Most people I talk to are either team Cricut or team Silhouette. I have always used a Cricut, but I have a lot of crafty friends that rave about their Silhouette machines. Today, I am going to walk you through a fun Father’s Day project using both the Cricut Explore Air 2 and the Silhouette Cameo 3. I will compare both machines and show you how to make the project on each machine.
This post contains affiliate links. Your cost is the same, but a portion of your purchase will go to support this site and help keep the content free. Please read my full disclosure policy here. Thank you to Cricut for providing me with a Cricut Explore Air 2 machine, products for this post, and a Silhouette Cameo 3 for review.
Cricut Explore Air 2 vs. Silhouette Cameo 3
With full disclosure, I was sent both a Cricut Explore Air 2 and Silhouette Cameo 3 for free for review. I have owned a Cricut machine for a long time. I started by purchasing my own Cricut Expression machine and cartridges. Then, I started blogging, and I was lucky enough to connect with Cricut and they sent me the new Cricut Explore to try. And now, I have the newest Cricut machine – the Cricut Explore Air 2.
I get asked all the time whether I would recommend Cricut or Silhouette for an electronic die-cutting machine. Since I use and love my Cricut machines, I always recommend Cricut. But I will be honest, I had never tried the Silhouette machine. I had no honest answer for how well the machine worked or not. I am grateful to Cricut for sending me a Silhouette machine to try out so I can go through the pros and cons with all of you.
Today, I am going to create a Father’s project using both machines with each software program. At the end of the post, I will compare both machines and give my honest review on which one I like better.
First up, we will walk through using the Cricut Explore Air 2 machine and Cricut Design Space, as this is the one I am more familiar with. My design is a little complicated, but I wanted to try out how easy or difficult it would be to create what I envisioned in my head for the design with each machine.
- 8″ x 10″ Frame
- Cricut Explore Air™ 2 machine
- Standard Grip Cutting Mat
- Faux Leather, Woodgrain Sampler
- White Cardstock
Open a new project and click on Insert Shapes. Add a square and size it to your frame. Mine is 8″ x 10″.
Click Insert Shapes. Choose a hexagon shape. Resize it to 2″ tall under the edit tab.
Copy and Paste 4 copies of the hexagon. Line them up vertically. To align them perfectly, click on each hexagon, and then click Align. Choose Center Horizontally. Then, choose Distribute Vertically. On the Layers tab click Attach.
While you have the four hexagons selected, choose Copy and Paste. Click Detach. Copy and paste one more hexagon. Then align them so they are evenly spaced and lined up like the first four hexagons.
Select both rows of hexagons and attach them together. Copy and paste them two times. Line them up on the rectangle.
Click on each attached set and detach them. Delete the last row of hexagons. Now you will have all your hexagons lined up and separate.
Change the color of the hexagons to match the colors of wood grain faux leather in any pattern you would like.
Click Add Text. Type the word, DAD. Under the edit tab, change the font to Bebas. Change the color to match one of the other wood grain faux leather colors. I chose the lightest one.
Cricut Design Space File: Father’s Day Decorative Art
Click the green circle Go button. If the mats all look correct (there should be 5 mats shown to cut out each color of the faux leather, and one mat to cut out a plain white cardstock background rectangle), click the rectangle green Go button. Load your faux leather on your Standard Grip mat, load the mat into the machine using the double-sided arrow, then click the Cricut button to start cutting.
Repeat this process for all of the faux leather hexagons. Be sure to reset the Smart Set Dial to Cardstock before loading and cutting your paper.
To assemble the frame, use double sided adhesive to attach the hexagons to the white cardstock in the pattern you created.
Turn the cardstock over and trim any excess faux leather that is sticking out over the sides. Place the hexagon sheet inside your frame.
Use foam adhesive dots to attach the letters DAD to the outside of the glass.
I love the way the faux leather looks. It has so much texture!
This is the perfect gift to give to the special dad in your life this Father’s Day.
To start with, one of the major differences between the Silhouette Cameo 3 and the Cricut Explore Air 2 is that the Silhouette uses software that is downloaded onto your computer. The Cricut uses cloud-based software through the internet. So, the initial setup before you start crafting is longer to get the Silhouette up and running since you have to download it all to your computer. But, if you want to be able to create any time without the use of the internet, the Silhouette may be for you.
Note: You can now design projects on your iPad in Cricut Design Space without being connected to Wi-Fi. Any content you download to your iOS device can be used anytime without an internet connection.
Open Silhouette Studio on your computer. Click Design. Click on the Rectangle, then choose a rectangle shape. Click on the mat and draw a rectangle. Resize the rectangle by clicking on the Select Arrow. Select your rectangle. At the top, click on the double sided arrow which will open the scale window. You can then enter 10″ x 8″. Click Apply.
