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 Silhouette Tips And Tricks

We are sharing some tips, tricks, and ideas to help you get the most from your Silhouette machine. We have even thrown in some vinyl tips just to help you out. If you have any tips you would like to share, please leave them in comments.

Mat Tips And Ideas

First, let's talk about mats. Using the right mat is one of the important things to consider when you are cutting paper on your Silhouette. 

Cameo tip: Line up your mat with the line on the left side of the machine. With the Silhouette Cameo, the line is the same color as the machine. The Cameo 2 is now highlighted in red. 

If you are using a brand-new mat, it has a lot of " stickiness" to it. That extra grip on your mat can eat up your paper. So if you have a new mat, it is important to "de-stick it first.  Grab an old t-shirt and wad it into a ball. Dab it over the mat and you are done.

It is important that your material (media) is stuck on the mat evenly. With newer mats, that usually is not a problem. But with older mats, you want to take one extra step to be sure that the media is completely stuck to the mat. Use your palm or a brayer to push on the material,

Cameo Tip: Keep a stack of old gift cards, credit cards, or hotel room cards. They can be used like scrapers to get paper off your mat

When you load your media, you need to chose the corresponding setting for what you are loading. Thos will be Load Mat if you are cutting media on a mat. If you are cutting without a mat, like vinyl, or other materials with their own backing, select Load Media.

Open the lid on your machine and look on the left side. In the Silhouette Cameo, the line was the same color as the machine. But in the Cameo 2, it is highlighted in red.
You will see a pronounced blue line there. That line is where you should line up the Left side of your media or mat. That way

You will need to tell the software if you are going to be using a mat or not when you cut. You will find this option on the DESIGN PAGE SETTINGS window in the cutting mat section.  You can choose CAMEO, Portrait, or none according to how you will be cutting.

More Mat Tips

  • Dip the tip of a tweezer or paper piecer in glue just enough to make it tacky to pick up small loose pieces like freezer paper or card stock.
  • Respray your mat with Krylon Repositional Spray when the mat isn’t sticky anymore. Make sure to tape off the edges of the mat with painter’s tape, then spray, peel off the tape, and let dry.
  • Use Ailene's Tack It Over And Over to re-tack your mat after you clean it completely. Mix 1 part Aileen’s to 1 part water take a sponge brush and brush on one coat let dry then apply a second coat. This will last like a new mat. Let dry completely after the second coat.
  • If you cut through the back of your mat, use packing tape on the back of the mat to putting it back together,
  • Baby wipes are great for maintaining your mat.  Use them to clean your mat after each project session.
  • Cricut mats are less expensive than Silhouette mats and can be used with silhouette machines.
  • If you use a Cricut mat, with your Silhouette machine make a line on the right side of your machine with a sharpie when you have your mat in correctly, so you know where to place it every time.
  • Blue painters' tape for everything – to keep vinyl from moving, to clean off transfer tape residue, to collect weeded pieces, etc.
  • Washi tape can be used to hold paper on a mat if it is moving around.
  • Turn your mat around and feed it through backward if you are repeating the same cut over and over to avoid cuts.
  • Lint rollers are handy to remove tiny bits of paper off your mat.
  • Use the blue protective cover on your mat, to keep it free from dust and dirt. Shiny side goes on the adhesive side of the mat.
  • Peeling the mat away from the material works better than peeling the material away from the mat and helps keep paper/vinyl flat.  The paper/vinyl may curl up if you peel it off the mat, which may in turn ruin your design.

Setting The Page Size

In addition to the steps above, it is important to set the correct page size for the media you are using. It does not matter if you are using a mat or not, you need to set the page size. That way the design will cut on the area of the paper or other media where the paper is positioned. To change the page size, open the Design Page Settings window. Then change the width and the height to the materials you are using.

Blade Tips And Tricks

One of the things that you will find is that different materials will dull your blades in a different way. 
If you use a blade on glitter paper and then try to cut cardstock with it. you are going to find that you are not going to get clean cuts. Buy an extra Auto Blade and use it strictly for cardstock and other paper.
Label this blade so you only use it for paper. Make sure that you get the right AutoBlade for your specific machine.

