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Comparing ScanNCut2 and Cricut Explore

SNC vs Cricut title

First off, prepare yourself, this is a long post!

Second, a bit of background on me: I’ve worked with both Provo Craft® (manufacturer of Cricut) and Brother (manufacturer of ScanNCut) as a designer and consultant, so yes – I’ve gotten machines and accessories from them and have been compensated by them both. This review, however, is based purely on my honest experience with using their current models and contains only my opinion and not either of the manufacturers. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer.

As a blogger, I get a lot of email and social media questions from you wonderful readers, and one of the topics that constantly comes up is which personal craft cutting machine to buy. I get it – it’s a big investment in not only the machine itself, but also in all of the accessories and materials you’ll be using with it. The advice is sometimes difficult to give. This is because people have such different workflows in their crafting process, in their comfort level with technology, and in the price point they want to stick with. In this review, I will try to point out the advantages and disadvantages regarding each of those points. Ultimately, however, you will know which machine will work best for you and your situation.

Now, I gave away my old Cricut Expression years ago, and so for this review (since I wanted it to be fair), I borrowed a friend of mine’s new Cricut Explore (with Bluetooth Adapter) so I could see the new changes to the Cricut machine.

Let’s start with the basics...


Cricut Explore - 24" x 9.5" x 9.5" inches and weighs 14.2 pounds

ScanNCut2 - 10.1" x 22.8" x 10.6" inches and weighs 9.9 pounds

Since I have been using my ScanNCut2 so much lately, I was actually shocked at how noticeably heavier the Cricut was when I lifted it out of the box. If you like to just craft at home and not take your machine with you, then this might not be an issue for you. But if you’re on the go or you have physical limitations, this is good information for you to know. The ScanNCut2 is also a little bit smaller as far as the footprint is concerned, but from viewing them on the same table – they look pretty similar in size. The Cricut does need more space overhead though since it has two doors that open (one up towards the ceiling that takes up 10" in height and another that opens to the front).


Comparison side by side


Set Up:

When setting up both of the machines, I didn’t use any instructions (because let’s be real, who really reads those?).

Cricut Explore - After I opened the box and took the machine and the cords out of the bag it comes in, I plugged everything in and then didn’t know what to do next until I opened the lid and saw the three steps sticker under the lid – 1: “Plug in”; 2: “Connect it to my computer with the included USB cord”; and then 3: “Go to the Cricut website to complete the set-up and walk through doing a project on the computer.” There is no display on the machine. Instead, it uses your computer screen or iPad® (once it’s linked via Bluetooth adapter, which is sold separately). I did like being walked through the first project, but since I like to create my own designs to cut out, I probably wouldn’t use their pre-made ones often (if at all). It also showed me how I needed to insert the pen correctly and how to use the “Smart Set Dial” to adjust the blade and pressure – it does it automatically for you if you select the correct material setting on the dial. While I’ve only used cardstock so far in the machine, I was impressed that it was able to cut varying thicknesses of this material using the same setting – and without cutting through the mat (although thicker cardstocks sometimes had a bit of fraying around the die cut).

Since I had created the card they had me do, I could now sync the machine to my computer or iPad®’s Bluetooth (via the Bluetooth adapter my friend had purchased separately). I’m not sure how I feel about being tied to a device in order to create or manipulate my designs. While I love, love, love my computer and iPad®, it sometimes ruins the groove I have going when I have to use it for my craft project. And once I lose momentum, the likelihood that I’ll actually finish my project grows smaller and smaller.

  2015-11-30 07.20.37


ScanNCut2 - Once you unpack this machine (sorry, no bag included with this one, but you can purchase it separately) and turn it on, it tells you on the 4.85" LCD touch screen display (which, by the way, is 30% larger than the original ScanNCut) that it is going to adjust the machine and then gives you two options: “Pattern” or “Scan”. From “Pattern,” you can use one of the built-in designs (one that you have on your computer/USB drive/or a design you’ve loaded wirelessly onto the machine). Or, you can choose “Scan” and scan a design in. With either choice, you are led through other options to get you to cut out your design. For me, it’s been foolproof. (My nine-year old niece figured it out right away.)

