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Author Previous Topic: 3rd Street Flats Topic Next Topic: Printable buildings
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George D

Premium Member

Posted - 02/25/2018 :  11:37:13 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I bought a new toy, a Cricut paper cutting machine. It's used by crafters and recently I've been reading about model railroaders using the machine and I decided I could fine a use for it. My boys and I have a contest – he who dies with the most tools, wins. This moves me to the top of the score board. I'm going to build a shed using this Cricut machine as a tool for cutting many of the pieces for the structure.

First, to use the machine, you need a CAD program to make the drawings that the machine will use for cutting. I've been using AutoSketch for a number of years now. It's a light version of AutoCad, a great program, but not longer available. Up until now, I've been printing my drawings on Bristol board card stock and using a ruler and a number 11 blade to cut everything out. The Cricut replaces my ruler and knife and it's much more accurate and faster. In fact it will do things I can't do, which I'll show you later.

Here's what the machine looks like:

Specifically its a Cricut Explore Air. The Air means you can have the capability of linking it to your computer with Bluetooth. That green thing under the Cricut machine is the cutting pad that holds the items being cut.

I made a visit to Maine last summer and was fascinated by the waterfront sheds that had walls covered with weathered cedar shingles, so I thought I'd build one.

Here's a picture I took up in Maine. My shed has a very different floor plan from this, but it's what got my interest. I've also been on line looking at other pictures for inspiration.

The shed is going to be O scale. I have some detailed cuts to make and I wasn't sure I could do them in HO. After playing with the machine, I've learned that I could have done this in HO. Here's a teaser – a window I cut for the shed. To give you an idea of size, the squares on the cutting mat are 1”.

I've made a lot of drawings for the shed. Here's one showing all the major pieces. Maybe you can figure out where I'm heading from this.


Country: USA | Posts: 15609


Premium Member

Posted - 02/25/2018 :  12:07:06 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thataway George! Nothing better than keeping that gray matter input moving. You'll be doing tricks with that machine that will impress all of us.


Country: USA | Posts: 5043 Go to Top of Page

Carl B

Premium Member

Posted - 02/25/2018 :  1:12:35 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote

I will be watching this thread VERY closely.

Does the machine include NO software for drawing at all?

Country: USA | Posts: 3684 Go to Top of Page

Tyson Rayles

Premium Member

Posted - 02/25/2018 :  2:04:29 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Great project!

Country: USA | Posts: 13081 Go to Top of Page


Posted - 02/25/2018 :  3:02:23 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Nice scratch build here. Looking forward to your progress.

Pacific Northwest Logging in the East Coast
Post count: 5000 posts added to below count.

Country: USA | Posts: 15245 Go to Top of Page

George D

Premium Member

Posted - 02/25/2018 :  3:13:19 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks, Mike and Louis.
You're right, Jim. I need all the help I can get.

Carl, I was wrapped around the software axle the first week I had the machine. The Cricut software (Cricut Design Space) resides in the cloud (where ever that is ). From my perspective, the Cricut software takes my drawings and tells the machine how to cut. I think the software can be used by crafters for designing projects, but I don't know anything about that.

Cricut takes two types of vector files (CAD), SGV and DXF. I can save my drawings as DXF files, but Cricut can't open them, so I had to find a way to save them as SGV files. I downloaded Inkscape (free), which can save files to SGV. I found I could copy and paste my drawings to Inkscape and save them as an SGV file that Cricut Design Space could open.

The catch in all this is that my drawings are to scale. In this project the drawings are all O scale (1:48). I had to retain the scale through the steps getting it on the Cricut Design Space. To handle that I drew a line on the top of each drawing of a known length in the real 1:1 world. That's easy in O scale. A 28 foot line in the drawing is really 7” long. As long as the line is longer than the rest of the drawing, that is the width of the drawing according to Design Space. When the drawing is loaded into Design Space, I enter the drawing width (line length) and everything comes out matching the dimensions of my original drawing.

If anyone is still awake, here's what a drawing looks like when I send it to my machine.

That's a 7 inch line across the top and it's connected to the walls to reduce the number of cuts. The machine cuts all the lines.


Country: USA | Posts: 15609 Go to Top of Page

Carl B

Premium Member

Posted - 02/25/2018 :  3:34:52 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
The Cricut software (Cricut Design Space) resides in the cloud

Oh brother ....of course it does....remote servers somewhere!

Thank you for your explanations....interesting to see what you can do with it.
Please let us know the details good and bad.

