You know that CPR can literally save a life. Penicillin and other antibiotics revolutionized medicine and saved countless thousands of lives in the past century. In today’s appointment with the Cut Doctor, you are going to learn about Line Segment Overcut. To me, this is the CPR or penicillin of the Silhouette world. This is especially true if you cut vinyl often, but it applies to cutting any material. To start with Lesson #1 in this series, go here.
Note: This post may contain affiliate links. That means if you click the link and purchase something, I may receive a small commission. This helps me to be able to keep my business going and provide more tutorials. All opinions expressed are my own and are not tied to any compensation.
What is line segment overcut?
Do you remember back to grade school when you first learned to use scissors? When you were cutting out something and you got to a corner, you kept your scissors in the paper and tried to go around that corner. As you got older, you learned you could cut past the corner, keep the scissors open, rotate the page and then go in the new direction. That not only made it easier, it gave you crisper corners and more control.
That’s exactly what Line Segment Overcut is. When you turn this on, the machine will do the same thing at the corners that you do when you cut by hand —
- Go a tiny bit past the corner
- Pick up the blade
- Drop it back into the material a tiny bit before the corner
- Continue the cut
How does Line Segment Overcut help?
Great question! There are OH SO MANY ways.
I’ll bet every single one of you has experienced this issue at some time: your material gets pulled at internal corners or around sharp turns. By that I mean something like the inside of a square or the bottom of a “V.” This is the #1 thing Line Segment Overcut can help with. Because the blade isn’t staying in the material as it changes to the new direction, it doesn’t pull the material with it. The sharper the angle, the more it helps.
Materials like vinyl and heat transfer vinyl (HTV) are thin and flexible, so that pulling is always a potential issue. It’s also likely on papers with lower density. The fibers on those papers are not packed together tightly, so it’s easier to get the pulling at the corners. Using Line Segment Overcut virtually eliminates that, as along as you have the proper blade and force settings as well.
I cannot emphasize how important this is!!! Like I said — CPR or penicillin.
On thick materials
When you’re cutting a really thick material, Line Segment Overcut helps ensure that the corner is cut all the way down through the material. Think about it logically. A Silhouette blade has a 45° angle. As it’s cutting through the material, the top gets to the corner before the tip.
That means there’s a chance that the bottom of the material won’t get cut all the way through. This isn’t normally a problem on thinner materials, but it is on thick ones. If you turn on Line Segment Overcut, you go enough past the corner to ensure that it’s cut fully.
When you use Line Segment Overcut, the machine is picking up the blade more often. The overall cut takes a bit more time. That means it’s easier to pause a cut on your machine if you need to adjust a setting, because the machine stops more quickly. Less of the material has been cut by the time you pause, meaning less is ruined if one of your settings is off.
How do I use Line Segment Overcut?
Turning it on
So, how do you use this amazing setting? Look at the portion of the Send area where your recommended settings are for a material – the place where you alter blade number, speed, force and passes (If you don’t know what each of those is, go back to the beginning of this series). At the end of the row you’ll see a triangle and a square.
That’s for Line Segment Overcut. The triangle shows you what it does — overcuts those corners. Click the box to toggle it on and off.
Starting and ending extensions
Now look just past that square and you’ll see 3 dots.
As we’ve discussed before, that opens your Advanced Material Panel. At the bottom left of the settings, you’ll see the same Line Segment Overcut with the square to toggle it on and off. Below that you’ll see sliders and measurements labeled Start Ext. and End Ext. That’s for the starting and ending extensions. In other words, this is where you tell the software how far past the corner to go.
The default is 0.1 mm. That’s 1/10 of a millimeter – an amount you will (almost) never notice, but it’s enough to give you that crisp cut at the corner without pulling. So, if you turn on Line Segment Overcut and do nothing, it will go 1/10 mm past the corner, pick up the blade, drop it back down 1/10 mm before the corner and continue in the new direction.
Usually 0.1 is just fine, but you can raise that starting and ending extension if you need to. The only time I would recommend that is for thicker materials. I rarely need to go past 0.2.
What else should I know about Line Segment Overcut?
