Using the Silhouette Cameo drag knife cutter

Directly attached by usb to a computer (a Mac in my case) Drag knife cutters are rather more than a ‘poor man’s laser’, which is how I have heard them described.  The Silhouette Cameo can work from files on a usb stick, without the need for detailed understanding of Adobe Illustrator, CorelDraw or similar.  They are capable of amazing things and can cut fine detail, but do demand some attention.  There are several pitfalls, the most obvious one being around the thickness of the material being cut.  A certain amount of trial and error is necessary and I am now keeping a notebook and diary just for this device.  Keeping the tiny cutter blade free from cut material (dust in fact) is important, and attention to detail is essential.

There are many users on Pinterest and lots of advice from Silhouette and elsewhere but my own experience is that each job is different and requires a few tests before the final result is as required.  One thing is certain the machine will not be able to ‘read’ the register marks in low light; I put a lamp directly over the cutter head, which helps.  The use of commercially available vector images simplifies things, but any (2d) vector file could potentially be used.  I will be cutting thin leather soon, for mask making.

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