Country: USA | Posts: 3684 Go to Top of Page


Premium Member

Posted - 02/25/2018 :  6:06:37 PM  Show Profile  Visit slimrails's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Very interesting, George. I can't wait to see what you can do with it. How thick is the material that you're cutting?

Edited by - slimrails on 02/25/2018 6:08:19 PM

Country: USA | Posts: 8426 Go to Top of Page


Posted - 02/25/2018 :  7:06:09 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
By George, I think you've cut it!
Looking forward to seeing what you can do with it.

Greg Shinnie

Country: Canada | Posts: 8613 Go to Top of Page

Michael Hohn

Posted - 02/25/2018 :  9:18:14 PM  Show Profile  Visit Michael Hohn's Homepage  Reply with Quote

I’ve been trying to figure out for a couple of years now how useful one of these cutters would be to have. I’m interested in what you discover.

I also like your choice of model.


Nobody living can ever stop me, as I go walking that freedom highway -- Woody Guthrie

Country: USA | Posts: 5900 Go to Top of Page


Premium Member

Posted - 02/25/2018 :  9:26:45 PM  Show Profile  Visit jbvb's Homepage  Reply with Quote
My fiancee has a Mimaki CG-60Sl (Japanese brand) which she mostly uses to cut stickers to fuse onto T-shirts. She mostly uses Corel Draw. I have a project in the works which would benefit a lot from automated cutting of multiple parts, so I will watch your efforts with interest.

Country: USA | Posts: 6261 Go to Top of Page


Premium Member

Posted - 02/25/2018 :  10:54:51 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
So, George this only cuts paper, is that correct? And you will be using the cut outs as templates. I also have been interested in a machine of this nature, but I would like to cut wood as well as paper'..

ted :<)

Country: USA | Posts: 5950 Go to Top of Page


Premium Member

Posted - 02/26/2018 :  04:52:54 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I have a very old Cricut, had it for years and have made many detail parts with it for my model
RR. I never made a whole building because I work in 1/24 scale and the pieces would be way too
big. I did make the parts for a phone booth and several doors and windows. Back then the Cricut
only worked with Cricut shapes but there was a program called "Cuts-a-lot" which allowed me to
make all kind of cuts of my own design. One of the greatest uses I liked was making strips of
my own shingles. That program no longer works for me unless I pay a pretty high fee so I doubt
I will be using it again.

Even on a machine that old I could cut fairly heavy card and I understand that the newer machines
can cut much thicker stuff.


Download Attachment: 29done.JPG
197.53 KB


Country: USA | Posts: 3985 Go to Top of Page

George D

Premium Member

Posted - 02/26/2018 :  09:00:42 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks for all the interest, guys. I'm having fun.

Russ, the cardstock I used for the window is 0.017” thick and the double layer Bristol stock I'm using for the walls is 0.020” thick.

Ted, I'm cutting the actual parts. I played with styrene early on after I figured how to get my drawings cut. Here's a window I cut from 0.015” styrene. I had to flex the styrene to get the individual window openings to pop out. On 0.020” and maybe thicker (I haven't tried it yet) the Cricut doesn't cut all the way through 0.020” styrene. The machine cut is deep enough to snap the parts much the same as using the manual scribe and snap routine.

I also cut sides for the building using 3/32” basswood. I'm not going to be using them, but it was a useful experience. I didn't make enough passes to cut all the way through, but the cuts are deep enough for a #11 blade to follow and complete the cut.

Bob, it's interesting that you discovered the Cricut long ago. Will your old machine use the Cricut Design Space program? If so, there are ways to make simple parts like you did with free software. Those shingles would have been tedious to cut and look great on your building.


Country: USA | Posts: 15609 Go to Top of Page

Jack M
New Hire

Posted - 02/26/2018 :  7:27:59 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I have been looking at die cutting machines as I have a number of buildings that I would like to scratch build. I was looking at the Cricut but I don't want to have to learn CAD. Then recently I saw a video on using the Brother CM350 ScanNCut 2 Home and Hobby Diecutting Machine. With this machine it doesn't require CAD as you just scan a drawing or picture and then cut it out. The machine will cut a depth of 2mm which is about 5/64".
Does anyone have any experience with this machine or know how good it is for cutting out model building walls? I believe that the machine will handle an area of 12" x 12".
Below is a photo of the machine in use.

Jack M

Country: USA | Posts: 25 Go to Top of Page

Jack M
New Hire

Posted - 02/26/2018 :  7:39:05 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Brother ScanNcut MM600

Download Attachment: Brother_ScanNCut_CM600.jpg
185.55 KB

Country: USA | Posts: 25 Go to Top of Page
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