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Which Cricut to Buy – Best Cricut Machine for Every Project

A Detailed Guide for Beginners – Best Cricut Machine

So, you want to up your crafting game, but you don’t know which Cricut to buy? If you’re a beginner and have never used a Cricut, you may feel a little overwhelmed by all of your options. We’re here to help!

We’re going to take a closer look at the different types of Cricut machines, their pros and cons, what they can do, and which one is best Cricut machine for beginners.

What are the Different Types of Cricut Machines?

Over the years, Cricut has created quite a few different models. Many of those models are now discontinued. Today, there are three main series of machines: Joy, Explore and Maker.

Here’s what you need to know about each machine.

Cricut Joy

Cricut joy buy online

The Cricut Joy is a portable model, but don’t let its small size fool you. This machine can handle all kinds of projects. It can cut and write, so you can customize just about anything you want, like:

  • Cards
  • Decals
  • Labels

The Joy has Bluetooth built-in, so it can connect to your phone and the Cricut smartphone app. In other words, you can take the Joy with you wherever you go and craft using just your phone.

If you’re someone who’s always on the go and loves to craft from anywhere, then the Joy is perfect for you. This machine is just 8” x 5” and weighs just four pounds.

But keep in mind that this model does have some limitations. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Tools: Two – Cutting and writing
  • Materials: 20+
  • Tool Holder: Single
  • Maximum Cut Size: 4.5” x 12”


  • Compatible with the Card Mat to make folded cards
  • Can cut and write
  • Portable
  • Bluetooth connectivity


  • Can’t be used for “print then cut” projects
  • Small maximum cutting width of 4.5”
  • Can’t use the adaptive tool system

The Joy works wonderfully for smaller projects. Small and “mighty,” the Joy works great for little projects that are finished quickly. You’ll also love that this Cricut has a compact size, making it the right option if you don’t have a dedicated space for your crafts.

If you want to cut through fabrics, this isn’t the best machine for you.

Cricut Maker 3

Cricut Maker® 3 buy online

The Cricut Maker 3 is the most robust machine from Cricut. It can work with hundreds of materials and use more than a dozen tools. If you want a machine that can do it all, then the Maker is the right series for you.

The Maker has Bluetooth built-in and even has a docking port, so you can use it to charge your phone. It can handle cuts up to 12 feet in a single go and can tackle a number of projects.

With the Maker, you can cut, write, foil, score, deboss, engrave and more. It’s the most versatile machine, and you can make so many fun projects with it.

Here’s what you need to know about this machine’s capabilities:

  • Tools: 12+
  • Materials: 300+, including fabric, wood and leather
  • Tool Holder: Double
  • Maximum Cut Size: 11.7” x 12’


  • Has the Adaptive Tool System
  • Works with 13” wide rolls of Smart materials
  • Can work with hundreds of materials
  • Can handle just about any Cricut project you can imagine
  • 10x the cutting force compared to Explore


  • Not a portable machine

Cricut Maker 3 is a powerhouse with large maximum cuts and the ability to cut through 300+ materials with ease. You can even cut through leather and wood, allowing for a wide range of project possibilities.

If you want the ability to work on virtually any Cricut project that you find online and don’t mind spending a bit more on your hobby, the Maker 3 is the right choice for you.

Cricut Explore 3

Cricut Explore® 3 buy online

The Cricut Explore 3 is a middle-of-the-road machine. It can handle more than a hundred materials and works with quite a few different tools. It’s more powerful than the Joy but not quite as versatile as the Maker.

The Explore is speedy, has Bluetooth connectivity, and even has a built-in docking slot for smartphones. This machine is a bit bigger than the Joy at 22” x 7,” so it’s not travel-friendly. But it’s a great option if you want to take on bigger projects and want to use different tools.

The Explore 3 is two times faster than the Explore Air 2 and it works with Smart Materials, so it can cut up to 12’ without a mat.

You can use the Explore 3 for most projects, including custom t-shirts and stickers.

