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How to Cut Paper and Cardstock on Cricut: A Beginner’s Guide

Learn how to cut paper and cardstock on your Cricut machine with this step-by-step guide for beginners. This blog post will explain the different types of cardstock that your Cricut can cut, and show you how to cut them for the best results every time.

four sheets of colorful cardstock arranged on a gray background

Have you ever wanted to cut paper and cardstock with your Cricut? You’re not alone. In fact, paper and cardstock are some of the most popular materials to cut on Cricut cutting machines

You can use cardstock to make all sorts of paper crafts, including greeting cards, banners, gift boxes, wall decor, paper flowers, and so much more.

But, if you’re new to Cricut, getting started cutting cardstock with your machine can be a bit overwhelming. It can be hard to find the right instructions for applying these materials with a Cricut machine. Plus, there are so many different types of paper and cardstock – how do you know where to start?

If you need a little help getting started, you’re in the right place. This blog post will show you the simple steps to cut paper and cardstock with your Cricut machine. You’ll learn about the different types of paper and cardstock you can cut, and the best brands of cardstock to use. You’ll also learn tips for cutting intricate designs, and how to remove the paper from the cutting mat without tearing or curling. And after that, you’ll get my best tips and tricks to avoid common paper-cutting mistakes.

How to Cut Paper or Cardstock with Cricut

Let’s start by walking through the steps to cut paper or cardstock with a Cricut cutting machine. Then, keep reading to learn all about the different types of paper and cardstock that your Cricut can cut.

Materials You’ll Need

  • Cricut machine (Maker, Explore, or Joy
  • Cricut Design Space
  • LightGrip machine mat
  • Fine Point blade
  • Paper or Cardstock

Instructions

  1. Open Design Space, start a new project, and create your design. You can select a premade image from the Design Space library or create your own design. When your design is finished, click Make it.
  2. On the next screen, select your material from the Material Settings list. You can choose from several types of paper and cardstock.
  3. Place the paper or cardstock onto the blue LightGrip mat. You can use a brayer tool to make sure the paper is well-adhered.
  4. Load mat into the machine.
  5. Press Go to start the cut.
  6. When the cut is finished, unload the mat. Turn the mat upside down, and peel the mat away from the project.

What Types of Paper and Cardstock can Cricut cut?

Now that you know the basic steps for cutting paper, let’s talk about all the different types of paper materials that you can cut with a Cricut machine. 

Cricut can cut all sorts of paper materials, from delicate papers like crepe and tissue paper to heavier materials like thick cardstock and poster board.

  • scrapbook paper
  • cardstock
  • printer and copy paper
  • notebook paper
  • photo paper
  • corrugated cardboard
  • chipboard
  • construction paper
  • poster board
  • Kraft board
  • freezer paper
  • parchment paper
  • vellum
  • washi paper
  • Post-It notes
  • crepe paper
  • tissue paper
  • Cricut Smart sticker paper cardstock (for the Maker 3, Explore 3, and Joy),
  • and so much more!

Keep reading to dive a bit deeper into the different types of cardstock you can cut on Cricut. And don’t worry, we’ll talk about the best cutting mats and Cricut blades to use in just a little bit.

Types of Cardstock

As I’m sure you know, not all cardstock is the same. There are a bunch of different paper and cardstock brands on the market, and they each come in a variety of different finishes, textures, and thicknesses.

Here are some of the qualities you’ll want to look for when purchasing cardstock to use with your Cricut machine.

Weight

The first thing to know is that paper and cardstock come in different weights. A cardstock’s weight is measured in lbs (pounds). As a general rule, the heavier a paper is, the thicker it is.

You commonly find cardstock in 65lb, 80lb, and 100lb weights.

  • Light cardstock (65lb) feels like a standard greeting card, and can usually still feed through a home printer.
  • Medium cardstock (80lb) feels like a premium greeting card, is great for making decor projects like banners.
  • Heavy cardstock (100lb) is even more rigid, and must be scored before folding.

