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Old School: Reviewing the Cricut Cuttlebug

Sometimes, it can be liberating to shut off modern technology. Not being consistently wired to the internet, social media, and Wi-Fi gives you a chance to get back to basics and rediscover some hobbies you might not have explored in a while.

The Cricut Cuttlebug is one such device. You won’t find any onboarding software or ability connect to anyone across the planet. If you’re introducing someone to crafting and pressing for the first time, the Cuttlebug is an excellent choice.

NAME

Cuttlebug

Manufacturer

Cricut

MAX. CUT

6” X 13”

dickblick.com

DIMENSIONS

14.4” X 7.2” X 12”

Weight 

11.4 lbs.

CARTRIDGES

NONE

SOFTWARE

NONE

What is the Cricut Cuttlebug and Why Buy It?

The Cricut Cuttlebug is the answer to the question “How can we make a cutting machine as simple as possible?” Thanks to its simplistic approach and minimalist design, it’s one of the most popular cutters out there. It has amassed a giant following because of its simplistic operation, making it easy for younger crafters to learn.

Cricut 2000293 Cuttlebug Machine, 14.4 by 12-Inch, Green
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Cricut 2000293 Cuttlebug Machine, 14.4 by 12-Inch, Green
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You should know up front that you won’t be creating anything overly complex with this machine. Anyone looking to craft top-tier vinyl decal designs for t shirts should check out the Explore Air 2 or the Expression 2, both Cricut family members that have a deeper arsenal. The Cuttlebug is much better suited to those who have little to no experience with cutting machines.

Opening the Cricut Cuttlebug

When you take apart the contents of the box, you’ll find a few things inside to put the Cuttlebug together. You’ll get the die cutter and embosser, along with a spacer and a pair of cutting pads. You can also find a physical instruction manual, so make sure you don’t misplace it. Finally, a flower embossing folder is included.

You’ll use the two cutting pads on either site of the folder or cutting die, depending on what you’re creating. Consider the layout something of a Cuttlebug cookie. You can then put the spacer on the base of the Cuttlebug to add necessary wiggle room between the dies.

If you need another plate, you’ll have to seek that one out yourself. Make sure you find out whether or not the third and any other plates you pick up are compatible with the Cuttlebug.

Creating New Projects with the Cricut Cuttlebug

The Cuttlebug has a maximum cutting width of 6 inches. Most of the time, dies and embossing folders set the limit slightly below this at 5.8 inches, and others go all the way down to 5 inches total.

For the length, you should be able to get a maximum of 7 inches. If you choose to purchase the Cuttlebug Adapter C Mat, you can almost double it, reaching a new maximum of 13 inches.

Most of the time, you’ll be using the Cuttlebug to craft simple things like scrapbooks and greeting cards. The cutter works its best magic for embossing and cutting paper and various thin materials. There’s a decent variety of material that can be fed into the Cuttlebug. If you have tissue paper, foam, chipboard, acetate, or foils, you can make something with the blade.

After buying the Adapter Plate C, you can work with dies and folders that come from other brands aside from Cricut. Once you have this, you’ll expand the versatility of the Cuttlebug.

Using the Cricut Cuttlebug in Practice

As mentioned earlier, the biggest draw of the Cuttlebug is how easy the machine is to use for those who have never worked with a cutting machine before. It’s a perfect tool to introduce to someone, young or old, who wants to learn how to use a cutting machine without having to worry about software or technology.

The first thing to do is take one side of a spacer and put it on the Cuttlebug. This is going to become your first layer you’ll use. Grab your die and ensure that the foam side is up. Now, you can take the material you’re working with and place it on top of the foam. The remaining cutting pad can be used to create your material sandwich, which you’ll place on the spacer.

Once you have everything put together, you will roll the plates through the machine with the hand crank. No buttons or connections to worry about – just turn the handle and your project comes out on the other side. It’s as simple as pulling the lever on a slot machine.

If you want to emboss, you’ll place the spacer plate in the same spot. Open up the embossing folder and put the material you’re using in between the other two plates. You can then run it through the machine in the same manner with the crank.

How Do the Embossing Folders and Dies Work?

If you’re new to the Cuttlebug and embossing, you’re probably curious about the use of the folders included with the presser. Basically, the embossing folders allow you to make the patterns you want to put into your new creations. You’ll find anything from simple letters of the alphabet to complex patterns and symbols.

The folder included in the Cuttlebug box gives you several patterns and designs to start. It’s nothing earth-shattering, but it’s a nice touch to get you started in the world of pressing and cutting. Once you get comfortable with the included patterns, you can purchase others separately.

What Does the Competition Look Like for the Cuttlebug?

Cricut Cuttlebug Die Cutting & Embossing Machine

Image source: Amazon

There isn’t a whole lot to compare the Cuttlebug to when it comes to looking at other devices. The closest would be the Sizzix Big Shot, but this comparison is something of a stretch. They’re both personal embossing and die cutting machines that have a cult following. They are simplistic and don’t require a huge learning curve.

