Have you tried engraving with Cricut? You do not even need the Cricut engraving tip. I will show you how to engrave an acrylic ornament with the Cricut Explore. Before we get to the project tutorial, let’s talk about some tips for engraving with Cricut machines. These will help you get the best results when using your Cricut for engraving items.
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Engraving – Maker or Explore
If you are engraving with a Cricut Maker it will be easier, since that machine was created to have the power and function of engraving. I currently own an Explore machine so I wanted to see if there was a way to do engraving with my current machine. I figured if I can get good results engraving with a Cricut Explore it should be even easier to do with the Maker.
I did this whole project using the standard fine tip blade that you would use for the majority of your Cricut projects. Once I was done with the engraving process I did put a fresh fine tip blade into my Cricut before moving on to another project. The whole process of engraving with the Cricut can quickly dull the standard fine tip blades, like the one I used for this project.
Thinner is better when engraving with Cricut
The first thing that I learned when trying to engrave with my Cricut Explore is that a thinner acrylic blank will work better. I had purchased some 3″ round acrylic ornaments and after they arrived I found out that they were 3mm thick and the recommended thickness for the Cricut is 2mm. Well that did not stop me!
I noticed that my 3mm thick acrylic piece would fit under the silver roller, but it would get stuck on those little white pieces on the silver roller. My solution? Slide those white pieces towards the outside and place my acrylic ornament right in the center of the cutting mat.
Get a grip on your Cricut engraving pieces
Making sure that the piece you are engraving with the Cricut will not move is also important since the blade will go over the same pattern or design several times. For this reason I am using my strong grip Cricut cutting mat and I am also taping the acrylic ornament piece that I am engraving with the Cricut down to that strong grip mat.
The process for Cricut engraving also involves the blade going over the same design several time in order to get a good line in your acrylic piece. Because of this if your acrylic piece moves at all during the process of engraving with Cricut, you will get a distorted or double line on your image.
Keep it Simple
Personally I feel that when you pick a design for a Cricut engraving project you should keep it simple. The less detail in the design, the better. This will help so that there are fewer places where your design could drift off of the image or pattern as the blade goes over it several times. This leads me right into the design I am going to be engraving with the Cricut on an acrylic ornament. Let me show you how I created my design in Cricut Design Space.
Swirled Mickey Mouse Cricut Engraving Project
I knew that I wanted a Mickey Mouse image that had a swirling or scroll like design, so I started off by clicking on the Images button in Cricut Design Space to look and see what images already existed in Design Space that I could use. I ended up using a Swirl Square #M33A5A along with the Mickey Mouse symbol #M42CE0.
Once I inserted these images into Design Space the first thing I did was to look at the Layers panel information for each image. Let’s look at the information provided for the Mickey Mouse symbol in the Layers panel. I have it indicated in blue in the image below.
When you look at the parts that create this Mickey Mouse image you will see that it has four layers to it. Each layer is on it’s own line of the layers panel. There is a black layer that is just the top half of Mickey’s head, a red layer that is the whole shape of Mickey’s head, and then a white half head and white full head layer. Both of the white layers are a larger offset or shadow of the first two pieces.
Look at the little eyeball icon that is to the far right of each layer. This icon allows you to turn on and off layers. The Cricut will only cut what is turned on. For this image, both of the white layers are turned off, and you can see that since there is a line going through the eyeball icon for that layer.
Since I know I want my finished design to have a thin frame of the Mickey Mouse symbol with the swirls in the center, I will have to use Slice to cut the black Mickey Mouse layer from the white offset of that same layer. Click on the eyeball for the white, full head offset/shadow layer for the Mickey Mouse image to turn that on. Also click on eyeball for the red top half of Mickey’s head to turn that off. I show these on the image below inside the circle on the right hand side of the image above.
When I click on the Mickey Mouse symbol I can see that all four of the layers are grouped together, since clicking on the one Mickey image changes all four of those layers to a darker gray on the Layers panel. This is showing you exactly what is selected. Also, I can see that the UnGroup button is turned on, just above the Layers panel. I have this indicated with the blue arrow in the image above. This is another clue that your image and it’s layers are Grouped already.