Here’s what you need to know about this machine’s capabilities:

  • Tools: 6, including cutting, writing, foiling and scoring
  • Materials: 100+, including fabric, wood and leather
  • Tool Holder: Double
  • Maximum Cut Size: 11.7” x 12’


  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Compatible with Print then Cut projects
  • Works with more than a hundred materials


  • Does not work with the Adaptive Tool System, so you can’t use the knife blade, rotary blade or scoring wheels
  • Not travel-friendly

Although it’s not compatible with as many tools as the Maker 3, the Explore 3 is still a great option for a beginner. It’s Cricut’s best-selling model for a reason – it’s a mid-level machine that can tackle most projects without batting an eye.

If you prefer to do crafts that are paper or vinyl, then the Explore is a great option for you.

How Much Do Cricut Machines Cost?

Cricut machines can be found for between $150 – $400, depending on the model and place that you purchase from. The three models on my list above have options in between this price range, too.

Cricut Joy™

The Joy is the most affordable option on our list, with a price of $179.99 – buy it here.

Cricut Explore ® 3

Explore 3 is a great, mid-priced model with a cost of $279.99 – buy it here.

Cricut Maker® 3

Maker 3 is the most robust model, with a cost of $399.99 – buy it here.

Similarities Between Cricut Machines

Cricut machines have a lot of project possibilities, but some are more robust than others. When deciding which Cricut to buy, consider the following:

Project Options – Best Cricut Machine for Every Project

  Cricut Joy™ Cricut Explore ® 3 Cricut Maker® 3
Vinyl decals X X X
Written labels X X X
Cards X X X
Gift tags X X X
Custom mugs X X X
Full-color stickers   X X
Apparel   X X
Banner   X X
Gift boxes   X X
Signs   X X
Jewelry   X X
Wood decor     X
Quilts     X
Engraved metal tags     X


  Cricut Joy™ Cricut Explore ® 3 Cricut Maker® 3
Cut X X X
Write X X X
Draw X X X
Foil X X X
Score   X X
Engrave     X
Deboss     X
Perforate     X

Even when the Cricut that you choose has the same capabilities as a competing model, you’ll want to research the unit’s:

  • Maximum cutting speed per second
  • Smart Material compatibility
  • Tool clamps
  • Size and weight
  • Maximum cut size

Many of the inexpensive models are a good starting point for a first-time user, but they lack the maximum cut size to work with larger projects. If you have current or future plans to make designs with a length of 12 feet, the Cricut Maker®3 is the best option.

When making your purchase, it’s crucial to consider the cut sizes and if the model will meet your needs.

Beginners will want to consider a Cricut that has a good mid-level size.

What Other Tools Do You Need?

Cricut machines come with most of the supplies you will need to get started, but there are some things you’ll want to buy just so you can keep crafting after your machine arrives.

I would recommend investing in some:

And if you want to expand your project capabilities, you may want to think about getting a heat press. Cricut’s heat press machines make it so much easier to apply heat transfer vinyl to t-shirts, mugs, bags and more.

Cricut even has its own mug press. If you want to start making mugs to sell, then I would consider getting the mug press after you get used to using your new Cricut machine. It works with infusible ink, so you can create dishwasher-safe mugs with ease. 

Which Cricut is Best for Beginners?

If I had to make a choice of which Cricut to buy for a beginner, I would go with the Cricut Explore 3. This model is a workhorse that can cut 100+ materials, so new craftspeople have the option to truly explore what their machine can do.

Beginners don’t want to be held back from their creativity, and that’s why the Explore 3 is the perfect choice.

Plus, the model is two times faster than competing models.

You can also use Smart Materials up to 12 feet, and Windows, Mac, Android and iOS operating systems are compatible. For a beginner who is just exploring what Cricut machines can do, the Explore 3 is perfect because you can quickly make:

  • Tumblers
  • Cards
  • Home décor
  • Wall decals
  • Apparel

You also have access to Cricut Learn, which has fantastic beginner guides, much like the other models on the list.


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