
Cricut Maker review: how to use the machine
First and foremost, to be able to use the Cricut Maker you will need to download the Cricut Design Space software. Without it, your machine simply will not function. This is free and it’s available for iOS and Android devices, and it’s now compatible with Chromebooks.
Cricut Design Space has a suite of tools that will enable you to create, customise and personalise all of your Cricut projects. You can use the built-in images and fonts or upload your own designs. There is also an Cricut Access, an optional subscription service. We think it is worth the small monthly fee, especially if you’re planning on using your Cricut on a regular basis. Cricut Access will give you a pass to over 20,000 images, 700 fonts and thousands of ready-to-make projects, all of which can be customised. Read our guide to the 10 reasons why you need Cricut Access for a detailed breakdown of this service.
Design Space is an app and can be used on a smartphone, but we found it much easier to design using a computer or tablet; read our guide to the best laptop for Cricut and the best tablets or Cricut to get an idea of what works best. You ideally need a device with a larger screen, so there is more space to layout your design.
Once you’ve downloaded the Cricut Design Space, it’s easy to set up your machine for the first time. The Cricut Maker can be connected to your device via the USB cable that comes with the machine or Bluetooth. We prefer using Bluetooth as it is one less cable on our desk, and we are able to leave plenty of space for our machine without having our laptop in the way.
Set up is as easy as opening your Bluetooth settings and pair as you would any other device if you’re using Bluetooth. If you’re using the USB option, just go ahead and make your design, and when you’re ready to start cutting, your machine should automatically work.
Cricut Maker review: build and design
The Cricut Maker is a good looking cutting machine. It’s not the lightest or the sleekest machine in Cricut’s line-up, but it’s not too heavy that you can’t move it around. However, we recommend finding a dedicated space for your Cricut Maker as it is large and will take up some serious space. We’ve highlighted the best craft tables in our guide that can fit a Cricut Maker.
The Cricut Maker has a beautiful metallic cover in a champagne colour (it also comes in Rose) and has a slow hinge, so when you open the lid, the bottom also opens simultaneously. There is something very satisfying about opening up this machine that just gets you in the mood to craft.
On the bottom layer, there is a little drawer to be able to keep all your accessories. There’s also a tool and pen holder on the top of the machine built into its smooth bevelled edge. Plus, there is a docking station for you to keep your phone or tablet; we found this really useful when watching YouTube tutorials as we had somewhere to keep your iPad whilst following the instructions.
One of the best things about this design is that it has two clamps, one for the blades and the other for the pens; you’ll want to buy some extras pens and can read more in our guide to the best cricut pens. It’s effortless to change tools, and because of the open design, it’s not a problem to change the tools when you’re in the middle of a job. The dual clamp system also means that if you’re doing a job that includes both drawing and cutting, then you can just set it up to run, and it’ll do those two things at the same time.
You must use a mat when using the Cricut Maker, unlike the newer Cricut Maker 3 and Cricut Joy models this one doesn’t work with smart materials. The standard mats are 12 x 12 inches but you can purchase 12 x 24 inches so you are limited to that size when working but that is a good size and we didn’t ever feel the need for a bigger cutting space.
Cricut Maker review: price
The Cricut Maker costs $391 / £299, so it isn’t the cheapest cutting machine on the market, it’s not even the cheapest cutting machine in the Cricut lineup. However, we think it is a pretty reasonable price tag for the type of machine that you’re getting. You also get a rotary blade, fine-point blade, fine point pen, two cutting mats and some materials to practice, so you are pretty much set to go creating straight out of the box.
However, it is worth looking at the Cricut bundle deals offers as they can include vinyl, extra blades and cutting mats, and accessories such as weeding tools and pens. Some will even come with an Easy Press 2 for Cricut shirt design.
Another thing to consider is whether you want to subscribe to Cricut Access. This costs $9.99 / £7.49 per month or $95.88 / £71.88 for an annual subscription (which works out just $7.99 / £5.99 a month). As well as giving access to images, fonts and ready-to-make projects, subscribers to Cricut Access also get 10% off all Cricut purchases at the official Cricut website(opens in new tab), including machines.
There are also a whole host of different accessories on the market. Depending on what you’re planning to make, there may be some tools you just can’t do with. These vary in price, but we will say that using the official Cricut products such as the vinyl and transfer tape will give you better results. While the official Cricut accessories can be expensive, the Cricut Maker does support most materials and fabrics but you’ll need to cut them to size before use.
Cricut Maker review: should you buy one?
There is no doubt that the Cricut Maker is an incredible machine. It is the perfect machine for everyone, regardless of their level. It can take a bit of time to get used to the software, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll find it a breeze.