KNK Force: Lesson 3

Force Main Screen

This lesson will cover Layer settings in C3… meaty stuff, so grab a cup of your favorite hot beverage for this one! You might also want to click on the image above and print it in Landscape orientation. That way you can refer to it as you go through the settings and even jot down some notes on the printout.

As previously mentioned, the KNK Force doesn’t have a “force” setting, which is kind of funny, right? Instead it uses a combination of depth and blade tension (this latter setting was covered in Lesson 2). Also, because of Z axis control, you can have progressively increasing depths in multi-pass applications, as well as control the speed along the Z axis. Thus, there are new settings to learn and this lesson presents the names, descriptions, and typical values. But remember that you’ll want to check the settings table before trying out any cuts to make sure what you’re using seems in line with the materials you’re planning to cut.


The Passes setting, which can be set from 1 to 20, controls the number of repeats on any individual path before the blade or tool moves to the next path.

This is an important feature in many applications because having the blade or tool work its way through a material yields a higher quality product. The blade or tool also will remain in the down position during the repeats, which is better than having the blade or tool start over after completing an entire project.

Some examples where more than one pass is recommended:

  • Cutting thicker denser materials, such as chipboard, where multiple passes allows the blade to progressively “carve” through the material
  • Cutting fibrous materials, such as fabric, where two or more passes ensures that all of the fibers have been cleanly cut
  • Cutting intricate or detailed shapes (such as script titles) from certain materials, such as heavily textured cardstock, where a single pass may leave certain spots not cleanly cut
  • Cutting rhinestone template material where a second pass results in much cleaner weeding of the cut circles
  • Using the rotary tool for cutting or even just engraving thicker and/or denser materials

Cutting Depth / Ending Depth

The depth settings are target locations on the Z axis for the tool to attempt to reach, based on the Z origin set to 0. Each increment represents ~ 0.00085 inches or ~ 0.02 mm.

The Cutting Depth only appears when Passes is set to 1.


When Passes is set to 2 or higher, this same setting is called Ending Depth.


This setting is important because it controls how deeply the blade will attempt to penetrate the material. If set too low, the material will not be completely cut. If set too high, the blade will cut through the material and into the cutting mat or the backing sheet of a material like vinyl. It will also then cause tearing of materials, such as paper and cardstock.

While it would seem logical for this setting to simply be the thickness of the material, the resistance of the material (density), combined with the fact the blade is being pushed up due to an internal spring inside the Force blade holder, means that a higher setting is required.

Starting Depth

When using more than one pass, the Starting Depth setting also appears.

ED2This is the target depth for the first pass only. This setting can be the same as the Ending Depth or it can be smaller, which often makes sense when cutting thicker materials. Having Z-axis control, combined with the Starting Depth and Ending Depth settings, allows the blade to work its way through thicker materials in stages versus the usual way cutters work (trying to cut all the way through the material right from the start).

If three or more passes are selected and you have entered a separate Starting Depth and Ending Depth then, after the first pass, each subsequent pass will have a progressively increasing target depth based on a linear calculation. Details about this are in an appendix section in the Force User Manual.

Recommended depth and pass settings will also be available in the user manual for a range of materials and applications. These settings will be regularly updated as more testing is done. But it’s also important to remember that with any recommended setting, you must still perform test cuts using small shapes or a portion of your project to make sure the settings are sufficient for a great cut. Many factors play into how well a material cuts including the dullness of the blade, the condition of the cutting mat, the material’s exposure to humidity, and slight differences in setting the tension on the blade holder.

Cutting Speed

Cutting Speed
The Cutting Speed is how fast the blade or tool travels while in the down position. On the Force, the setting ranges from 1 to 40, where a setting of 40 represents the maximum of 750 mm/sec.

Note the word “Default” in the screenshot. In C3, you can set default values for the depth and speed settings. Of course, they can still be changed before a cut but, if you typically always cut the same types of materials, it’s handy to have these settings start up at default vaules. More about defaults will be covered later in this post.

For small and/or intricate designs, slower speeds are better. The same is true when using the rotary tool. But when cutting, with a blade, larger or simpler designs, much faster speeds should work fine. A slow speed is 10 – 15. A really slow speed is less than 10. A fast speed is ~ 25 – 30. A speed over 35 is extremely fast but useful when using a marker or a pen.

Up Speed
Up Speed
The Up Speed is how fast the blade or tool travels in the up position, moving from one location to another to begin cutting. The range of settings is from 1 to 40.

For most cutting applications, this setting can be quite high, ~ 35 – 40. However, for some applications, such as a print and cut (PNC), the setting should be lower, ~ 15 – 20, for maximum accuracy.