Texture

The next thing to consider is the texture of the cardstock. Cardstock can be smooth or have a slight texture.

  • Smooth cardstock has a nice clean surface for projects that will include writing, printing, or drawing. You’ll want to use smooth cardstock for Print Then Cut projects, invitations, or stamping projects.
  • Textured cardstock has a slight surface texture that often resembles a weave or a grid. The texture gives the cardstock a sturdier feel, so it’s great for layering or 3D projects. It works for a wide variety of projects – but it’s not very nice to write on.
varieties of smooth and textured cardstock
smooth vs. textured cardstock

Solid Core vs. White Core

Cardstock will either have a solid colored core or a white core.

  • Solid Core cardstock is dyed the same color all the way through. So, if you rip or tear the cardstock, the inside will be the same color as the outside. Solid core cardstock is the best choice for projects where you’ll see a lot of paper edges, like rolled paper flowers.
  • White Core cardstock has, as you would expect, a white inner layer. If you rip or tear the cardstock, you will most likely see the white core showing through on the edges. This white core can be distracting, especially on projects with intricate cuts.
torn cardstock in yellow, pink, and purple

Size

Cardstock comes in a variety of sizes. Letter-size (8.5″ by 11″) is great for printing. Scrapbooking size sheets (12″ by 12″) will cover the entire standard cutting mat. You can even find 12″ by 24″ sheets that will cover the larger size Cricut cutting mats.

Finishes

Cardstock comes in a variety of finishes, as well. You can find smooth matte cardstock, shiny glitter cardstock, metallic foil cardstock, patterned cardstock, pearl cardstock, and vellum cardstock.

Smart Paper Sticker Cardstock

Cricut has released a new type of Smart Material cardstock that you can use with the Cricut Maker 3, Explore 3, or Cricut Joy. This type of adhesive-backed cardstock works without a cutting mat, so you can just load it into your Cricut and start cutting.

Other Types of Paper Materials

Here are a few other paper products that you can cut with a Cricut.

Corrugated Cardboard: strong, textured cardboard material that’s great for 3D crafts, sculpture, and adding interest to layered paper projects.

Kraft Board: very sturdy, versatile material that you can use to make home decor, mini books, boxes, box cards, tags, banners, and more

Poster Board: a thicker material with more rigidity than cardstock that you can use to make bulletin board decorations, school projects, party decor, and more.

Vellum: a semi-translucent paper that’s perfect for making elegant envelopes, lanterns, and more.

Best Brands of Cardstock for Cricut

You can use your favorite brand of cardstock with Cricut.

Cricut Brand: Most Cricut cardstock is 80 lb. weight, textured, solid-core cardstock. It’s ideal for making cards, banners, decor, and other paper crafts.

American Crafts Cardstock: AC brand cardstock is another favorite brand with crafters. It’s a smooth, solid core cardstock that’s available in a rainbow of colors. The paper fibers in AC Cardstock are designed to give better results in cutting machines like Cricut – so you get the detail you want without fraying.

Bazzill Cardstock: Bazzill paper is a high-quality cardstock with a canvas texture and solid core. It comes in a variety of colors and finishes.

Recollections Cardstock: Recollections cardstock is an affordable brand of 65lb cardstock that you can find online and at craft stores. It has a smooth texture and a solid core.

Material Settings for Cutting Cardstock

Each of the different types of paper and cardstock has a slightly different thickness and hardness. So each type of material has its own specific pressure settings.

If you choose to use Cricut brand Deluxe Paper and Cardstock, you’ll find the exact settings in the Materials list in Cricut Design Space.

If you’re using a different brand of cardstock, that’s okay. Choose the best match from the list of materials in Design Space. Then, you can test that the settings are correct by making a small test cut before you cut your whole project.

cut kraft paper leaves on a light blue Cricut cutting mat

What Mat to Use for Paper and Cardstock

Most paper and cardstock materials cut best on the blue LightGrip cutting mat. The blue mat has a light adhesive that releases cardstock well.

