Want to cut vinyl!

So I’m interested in cutting vinyl and was going to buy a cricut type cutter but … I own a shapeoko3 xxl that should be able to foot the bill… RIGHT?
Drag knifes … who has them and how do they work? I have fond a few, some are just to much money in my opinion and the others I worry if I will be able to cut intricate enough for my desires!
Any help and or suggestions are always appreciated. Thanks Ray

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A drag knife is on my list of ‘would like to haves’ but as you suggest a lot are quite pricey. The donektools ones seem to have good reviews but I can’t justify spending the price for them. For similar money I simply bought a Circut Explore which serves my limited stencil cutting needs just as well.


I agree about the donek knife. Do you like the cricut? Does it cut intricate pieces?

While I am waiting on my clamping system parts to arrive, I am working on an affordable drag knife based on Roland cutter blade holders that are easily found on ebay, just waiting for the $7 assortment of blades and holder to get here…

I chose to go this route because of the assortment of blade angles, and the blade holder is a product of years of development specifically for vinyl cutting, as such, the blade rotates smoothly in it, the blade extension (protrusion depth) is adjustable within the holder assembly, and the holder simply needs to be fitted to the carriage…

For simplicity I will see if I can turn down the blade holder to fit into the router colet for ultimate ease of use, or whether I need to actually make a puck to hold it in the tool mount-or make a mount to bolt under the tool clamp bolts…
I like the Donek, but I thought that having to have more than one-as he designed it-to address different material thicknesses was simply too expensive-given I could simply adapt an existing blade/holder available inexpensively in the needed angles-No need to reinvent the wheel when a proven sub-assembly is readily available…just have to sort out mount!


Fiero I’m actually quite happy with the Cricut and was impressed with how intricate the cuts were. On the demo product they give you (they give you paper to make a folded ‘card’ as a demo of how it works) it cut very small radius circle in cardstock with no issue. I recently used it to add this by cutting stencil vinyl and painting through it. The boards are 3.5" wide as reference. It’s definitely going to be a handy tool to add to my hybrid digital/traditional woodworking workflow.


There’s a bit on the wiki: http://www.shapeoko.com/wiki/index.php/Spindle_Overview#Drag_Knives

including a design I worked up which could probably be cut (rather than 3D printed). http://www.shapeoko.com/wiki/index.php/3D_printed_SO3_Drag_Knife

Heres my diy drag knife:


I’ve just done some looking into this and my friend who has a designated cnc plotter uses an almost identicle system to this and the machines are hundreds!

Seems like this could be a very easy modification for anyone who was looking to have a 2d plotter?

I had some experience setting up a BossKut Gazelle that used something close to this(if not this) and thought at that time it would be easy to adapt-that machine used what amounted to a piece of angle mounted vertically with a thumbscrew as a tool holder-drew and cut really well, as you could put pens/pencils/markers and cutters in easily.

“Seems like this could be a very easy modification for anyone who was looking to have a 2d plotter?”

That was my thought-having not seem a swivel knife before-that looks even easier to adapt-and essentially the same setup only more convenient! Thanks ApolloCrowe and good onya!

seeing as I have parts coming, I’ll put this together, test it out and post a thread.

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I have a Cricut Air and I’ve done a lot of vinyl graphics for my motorcycle as well as some for friends and it’ll cut pretty much whatever you feed it as far as detail (within black/white limitations). I had the Cricut long before my SO3 so I never thought of adapting my SO3. The only two real limitations I’ve reached with the Cricut are cutting pressure (tried to cut some really heavy vinyl and it didn’t make cuts all of the way through) and the other thing unless they’ve updated it recently is web based software (it works, but there’s some lag and you need to upload your projects). The machine is really designed around scrap booking so it isn’t very “industrial”. If I had more vinyl to do that required more pressure and more “pro” features I would consider a different machine, or convert my SO3 by adding a drag knife setup. In a past life I was a software developer, so I’m rather “picky” about all things software, some people probably wouldn’t care about the web based Cricut software, so take those comments for what they are(me being a little biased). Other than that it’s pretty simple to use and very little to setup beyond taking it out of the box and connecting to WiFi. If I had to do it all over again I might still go with the Cricut rather than opting for augmenting my SO3, but it’s mostly because I had some very specific projects on my mind when I bought the Cricut and didn’t want the machine to be another project in itself.



That’s my concern, in that I don’t plan on doing a lot of vinyl (sandblast and paint mask when the need arises). That being the case I don’t want it to be a pain to setup when needed.
I’m leaning towards a circuit and doing some photo resist for anything with super tight detail.
Drag knife would be a nice “toy” to have kicking around. I might have to give making one a try.

Yeah the web based software is the weak point, but it’s not awful. At one point the Silhouette line had more pressure available to cut thicker materials, I’m not sure between them and Circut who’s ahead at this point. They’ll both do multiple passes for thicker materials but experimentation may be needed.


I own a Roland VersaCAMM and knowing how fine tuned vinyl cutters need to be to function properly (perfectly level cutting strip, the correct grams of downforce so you cut through the vinyl without scoring the liner, and vacuum to keep the vinyl against the strip because if it sticks up the blade will cut that much deeper or drag when it lifts and moves), it will be interesting to see how well this works.

I am going to predict that thicker materials without as high of tolerances (twill, sandblast mask) will most likely cut better with the drag knife than 2 mil sign vinyls.


These were done with my Cricut and some super cheap vinyl, just to get an idea of the cuts. Graphics were done by me, and on some there is some ragged edges caused by my poor image editing skills and rasterized images, but that’s not the machines fault, that’s me and some anti-aliasing gone wrong:

Again, cheap vinyl and some neanderthal image editing.