To insert a hexagon shape, click on the Rectangle on the left, and choose the polygon shape.
Draw your polygon, then slide the number slider to the right to make it 6 sided instead of 5. Use the little red dot on the hexagon to straighten it out. Adjust the size to 2.31″ wide by 2″ tall so it is the same as the hexagons from the Cricut project. Click Apply.
Right click on the hexagon to duplicate it. Create 4 copies.
Line them up vertically. To select all of them, click the Shift key and click on each one. Use the align buttons at the top to center the hexagons.
While you have all the hexagons selected, click on Group Selected Shapes at the top. Right click on the hexagons, then click on Duplicate. Line up the four hexagons next to the first four. Then click on Ungroup Selected Shapes. Duplicate one hexagon, and line it up using the alignment tools on the top.
Now, select all the hexagons and duplicate them two times, and line them up next to the other hexagons.
Ungroup the last two rows, and delete the final row of hexagons. Choose all of the hexagons and ungroup them. Select each hexagon and color it using the fill panel on the right.
Click on the Text button on the left, and type the word, DAD. Choose the font Bebas from the drop down menu at the top. Use the fill panel to make the letters the same color as the lightest colored faux leather. Drag the squares on the text box to make the letters the size you want.
Now, one big difference in the software between Cricut and Silhouette is that with the Cricut you design your project and your designs will cut out from your material in the most space saving way possible unless you click attach. The Silhouette, as far as I can tell, won’t do that. It will cut out from the mat exactly where you have it placed in the software.
So, for a project like the one we are doing, it would actually be easier to simply create a hexagon shape in the size you want, choose the replicate tool, and select as many copies as you want to cut out. However, with this method, you would not be able to visualize your project in the software itself.
Another problem I had was when I set up the machine, I could not get the Bluetooth to connect, so I ended up having to connect with my USB cord.
I chose Faux Leather paper from the drop down menu. It double cut each hexagon and you can see it still did not cut through the faux leather. I would need to play around with the settings a lot more to see if I could get it to cut through, but this would obviously take more test cuts and a lot of trial and error.
Note: The faux leather paper selection I chose was for Silhouette faux leather paper. I am thinking it is much thinner than the Cricut faux leather I was trying to use. Also, everything I read, says it is crucial to do a test cut with the Silhouette. I haven’t needed to do this very often with my Cricut machine.
At this point, I abandoned the project. I will definitely have to play around a lot more with the Silhouette Studio software and the Cameo 3.
If I had to choose one machine, I would definitely pick the Cricut Explore Air 2. I am not sure if it is because I have been using it forever, but I find the Design Space software so much easier and more intuitive to use.
I was able to design a similar project with both software programs fairly easily, but to actually cut out the design as is without wasting a ton of material, the Cricut won out. After designing my project to look how I wanted, I would have had to go back in Silhouette Studio and move around all the hexagons on the mat to cut out in a row to save material, rather than in the middle of the 12 x 12 sheet.
How is the Cricut Different From Competetive Cutting Machines?
Both machines have onboard tool storage. The storage for the Cricut is right below where you rest your cutting mat. For the Silhouette, it pulls out from underneath and then opens up.
Both machines have two areas to hold tools.
Similarities in machines:
- onboard tool storage
- double tool holders to be able to use both a cutting blade and another tool like a scorer, pen, etc.
- thousands of images in the design library to use to create projects
- Bluetooth so you can cut wirelessly (*although I couldn’t get the Silhouette to connect on mine)
- print and cut
- machines each cost ~$249.00
Differences in machines:
- you can cut up to 10 feet without a mat on the Silhouette Cameo 3, but only 12″ x 24″ with the Cricut Explore Air 2
- Cricut has a cloud-based software to be able to use it anywhere you have Wi-Fi, plus download on iOS devices, Silhouette Studio is on your computer so you do not need Wi-Fi to operate it
- Cricut Explore Air 2 has the Smart Set Dial
- Cricut Explore Air 2 allows you design with images before purchasing
- Cricut Explore Air 2 allows you to cut thicker, denser materials with ease
I know that many programs have a learning curve, and when you are used to one learning a new one may be more difficult. I also know certain programs seem to be more intuitive to some people than others. This may be why there is such a fierce debate of Cricut vs. Silhouette. However, getting the machine set up and running, plus a great cut the first time, I think the Cricut definitely beats the Silhouette.
See a comparison chart below on the features of each machine:
You may also like:
- How Does the Cricut Machine Work?
- Will I be Required to Use Cartridges with the Cricut Explore?
- How to Upload an Image to Cricut Design Space
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Cricut. The opinions and text are all mine.