That said, some of the thicker cardstock materials cut better on the green StandardGrip cutting mat or even the purple StrongGrip cutting mat. The green mat has a slightly stronger adhesive that works well with thicker materials like heavy glitter cardstock. And the purple mat has the strongest adhesive that works best with materials like poster board.

If you’re not sure which mat to use, start with the blue LightGrip mat, and move up to the green StandardGrip mat if you need a stronger hold. It’s a good idea to make a small test cut whenever you’re using new materials.

What Blades to Use for Paper and Cardstock

Almost all types of paper and cardstock are cut with the Fine Point blade or Premium Fine Point Blade – even cardboard and poster board.

The two exceptions that come to mind are crepe paper and tissue paper, which you can cut with the rotary blade or wavy blade.

If you come across a material that requires a different blade, Design Space will prompt you to switch out the blade after you select the Base Material on the Make screen.

What if the Fine-Point blade doesn’t cut all the way through the cardstock?

If the blade isn’t cutting all the way through the cardstock, it may mean that you need to adjust the settings or cut more than once. You may also need to clean the blade. But you probably don’t need to switch to the Deep Point blade or Knife Blade.

You can read more about how to solve common paper cutting issues in the Troubleshooting section at the bottom of this post.

Working with Insert Cards and the Card Mat

If you have a Cricut Joy, you can also cut paper on the special Card Mat.

The Cricut Joy Card Mat is a cutting mat designed with a divider to protect the back of a folded card while cutting a design on the front. 

You can use pre-folded Cricut Joy Insert Cards, or fold your own cardstock to use with the Card Mat.

Tips for Cutting Intricate Cardstock Designs

It can be hard to get nice clean cuts on designs with tiny detail. If your machine is tearing or dragging through your material on intricate cuts, you may need to adjust a few machine settings. Here are a few tips for cutting intricate cardstock designs cleanly:

  • If you can cut simple designs without issue but have trouble with intricate designs, try cutting the more intricate image using the Custom setting for Cardstock – Intricate Cuts. Cardstock for Intricate Cuts differs from the regular Cardstock settings in two ways: it uses less pressure, and it makes two cutting passes.
  • If that doesn’t work, take the blade out of the blade housing and check it for debris or nicks. Remove the debris, and try again.
  • If your blade has dulled, you may need to replace it with a new blade. You can also try honing the blade by repeatedly poking it into a small ball of aluminum foil.
  • After that, if you’re still getting tears, try using the Less Pressure.

Tips for Cutting Sticker Paper

With printable sticker paper, you can print your own images and cut them out with your Cricut.

  • If you are using the Cricut brand Printable Sticker Paper, the “sticker paper” material setting in Design Space should produce a “kiss cut” – or a cut that goes through the sticker layer but leaves the backing layer intact.
  • If you are using another sticker paper brand, you might need to use less pressure to produce a “kiss cut.” Try changing the pressure setting to “less” or choosing a different material setting like “sticky note” or “washi.”
  • If you want to cut through both layers to make loose, individual stickers, choose more pressure or select a different material setting like Medium Cardstock.

Tips for Writing and Drawing on Cardstock

My number one tip for writing with Cricut pens on cardstock is doing a small test run before starting a larger, more involved project. That way, you’ll be able to see how your pen interacts with the cardstock’s texture. If the ink bleeds or the pen skips, you may want to choose a different pen or a smoother cardstock.

Tips for Scoring Paper and Cardstock

Your Cricut can also score cardstock to create crisp creases and sharp folding lines.

Cricut Explore machines use the Cricut Scoring Stylus, which you can buy as part of the Basic Tool Set. The Cricut Maker machines can use the Scoring Stylus or Cricut Scoring Wheel tools – both the single and double Scoring Wheels.  

You’ll want to use the scoring tools on the inside of the project, or the “valley” of the fold. That means that you’ll place your cardstock “pretty side down” so the Cricut can make the creases on the backside of the cardstock.

