This tip on cutting without the mat is one MANY folks miss when they first use a Cameo. When you cut without the mat, you must move the right white roller on the roller bar. This tip does not pertain to the Portrait or older machines. The rollers are always in a fixed on those models. This is just for Cameos. (If you haven’t checked out tips 1-5, go here to start with #1.) HINT: You do NOT need to move the right white roller if you are cutting with a Cameo mat, no matter how big your material is. You only need to do it when cutting without the mat or using a smaller mat.
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Tip #6: Move the right white roller in
Remember how I said in tip #3 that the outside white rollers have the job of gripping the material or mat to move it in and out of the machine? On a Cameo 1 or 2, it’s the outer edge of each white roller that grips your mat or material. On a Cameo 3, it’s the inner edge. In each case, it’s the fattest part of the roller.
Since the mats and standard adhesive-backed materials aren’t the same widths, the location of the right white roller is variable. When you want to cut without the mat (or with a smaller mat), you have to move that in. Don’t forget – the mat itself is wider than 12”, so the rollers at their default location are wider than 12”. If you are cutting without the mat and your material is 9″ or 12” wide, the rollers are too far apart.
Only the right white roller moves. The left one is always at a fixed location, as are the rubber rollers on a Cameo 1 and the spring rollers on a Cameo 2. Those middle rollers can slide along the bar on a Cameo 3 and I’ll explain why in a bit.
I advise reading this whole post before you start moving the roller, as there are some hints that could keep you from making a big mistake.
To move the right white roller, you will—
- Turn the machine off.
- Unlock the roller bar with the lever at the upper right. When locked, the lever points straight up like this photo. Pull it toward you 90° to unlock it.
- Unlock the roller. How you do this depends on the model you have.
On a Cameo 1 or 2
Hold the roller bar with your left hand, with your right hand pinch the fat part of the white roller (far right edge) and twist the roller around the bar.
There’s a serrated groove on the roller bar that the teeth on the roller sink into. It’s not grooved around the entire roller bar. You twist the roller just enough to get the teeth out of the grooves but not so far that they sink in to the next set around the bar.
The first couple of times you do this it can be very tough, but it gets easier with time. The trick is to twist just a bit and not force it. If you force it, you may break the teeth off the roller and that can’t be replaced.
On a Cameo 3
The roller itself has a lock. It’s hard to see, but look closely and you can see lock and unlock symbols on the left edge of the right part (the wider part) of the roller.
In case you can’t see that tiny, the upper one is unlock and the lower is lock. The left part of the roller has a little tooth that will click into either the lock or unlock position on the right part. Grip the left part with your left hand, the right part with your right hand and twist the right part toward you to the unlock position.
The grooves on the bar of a Cameo 3 do go all the way around the bar — they aren’t serrated.
- Move the roller in to the appropriate spot (more on that in the next section). Make sure the teeth are in the groove. You should feel a click when they are. If the roller is not secured in a groove, it won’t hold your mat or material. Here’s a shot of the roller moved on a Cameo 2. Notice that serrated groove I told you about.
- On a Cameo 3 only, you will need to relock the roller. Just twist the opposite direction. Again, listen and feel for the click. If you’re having trouble getting it to lock, it’s likely it’s not in the groove.
- Relock the roller bar.
- Turn the machine back on.
So what is the “appropriate spot”?
There are 4 grooves on the silver roller bar. Arrows on the front platform of the machine point to these grooves. On a Cameo 2 or 3, the arrows are blue; on a Cameo 1 they are the same gray as the platform. I’m going to describe them right to left, since the one farthest right is the default location.
- The one furthest right is for using a Cameo mat.
- The next one in is for 12” wide material.
- The next to last one is for a Portrait or Stamp mat.
- The last one is for 9” wide material.
CAUTION: Do NOT move the roller beyond that last groove on a Cameo 1 or 2. It is possible, but BAD BAD BAD to pull the rubber rollers out of the groove on a Cameo 1 or the spring rollers on a Cameo 2 and move the right roller into that groove.
Some folks will try to cut without the mat with a material that isn’t wide enough and so move the roller into this groove. Here’s the problem: this groove isn’t serrated. It goes all the way around the bar. If the teeth of your right white roller get into that groove, it is EXTREMELY difficult to get them out. Trust me – don’t do it! The groove is deeper on the Cameo 1, so it’s more of an issue with that model.
What about those middle-bar rollers on a Cameo 3?
I mentioned above that the middle spring+plastic rollers on a Cameo 3 move freely. There are a couple of reasons for this.
- So that they can be positioned at equal distances from the outer rollers or across your material. This way they are more effective at holding down your material on the mat or its backing once the pieces are cut.
- For delicate materials that you don’t want to have indented by those middle-bar rollers. For example, there are folks who cut metal or polymer clay with their Cameos (although the Curios are actually better for this). The rollers could leave an indention on the clay. With older Cameos, users would just try to avoid the area where the rollers are. On the Cameo 3, this is easier to do because those rollers can be moved.
Unlike the earlier Cameo models, these rollers aren’t in a groove. That means you don’t have the issue of your right white roller getting stuck in a wrong groove.
