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Learn about Cut Files

Posted by Claire Brennan on May 21, 2013.

Cut Files - a little Info

I had a few emails from folks wondering what cut files are - Here's some Q&A's just in case it's something you are not familiar with.

So what is this thing, this Cut File?

So, I'm making a card or a LO and I want to cut out one of the images I have stamped. Used to be I got out my scissors and started trimming around the shape as neatly as I could. This was grand, I have a great patience for papercutting, what I don't have is time.

Then I discovered dies - we love dies, don't we ladies, yes we do. I am addicted to dies, if I ever need to send anyone to college I will just auction my die collection, I think it will probably see all three of them through. Metal dies enable me to get a crisp, neat, even cut around any shape I have a die for. First it was basic shapes such as circles and squares, then I discovered labels and now I am having custom dies made up for some of my stamp sets. I love dies, they are great for mass producing card sets and they give a lovely embossed edge (well mine do because mine are all Spellbinder dies). the low profile metal dies will work with just about any table top die cutting machine such as Cuttlebug, Bigshot and of course the Grand Calibur etc. These are mostly hand cranked machines and you can also use embossing folders in them to produce texture on your cardstock, or indeed any other material such as fabric, thin cork and some wood papers, leather etc, lots of stuff, you can see why we love dies.

But, I'm greedy. I also like lots of shapes, I like to make up my own shapes. I like the possibility of designing a shape and being able to cut it out any size I want, in any quantity I want depending on my project. I can do this with an electronic cut file.

Yes, but what is an actual Cut File, what does it look like?

A cutting file is an electronic file that you can download to your computer. It's a bit like a digital stamp, except that where you send a digital stamp to a printer to get it out onto your cardstock, you send your cutting files to an electronic cutting machine which uses the file to electronically cut out a shape.

If you have a peep at the images above - you can see that the first image is of the Halloween Party stamp set - you can clearly see that the black images represent the stamp designs.

The next images shows the same stamps, but this time, you can see a little red line around the stamps - the red line shows you the shape of the cut file associated with the stamp that it surrounds. The Halloween Party cut files are a Freebie, so you can dowload them and have a gander at how they come. If you have a grahics program on your computer you might even be able to open them and have a peep inside. It is vital that you save them to your desktop first though, or they won't open. They come in a zip file.

When you download a 'Cut file' (from WMS), you are getting the file that has the red line shapes only. The cut files will produce blank shapes onto which you can stamp the corresponding images provided you have the matching stamps. Some of our cut files are for shapes that don't require stamps at all, such as the Art deco card front set. This file produces lovely patterned card fronts.

What do I need to have to be able to use Cut Files?

You will need a computer and a compatible electronic cutting machine.

In order to use cut files from WMS and indeed from may other stamp stores you will need a cutting machine which has the capability to use files. I have a Silhouette Cameo machine, I bought it with the designer edition software which allows me to use my own and purchased cut files from a wide variety of sources.

Some personal electronic cutters are closed systems and use only the cutting shapes available in their own cartridge systems, and example of this are the Cricut machines. At present Cricut machines are only able to use files on cartridges made by Cricut, although this may change if cut files become more popular. 

I hear people talking about svg files, what does that mean?

Cut files are supplied in a few different formats, most commonly you can find them as .svg and .dxf files. The format is just the way in which the file is saved and each machine will have it's own preference about what files suit it best. My silhouette Cameo can use .svg files, but before that I had a Robocraft machine that used .dxf files.

We hope to expand the availability of file formats as time goes by, we have started to introduce .jpeg files and if you require a particular type of file format we'd be interested to hear about it.

So which is better, dies or cut files?

 The short answer is that it depends on what you are making. It's like trying to compare apples and oranges, they are both different and you can do different things with each.

Electronic cutting machines offer great creative freedom in that you can resize files, merge files together, create mats for files, cut lines, dashed lines, and cut many multiples at once. The trade off is that it is not so easy to cut other materials. I only ever use card in mine, although vinyls and fabrics can be used, but I would not dream of putting felt into it for instance and felt is something I love to die cut. Also, and this is a big thing for me, you just don't get that lovely embossed edge that I love from my Spellbinders dies. So going forward my personal choice would be to have both! 

I hope this info helps a little, but I'd love to see if anyone has any questions about this, I am not an expert by any means, i am just learning my Cameo, but if there is something you need to know, i might be able to find an answer for you!


  1. Patty May 09, 2014

    Thank you for enlightening me. I didn’t know anything about cut files. Great explanations.

  2. Cassandra Edwards June 07, 2013

    This was an excellent article. It cleared a lot of things up for me.

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