2015-11-30 07.59.18


Internet Connectivity:

Cricut Explore - One big drawback of this machine is that you must be connected to the internet and computer/tablet to use the software. Any cartridges you bought for previous models of Cricut must be linked online to the machine. You can connect the Cricut to your computer with the included USB cable or purchase the Bluetooth adapter and connect it to your computer (if it has Bluetooth) or your iPad®. You also must be connected to the internet to buy designs from the Cricut Image Library.

Cricut - Blootooth Adapter


ScanNCut2 - No computer is needed! You can use it with the built-in designs, a USB stick drive with designs on it, or scan designs in from the on-board 300 DPI scanner. If you want to connect directly to your computer, you can use either a USB cable (not included) or the built-in wireless connection. Being able to send my designs wirelessly to my machine from my computer and iPad® has been my favorite upgrade that Brother has made to the ScanNCut!

SNC Wireless Option



Cricut Explore -  Uses Cricut Design Space™ online cloud based software, so it’s compatible with PC and Mac. There is also a free app for newer Apple devices.

Cricut Design

I found it pretty simple to use the software with my PC and their pre-designed images, although I was frustrated by not being able to cut out multiple designs (with multiple materials) on the same mat. I was used to doing this on my old Cricut Explore and ScanNCut, and it kinda makes me nutty having to load and unload my mat multiple times. If you die-hard Cricut users have any tips on how I can get around this, please let me know.

I could upload my own images to cut, but they needed to be digital and on my computer. This required me to stop crafting and go into my office, scan in my art on my 3-in-1 printer/scanner/copier, and then import that file into the software. The app has no capability (at this time) to upload files, but there is an interesting camera button that will allow you to audition the pre-made designs onto your project (although I found it hard to get the scale correct). From your computer, you can upload JPG, GIF, PNG, BMP, SVG, and DXF files to cut.


ScanNCut2 -  Uses ScanNCutCanvas™ online cloud-based software, and is compatible with PC, Mac, and most tablets that use the same link (not an app).  


If you’ve purchased the Rhinestone Kit, Sticker Kit, or Stamp Kit, you can use those premium features on both the computer and tablet. You can also send designs wirelessly with the ScanNCut “Transfer” option on both the computer and tablet as well.

I was able to import files (JPG, GIF, PNG, or BMP) from my tablet into the software to trace and convert to a FCM file (the file type that ScanNCut uses). From your computer, you can also import SVG, DXF, PES, PHC, and FCM files as well.



Cricut ExploreAs I already mentioned, the Cricut Explore One comes with a storage bag. It’s nice for holding the cords but it’s not able to fit much more than that. And because it’s not padded, I’d be leery of actually using it for a carrying case if I was traveling with it.

Cricut - Storage Bag


The machine also come with some nifty hidden storage.

Cricut - Storage


ScanNCut2 -  You can purchase a rolling tote separately, but the machine doesn’t come with a storage bag. What it does have, however, is a handy spatula and pen holder behind the LCD display screen.

SNC - storage


Designs & Fonts:

Cricut Explore - The Cricut Image Library contains images for personal use only from Disney®, Pixar®, Anna Griffin® (and more), along with projects you can purchase. You can purchase individual designs or buy a subscription. If you’re not the designing type and want to quickly purchase a design (especially a licensed design), then you may be happy using it. You can also use your previously purchased cartridges with this machine by going into your Cricut account and linking the cartridges in order to be able to use those designs from your computer or Apple device. There are over 300 Cricut fonts available for use and you can also use the ones already installed on your computer. Also, you have the capability to import SVG and other popular cut file types and cut them out.

ScanNCut2 - The CM650 model comes with over 1,100 built-in designs and 15 built-in fonts. While the ScanNCut is a stand-alone machine (i.e., you don’t have to be connected to the internet), you can also download free projects from ScanNCutCanvas and the Brother ScanNCut website. And (of course), you can convert or scan in any design or font you want as well (obeying copyright law, of course). You are also able to import SVG and other popular cut file types and cut them out.


Cutting Your Own Design:

Being an artist and having a digital craft cutting machines, one of the functions I use the most is hand drawing and then cutting out my designs. I knew I had to try it out on both of these machines to see how the final cut out designs looked, as well as how easy it was to accomplish. Here’s a video of me at work:



Cricut Explore - First off, I had to calibrate my printer and Cricut (not my favorite job since my eyesight isn’t what it used to be). The rest of the process was pretty simple:

  • I had to scan in my hand-drawn flower in order to have a JPG file to upload into Cricut Design Space.

