[Partnership Disclosure: This video was created in partnership with Cricut when it was published on my YouTube channel in 2021. All opinions are my own and are not influenced by Cricut. Thanks for supporting the brands that support Whiskey & Whit! Read my full disclosure policy here.]

Hi friends!

One of the most common Cricut questions I get is I’m ready to buy one, which model do I get? 

And most often, my response is … it depends. Today’s post and video will get into what each machine does and you’ll leave knowing so much more about Cricut machines and which one is right for you.


Let’s start with what are Cricut machines and what do they all have in common. So no matter which one you go with – what are you in for?

Boiled down, Cricut are digital cutting machines (think those old rolling die cut machines but so upgraded) can cut, draw, and score to help you personalize a wide variety of mediums with a ton of different materials.

All run on Cricut’s Software, Cricut Design space which is included with your machine and you can connect via Bluetooth for all machines and some allow for USB connections to your desktop/laptop. That also means – no laptop – no problem! You can use your phone or tablet with all three machines.

You also have the option to purchase Cricut Access – Cricut’s upgraded montly membership – which also gives you 10% off your purchases (including machines) and free shipping on orders $50+ on Cricut.com on top of access to hundreds of images and fonts included in the access membership. More info below.

Cricut Access Monthly Subscription
Cricut Access Monthly Subscription – $9.99

from: Cricut

You can pay annually and reduce the rate to $7.99/month vs. the $9.99/month. System fonts are not counted in the 20 uploads.


Let’s start with the Cricut Joy – the newest and smallest machine Cricut makes and it retails for $179.

This machine is operated all through Design Space, so it doesn’t have any buttons or dials.

It also has 1 tool slot – and that’s important to note because you’ll have to switch out your blade, scoring tool and pen if you want to use them on the same project.

The cut width with the Joy is 4.5” which is alot smaller than the 11.5” that you can cut on the other 2 machines, but it works really well for quick projects because of how portable the machine is.

Something to keep in mind is that some of the vinyl, mats, and blades for the Joy are made specifically for this machine – so it’s not interchangeable with the larger machines.

The two coolest features of the Cricut Joy is the ability to do mat-free cutting – that means you can cut vinyl up to 20’ long if you use Cricut’s “smart materials.”  That’s compared to 2 feet with the other two machines. The smart materials have a stronger backing taking the place of the traditional mat.

And I’m LOVING their Joy card mat that allows you to whip up a last-minute card easily – I’m always forgetting to buy cards.

The Cricut Joy is perfect for almost all of your basic Cricut crafts, including iron-on vinyl, adhesive vinyl, writable labels, and cardstock.

Who is it best for? Those who are short on space, if you like to create custom cards, those who want to start small or may be intimidated by the larger Cricut machines, or, like I use it – as a companion to your other machines.


The Cricut Explore Air 2 is the model you see me use most often on my channel – and I love it!

As you can see it’s quite a bit larger than the Joy, but it’s still something that I can easily move around my house. I get it out when I need it, and store it in my coat closet when I don’t.

With it, you can cut 100+ materials including adhesive vinyl, iron-on or Heat Transfer vinyl, infusible cardstock, thick felt, leather, and more!

This model does have buttons, a dial, and a double tool arm – meaning you can have your blade and your pen tool and complete those two steps in one swoop vs. having to switch out the tools.

With this machine, you can also purchase Cricut’s bonded fabric blade or deep cut blade to expand the list of materials you can cut. The bonded fabric blade can help you cut fabric with a backing, I’ve seen crafters use that for quilting appliques, and the deep cut blade can cut thicker items like cardboard, felt. You can do materials up to 1.5mm in thickness.

It also has two storage slots to hold extra blades, tools and accessories – which helps me not lose things!

This machine can cut on 12” by 12” mats or 12” x 24” mats for those larger projects. I love the longer mats when I make larger projects like wood signs or the character cutouts I just did for Finn’s Birthday.

If you’ve been on TikTok lately and were inspired by all the shops that make cute stickers – the Explore Air 2 can help with that. This machine features the print then cut feature, which allows you to design and print stickers at home and then use your cricut to cut them out and get the close cut you’re looking for.

Like the other machines, you can upload your own files, upload the free ones I provide, or select from a ton of Cricut projects inside Design Space. It also has a slot to insert your cartridges, which is super helpful if you’re upgrading from an older model – you won’t lose those images.

It retails for $249, however I see sales for it all the time. I’ve seen it as low as $179, so if you’re patient you can get a deal – especially around Holidays and Black Friday. You can join Cricut’s email list on their website to be notified of sales. And it comes in a ton of colors so you can match it to your aesthetic. 

This is my go-to machine. If you’re between the Joy and Explore, I’d go with this one. Anything you’ve seen on my channel can be made with this machine. If you want to cut common materials like iron-on, vinyl, and cardstock, this is your machine.


And finally the mac-daddy of them all, the Cricut Maker.  This one is still on my wishlist, but I’ve been eyeing it for a long time, so I have a decent amount of knowledge on it thanks to my stalking skills.

The Maker can do everything the Explore Air 2 can do and then some – it can cut 300+ materials – like cutting unbonded fabric, so it doesn’t need a stabilizer backing as you need with the Explore Air 2 – and it does cut felt better than the Air 2 as well.

If you’re needing to cut thicker materials like leather and balsa wood – can do that with the Knife Blade and the scoring stylus on the Air 2 has been stepped up with the Maker’s scoring wheel.

Other tools for the Maker include the engraving tool, debossing tool, perforation tool and more. This machine was built for Cricut to keep adding tools for new materials, so it will continue to evolve with your interest.

The Maker retails for $399, which, I know, can cause some sticker shock – however, I look at my machines as an investment. And if I extrapolate everything I’ve saved by DIYing decor, clothes, gifts, cards, and more, it’s worth every penny and then some! I’ve also seen sales on the Maker, so keep your eyes peeled for those deals – I know I am.

This is for more serious crafters, if you are looking to start a business or Etsy shop, if you like to craft with a variety of materials, you do a lot of sewing projects, you’re a felt crafting enthusiast or you want to be able to easily cut wood/engrave etc, this one is worth the investment. 

It’s next on my list for sure!

I hope this answered your Cricut machine questions. If you have other Cricut-related questions, leave them in the comments, I’d be happy to answer them for you.



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