How do you know which Cricut to buy? Which machine is the right one for you? In this article, you’ll answer three questions to find out which Cricut fits your style: The Explore Air 2 or the Maker?!?
This article has been updated for the 2020 Cricut Machines. For the latest statistics and prices, visit Cricut.com.
You’re ready to get all kinds of crafty. Yay! I’m excited to help you with a little bit of research before you make your big purchase.
Which Cricut to buy?!?
Cricut currently offers two machines to choose from, but which one do you pick? Let’s take a closer look at these machines and figure out which Cricut to buy by answering three simple questions.
Whether you’re making personal projects and gifts for friends and family or creating hundreds of intricate designs for your Etsy shop, you need a machine that saves you time.
This article focuses on the benefits and features of the Cricut Maker and Explore Air 2. If you’d like to explore the Circut EasyPress, I’d recommend going directly to Cricut.com to check out the sizes and features available.
Which Cricut is best for YOU?
When you first start comparing these two machines, you’ll find that there is a lot that they can both do.
✓ Works fast!
✓ Cuts a variety of materials
✓ Scores (great for making stickers!)
✓ Wirelessly connects to your computer, tablet, or smartphone (iOS and Android)
✓ Stores your tools
✓ Comes in a variety of cute colors!
Sounds fabulous, and you can’t wait to get started right? Hang on a sec…
1. What types of Cricut projects do you want to make?
When deciding on which Cricut to buy, it’s important to know what they’re capable of. But it’s more important to know what you want to do with your machine first.
Let’s take a look at each machine and the projects they work best for.
Cricut Explore Air 2 is great for…
- Cutting paper, vellum, vinyl, cardstock, posterboard, bonded (adhesive) fabric, and leather
- Writing “handwritten” notes, greeting cards, place cards
- Scoring lines to create sharp folds for boxes, cards, tags, cupcake liners
- Making your own labels, stickers, decals, and iron-on projects
- Creating decorations for your home, party and wedding decor
- Making die cuts, custom notebooks or journals, folded Traveler’s notebook inserts, coloring pages, and scrapbook designs
If you’re planning to stick with cutting paper and cardstock, scoring sticker sheets, and making vinyl decals, the Explore Air 2 might be the one for you. The Explore is awesome for paper crafting, scoring for perfectly sharp folds, and cutting stickers (my favorite).
Cricut Maker can do all of the above plus…
- Cut thicker and denser materials like leather, balsa wood, mat board, and thicker fabrics like denim
- More precisely cut thinner materials like crepe paper and delicate fabrics
- Making sharper, more accurate cuts on fuzzy fabrics like fleece and felt
- Mark fabrics with the washable marking pen
- Add additional tools for engraving, debossing, and more
Sewers and quilters!
Sewers and quilters in particular will enjoy the Maker. The added force and precision cutting in the Maker come together to help you make more accurate and precise cuts, even on complicated projects and designs.
The addition of the rotary blade really eliminates the need for tracing paper patterns, and the washable marking pen will draw in the seam allowances and pattern markings. Fantastic!
2. What is the volume of projects you want to create?
If you’re still on the fence, let’s talk a little bit about the volume of projects you plan to create. While both machines are excellent quality, there’s a difference between buying a quality machine for weekly personal use and buying a machine for 8 hours of daily production.
If you’re a DIY, part-time crafter…
If you are a hobby or part-time crafter hoping to DIY your own stickers, cards, and create a few gifts for friends and family throughout the year, it probably makes more sense to go with the more affordable Cricut Explore Air 2.
This machine will have you covered for all your personal DIY projects (that fit into the materials list) for birthdays, teacher gifts, personalized presents, home and party decor, and all of your “handwritten” cards throughout the year.
For the full-time maker…
If you’re purchasing a new machine to start up a new Etsy shop, expand your business, or love to DIY more extravagant projects for your home, family, and friends, or love to sew the Cricut Maker is the better investment.
The increased versatility of the Maker makes it the better choice for business. Not only because of the increased functionality of cutting thicker materials, but because as you move forward you’ll have the option of adding additional tools to infinitely expand your product lines.
Additional Quickswap tools for the Maker include the knife blade, scoring wheel, engraving tip, debossing tip, wavy blade, and basic perforation blade. These are sold separately and can be purchased individually or as a package.
3. What is your skill level?
If you’ve visited the Cricut website or basically any site along the way, you’ve probably seen everyone say how EASY the Cricut machines are to use.
I’m gonna be totally honest here, and tell you that there is a learning curve. No matter what you’re using your Cricut for, you’re going to have to learn how to use it first.
The good news is that once you get to know your machine, the possibilities of what you can create are wide open! And you don’t have to have experience with Cricut specifically to make things easier.
So what’s your experience level?
Have you mastered print-and-cut machines before? Are you a pro at computerized embroidery? Do you effortlessly make your own die cuts and foil everything within arms reach? Create your own patterns or stickers on your desktop or tablet?
If so, you’re likely ready to step up your game with a Cricut Maker. You’ll be able to master this one quickly – it really is easy to use… when you know how to use these things.
Do you do 99% of your crafting and design by hand? Struggle to get your regular printer to print on two sides? Never worked with a crafting machine that connects to your computer?
If this describes you, my advice would be to stick with the Explore Air 2.
Hey, now, I’m not doubting your amazing crafting abilities! However, if you’re looking into automating your paper crafting or creating decals for the very first time, it’s going to be easier on a machine with less options.
Have you figured out which Cricut to buy?!?
It’s time to make your decision. I hope that these questions helped clarify which Cricut to buy. If not, let’s take a sec to review:
1. What types of projects do you want to make?
2. What kind of volume are you looking at?
3. What is your skill level?
When you’ve decided which machine is best for you, there are two safe ways to buy. I always recommend shopping direct from the company, and Cricut can be purchased on:
And don’t forget!
If you are replacing an old machine you can trade it in for credit!
Where to go next? Download printable stickers to cut on your new machine!