  • Once it was uploaded, I had to choose how I wanted the image converted: “Simple,” “Moderately Complex,” or “Complex.” I went with “Simple.”

  • Next, I cropped down the image to only the flower.

  • Then, I saved it as a “Print Then Cut” image.

  • Next, I selected that image and inserted it onto the mat.

  • I had to resize it now, since it imported it really small.

  • Then I clicked on the “Go” button in Cricut Design Space, which opened up the print options. I then clicked on “Go” to have it print out on my printer.

  • Once the image printed, I placed it onto my mat, loaded it into the machine, and hit the “Go” button so that it could be cut out. The machine first reads the registration marks that are on your printout, and then it cuts out your design.

Cricut - Print Then Cut


ScanNCut2 -  Since the ScanNCut has a built-in scanner, the steps were extra-simple:

  • I placed my hand-drawn flower onto my mat and clicked the “Scan” button.

  • I then pushed the “Direct Cut” button and “Start” for my design to get scanned in.

  • Once it was scanned, I cropped it, told it "ok" and then I pushed “Cut,” adjusted my blade depth for my cardstock, and hit the “Cut” and “Start” buttons.

ScanNCut Direct Cut



Cricut Explore - Scanning is not an option, but the machine does have an “eye” that will allow you to use their software to Print Then Cut out a design that is no larger than 5.5" x 8.5" and which must be done on white materials only.


ScanNCut2 - When you push the “Scan” button, you have three options. You can “Direct Cut,” which is the simple option for when you want to just scan and then cut out what’s on your mat without doing anything fancy to it. You can also “Scan-to-Cut Data,” which will allow you to save your design so that you can manipulate it and do fancy things to it. Or, you can scan it and save it to your USB stick drive or computer. (That last option is great if you are scanning home photos to save or share online, or for artwork that you want to play with on your computer before cutting.)


SNC Scanning Optioins

In “Scan-to-Cut Data” mode, the default limitation for the smallest image you can scan is 5mm. You have the option to adjust the image down to 1mm, and also scan it up to 12" x 24" from the on-board 300 dpi scanner with RGB color recognition. The new and improved scanner on the ScanNCut2 “sees” colors better than ever. As a result, I have found that scanning lower contrast designs is even easier than it was on my original ScanNCut.

Also, one of my absolute favorite features is the capability to add my design and then scan in whatever is on my mat. I can then move my design that’s on top of it on the LCD display screen for getting the perfect placement. This gives me the choice to either use up paper scraps or get the perfect part of my mixed media art cut out.


SNC - scanning scraps



Cricut Explore - You’re able to purchase a variety of pen sets, including a metallic set. (A pack of 5 pens costs about $13.) Since Cricut has changed the blade/pen holder so that they are now separate, you can draw and then cut, although your pen will be uncapped and might dry out during the cutting phase.


Cricut Pen Holder


ScanNCut2 - The CM650 model comes with 8 pens (2 of which are for fabric and are water or air soluble). If you have a different model of ScanNCut, you can purchase those pens, but I'd recommend just getting the ScanNCut Universal Pen Holder, which will hold most pens and writing implements (and is a bargain at about $20).
SNC Universal Pen Holder



Comparison -Blades

We all know that cutting machines create sound when they are operating. (In fact, when I first used another brand of cutting machine, my husband came running in to see if I was O.K. The machine sounded like a dying moose!) Well, thankfully these cutting machines are much quieter than that, with the Cricut Explore being the quieter of the two.



Cricut Explore- You use the “Smart Set Dial” to select the proper settings for the German carbide blade and the material you plan on cutting. Then, use the web-based software to “tell” the machine to cut out your design, and, when it's ready, push the “Go” button. The Cricut Explore One’s cutting range is from .25" to 23.5" and it can cut material up to 1mm thick with the standard blade. Less dense material (such as fun foam) can be cut if it is less than 2mm thick.


