The Best Electronic Cutting Machines From Cricut and Silhouette

The Best Electronic Cutting Machines From Cricut and Silhouette

Our pick

Cricut Explore Air 2

Cricut Explore Air 2

The best cutting machine for beginners

This machine offers the easiest-to-learn software, smooth cutting, a large image and project library, and strong community support. It’s expensive but very beginner-friendly.

Buying Options

$227 from Amazon
$230 from Home Depot

We found Cricut machines to be more intuitive for beginners because of the user-friendly software. The company offers a superior selection of images and ready-to-make projects such as greeting cards, with better customer support than its competitors in case you run into trouble. Though the Cricut Explore Air 2 is not the fastest machine we tried, it is one of the quietest. Cricut offers great bundles, too, with discounts on accessories (such as extra blades and spare cutting mats) that you’d otherwise need to buy separately. And the Explore Air 2 has one of the higher, established resale values if you ever want to upgrade to a newer machine.

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Runner-up

Silhouette Portrait 2

Silhouette Portrait 2

Good enough for small projects

The Silhouette Portrait 2 has a smaller cutting area than our other picks, and the software has a more difficult learning curve, but for many projects it’s all you need.

Buying Options

$180 from Amazon

If you’re happy making smaller projects such as stickers and cards, consider the Silhouette Portrait 2. The cutting area maxes out at 8 inches wide (versus 12 inches for our other picks), so it won’t work for letter-sized signs or iron-on decals for tote bags and tees. The Portrait 2 doesn’t cut as cleanly as our other picks, and we don’t love Silhouette’s software—it’s harder to learn than Cricut’s. If you don’t mind those caveats, the Portrait 2 is a good choice, and we think it’s better if you’re interested in selling your completed projects. The software has a steep learning curve, but it’s more flexible for creating your own projects from scratch, and you can connect several Silhouette machines to each other to cut multiple projects at once—something Cricuts can’t do.

Upgrade pick

Cricut Maker

Cricut Maker

A fast, quiet fabric cutter

The Maker cuts faster than any machine we’ve tested and slices through fabric and thicker materials without a fuss. It’s the only machine we tried with updatable software, so it should stay current for longer.

Buying Options

$330 from Amazon
$384 from Wayfair

The Cricut Maker is just as easy for beginners to learn as the Cricut Explore Air 2. It’s also the fastest and quietest machine we tested, and one of the only machines that can cut fabric without needing stiffeners such as interfacing. Cricut’s design library contains thousands of images and projects, from small sewing patterns to paper crafts, and the machine’s software is updatable, so the Maker may stay useful for longer than competing models. It’s come down in price since we first tested it in 2017, but since it still costs over $100 more than the Explore Air 2 as of this publication, we recommend buying the Maker only if you sew a lot of small projects, want to use heavy-duty materials, or need that extra speed and quiet.

Everything we recommend

Our pick

Cricut Explore Air 2

Cricut Explore Air 2

The best cutting machine for beginners

This machine offers the easiest-to-learn software, smooth cutting, a large image and project library, and strong community support. It’s expensive but very beginner-friendly.

Buying Options

$227 from Amazon
$230 from Home Depot

Runner-up

Silhouette Portrait 2

Silhouette Portrait 2

Good enough for small projects

The Silhouette Portrait 2 has a smaller cutting area than our other picks, and the software has a more difficult learning curve, but for many projects it’s all you need.

Buying Options

$180 from Amazon

Upgrade pick

Cricut Maker

Cricut Maker

A fast, quiet fabric cutter

The Maker cuts faster than any machine we’ve tested and slices through fabric and thicker materials without a fuss. It’s the only machine we tried with updatable software, so it should stay current for longer.

Buying Options

$330 from Amazon
$384 from Wayfair

Source: NY Times – Wirecutter

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