The differences are mostly cosmetic and trivial. The Cuttlebug is much smaller than the Big Show, although you get a similar maximum cut out of both devices. The Big Shot is a tiny bit more expensive, and the monochrome color scheme contrasts with the Cuttlebug’s green hue.

As for other Cricut machines, you’ll find many more features contained in other members of the Cricut family. First of all, the others are electronic. It’s quite a jump going from the bare-bones features of the Cuttlebug all the way to the advanced techniques found in the Expression 2 and the Explore Air.

They’re very different from the Cuttlebug and you won’t be at the necessary learning stage until you’ve spent plenty of time learning the ins and outs of the Cuttlebug.

Explore Air 2

Cricut Explore Air 2 Mint

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Compared to the Cuttlebug, the Explore Air 2 feels like it’s from another planet. It’s designed for the most high-tech crafters who have been working with pressing for a long time. With the included Cricut Design Space software, the only limit to projects is your imagination. There are automatic cut settings included in the Explore Air 2, which help you create anything with a maximum cut width and length of 11.5” by 23.5”.

Using Bluetooth, you don’t even need to be hooked up directly to the Explore Air 2 to import images or print what you need. Like the Cuttlebug, it’s also cartridge-free, giving you one less component to worry about while using the device.

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Expression 2

Cricut Expression 2 Electric Cutting Machine Without Starter Tool Kit...

Image source: Amazon

If you’re a big fan of different cartridges, the Expression 2 might be the best next step once you have graduated from the Cuttlebug. It operates on an LCD touchscreen, and the included stylus makes navigating the screen as easy as any other device you have used before.

Cricut Craft Room comes included with the Expression 2. While this isn’t as all-encompassing as Design Space, you won’t run out of ideas with all of the possibilities for creating new projects. It has the same maximum cutting capability as what you’ll get with the Explore Air 2. It’s also over twice as expensive, so keep that in mind when making the choice for another machine.

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Great Features of the Cricut Cuttlebug in Practice

There’s a lot to love about the Cuttlebug, even if it isn’t your first time working with embossing and die cutting.

Cricut Cuttlebug Die Cutting & Embossing Machine

Image source: Amazon

Clean Cutting and Clear Embossing

What good would a cutting and embossing machine be if it wasn’t good at its namesake? You won’t need to worry about this with the Cuttlebug. Simply put, it’s one of the best devices you can buy if you need a simple project done right.

You’ll get some of the cleanest, most accurate cuts with the Cuttlebug, and embossing makes you look like a total pro even if this is the first device you’ve ever owned. Crawl across the internet and you’ll find tons of people who list the Cuttlebug as their favorite device for making cards and other scrapbooking projects.

Ease of Use for Operation

If you’re setting up the Cuttlebug for the first time, you may end up saying, “That’s it?” after you are finished with the basic assembly instructions.

With the Cuttlebug, you aren’t stuck sifting through tutorials of software you’ve never heard of before. Other machines require you to be constantly connected to the internet and you can’t make anything without a verified connection.

If you aren’t skilled with your hands, don’t worry. Take it out of the box and as long as you’re able to read, you can assemble everything in front of you without a problem. Check to be sure that your material and all the plates are included, and you’ll be assembling new projects in no time.

Durability

The Cuttlebug doesn’t sell itself on being a long-lasting tool, but you’ll be amazed when you realize just how long this equipment will last. After years of pressing and cutting, you won’t notice any drop in performance or quality when you continue using your Cuttlebug.

It’s a small device and it doesn’t weigh very much at all, which makes it more amazing when you consider how sturdy it is. You’ll have no trouble continuing to create embossed cutting material with the Cuttlebug for many years to come.

Something to remember is to work with thinner material, especially as you are probably just starting out in the world of cutting and embossing. Don’t stick anything thicker than 1/8 of an inch in the machine. You could jam it and end up needing a replacement after all. Not only will this ruin the press, but you could risk breaking the handle.

You might see some scratches appearing on your plates after months of use. A good way to reduce this is to rotate which sides of the plates you use when putting them through the machine. If they do get scratched to the point of no repair, you can always purchase replacement parts.

Potential Drawbacks of the Cricut Cuttlebug

As great as the Cuttlebug is for newcomers, experts won’t get much use out of the simple design. If you’re a fast learner, you may outgrow the limits of the Cuttlebug very quickly. Although it isn’t the most expensive option in the world, you might wonder why you invested as much as you did.

If you plan on doing anything more than scrapbooking, you’ll run out of options with the Cuttlebug. Moving on to another device won’t take you long as you get used to the fundamentals of embossing and cutting.

Final Words on the Cricut Cuttlebug

The Cricut Cuttlebug is the perfect first step into the big world of crafting. A classroom or home studio is a perfect spot for this device, where you can comfortably learn the machine and the beginnings of crafting.

There is no way you could mistake this for one of the more advanced machines from Cricut or competing companies on the market. It’s the perfect gift to a child who might have bigger aspirations one day, or someone who is intimidated by the technological requirements of more advanced machines.

Give the Cuttlebug a shot if you’re anxious to explore something new in your life. You might find some inspiration and continue on a brand-new adventure.

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