Cricut - Smart Dial


ScanNCut2 - You manually adjust the German carbide blade depth by screwing the blade cover on or off to the proper height. The advantage of this is that you can quickly fine-tune your test cuts to get clean (not jagged) cuts. You can adjust your pressure settings by pressing the “Wrench” icon on the LCD display screen. Then, when you’re ready to cut, just tap “Cut” on the LCD display screen and then press the “Start/Stop” button. The cutting range of ScanNCut2 is from 11.75" to 23.75". (I've been able to cut materials up to 2mm thick with the standard cutting blade.)

SNC Wrench Settings


Wrap up:

The new Cricut Explore (and the rest of the Cricut Explore family of machines) has come a long, long, long way from the old Cricut Expression! I really hated dealing with the cartridges. I could never find the design I wanted and I hated the fact that I couldn’t use my own designs without using third-party software (which Provo Craft® strongly frowns upon). If you are a longtime Cricut owner and have collected tons of cartridges (or are a big time Disney or other licensed character fan), then you clearly want to go with the Cricut Explore One, since that model will be most compatible with what you already own. Also, if you prefer to not create your own design and would rather purchase designs from the Cricut® Image Library, then you may prefer a Cricut.


For me, personally (being a artsy and techie girl who likes to mainly create my own designs or scan in fabric and scrapbook paper), I prefer to use the ScanNCut2 (even though I have a gazillion Cricut cartridges linked to my Cricut account). My favorite feature is being able to import files from my iPad® to my ScanNCut, and then send them to my machine – wirelessly! And as I've already mentioned, I love that I can scan in my scraps for perfect design placement, as well as being able to scan in my art, stamps, scrapbook paper (and more) and quickly cut them out – without having to break my crafty rhythm.

So, that’s my take on the two cutting machines! What do you like about them? Would you recommend one machine over the other, and if so – why?


Disclosure: Erin is a paid consultant and has received  products from them to evaluate. However, the opinions expressed are entirely her own and based on her use of the products.

This post contains affiliate links. If you buy from these links it won't cost you a penny more but Erin will make a little bit of money (not enough for a pony). 


Truth Scrap

Truth Scrap Event 2015

I've got exciting news to share! If you've been lacking in the creative mojo, or been facing down self-doubt, or wanting to know how to share your faith through your art... or you just want to spend some time with a bunch of super-cool crafty people, then look no further! My friend Lain Ehmann of True Scrap has pulled together SIX fun and talented instructors to offer a full day of faith-based crafting inspiration, including as Stephanie Ackerman, Florence Antonette, Andrea Foster Chebeleu, Heather GreenwoodLiz Hicks, ... and ME, Erin Bassett! We'll be revealing our best crafting tips, tricks, techniques, and secrets in the latest True Scrap event – Truth Scrap. Truth Scrap is a one-day, online, LIVE event on January 23. Yep, that's right – all six instructors will come to YOU via the magic of the Internet in a state-of-the-art web room. You'll watch class demonstrations on everything from mixed-media art to Bible journaling, chat with instructors and other students, and have the time of your crafty life – all without leaving home (or even changing out of your PJs!).

Register here: http://www.truescrap.com/ts16erin

If you're tired of just staring at your crafting supplies or creating the “same old” projects, then check out Truth Scrap. You'll be inspired to create!


How To Make A Personalized iPad Sleeve Cover

EB Title - iPad Sleeve

The holidays are approaching...do you need a great personalized gift for your favorite tech person? How about making them (or yourself!) a new iPad sleeve to protect one of their favorite toys?




Watch the step by step video to show you how to create your very own cover for your tablet:


To create the sleeve...

1.  Flip your placemat onto the backside and place an ipad on it so that it is about a half inch down from the top edge of the placemat. This will give the top of your iPad protection from getting scuffed up.

Title - iPad Sleeve

2.  Fold up the bottom of the placemat about a half an inch away from the bottom of the iPad. This will allow you to have enough room to tuck in the edges and anchor it closed.
Title - iPad Sleeve

3.  Cut about a half an inch away from the fold line.
Title - iPad Sleeve

4. Fold in raw edges of placemat on both sides and iron.

Title - iPad Sleeve

5.  Determine where to place your ribbon so that you can sew (or glue) it into place to be a closure for the sleeve and then sew (or glue) it into place.
Title - iPad Sleeve
Title - iPad Sleeve

6.  Sew (or glue) the two sides of the placemat together to create the backside of the sleeve and use the ribbon to cover the seem. Sew (or glue) the bottom edge of the sleeve together as well.

