Choosing the right Cricut machine will provide you with a positive craft-making experience. Cricut die-cutting machines are widely used by scrapbook enthusiasts, paper crafters and card makers. These machines cut detailed patterns out of materials including card stock, paper, vinyl, balsa wood, vellum and thin plastics. Their pattern cartridges are interchangeable between models, and Cricut die-cutters all function similarly, so it's easy for you to change machines.
Cricut machines can handle 6-by-12, 12-by-12 or 12-by-24 inch mats. If you want to decorate boxes or create large vinyl lettering, get a machine that handles larger mats. If you plan to decorate only cards or small crafts, a smaller machine is fine. While these cartridges will work with any machine, some designs require 12-by-12 inch or larger mats.
The machines range from 5.25 pounds for the intended-as-portable Cricut Mini -- though it's the only model that needs a computer to work -- to 12.65 pounds for the Cricut Expression, though the Expression 2 is more than a pound lighter. Sizes of the machines vary, too, so think about what you're willing to carry as well as how much counter or table space you can spare.
If you're an advanced crafter or have something specific in mind, personalization options can make your designs stand out. The Cricut Imagine performs die-cutting as well as printing so that you can print on your designs. The Cuttlebug can make simple cuts or emboss using die rollers. Used as an add-on to other Cricut machines, you can emboss any design.
If you prefer an LCD display, don't get a Cricut Mini. If you want an LCD display that's a full-color touch screen, you'll need an Expression 2. And if aesthetics matter to you, find a model like the Expression lines that come in different colors to match the decor of your crafting space.
Your budget may eliminate a few options from the Cricut range. You may also decide a few bells and whistles aren't worth the price jump for your purposes. If your dream Cricut machine is out of your price range, check vendors for sales and reconditioned models, or look for a secondhand machine. If you want edible designs to decorate cakes, cookies and other treats, the Cricut Cake will cut materials like fondant, gum paste and frosting sheets rather than inedible materials, and it has its own line of Cricut Cake cartridges in addition to the Original Cricut cartridge line.