How to Remove Cardstock from the Mat

Removing paper and cardstock from the mat without curling or tearing might be the trickiest part of the whole project – but I’ll give you a few tips to make it easier.

First, make things easier on yourself and use the LightGrip cutting mat for almost all paper materials.

Then, most importantly, don’t try to peel up your cardstock from your mat by the corner. It will curl, or worse, tear. 

Instead, flip your mat inside down on a clean work surface and peel the mat up from the cardstock. Go slowly, and use your other hand to keep the cardstock flat on the table.

Once you’ve removed the larger pieces, use the spatula tool or flat tweezers to lift any remaining small paper pieces from the mat.

Lastly, if you’re still having trouble getting the paper to release from the mat, try using an older mat, or a mat with a little bit of fuzz on it. You can even try patting a clean t-shirt all over your mat to add a little bit of fabric fuzz, and thus reduce the mat’s stickiness.

Tips and Tricks for Working with Cardstock

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when cutting cardstock with Cricut.

  • Use the Cricut LightGrip Mat. It’s my favorite mat for cutting cardstock, and it works well with almost every paper material.
  • If you’re having trouble cutting intricate designs, try using the “Cardstock Intricate Cuts” material setting in Design Space.
  • Don’t try to peel your project off of your mat by one corner – that will cause curling or tearing. Flip the entire project over on a clean work surface and gently peel the mat off the project.

Troubleshooting Common Problems

Here are a few tricks to solve some of the most common problems crafters have when cutting paper and cardstock with Cricut.

The cut edges of my design are white.

If white edges are distracting from your design, you will want to switch to a solid core cardstock.

Cricut isn’t cutting all the way through the cardstock.

If you’re having trouble cutting all the way through your cardstock, you may need to choose different materials settings. The first thing to try is to increase the cut pressure. For example, you may need to switch from Light Cardstock to Medium Cardstock. Or, you can select the More Pressure option on the Make Screen.

Another thing to try is to make a multi-pass – or to cut the design more than once. For example, if you select Glitter Cardstock as your material setting, Cricut will cut with a similar pressure as Medium Cardstock, but it will make the cutting pass twice instead of once.

My paper design is tearing.

There can be a few reasons why your blade is dragging or tearing your intricate designs. Here are a few solutions to try:

  1. Use the Cardstock for Intricate Cuts setting.
  2. Clean and sharpen the blade.
  3. Replace dull blades.
  4. Use less pressure.

The paper is curling when I take it off the mat.

It may feel awkward at first, but flip the mat upside down and peel the mat off the paper – not the other way around.

Have questions? Join the Cricut Facebook Group!

I hope this article was useful for you! If you have any additional questions, feel free to join my Facebook Group for Cricut Crafts.

Join the group to share pictures, ask questions, and help each other out.

More Cricut Tutorials and Projects

If you love Cricut crafts, don’t miss these related posts.

What’s Next?

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Leave a comment: I love to hear your feedback. Tell me in the comments below!

Share on Instagram or Facebook: When you make this project, share it on social media and tag me @sarahmaker. I love to see what you make!

How to Cut Paper and Cardstock with Cricut

How to Cut Paper and Cardstock with Cricut

Yield: 1
Active Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Estimated Cost: 1

Learn how to cut paper and cardstock on your Cricut machine with this step-by-step guide for beginners.

Materials

  • Paper or Cardstock

Tools

  • Cricut Maker, Cricut Explore, or Cricut Joy
  • LightGrip or StandardGrip cutting mat
  • Fine-Point blade

Instructions

  1. Open Design Space. Start a new project, and create your design. When your design is finished, click Make it.
  2. On the next screen, select your material from the Material Settings list. You can choose from several types of paper and cardstock.
  3. Place the paper or cardstock onto the blue LightGrip mat. You can use a brayer tool to make sure the paper is well-adhered.
  4. Load mat into the machine.
  5. Press Go to start the cut.
  6. When the cut is finished, unload the mat. Turn the mat upside down, and peel the mat away from the project.

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