Plunge Speed
Plunge Speed

The Plunge Speed is how fast the blade or tool drops from the up position to the down position. The range of settings is from 1 to 40.

When cutting soft materials with a blade, the Plunge Speed can be set quite high, e.g. at 40. If you are cutting a dense material, such as a thick chipboard, using a lower Plunge Speed, such as 20, can help protect the blade from too strong of an initial impact with the material.

When using the rotary tool, it is important to keep the Plunge Speed even lower so as to avoid damaging the tool upon contact with the material. It also allows time for the tool to cut down to a desired depth before starting along a path.

Lift Speed

Lift Speed
The Lift Speed is how fast the blade or tool rises from the down position to the up position. As with the other cut speed settings, the range is from 1 to 40.

For light weight tools, such as the blade holder, embossing tool, pens, etc, this speed can be set high (~ 35 – 40). When using a heavy tool, such as the rotary tool, it’s important to use a slow speed.

Cutting Tool

The Cutting Tool setting controls which of the two heads is used for executing that layer. The default is left but when the right side is needed, then clicking on the word Left will toggle the tool to Right:
Cutting Tool

Since the X, Y origin is always set based on the location of the left side tool, it is logical to only use the right side when both sides are in use.

Blade Offset

Blade Offset is the horizontal distance from the center of the blade shaft to the tip of the blade. A pen, embosser, engraver, and rotary tool all have an offset of 0 because the tip is centered with the center of the pen/engraver/tool shaft. But a blade is different:
If you set the Blade Offset to 0 when cutting with a blade, corners will be rounded. If it is set too high, bubbles will cut on sharp corners:
Offset 2
Below are the current Blade Offsets for each of the three types of blades used in the Force blade holder. However, any time you have ordered new blades, refer to the packaging for the correct Blade Offset for that particular blade.

Red capped blade: use 0.01 in (or 0.25 mm) (or 0.025 cm)
Blue capped blade: use 0.014 in (or 0.35 mm) (or 0.035 cm)
Yellow capped blade: use 0.03 in (or 0.75 mm) (or 0.075 cm)

Closed Path Overcut

Closed-Path Overcut is located under Advanced Settings:
Closed Path Overcut is related to Blade Offset in that it isn’t needed when using a pen, embosser, rotary tool, and so forth, as the tips of those tools are aligned with the center of the tools themselves. However, if Closed Path Overcut is left at 0 for a blade holder, then closed paths will not be completely cut:

Use the following settings, according to blade type:

Red capped blade: use 0.015 in (or 0.38 mm) (or 0.038 cm)
Blue capped blade: use 0.02 in (or 0.50 mm) (or 0.05 cm)
Yellow capped blade: use 0.04 in (or 1.0 mm) (or 0.10 cm)


Defaults can be set under Settings>Machine Settings. These defaults will then be automatically loaded each time a new file is opened. For now, just note the depth and speed settings in the window below. In subsequent lessons, I will cover the other settings.


After entering new values, click on Apply Changes at the bottom. Any time a new SVG file is then opened, these default values are then loaded into the Layer settings.

If you wish to save the current settings used for a particular file then, at the bottom of the main screen, click on Download an SVG Preset. You will then be able to save your current SVG, along with its cut settings, as a new .svg file. Be sure to give it a new name before saving.

So, there you have it! It’s really not all that complicated. When cutting easy materials with the blade holder, you’ll just be adjusting Blade Tension and Cutting Depth. In some situations you’ll be setting Passes higher and maybe still using the same value for both Starting Depth and Ending Depth. It’s only if you want to cut materials like chipboard or mat board that using a separate Starting Depth from Ending Depth comes into play. And, with those same dense materials, you might want to reduce the Plunge Speed to protect the blade.

The Force Rotary Tool will require more attention as more Passes will be common and lower speeds required. Not to worry! Those settings, along with more information, will be covered in its own chapter in the Force User Manual.

Happy New Year, everyone! The next tutorial will cover opening SVG files and understanding where shapes will cut.

KNK Force: Lesson 2

Force Blade Holders

Today I’m covering the new Force bladeholder. A few features about it:

  • There are three colors of blade holders: red, blue, and yellow. The only difference between them is the color. Thus you can use any Force blade in any color of blade holder. For convenience, I personally use red capped blades in the red blade holder, blue capped blades in the blue holder, and yellow capped blades in the yellow holder.
  • When you install a blade, you’ll observe that the blade is fully extended. There is no way to retract it and that’s how the blade will remain, regardless of which material you cut.
  • The blade holder has a large internal spring that controls the force being applied during the cut. As you rotate the top of the blade holder, you are compressing or decompressing that internal spring. Compressing it increases the blade tension, while decompressing decreases the blade tension.
  • There is a blade tension scale you set based on the material being cut. Tighter settings are used with denser materials while looser settings are used with lighter materials.

