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Perforation Blade Alternative for Cricut Explore and Joy

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Hello Daydreamers!

If you have any of the Cricut Explore machines or a Cricut Joy and feel a little left out because you cant use the perforation blade, I have fantastic news to share with you.

I think perforation cuts are one of the coolest things Cricut has come out with. There are so many creative things you can make, and if you don’t have a Maker, I don’t want you to miss out.

That’s why I spent three full afternoons working and testing very thin lines in different shapes and sizes to simulate the perforation cuts made with the perforation blade.

If you have a Cricut Maker, read my tutorial on how to use the perforation blade.

Tear out project made with cricut explore

Are you ready to learn this cool trick?

This is not a beginner’s tutorial. Although I explain everything with a lot of detail, this tutorial requires you to know how to use your machine and have a good understanding of Cricut Design Space.

If you get lost, you may want to visit the following tutorials.

Ideally, you will read this tutorial from the beginning because, as we go, we will be implementing the concepts mentioned in the previews steps.

The Trick Behind Making Perforation Lines with Cricut Explore/Joy

As you know, the perforation blade only works with the Cricut Maker; however, if you take a close look, you will notice that this blade has small little teeth with a small gap between them.

These little teeth are what create the perforation cuts.

perforation blade without housing

For you to make perforation lines with your Cricut Explore/Joy, you need to recreate those little teeth with the right amount of space between them.

I tried to do them in Design Space, but it’s incredibly annoying and pretty much impossible. So to achieve this technique, I designed particular files that you can download right down below.

I made them in the most common shapes, with regular and rounded corners, so I am pretty confident you can create as many projects as you want.

Tip: If you have a Cricut Maker and the not perforation blade, these files will also work for you!

Download any shape you want or need for your project, and make sure to read the step by step tutorial on how to use them, I don’t want you to ruin your materials.

Are you ready to learn how to use them?

How to make Perforation Cuts with Cricut Explore and Joy

Before you use these files, there’s something fundamental you need to consider.

On each thumbnail, you will see that most shapes and lines are repeated because each figure’s size matters. I’ve included each shape in a 10″ 8″ 6″ 4″ 2″ and 1″ in height.

I also included rounded corners when applicable!

Here’s the caveat, the size of each shape/line matters a lot! That’s why I included so many dimensions.

So, for instance, if you want to perforate a circle that’s 3.5″ inches in height, upload the circle shape lines to Design Space, ungroup them, and pick the 4″ circle in the file and resize to 3.5″.

Don’t use the other sizes because be too big or too small and the cuts won’t work.

Always stay between 1″ max when sizing up or down. I preferably try to pick projects where you need to size down.

Let’s see how these files work.

Step 1 – Start with the project you want to Perforate.

When wanting to add perforation cuts, always start with the finished project.

In this case, I am doing an effortless test project to show you how to make perforation effects with your Cricut Explore/Joy.

I have a 5 x 5″ square.

I plan to add perforation lines vertically and horizontally. I am also adding a couple of stars.

square in Cricut Design Space

Since I want to add lines and stars, upload the individual files I included at the beginning of this tutorial.

Step 2 – Add Perforation Cuts

Click on “Upload” on the left panel and follow the prompts.

uploading perforation lines in Cricut Design Space

Initially, the file is grouped.

Select it, and click on “Ungroup” located at the top of the layer’s panel.

Each file has a circle mark; I found that the lines wouldn’t upload unless something big enough to be detected by Cricut’s software. Go ahead and delete it.

ungrouping perforation lines in Cricut Design Space

It’s time to select the right line for your project.

As I mentioned before, size matters. You can’t increase or decrease these lines/shapes more than 1.”

Step on each line, and find out which one is closer to your project size.

In this case, I picked the 6″ line.

selecting perforation line in Cricut Design Space

Place it on the square in the middle of, then duplicate and rotate (90 or 270) to create a perfect vertical line.

Arrange both lines on the square, so you divide it into four equal parts.

rotating and duplicating in Cricut Design Space

Now, upload the “Stars” file and “Ungroup” it.