Make sure that your blade is clean. If you are getting snags and rips in your projects, it is possible that there may be debris in the housing of your blade.
  •  To clean the blade, take the blade from the carriage. 
  • Then look inside to see if there is anything inside
  • You can use a straight pin to get any bits if paper or vinyl out 
  • If you cannot get the debris out, use a wrench to get a good grip on the white plastic end part of the blade and twist to remove it.
  • Clean the blade and then screw it back on tightly.

Cutting Tips

  1. Unsure whether a poor cut is the result of a dull blade or a less sticky mat?  Label the blades and mats so you know when each is placed into service.  I use a label maker to place a date inside the top of a Ratchet Blade (and number my mats #5, #6, etc.).  If a cut is going poorly, the date on the blade or the number on the mat may give a clue whether it is time for a new one or not.
  2. When you have cutting issues, start by checking the Cut Settings, making sure the correct material is selected. If everything looks right in the settings, check my blade.
    1. Is it installed correctly with no gap?
    2. Has it been cleaned out recently? Is the white cap screwed on properly?
    3. How old is the blade?
  3. Always keep an extra blade and mat on hand. When you’re experiencing problems and nothing else works, try a new mat and/or blade.
  4. Unsure whether a poor cut is the result of a dull blade or a less sticky mat?  Label the blades and mats so you know when each is placed into service.  I use a label maker to place a date inside the top of a Ratchet Blade (and number my mats #5, #6, etc.).  If a cut is going poorly, the date on the blade or the number on the mat may give a clue whether it is time for a new one or not.
  5. Line up your media with the line on the side. With the Cameo, this line was the same color as the machine itself. The line in the Cameo 2 is now highlighted in red.
  6. You will need to tell the software if you are going to be using a mat or not when you cut. You will find this option on the DESIGN PAGE SETTINGS window in the cutting mat section.  You can choose CAMEO, Portrait, or none according to how you will be cutting.
Cameo Tip: Always put the blade in the correct way. The fin of the blade should always be facing outward (towards you)
The Self-adjusting blade only comes with the Cameo 3


Self-Adjusting Blade

The Self-adjusting blade comes with the Cameo 3 and can only be used with that machine This blade is loaded on the left side of the dual carriage. If you need to change the Self-adjusting Blade, here is what to do. Pick the material you are going to be cutting, then click on edit. This will allow you to change the blade settings and choose "Automatic Blade "

Once you have chosen the Self-adjusting Blade and have all your other settings in place, you can then cut your project. Once you send your file to cut, the Cameo 3 will tap the blade up and down until it reaches the proper settings before it begins to cut.

Cameo tip: Connecting to the Silhouette Studio via Bluetooth doesn’t always give you the auto blade option. Be sure you have plugged in your Cameo 3 with the USB cord and you should be just fine!

The Ratchet Blade is the most common blade used

Ratchet Blade

The Ratchet Blade (also called the black blade) comes with the Cameo 1 and 2, Curio, Portrait, and Silhouette SD machines. The blade cuts through lots of materials, However, as you cut through lots of different materials the blade will wear out faster than if it was only cutting one type of media.

Keeping separate blades for different materials will help them last longer and cut better over a longer period of time.

You adjust this blade by adjusting the ratchet cap, the built in blade adjuster on the machine, or the blade chuck that is included with the machine. Line up the red line on your blade with the arrow on the adjuster. Twist until the red line lines up with the desired setting.
The Premium Blade is made to last longer

Premium Blade

The Premium Blade is made to be used with the Portrait, Curio, Cameo 1,2, and 3, and the SD. It is like the Ratchet Blade except that it is made stronger by the use of tungsten alloy in the blade. You can use it three times longer with normal use. It is not made to be used with thicker materials. You will wear the blade out doing that on a regular basis.

It has a blue cap which makes it easier to identify over other blades. Also there is no fin on the blade so you can position it any direction that you want.

Deep Cut Blade

The Deep Cut Blade is for thicker materials.

The Deep Cut Blade cuts materials up to 2 mm thick, Silhouette does not guarantee that all thick materials may not cut smoothly. If you are not using a Silhouette brand material, make sure to take caution and do a test cut.