Using Slice in Cricut Design Space
Slice will only work in Cricut Design Space if you have two items selected. Since I know I want to Slice the white full Mickey offset from the black full Mickey symbol, and in the previous section of this tutorial we determined that the Mickey Mouse image had four layers that are grouped together, we need to Ungroup those layers so that we can work with just two of them. The Ungroup button is located just above the layers panel.
Now I can click on the black Mickey Mouse icon from the Layers panel. See how the whole line of that layer turns a darker gray color once you select it? Now hold down the Shift key on your keyboard and you can select the white Mickey offset layer. Once you have both layers selected, as shown in the image below, the Slice button will turn on. I have Slice indicated with the blue arrow in the lower right corner of the image below.
Now we need to add the scrolling swirl pattern that we want inside our Mickey Mouse for this Cricut engraving project. To do this we are going to want to Slice the scroll pattern from the black Mickey Mouse piece. Move the scroll/swirl square shape over the top of the Mickey Mouse icon, and resize it so that it covers the entire thing. You can move the swirl piece around until the swirls land right where you want them on the Mickey Mouse.
Once again, I am going to select my items for slicing right from the layers panel. I click on the black Mickey Mouse and then hold down the shift key on my keyboard and select the swirled square and then click Slice in the lower right corner of the screen. I show all of this in the image above.
After you click Slice there will be a LOT of pieces to look at in the Layers panel. We will need to weld two of those layers together to make our Cricut engraving design, so let’s look at that more closely.
Looking at the Layers Panel in Cricut Design Space
We have already talked about looking at the Layers panel in Cricut Design Space and using the eyeball icon to turn layers on and off. Here is another situation where that little eyeball icon will come in handy. Look at the image below. There are a lot of layers since we have used Slice twice to create this design. Instead of deleting layers, and possibly deleting something you need you can just click on the eyeball icon and turn layers off! Then if you turn off the wrong one, just turn it back on.
What we want left are the layers that are the thin white frame outline of Mickey Mouse and the inside black swirl piece. I have all of the correct layers turned off and circled in purple in the image above if you want to just follow my lead. Now select the white frame piece and the black swirl piece and click the Weld button in the lower right corner of the screen.
After you are done welding the image, you can resize it to fit on the acrylic blank that the Cricut will be engraving on. If you would prefer to watch a video of how I designed this swirling Mickey Mouse Design you can check out the video on my YouTube channel.
Engraving with Cricut
When you pick up your acrylic blank you will noticed that there is a thin film covering both sides of it. This is so that the acrylic does not get scratched before you even start your Cricut engraving project. Peel the film off of just one side of the acrylic blank. You will place the piece on the strong grip mat with the film side down to the mat, and the exposed side up for engraving with the Cricut.
Set your Cricut to Custom for the cut setting and pick the Wood Veneer setting. I actually played around with this a little and did one with regular pressure and then I tried one with more pressure. Remember, we are experimenting with this so you might have to try a few things since the Explore is not a machine that was made to do engraving with.
The biggest challenge I found with this Cricut engraving project is lining up the image to the acrylic blank. When you line things to be cut on paper or vinyl, since those are very thin materials you can place the material on a specific spot on your cutting mat and then simply move the design to align with that same location. I did a video on this process for you below.
I feel like when I did this with a Cricut engraving project, the image was slightly off. I am not sure if it is the thickness of the acrylic blank that throws things off slightly, but you might have to experiment with this also. Once you do determine the perfect placement you could use a pen to mark that on your cutting mat so that you can place the next acrylic blank inside of this same placement guide.
Once you are done engraving with Cricut, there will be a lot of debris around your cutting blade. Make sure to take the blade out of the Cricut and clean out the blade housing. You may also find that engraving with Cricut will dull your blades. Because of this I decided to change my blade and keep the used blade in a holder that I marked Cricut Engraving Blade. Now when I do future engraving projects I will use that same blade.
I hope that you enjoyed this post, and that you stop back every day from now until Christmas to see what other Disney Christmas crafts I have planned for you! I am doing 25 Days of Disney Christmas Crafts to inspire you to add more Disney to your life while using your Cricut for crafting. If you want to see the whole line up of crafts you can go HERE.