By zooming out (lower-left corner on the canvas), pick the shapes that will fit the best in each quadrant.

adding stars for perforating in Cricut Design Space

I decided to use two stars, one with sharp angles and the other one with rounded corners.

Then, I duplicated both stars and reduced their size by 1″ because I wanted to show you how the lines would work when you reduce the size.

attaching lines to square in Cricut Design Space

Once you’re done placing all the perforation lines/shapes, select everything on the canvas and click on “Attach” located at the bottom of the Layers panel.

Step 3 – Send to Cut

Your project must be all the way to the back (last layer on the canvas). You see, although the lines we just added don’t show any color, they have it, but because they are so thin, you can’t appreciate it.

If the lines aren’t on top of your project, the color of your project will change.

After attaching, click on “Make it” to send your project to cut.

If everything looks good, click on “Continue.”

mat preview in Cricut Design Space

It’s time to select your materials.

I tested this project with medium cardstock and regular copy paper. I wouldn’t use this trick on materials that require a second pass such a glitter cardstock.

You’re welcome to try, but I feel it would be too much for your machine.

selecting materials in in Cricut Design Space

Since I used my Explore machine, I moved the “Smart Set Dial” to cardstock, then I installed the fine point blade, loaded mat with paper, and pressed the flashing go button.

You can also use this trick on your Cricut Joy or Maker (if you don’t have the perforation blade); the only difference is that you would choose the materials from Cricut Design Space.

When Cricut is done cutting unload mat, and remove the paper.

Notice all those perforation lines?

Look how little the lines are on the small stars because we resized them!

I encourage you to avoid resizing these lines and stick with the sizes on each file.

Make Perforation Cuts with Cricut Explore using print then cut.

You can also simulate perforation cuts using “Print then Cut.” Say hello to coupons, raffle tickets, and other cool projects you wouldn’t be able to do unless you had a Maker.

Note: Print then Cut only works on Maker and Explore machines. If you have a Cricut Joy, you can’t use this feature.

Let’s have a quick overview (I won’t repeat the same concept I mentioned on the preview steps).

First, start with your final project.

In this case, I have a page that I intend to divide into six equal parts with perforation cuts.

The “Print then Cut” file is already flattened, and I only need to tell my Cricut where to make the perforation cuts.

Something vital about using this trick with print then Cut is that the lines can’t be larger than 9.25″ x 6.75″.

flatten print then cut project

For this file, I am using the horizontal lines.

Upload, ungroup, and select the size the fits your project the best. For this particular test, I used the 8″ line.

Duplicate that line twice and rotate both copies 90°.

Arrange and distribute lines, so they look like the following screenshot.

perforation lines added to print then cut project in Cricut Design Space

You must’ve noticed that the lines come out of the project, and I am sure you don’t want that!

To get rid of the excess, press Ctrl (Cmd on mac) at all times, then select the lines from the canvas area and click on “Weld” at the bottom of the Layers panel.

After welding, drop a square on the canvas and select it along with the lines on the top of the project (don’t select print, then cut image), then click “Slice” and delete the unwanted pieces.

You need to repeat this step on each side of the project.

attaching print then cut with perforation lines for explore machine in Cricut Design Space

After you’re done, Slicing, select everything on the canvas and click on “Attach.”

When you’re ready to print then cut, click on “Make it.”

First, your Cricut will prompt you to print your project and then cut it.

mat preview for print then cut

For this project, I used a white medium cardstock.

Remember, you can’t use colored or patterned paper with an Explore machine.

Look how nice and crisp those perforation lines look!

What do you think?

Are you going to try this trick?

Cons of Using this Method

Although this method is perfect for achieving beautiful and crisp perforation lines, I need to make you aware of a couple of things.

First, your Cricut will take a long time to cut a project with these tiny perforation lines. The purple square with stars took 7 minutes, and the print then cut took a little bit over 4 minutes.

I don’t know what kind of wear and tear this will have on your machine or your blade. If you plan on making perforation lines every day, consider investing in a Cricut Maker and a Perforation Blade.

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Do you know that it takes me over 25 hours of work to complete a single Cricut article? I know, it’s crazy! But I like to make sure that you understand EVERYTHING!

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