Like the premium blade, there is no fin on this blade, so you can load it in any direction. 

It can only be used with the Cameo 3 and Curio machines.

Changing The Blade Setting

On those machines made in the last three years, there is a round indentation in the lower left side of the machine. This is the tool that you use to change the setting on the blade. The built-in ratchet is super handy.
  1. Remove the blade from the carriage
  2. Put the blade side down into the indentation.
  3. Just turn the blade until you get the setting that you want.
Cameo Tip #1-To achieve the best results, slower speeds may be recommended for thicker materials or designs that are more intricate.


Blade Setting          Material 
       1                      Thin material like vinyl

      2-3                    Medium-weight materials such as paper, cardstock, and flocked heat transfer vinyl

      4-6                   Thicker material such as textured cardstock and patterned paper

      7-10                 Thick materials like canvas

If you have made a mark on the mat in the shape of your cut, your blade depth was too high. You will need to lower it.

Cameo Tip#2- A new blade will need less force and less depth. As the blade ages and dulls, you will have to tweak it to go deeper and increase the force. You will mostly have to change the force. If you think you have to change the depth, it is more than likely time for a new blade.

Roller Bars

The rollers on your machine need to be locked and aligned in order to get even cuts. The left roller will never move, but the right roller can be moved into any of the notches. The rollers need to be aligned for the media that you are planning to cut. 

For example, if you are loading a piece of heat transfer vinyl that is 9 inches wide, toward the middle so that the right roller will be on the media as it goes through and cuts. 

Raise & Lower bar- Occasionally you will need to raise or lower the bar the rollers are on either to reposition them (see explanation in number 5 below) or to remove media that might have gotten stuck.  Each time you cut you will need to make sure this bar is lowered and secured in place.  You do this by raising and lowering the lever on the right hand side of the machine above the bar. On the Silhouette CAMEO 2, when the lever is raised the bar is locked down and to raise the bar you push the lever down.

In order for the machine to hold your media tight and get a nice even cut the rollers need to be aligned correctly.  The left roller will stay in place, but the right roller can be repositioned into any of the places on the bar where you see notches.  You will want to make sure that the rollers are in the best place for the media you are loading if you are loading a 12×12 mat or piece of vinyl, you will want the rollers all the way out, which is how it comes by default.  However, if you are loading a piece of vinyl or heat transfer material that is say 9 inches wide, you will need to move the roller in toward the middle so that the right rollers are going to be on the media as it loads and moves through the machine.  To move the rollers, use the lever to raise the bar then turn the roller until it pops out of the notches it is in, and move it into the new notches you want to position it in.  Lower the bar back down using the lever.

Cameo tip #3-Never eject your project from your Cameo until you have lifted up a corner of one of the smallest cuts you have just to be sure that it cut through. 

Silhouette Studio

The Silhouette Studio is one of the easiest programs to manage

Silhouette Studio is offered in four version, depending on your needs. Your choices include the Basic Edition, Designer Edition, Designer Plus Edition and the Business Edition.

The Basic Edition is free and is perfect for beginners and those who do not do a lot of designing. You can cut basic designs and additional cut files are available at the Silhouette Design Store.

However, if you want enhanced functions, it may well be worth the extra expense to upgrade to the Designer Edition,  One of the major features of the Designer Edition that does not come with the basic edition is the ability to download image files from other sources, There are many free files available all over the internet, There are many other reasons to upgrade your computer program to the Designer Edition, You can learn more about the different Silhouette Studio editions here.

Silhouette Studio Tips

  • Get any and every free design at the Silhouette Design Store, checking regularly for new free designs.  Though it may not be to your liking, a piece or part of a design may come in handy in the future when creating a custom design.


Whatever fonts you have installed on your computer will also be available and accessible in the Silhouette Studio, If you download any new fonts, they will be found in your Text Style list the next time you open your version of the computer program.