_DSC1052 (1)
To create the monogram... 

7. Open ScanNCutCanvas and open a new project. Then click on the "image tracing" icon.

Screenshot 2015-11-02 07.07.06


8. Select the image you want to use. Change the tracing options to "color" and then click "ok".
Screenshot 2015-11-02 07.07.06
9. Once it's finished tracing it your image will be on your mat. Select the center, which will be the rhinestone part, and move it to the right side of the mat. Right-click on it and choose "Rhinestone Wizard".

Screenshot 2015-11-01 22.46.35


10. In the Rhinestone Wizard you have the options on how you want your rhinestones to be placed on the template your creating. Select your desired settings and then hit "ok".
Screenshot 2015-11-01 22.46.35


11.  The Rhinestone Wizard will do all the work for you!
Screenshot 2015-11-01 22.46.35


12. Next, you need to transfer your finished designs over to your ScanNCut2. This is one of my favorite features because it's such a time saver! With the original ScanNCut I would use a USB stick to do this same task.   I'd first title my project, click "download" and then insert the USB drive into my computer and save the .fcm file to it and then take it to the original ScanNCut and retrieve the file to use it there. 

But now I can just type in my file name and click the download button...
Screenshot 2015-11-01 22.46.35

and then it will ask me how I want to transfer the file to my ScanNCut2...I do it wirelessly.
Screenshot 2015-11-01 22.46.35


And that's it! 
Screenshot 2015-11-01 22.46.35


On my ScanNCut2 I just click on the wireless transfer button and there's my image!
Screenshot 2015-11-01 22.46.35

13. Once you've cut out your images take them off  your mat and over to your desk. The best way to easily separate the rhinestone template you just made from the backing is to quickly pull it off of the backing. Most of the holes should remain on the backing and you can poke out any remaining stragglers.
Title - iPad Sleeve
Title - iPad Sleeve

14. Next, place your template onto the backing sheet in the box lid and pour on the rhinestones. Use the included brush to swirl the rhinestones around. The will automatically flip over and get into those holes!
Title - iPad Sleeve

15.  Next use a transfer sheet to gently lift off the rhinestones so you can iron them onto your project.
Title - iPad Sleeve

16. Figure out the placement for your iron-on vinyl letter outline and the rhinestone letter and iron them both on one at a time.
Title - iPad Sleeve

Title - iPad Sleeve

And you're done!
Title - iPad Sleeve

Such an inexpensive, easy, and cute gift to make!
Title - iPad Sleeve

sponsor: Brother International 

Disclosure: I am a paid consultant for Brother International Corporation and have received a ScanNCut from Brother to evaluate. However, the opinions expressed are entirely my own and based on my use of the product. 

This post contains affiliate links. If you buy from this link it won't cost you a penny more but I make a little bit of money (not enough for a pony)


Yay, My First Rocksbox!

Jewelry quote

Have you heard about Rocksbox? It's a great way to add jewelry into your life with out the clutter, big price tag, and boredom you sometimes get from trendy pieces when the trend is dying out.

Here's a video of what was in my first box:


When Rocksbox first asked me to try out their jewelry I wasn't too sure about the whole thing...I'm really picky with jewelry...but my stylist did a great job with figuring out what would work for me based on their style survey. I love that the three pieces they sent in my first box work great together and on their own mixed with things I already own. Now the tough part is figuring if I just want to continue to borrow it or if I should splurge and buy it!

Rocksbox bracelet2b
Chime in if you have an opinion!  I'm really thinking about keeping the necklace...it's too versatile to pass up!

Rocksbox earrings necklace2

Hurry on over to Rocksbox and use code: erinbff528 to get your first month FREE!!


sponsor: Rocksbox

Disclosure: I have received jewelry from Rocksbox to evaluate. However, the opinions expressed are entirely my own and based on my use of the product. This post contains affiliate links. If you buy from this link it won't cost you a penny more but I make a little bit of money (not enough for a pony)


TruthScrap - Celebrating the Intersection of Faith and Art

Truth-scrap-button-I'm teaching

Yay, I'm really excited to share with your that I'm going to be teaching at TruthScrap in January! I really hope you will be able to join us for this event!  TruthScrap is the ONLY online, live virtual art and crafting event focused on celebrating the intersection of faith and art. With inspiration brought right to your desktop, there’s no need to change out of your PJs because you’re logging on, right from home!