Cutting letter-sized media
Now, as promised in tip #4, I’ll tell you about cutting letter-sized media. That last groove (#4) is for 9” wide material. But if you look, you’ll see that when the roller is in this groove the distance between the rollers is less than 9”. It’s more like 8 1/4″. I have no idea why the machines are manufactured that way, since Silhouette American does not recommend cutting materials less than 9” wide without the mat.
Here’s the thing. Because of that spacing, I can usually get away with cutting letter-sized, adhesive-backed material without the mat. That’s a big advantage, because many of those types of materials sold by Silhouette America are indeed 8 1/2″ x 11″.
When using materials like sticker paper, I’m often doing a Print and Cut. Since a Print and Cut requires you to leave margins on both sides, not being able to cut to the very edge of the paper isn’t a problem. (Remember, you have to leave margins at the sides for the rollers to have something to grip). Officially, Print and Cut is best done with a mat. But unofficially, it works for me as long as I remember to set up my file with “None” on cutting mat before I print so that the registration marks are in the correct spot. It can’t hurt to try.
What about materials wider than 12”?
HTV often comes in rolls of 15” width. Some folks don’t like to cut that down so put the full width in the machine. I have tried it a few times and had trouble with the material bunching up at the sides. That’s because I did it on a Cameo 1, and the platform on that model is only a smidge wider than 15″. If you don’t load just absolutely perfectly, you’ll eventually get the bunching at the side and your material is ruined. On a Cameo 3, the platform is closer to 16 1/2″ wide, so it’s easier to do.
The machine won’t cut any farther to the right than the cut border and I’m eventually going to have to cut those extra 3” off. I just go ahead and cut it to 12” wide (or slightly more than 12”, just to leave a little wiggle room) before I load. I find this easiest in the long run.
A little trick
There is a trick to get a little extra bit of width — about 3/8″. When you choose “None” on cutting mat, your max width is 11.614″ (just under 11 5/8″). When you choose a mat, you have a max 12″ cutting width. SO — you can technically tell the software your material is 15″ wide, choose Cameo mat in the page set up (or even the 12″ x 24″ Cameo mat), leave your right white roller at the farthest groove to the right (#1) and load your 15″ wide material. This assumes, as per our previous post info, that your page height is greater than your page width.
Because the software thinks you are cutting on a mat, you’ll be able to cut all the way to what would be the cut border of a piece of material on the mat — the 12″ mark. The reason you can’t when you choose “None” on cutting mat is that the software is assuming you have a 12″ wide material. That means it sets the right side cut border in far enough to leave a margin for the roller. Your wider material has enough room for the roller to grip past the 12″.
If you don’t trim the width down at all you’ll still be losing material on both the left and right. That’s because you won’t be able to load the full width with the left edge of the material at the correct guideline on the platform of the machine. You’ll have to scoot it farther left. But you could technically cut a 12″ wide design instead of having a limit of 11.614″.
Only do this in an extreme case where you don’t want to trim my 15″ width down, or need a full 12″ width and a length longer than the mat.
The absolute max width would be 12″. Even if you load a material wider than that and you set your page size wider, the motor box on the machine will not go past that 12″ spot.
Don’t worry if this bit is over your head. You most likely won’t need it.
What about materials between 9″ and 12”?
A major craft store chain is now carrying rolls of Siser brand HTV. It’s not the best price, but when it’s on sale or you can use a coupon or need some right away, it’s great! HOWEVER – it’s actually not a full 12” wide. It’s closer to 11 ¾”. You will want to be REALLY careful when cutting this without the mat, since you won’t have much wiggle room on the margins. Notice in this photo how the left edge is fully under the white roller, but the right edge isn’t. It’s barely on. (Yes, this is loaded upside down — you cut HTV with the shiny side down. But I wanted you to be able to see well and the other side is white instead of red).
That right side is not going to be gripped well enough and the material will soon start sliding around.
When I load this particular material, I will usually put the left edge of the material just slightly to the right of the blue loading guideline. I’m trying to make sure that there’s an equal amount of the outer end of each white roller – that critical part – on both the left and right. If I cheat a little on the left roller, the right roller has a better chance of staying on the material. Notice in this photo how about half of the fat part of each is on the material.
I’ll give you some hints on using this particular material in a later post in this series so you have the greatest chance for success. If I’m using this and my design isn’t long, I’ll use my 12” x 24” mat just to be safe.
Let’s say you have a piece of vinyl that’s 11” wide. Can you move your right white roller in to the 3rd groove (the one for the smaller mats), set the page size at 11” and cut wider than if you put it in the groove furthest in? Officially, no. But unofficially, I’ve done it. The cut border for the right side will be the at the very edge of the page when the width is under 12″, so theoretically you can — as long as the right white roller is on the material. I do leave a little margin just to be safe.
Don’t worry if you didn’t understand everything in this post. Here are the big ideas:
- When you cut without the mat, you need to move the right white roller.
- The left roller doesn’t move.
- The fat part of the roller is what grips the material.
- Only move the rollers to the proper grooves.
- Make sure the roller is clicked into the groove.
- Don’t forget to lock the roller bar again after you’ve moved the roller.
In the next post in this series, I’ll give you a hint that will save your sanity when you think you might be going cuckoo. Don’t miss it!