    Parts of the Blade Holder:

    Installing the Blade:

    (1) Remove the lower cap from the bottom of the blade holder and set aside.

    (2) Remove the plastic colored cap from a blade and insert the non-sharp end of the blade into the main section of the blade holder:


    (3) Gently guide the cap over the sharp end of the blade and begin tightening the cap:


    (4) Once the cap is fully tightened you will see the sharp end of the blade extending beyond the cap:


    Setting the Blade Tension:

    Recommended Blade Tension (BT) settings will be available in the user manual and on the Force support sites. So make sure you look up that setting for your material so that you won’t need to guess. If your material isn’t listed, then pick a material that is similar in density. You can also contact me via email and I can provide input, as well.

    The scale is from 1 to 6 where 1 is for light materials, such as vinyl, and 6 is for very dense materials, such as mat board.


    To set the Blade Tension (BT), hold the top cap of the blade holder firmly with one hand, making sure you can see the numbers on the tension scale. With the other hand, rotate the main part of the blade holder. As you rotate the main section of the blade holder, the tension will change:


    When setting the BT according to a recommended value, adjust the blade holder so that the number is half-covered, half-showing as in the prior photo where the setting is at 5.

    There are approximately four revolutions between any two numbers. If a “half setting” is recommended, such as 3.5, then the blade holder would be rotated about two revolutions so that the tension is approximately halfway between 3 and 4


    Protecting the Blade

    Because the blade is fully extended, it’s very important to exercise caution when inserting and removing the holder from the Force. Currently, I store my holders (with those blades extended) inside the fold-down table. But if I were needing to close up the Force’s table, then I would remove those blade holders, just in case. Michele Harvey (owner of came up with a great idea for protecting the blade tips. She stores the holders in their original plastic tubes, but has added two foam pop dots in the bottom of the tube so that the blade will be resting against that foam:

    Blade Holder Idea

    If you don’t have these foam pop dots, there are other alternatives, such as cutting a few small squares from craft foam or from an egg carton or even from a thick material such as felt.

    In the next lesson, I’ll cover the settings in C3!

    KNK Force: Lesson 1


    The KNK Force is unlike any other blade-based cutter on the market! Regardless of your past experience with other cutters, including prior KNK models, it is VERY important that you understand the “new principles” behind cutting:

    • The KNK Force has Z axis control. Instead of the head “dropping” to begin cutting, it will move downward at a controlled speed. This change was necessary for adding rotary tool capability. It has also added a great deal of power, as well as functionality to the cutter.
    • The blade will now be fully extended at all times. With new depth settings, you control how “far down” the blade will try to cut. Blades are fragile, however, so use caution when inserting and removing your blade holder from the Force, as well as storing your blade holder.  Also, avoid “seeing what happens” by using extreme settings!  You can easily break a blade doing that!
    • Every time you insert any tool, you will set a Z Axis origin with the tip resting on either the top of the mat or on the top of the material. Thus you will no longer need to estimate how high to insert a tool. It’s important, when setting this origin, to not have the tool tightened within the blade holder seat until after the blade holder seat drops. The text on the screen will remind you because this is another way you can break a blade!
    • The blade holder has a Blade Tension setting. This setting is used to provide more or less force, depending on the material being cut. A material such as vinyl and thin paper will require the least amount of tension, while a material like mat board will require the most.  More about this will be covered in a future post.
    • There is no longer a Force or Pressure setting. This is due to the fact that the force applied is a combination of the Ending Depth and the Blade Tension.
    • With multi-pass cutting, you now have the ability to cut progressively through a material versus the blade trying to penetrate the entire thickness on the first pass. You will enter a Starting Depth, an Ending Depth, and the number of Passes. This will also be covered in more detail in a future post.
    • There are changes in how you approach cutting some materials compared to how they’ve been cut in the past. For example, there will be different settings for vinyl cut on a mat versus vinyl cut without the mat. These will be presented separately in the recommended settings table.

    Copics Boot Camp #6!

    Copics Boot Camp

    If you love Copic coloring or if you have invested in some Copic markers but are not using them to their fullest potential, then think about attending the Copic Boot Camp presented annually in Arizona. I can’t praise them enough!

    Jennifer Dove has become a Copic guru! She’s published in several of the Copic coloring guides and is featured in the Annie’s Attic Copic videos. The wealth of information she shares at her retreats overshadows the Copic certification classes and workshops I’ve also attended.

    Here’s a link to find out more about the upcoming retreat: Copic Boot Camp

    This is a weekend you’ll never forget! I will be there and I hope you will be, as well!

    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. 🙂