–Line Segment Overcut will not affect curves. In other words, if all you’re cutting is a set of rounded rectangles, this won’t help in any way because there wouldn’t be any spot where the blade could pick up. Sometimes there’s a corner where you don’t necessarily expect one, so I still recommend turning it on just in case.
–Line Segment Overcut is NOT the same as Software Overcut, which is a Preference setting (in the Advanced tab). It’s the same concept, but a different application. Software Overcut continues a cut a bit past the starting point to ensure that you don’t have a little tab bit uncut.
So say you’re cutting a circle. The machine starts by dropping the blade into the material and then cuts around the circle. When it gets back to where it started, it goes just a tad bit beyond (so re-cutting just the beginning bit) to account for that 45° angle blade. The default setting in the Preferences is to have this on and you should leave it there.
Seeing is believing
I teach classes at the All Things Silhouette Conferences and always talk about Line Segment Overcut in my class on cut settings. I see folks nodding and taking notes. But as soon as I start showing them pictures of the difference between having it off and on, there are always huge gasps around the room. The visual examples are startling.
Here’s a flower I was cutting from cardstock. Here’s with Line Segment Overcut off:
And here I turned it on:
I used the same piece of material on the same day with the same machine, mat and blade. I used all the same settings except for Line Segment Overcut. That is the ONLY difference.
Remember these stars I showed you before?
Besides altering the force setting, I had the user turn on Line Segment Overcut. Using those 2 settings correctly in conjunction solve a great deal of cutting issues on paper. Let’s look again at the “after.”
On these photos, you can see that the vinyl was getting pulled up during the cut. Since the pieces were so small, they were getting caught in the blade and sticking all over the material. By turning on Line Segment Overcut and slowing the speed, the user was able to eliminate that and cut a beautiful piece.
Here’s another before and after of a cut on vinyl. Notice on the cuts in this picture there’s pulling at some corners and lifting from the backing paper. Those are both the result of the blade pulling the vinyl as it goes in the new direction.
Now here’s that same piece of vinyl with all the same variables as before. This time I turned on Line Segment Overcut.
Look at how tiny and thin the parts of these designs are, and how they are very sharp turns. (In the photo of the word “glasses,” that’s a straight pin I’m showing for size reference). I was able to cut these with regular vinyl (not even a fancy brand) and the regular Silhouette ratchet blade.
Here I’ve cut some numbers from vinyl at a very tiny size. (You can see them still on the piece of vinyl farther down).
The green is a good brand, the gray is one many folks don’t like. One reason is that its adhesive isn’t great, so it means that it easily lifts off the backing. If the blade is also pulling at it as it cuts, that compounds the issue, particularly at corners. But I’m able to reduce much of that by using Line Segment Overcut.
Is there any time I should NOT use Line Segment Overcut?
I recommend turning on Line Segment Overcut for almost every single cut. It just makes so much sense and can eliminate so many problems. There are just a couple of times you won’t want to use it.
Sometimes when your letters (or designs) are SUPER small and thin, the 0.1mm will actually cut off a portion of the design. Here’s a letter “t” in something crazy small like a 10pt font. See how at the inner corners it’s actually cutting so far in that it goes through letter to the other side?
It’s not very often that you will cut words that small. But if you see something like this happening, you can turn on Line Segment Overcut but turn the starting and ending extensions down to 0.0. That way your machine picks up the blade to eliminate the pulling, but the blade doesn’t slice through the letter.
Another time you definitely don’t want to use Line Segment Overcut is when you are sketching. I’ve already shown you how the machine handles a blade differently than a pen in this post. Turning on Line Segment Overcut when you’re using a pen will also cause those extra little marks at the corners.
You don’t need to worry too much about this because if you choose Sketch as the action, the software doesn’t give you the option for Line Segment Overcut. But if you happen to forget to choose that action, or are on a lower version of the software, you need to remember this one.
All circles or curves
If you are cutting only circles or rounded rectangles or other types of curves with NO corners, you don’t need to turn on Line Segment Overcut. It doesn’t hurt anything if you do – it’s just a step you can skip. And because the blade isn’t lifting and lowering as much, the cut time is less.
Did you learn something new at the Cut Doctor’s office today? I hope so, because Line Segment Overcut can solve quite a few cut health issues. At our next visit, we’re going to talk about a setting you may never have heard of — Track Enhancing.