Have you tried the Silhouette deep-cut blade yet? Today I want to share with you how to use this special blade. I added a glitter foam balloon to this card for my little friend’s birthday, and I think she’s really going to like it. Extra texture and dimension on a card is always fun, and the deep cut blade on the Silhouette Curio™ is a great way to make those elements.

Here is what you’ll need to create this card:

How to Adjust the Blade:

As you examine the deep-cut blade, you’ll see there are two rows of numbers. One set in blue (1-10) and one set in red (11-20). Unlike the normal ratchet blade, you do not need a tool to adjust the deep-cut blade; just twist it with your fingers.

The rim immediately surrounding the blade has a red section and a blue rim. If the blue rim is showing, reference the blue row of numbers (1-10). These are the shallower settings that basically correspond to the normal ratchet-blade settings.

If the blue rim has disappeared and only the red portion of the blade housing is showing, reference the red numbers (11-20). These are your deep-cut settings that the normal ratchet blade can’t get to. (See the bottom portion of the image below to see a comparison of the maximum depths each blade can reach.)


Blade exposure and comparison


As you turn the blade to expose more or less of the blade, pay attention to the red guide mark. You don’t want to turn too far up, or too far down. (Stop turning if you feel resistance.) If the blue rim is receding as you turn, your blade depth is getting deeper/higher. If the blue rim is appearing and getting taller as you turn, the blade is getting shallower/lower.

Where to Set the Blade Depth:

You may have noticed the deep cut blade is a choice you can access in the Cut Settings Window when adding custom materials, and it will also be chosen by default if you choose “craft foam” as your material type (Curio users). However, at the moment it doesn’t tell you at which depth to set the blade.

This is where test cuts come into play. You can use the Test Cut feature on the Curio, which will cut a small triangle and square. First use the arrows near the on-screen test-cut button to position the blade unit over a clear area of your material. You can test cut for either tool, so be sure to position the center rectangular portion of the tool holder (see the image below) over the area of your material you wish to test cut. Either tool on the Curio selected for a test cut will cut under the rectangular center of the blade housing unit. This will give you an idea as to how well your chosen blade settings will cut. You can read more about the Test Cut feature here.


SS cut settings and test cut

An alternative to the built-in test-cut feature is to choose your own shapes to cut as trials. I like to choose shapes like stars, hearts, fish, etc. in a spot of my material that won’t be needed for the main design. I adjust all my settings, cut one of these shapes, see how it does when actually cutting, and adjust from there. Note: I generally use the basic cut settings and choose “no cut” for any design I’ve already cut as I move on to another test cut, just so I know where I’ve already cut and don’t waste material or cut in the same place again.

A good starting place to choose an initial blade depth is to choose a depth of blade that will cut all the way through the material but not deeper. I hold my blade against my material and see if it touches the mat as I rest the red rim on the edge of the material. Often several combinations of blade depth and thickness will work (see Silhouette’s test-cut FAQ).


Blade depth starting point

You can set custom material settings in the Cut Settings Window (click on the plus symbol to add a material), but as I mentioned before, you currently can’t set a deep-cut blade depth (I understand that feature is still to come). You will need to write down a list of your successful settings for each material and keep it as a reference. Keep track of the following settings for each material:

  • Curio platform number (generally a 5 for thick materials that can be cut with the deep-cut blade)
  • Deep-cut blade number (1-20)
  • Speed
  • Thickness
  • Double cut or not

Settings for Foam:

I’ve tried a few thicker materials, some more successfully cut with the deep-cut blade than others. Both of these materials below used a platform level of 5 (2 + 2 + cutting mat) and a speed of 2.

  • Plain craft foam cut with my blade set between 16-18. One combination that worked was blade 16, thickness 28, double cut. The other combination was blade 18, thickness 4, single cut. Notice that with the deeper blade setting I could get away with a small thickness (a.k.a. pressure) setting and a single cut. With a shallower blade I needed a higher thickness setting and a double cut.
  • Glitter adhesive-backed craft foam cut with my blade on 19, thickness 4, double cut. I also reversed the image and flipped the material face-down on my mat so I was cutting through the backing first. This actually got me a much cleaner cut than glitter-side-up, so don’t be afraid to try cutting some materials upside down as you experiment.

I made quite a few test cuts with various shapes, and even used a sketch pen in combination with the foam for some of my trials.

Test cuts foam

Do’s and Don’ts:

  • DO: Test cut to find the best deep-cut blade settings for each material. (And write down successful settings for future reference.)
  • DO: Use the deep-cut blade with the Silhouette Curio™. It was created for cutting thicker materials, which are not recommended in the CAMEO or Portrait.
  • DO: Use a double cut for denser materials if one pass doesn’t quite cut all the way through. (Have you ever tried to cut a box with a knife and found that scoring and then cutting several passes in the same spot will get the job done better than trying to force the knife through in one pass? It’s the same principle. Less force is required to get the same job done.)
  • DON’T: Cut really dense materials. Anything that would be tough to cut with scissors is probably too dense (metal, thick plastic, wood, etc.)
  • DON’T: Cut any material thicker than 2 mm.
  • DON’T: Twist your blade too far (above a 20 or below a 1). Stop turning if you meet resistance.
  • DON’T: Set the blade deeper than necessary. If it cuts all the way through and is lightly scoring the mat beneath, that’s perfect. If it’s cutting deeply into the mat below, try lowering the blade and/or thickness setting.

I hope this helps you use your deep cut blade more effectively. I’ll continue to try new materials and will be sure to share my success here on the blog. What thick materials have you successfully cut, and what were your settings?

Glitter foam card detail