If you want to learn more about the HOW and WHY of infusing your creativity with your faith, Truth Scrap is the event for you. Learn new skills while getting a new take on old favorites! And with seven energizing, talented instructors, you’re sure to be inspired.


The class I'm teaching is on Faithbooking...which is a way to scrapbook your faith. I will be sharing ideas on how you can do that and why you should! I can’t wait for you to join us! Click here for more info!

ERIN SignOff



Desktop Wallpaper

Do you use desktop wallpaper on your computer? 

I love it!  I used to be really diligent with creating a new cute one every month to spiff up what I spend so much time on...it was kind of the equivalent of buying myself flowers. Well, with moving I got out of the habit, but since Typepad (my blog host) was down yesterday I had some time that I had scheduled as computer time so I whipped up a quick one.

EPB - MAY 2014 - desktopwallpaper

What made it so quick to do? -I used a free digital scrapbooking template from Soco Scraps and Gennifer Bursett created all the digital papers and doodads that are free from Pixels & Company. I love free, so thanks Soco Scraps, Gennifer, and P&Co!

So since these digi freebies are sized for 12" x 12" scrapbook pages I just added my papers and doodads like you would normally do for digital scrapbooking and then resized them for my desktop.  Here's a video on how I did it (for all of you that will surely send me an email asking me how):




Scan N Cut: Wall Decor

BIC - Decor2

I'm not going to lie.  I LOVE how this turned out!!  {You can see the video tutorial of how I did it below, or click here.} This idea would make a great holiday gift too if you're looking for ideas!  I happened to find this dessert plate at a thrift store, but I've also seen them on eBay!



I used one of those vintage dessert pans, some scrapbook papers & transparencies, and the ScanNCut™ machine to make it, and believe it or not it's a pretty quick project to make since the machine does most of the work!

I started off by cutting out a bunch of different shapes of flowers out of all the papers, and then cut out some leaves out of the transparencies.  The Scan N Cut cut through it like butter!  

Once all my die-cuts were cut out I just layered each flower individually and stuck a brad through the center of it.  Then I just used foam adhesive to adhere it to the pan.

BIC - Decor2

Next, I cut out the corrugated paper with the Scan N Cut...once again easy cutting!  After it was cut out I scuffed & sanded it to distress it a bit.  I also hand-sewed around the edge of it.
BIC - Decor2I also cut out those letters with the Scan N Cut to spell out "home".  By cutting them twice in different papers I was able to give them a bit of a shadow.
BIC - Decor2

To see the tutorial on how I created this decor, watch this video:


disclosure: Brother International

Disclosure: I am a paid consultant for Brother International Corporation and have received a ScanNCut from Brother to evaluate. However, the opinions expressed are entirely my own and based on my use of the product.



Turn your SVG and FCM files into ScanNCut files with Canvas!


Exciting news for all you who have been wondering what to do with all the great SVG and FCM die cut files you already own...Brother has developed the cloud-based ScanNCut Canvas to go along with your ScanNCut™ !  And it's FREE! -Thank you Brother!!

I've had been playing around with the beta version of it and I really like it so I'm hoping to squeeze in some time to play with the new public version this weekend. Let me know what you want to know more about and I'll report back on it for those of you who are still on the fence about getting a ScanNCut...oh, and if you're ready to buy, you can get your ScanNCut online HERE.




Check this out!

Did you hear the BIG NEWS???

Brother_International_Scanncut_Scan_N_Cut (1)

Brother™ International is introducing the FIRST home and hobby cutting machine with a built in scanner!!! 


Here's another sneak peek of how I used it to draw letters right onto my cardstock and also cut out fonts, love that look!!

BIC - PL - hello life-PEEK
Sign up HERE to be a part of the fun and get the latest info on this awesome new product! There's some NEW updates and videos on the ScanNCut site to check out too!



Sponsor: Brother International Corporation

Disclosure: I am a paid consultant for Brother International Corporation and have received a ScanNCut from Brother to evaluate. However, the opinions expressed are entirely my own and based on my use of the product.