Print Then Cut Tips

  • If your pen is too thin for the pen holder add tape around the barrel of the hollowed-out marker to make it fit in the pen holder
  • Instead of sketch pens, you can also use original Sharpies, Ultra Fine Sharpies, and gel pens
  • To get a chalkboard l board look on black paper, use a white gel pen

How To Do A Test Cut

If you want to save time, money and frustration, then taking the time to do a test cut is the right step for you. Doing a small test cut assures that you have the right setting to get the perfect cut. The test cut will come out as a triangle within a square. Remember, if you are cutting material that has a backing like heat transfer vinyl or sticker paper, only the top part will cut, but the backing will stay in tact. 

The test cut gives you the opportunity to make adjustments before you ruin a whole sheet of vinyl or paper.

  1. On your cut settings window, choose the media you want to cut
  2. Scroll down under the window with the media options. It should say Editing: Copy Paper, or whatever media you chose.
  3. You will be able to change the settings of your blade and the last option before the advanced menu will test cut. Push this button to get a small cut with the chosen settings.
  4. Check the cut and make changes if necessary.
  5. Set the correct page size. You will want to make sure you set the page size for the media you are using.  This is important whether or not you are using a mat and will be reflected in the design software so you can make sure your machine will cut where your paper is positioned on the mat.  To change the page size open the DESIGN PAGE SETTINGS window, then change the width and height of the page size to what you are working with.

Cameo Tip: Keep a stack of old gift cards, credit cards, or hotel room cards. They can be used like scrapers to get paper off your mat

Vinyl Blade Settings

Having the right settings makes all the difference in the world when you are cutting vinyl

Vinyl Type                                             Speed               Thickness                Blade Setting

Specialty                                                    8                          9                                 2
Heat Transfer
Dry Erase                                                  8                           9                                3
Inkjet Printable   
Heat Transfer Flock
Inkjet Printable Laminate                      5                          33                              3      

Patterned Vinyl With Laminate             8                          15                              3       
Dusted Crystal                                         3                          14                              1
Freezer Paper                                           3                          10                              1

Vinyl Tips

  • Want to cut all the way to the end of a roll of vinyl? Tape a piece of paper across the entire width of the loose end. The rollers still have something to grab when all the length of the vinyl is under the blade when cutting without a mat.
  • Cut empty toilet paper rolls to place around vinyl rolls. This will keep vinyl from unrolling and help it stay organized.
  • Instead of a light box put the design you are weeding on a glass coffee table and turn the flashlight on (or use your phone,) set it on the floor under the table. Boom instant lightbox.
  • Most online vinyl websites have cutting guides in their resources, Always check to see and follow the manufactures guidance as your starting point
  • If you find a setting the works just right, make a note for yourself

Heat Transfer Vinyl Tips

  • Sharpie the guideline so it's more visible
  • Use parchment paper for ironing over the heat transfer, or if you need to re-iron if it starts peeling.
  • Add a reminder right on your machine to flip or mirror your image if you do a lot of HTV projects.
  • Use a flat wooden cutting board instead of an ironing board if you are using iron for HTV.  The hard surface makes it easier to apply more pressure to get it to adhere well

Weeding Tricks And Tips For The Cameo

Here are our favorite weeding tips for that Cameo and other Silhouette machines

  1. You can use a safety pin to weed tiny pieces of vinyl. Just place a small magnet on the side of your machine and keep the safety pin there. You will have it handy when you need it.
  2. Dental tools can be handy to have to do weeding
  3. Use a lightbox for weeding. The best ones have multiple light settings and large light surfaces.
  4. Overhead lights are important too, Use a ring light that can be focused on your project for best results
  5. Sprinkle baby powder on your projects, It will help you ser the weeding lines better. You can easily brush it off when done.

Final Tips And Ideas

Possibly the most important function of all in the Silhouette Studio, don’t forget about undo. Make a mistake with your edits? Just press the undo tool along the top tool bar. Make a bunch of mistakes with your edits? Keep pressing to undo a whole bunch of edits!

If you are cutting media on a mat or if you are cutting without a mat, which you can do for vinyl, heat transfer and other materials that have their own backing, you will need to choose LOAD MEDIA.  
If you find that the alignment of where your Silhouette is cutting is high or low, this is probably the culprit.  For example, if the machine is cutting too high up on your project or starts to cut into your mat above the media, it is probably because you chose load media, not load mat.  

We could not cover everything there is to tell about the silhouette machines on one page. So here is a list of our favorite resources: