Test Cutting Materials: A Troubleshooting Flow Chart

For a PDF version, see the link at the bottom of the post.

For a PDF version, see the link at the bottom of the post.

I’ve devised a flow chart that I’m hoping will help all cutter owners who struggle with knowing how to find optimum cut settings for new materials. This has always been an issue for new owners since the principles involved in cutting are often counter-intuitive. I’ll always remember hearing from one of the KNK dealers who had a customer who thought his new KNK had to be defective because he had the blade fully extended and was using maximum force and was not getting a good cut from cardstock! If only it actually worked that way! There’s a reason why one does NOT cut with the blade all the way out NOR have the software set to maximum pressure. Not only are you attacking the material but you’re also cutting the mat versus the material… just not going to work!

Now most new KNK owners have read Section 2.01 of their user manual and have at least been exposed to the following facts about cutting:

  • Set the blade length to match the material thickness – more blade isn’t going to result in better cutting
  • Set the blade height about 1/8″ above the material – too low and the cut won’t be consistent
  • Adjust the speed, force, and number of passes based on the material and shapes – refer to the user manual for “suggested” settings for your first test cut
  • Keep the cutting mat clean and sticky – if the material isn’t stabilized, it’s not going to cut.
  • Adjust blade offset according to the blade or tool you’re using – should be written on the blade packaging


  • There are some troubleshooting tips in Appendix B of the user manuals. There you will find suggestions about what to check if your cuts are not complete or you’re getting tearing of the material. But based on how many times I see posts about questions during test cutting, I figured it might be time to document how I’ve always gone about my own test cutting. I started with just some notes but quickly realized that it really is a logical flow chart procedure that I’ve always used:

    Test Cutting Flow Chart

    I’m eager to see how this works for all of you. I’ve privately shared it a few times now and received some positive feedback. But that doesn’t mean it still isn’t missing something. So feel free to let me know your experience when using it. I’ll be adding this to future user manual updates.

    Note: I also want to thank Steve Bailey for some great suggestions to improve the overall style. :)

    Using MTC to Design a Custom Shaped Puzzle

    Puzzle Heart

    Long time, no post! Hopefully today’s topic on designing a custom shaped jigsaw puzzle will help make up for my absence!

    There are a number of different methods for combining a puzzle from MTC’s Puzzle Generator with any shape to create a custom-shaped puzzle like the one shown above. Other MTC owners have posted their methods, including Bryan Williams in one of MTC’s Tuesday night webinars. His method and mine are virtually identical other than how we edit the puzzle to remove extra lines. Anyhow, here’s a link to the new video I made:

    Designing a Heart Shaped Puzzle

    This is a great exercise in learning two of MTC’s most valuable functions: Boolean Join and the Inverse Eraser.

    Then, if you haven’t used the Puzzle Generator, then you might also need this video:

    MTC Puzzle Generator

    Finally, the heart I created is also available in case it’s something you can use in one of your upcoming Valentine’s projects:

    Free Puzzle Heart Files:

    KNK Format

    MTC Format

    PDF Format

    Finally, if you do not yet own MTC, it can be purchased for only $57.99 at this link. Let me know if you have any questions!

    KNK Retreat in St. Louis!

    StLouis2

    Come join Michele Harvey and Sandy McCauley in St. Louis!!!! Master your Klic-N-Kut and Make The Cut software!

    The cost of the retreat is $395. For this price, you will receive 6-7 classes, 3-4 demonstrations and Make-n-Takes, 3 excellent meals, refreshments throughout the weekend, lots of time for one-on-one assistance, class notes and files, free goodies, cutting materials and prizes! We will request topics of interest and will also feature favorite projects from Team KNK.

    The room will open at 2:00 pm on Friday with the Meet and Greet starting at 3:00 pm. Dinner will be served at 6:00 pm, followed by classes, demos, and an evening workshop. Saturday will be packed with classes, demos, challenges, games, lunch, and an open workshop in the evening. On Sunday, we’ll have one more class followed by some final Q&A, farewells, and then parting gifts and prizes.

    Participation in all classes and demos is optional, so you can head out at any time to enjoy the local attractions. We encourage you to bring your laptop and/or cutter, but it’s not a requirement to join us as we will have extras available and will seat everyone for sharing, as needed.

    Your hotel room and travel expenses are separate. We bring you a wonderful deal with The Embassy Suites of $119 per night plus tax for a King room or $129 per night plus tax for a double Queen room. A hot breakfast at the hotel is included in the room rate. If you live locally, you are not required to stay at the hotel. If you would like to be paired with a roommate, please note it in the application. You must mention KNK USA when you call the Embassy Suites St. Louis Airport directly at (314) 739-8929.

    The deadline for room reservations is May 31, 2014.

    If you would like to have your spouse join us for any of the meals, please include the request in your application. We will give you pricing after we have a final count (approximately $30/lunch and $40/dinner). This weekend retreat is available for up to 25 attendees and we’ll have a waiting list in case of cancellations.

    Reserve your spot today by:

    1. Completing the application online. Or, if you prefer, email cuttinwithknk@gmail.com to let us know you wish to attend. After receiving the email, I will send you a short application form to complete, scan and return. If you do not receive a response within 24 hours, please contact Michele at cuttinwithknk@gmail.com. Sometimes emails get lost!

    2. Sending $145 deposit by check, money order, or PayPal to Michele Harvey, the event organizer. You will receive Michele’s address privately after submitting your application.
    The deadline for making a deposit is May 2, 2014. The balance of $250 will be due by May 30, 2014. If you prefer to make three payments, arrangements can be made.

    The Embassy Suites St. Louis Airport is conveniently located. Its amenities include:

    • Complimentary High Speed Internet throughout the Hotel
    • Complimentary Cooked to Order Breakfast
    • 24 Hour Business Link Center
    • Indoor Pool & Hot Tub
    • Fitness Center
    • Complimentary Airport Shuttle
    • Complimentary Parking

    You can take the shuttle to the airport and then take the Metro to some favorite places, such as the FREE zoo or the Cardinals-Phillies game. The room rate is good for 3 days before and 3 days after our event for anyone wanting to spend some time in St. Louis. There is a great scrapbooking store about 30-40 minutes from the hotel (during non-peak traffic times). Don’t forget things like the arch or the amazing botanical gardens! Oh, and the summer-only Muny theater which is held outside. Lots to do in St. Louis!

    Hope to see you there!

    Learning Make The Cut

    mtc_logo

    Two of the common questions I get from new owners of Make The Cut are, “Where do I start?” and “Which videos should I watch?” So, today’s post is directed at those learning MTC and needing some guidance.

    First of all, always make sure you’re using the latest version so that the screenshots and instructions in the user manual match what you see in the software. To check which version you’re using, watch this video, as it will also show you where to find the KNK plugin version as well. To update to the latest versions, you can use the link I have here or Make The Cut’s download page.

    Next, the MTC user manuals are Chapters 3 – 8 in any KNK with MTC user manuals available here at my site. The Zing with MTC user manual is also accessible from the File>Help page from within MTC and that will probably be a quicker access unless you bookmark one of the user manual links here. Note that the various versions I list (Interactive, PDF, and Downloadable EXE) are always the same version and allow you to click on sections from the table of contents, search on any particular word or words, and directly go to videos by clicking on green Video icons.

    The KNK USA vimeo channel has about 90 or so MTC videos I’ve made so far. These are mostly the ones I’ve linked within the user manual, plus a few extras that were specific to questions asked by my customers and might be of interest to others. But there’s no organization available at Vimeo, so anyone new to MTC wouldn’t really know where to start. The same is mostly true in the user manual. So, for those who want a viewing order for basic MTC videos, here’s my recommendation, although this isn’t the easiest thing to provide since users’ needs and interests vary. But certainly the first nine or ten videos make sense for all owners of MTC to understand.

    Importing from Basic Shapes
    Resizing Shapes
    Rotating Shapes
    Copying and Duplicating Shapes
    Layer Bar: Part 1
    Layer Bar: Part 2
    Layer Bar: Part 3
    Virtual Mat Settings
    Entering Text and Welding Letters
    Importing from the MTC Gallery
    Opening Font Files
    Using Dingbat Fonts
    Shadow Function
    Creating a Custom Mat
    Dashed Lines
    Demo of Pixel Tracing Features
    Pixel Trace 1
    Tracing for a Print and Cut
    Converting KNK to MTC Part 1
    Converting KNK to MTC Part 2

    As always, I’m here to help! So, feel free to ask questions and I’ll respond. For those who enjoy user forums and Yahoo groups, then head on over to either or both of these and sign up! These are also excellent places to ask questions and pick up tips, free files, and new ideas!

    Make The Cut Yahoo Group
    Make The Cut Forum

    KNK’s Back In Stock! And check out the engraving one can do!

    Zing

    For those of you who’ve been waiting for the KNK Zings and 24″ Maxx Airs to be back in stock, they finally are! This also applies to the UK web site. For those living in Canada, we expect them to be available some time next week. If you’re interested, in purchasing, I’m an affiliate seller with KNK USA and this is the link to use: http://knkusa.com/?ap_id=skhaley

    Now for the engraving project:

    IMG_1428

    Last Friday, I made a video for a KNK Zing owner who needed to engrave a sheet of dog tags on her Zing. And then repeat and repeat. So, I knew she needed some kind of template set up so that she could position the dog tags on the template and then be able to engrave all them at one time with perfect alignment. I didn’t have any metal dog tags, so I used some stars cut out of craft plastic. It turned out really well and so did her dog tags, apparently. So here’s the video if you’re interested in how this works:

    Engraving on the KNK Zing

    And here’s a closeup of the engraving done with the KNK engraver:

    IMG_1425

    To check out the engraver, use the this link and then click on Accessories at the top. The engraver can be found under under any of the top three Accessories links.

    Please let me know if you have any questions!