originally published 23 November 2019
updated 22 April 2023
Learn How to Cut Corrugated Cardboard with the Cricut Maker Knife Blade: easy step-by-step instructions for doing test cuts and understanding material pressure settings in Design Space
I like to build things from corrugated cardboard boxes.
– it’s an abundant material that is usually free
– it’s easy to work with
– it works perfectly with a hot glue gun
– it’s simple to dispose of without any guilt when your creation isn’t useful any longer.
When I bought my Cricut Maker, the knife blade wasn’t released yet. Design Space has a cardboard setting for the standard fine-point blade, so I tried to make it work. I couldn’t get it to cut all the way through the cardboard, even after the machine cut the maximum number of times. #fail
The deep-cut blade was supposed to be for thicker materials. I bought it… but it tore the edges of every cut. #fail
Cricut released the knife blade, and after some trial and error, we had a #win!
I couldn’t find any information on how to cut corrugated cardboard with the Cricut Maker Knife Blade, so I’m sharing the results of many (failed) trials with the fine-point blade and deep-cut blade with you.
You’ll become an expert at finding the right pressure settings in Design Space and performing test cuts for your Cricut Maker too!
* Links to products are for your convenience in finding tools and materials, however, they are affiliate links.
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Cricut does list settings for other machines on their site; however, I think the cardboard they mean is thin craft cardboard and not from sturdy boxes like I’m using.
First, find cardboard that is the correct thickness.
It MUST be under 3 mm. Choose a piece of cardboard that is smooth and dry; a box that looks like it’s been thrown off a truck will not work.
It seems that the newer the cardboard is, the better it cuts. I have a pile of “good” boxes I saved, but they don’t seem to cut as well as new boxes.
Do you have a digital caliper in your craft room? (All of my blogging friends do! We test and test and test so we can find the best methods for you.)
No digital caliper? Here’s a quick guide.
Double layers of corrugation? No way; the Cricut Maker won’t be able to cut it.
A very large box? Too thick to cut.
Was it an outside shipping box? Most likely, it’s too thick.
A very sturdy box? Probably not.
You can slide a corner under the roller bar to check if it will fit.
Do you need a digital caliper?
Click here to get one on Amazon.
You also want to have a sharp Knife Blade. They do last quite a long time, especially if you clean/sharpen it.
Question: How do I sharpen the Cricut Maker Knife Blade?
Answer: You can use a ball of aluminum foil.
Jab the knife blade into the ball around 50 times; tilt the blade so that it goes in at different angles. I didn’t think this would work, so I didn’t bother to take “before” and “after” photos… but it actually worked very well. My box cut much more smoothly after I did this!
Step-by-step instructions for cutting corrugated cardboard
1) Choose your cardboard wisely.
It’s going to be easiest in the long run if your cardboard is all the same because the thickness won’t vary. If you use a different type of cardboard, you will need to test the cut pressure and multi-cut settings again.
Currently, I use the boxes our coffee K-cups come in from Sam’s Club. They’re 1.5 mm thick and we have a consistent supply.
The downside to these is that they aren’t huge, so I can’t cut something too large with them.
The mystery boxes from Cricut work perfectly and you can cut a larger piece from them.
2) Cut your cardboard down to a size that fits your mat. Cricut recommends the material be less than 11 inches wide so the rollers can be pushed to the side.
3) Make two simple shapes using Design Space for your test cut, such as a circle and a star. Use something with corners; the corners are a good test to be sure it cut all the way through the material.
4) Tape the cardboard to the center of your purple StrongGrip mat. (Hint: A new green mat will also work for a light material like cardboard, especially if you tape it down on all sides! You don’t want any little cut pieces popping up and jamming your Cricut though, so it does have to be sticky.)
5) Slide the white roller wheels to the sides so they don’t run over the cardboard. (If you’ve never moved them, they may seem stuck. Use more pressure – you won’t break them.)
6) Insert the Cricut Knife Blade in slot B.
7) In Design Space, press the green “Make It” button.
In the preview screen, arrange the shapes so one is on top of the mat and one is on the bottom.
8) Click the Continue button and select your material. Try the “Matboard 1.5mm” option first. For my cardboard, this setting is perfect. It cuts through cleanly and does not cut into the mat.
You can download a handy chart of the materials that you can cut with the Cricut Knife Blade from the Free Files Folder.
The printable cheat sheet is design #104 – Knife Blade Settings Cheat Sheet PDF.
Download and print it out for easy reference.
9) Load the mat and press the “Go!” button. You’ll see a message about it having a longer cut time than normal. When it’s finished cutting (or whenever you choose to pause it), check if the cardboard cut through BEFORE you unload the mat.
Tip: You might want to pause the cut after a few passes instead of the full amount, just to check it.
➡️ Did it cut through without cutting into the mat?
If it cut entirely through the material – great! Write down that setting or number of cuts for future reference.
➡️ Did it NOT cut entirely through the cardboard?
This is what is most likely to happen on the first try. No problem – we’ll try again.
Retape down the material. Move the test shape to a different stop on the mat (on the preview screen.)
Did you stop the cut early? If so, let it continue to cut one or two more passes before you stop it.
If it cut the full number of passes, try choosing the “more pressure” option.
Test it again!
If it still didn’t cut through the cardboard, choose another material setting.
When you have a successful cut, write down that setting or number of cuts for future reference.
➡️ Did it cut through the cardboard and also left a deep cut on your mat?
There was too much pressure or too many passes.
Try a different setting. The “Tooling Leather – 1.6 mm” setting might be a better one. It has both less pressure and fewer passes.
If it cut well, but left a small mark on the mat, you might just try the “less pressure” option or press the “Pause” button on the machine before it finishes all of the multi-cuts (after six passes instead of the full eight, for example.)
Tips for using the Cricut custom Pressure Settings
Did you know that the Cricut Fine-Point Blade can repeat a cut multiple times?
However, nine is the maximum number of times. The maximum cut pressure you can set for the Cricut Fine-Point Blade is 350.
This wasn’t enough to cut through my cardboard, but it might be enough for yours. Go ahead and try it!
The fine-point blade works well for cutting cereal boxes.
Note: You can NOT create any custom material settings with the Knife Blade. You just need to choose a material already listed and perform tests to see if it will work. You can stop the cut early, or cut another time after it’s finished if you don’t unload the mat.
why would You want to cut corrugated cardboard with your cricut maker?
You can fabricate parts!!
When I was sewing my new Halloween costume, I made a duct-tape dress form. (It’s a dressmaker’s form, but created by wrapping myself with duct tape, cutting the duct tape off me, then stuffing paper inside the duct tape form. I followed this tutorial.)
I had an old studio light stand to put the form on, but I needed a solid base so the form didn’t just slide down the pole.
I knew I needed to create something like a series of washers to take the pressure off, so I took a few measurements, made a few shapes in Design Space, and cut them out.
It worked perfectly!
Best part… I felt like a total badass. I CAN MAKE that!
Save this tutorial for later by pinning on Pinterest!