Silhouette Cameo 4: Lessons Learned

Just putting this here in case it’s helpful for anyone else. I’m not sponsored and I don’t have affiliate links. I’m simply in the process of learning and want to share what I’ve learned about using the Silhouette Cameo 4 machine cutter. 


Why I bought a Silhouette Cameo 4

I originally wanted to print my own die-cut and kiss-cut stickers, as well as cut out some dumb decorations for Shreksgiving and other occasions. Since then, I’ve experimented with cutting felt and craft foam, and have found that I really love cutting and sewing little felt dolls. Creative tools can open the door to broader creative project potential! 

Why I didn’t buy a Cricut or other machine cutter brand 

I read a lot of reviews and people seem to hate Cricut and really enjoy Silhouette and Siser products. I didn’t want to pay for a Siser, and the Silhouette Cameo 4 looked like it would do the job for me just fine. Plus, it was on sale. 

Where to buy a Silhouette Cameo 4

I bought mine from Swing Design in November for a great deal, roughly $160 (with some Oracal transfer paper, which I probably won’t use). This was great in that what you actually spend your money on are accessories, such as different blades and cutting mats. 

Before purchasing a Silhouette Cameo 4

My dudes. Please learn from my mistake and make sure you have enough space for one lol Not only do you need space for the physical machine, but you need at minimum 12 inches of clearance in front of the machine and behind the machine. This is because it feeds material from the front and passes it through the back as it cuts and moves down a material. If you’re cutting materials that are longer than 12 inches, then you’ll need more clearance. Currently I have my Cameo 4 sitting on a surface that is a little short, so my cutting mats hang down when loaded, which can cause weird cuts. I have my extra mats sitting slightly underneath the Cameo 4 so I can use them as an extended surface. Technically there’s a built-in roll holder that you could use, but I find that my mat and materials get caught on it as the active mat goes back and forth during cuts. Additionally, you will need adequate lighting. Mine has done fine so far with the window right next to it, as well as at night with the room fairly well-lit (just one bulb in the middle of my ceiling). 

Silhouette Cameo 4 Resources

Thankfully we live in an age of wide accessibility and sharing of information. I find most of the answers to my questions in a browser search, usually either from one of the amazing folks on YouTube or from the Reddit community. This is a fairly technical, female-dominated industry, and it’s really cool to see people not only being their best creative self but also spreading the wealth by sharing what they’ve learned. There’s no gatekeeping in this community!


Yeah, tbh there’s a lot of waste in this industry. The blades have to have a certain amount of clearance around objects, so you’re going to have tons of bits and pieces of scrap that need to be tossed or somehow reused in other ways. You may need to toss out blades with their plastic cartridges, even possibly cutting mats. 

Silhouette Cameo 4 Accessories

Some of this stuff seems really technical, but honestly it’s a lot of trial and error. Fortunately, the Silhouette Studio software is free to download and install, and it has a bunch of built-in presets for different blades and materials. However, you’ll still need to do a lot of trial error depending on your materials. 

Silhouette Blade Differences

  • Compatibility: There are blades that are only compatible with certain Silhouette models, but generally there are holder extensions for the Cameo 4 if you want to use older blades – they just wrap around the older, smaller blades so they fit in the Cameo 4. I don’t believe newer blades are compatible with older models, but tbh I have no idea. 
  • Location: Some blades only fit in the left-side “1” holder, and some only fit in the right-side “2” holder. In either case, to unload or release a blade, just pull forward the plastic tab piece that sticks out, then take out the blade. To load a blade, pop it in, push it down lightly, and then push the plastic tab piece forward to lock it in. For older Cameo blades, you need to twist to tighten/reveal the actual blade (avoid twisting it farther than the highest number – these are typically manual, so you need to manually twist it to the number you want, which corresponds with the depth of the blade), put it into one of the holder extensions and lock it in, then load it. 
  • Material: Some blades make deeper cuts, like the 2mm and 3mm blades. Some blades are for cutting felt or fabric, like the rotary blade. Others are for poking holes in vinyl, which I know nothing about. 
  • Automatic or manual: The autoblade adjusts itself automatically, but I believe all other blades have to be manually adjusted, usually by physically twisting to the blade depth number you want. 

Silhouette Blade Maintenance

You can periodically check if excess materials are jamming your blade and thus reducing their cutting performance. Eventually the blades will dull and need to be replaced. 

For the autoblade, you need to use the little plastic tool that came with your Cameo to unscrew it, then very lightly screw it back on (if you screw it back on too tightly, you risk cracking the plastic and decreasing performance). I think for all the other tools, you just manually twist to the blade depth you want? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Cutting Mats

Basic Uses
  • Light Tack: Sticker paper, printer or other lighter paper stocks, delicate material that would rip on any stronger tack
  • Standard Tack: I haven’t really figured this out yet. Cardstock? 
  • Strong Tack: Felt, craft foam
Multiple Mats

I would recommend getting multiples, particularly if you are cutting felt. That way, you can wash a mat and hang it to dry, then use another mat in the meantime. 

Mat Cleaning, Replacement, or Spray

This is actually the main reason I created this page. Because I cut felt, my mat becomes unusable very quickly. I read online that some people use contact paper on top of their mat so the contact paper becomes unusable rather than the mat – I haven’t tried this yet.

Instead, I tried to read how people clean their mats. Some people just use soap and water, but for me and many others, this completely washed off the adhesive, leaving a regular old slippery plastic mat. I guess I shouldn’t have used a scrubber (I swear I scrubbed very lightly). What I recommend instead is just using water and your fingers to rub gunk off. Otherwise, people have used adhesive sprays or tacky glue and water mixtures. If you go this route, learn from my mistakes:

Aleen’s Tacky Spray

I wouldn’t buy this again. I’m not sure if I got a bad bottle or if this is normal, but my spray comes out kind of weird and stringy, and it’s TOO tacky.

  • Use gloves. PLEASE. Otherwise you will be pulling tiny pieces of glue off your fingers for hours, and it is not satisfying like pulling off Elmer’s glue. 
  • Don’t use too much spray. I put on way too much and it was intensely sticky. Just use a little, even if it looks weird and stringy. I should have followed other people’s recommendations to stick some cardboard or paper to it a few times to get the right tackiness, though I put on so much that it probably wouldn’t have helped. I used craft foam on it and had to toss the entire thing after lol Completely stuck, couldn’t wash it off. However, that means that the next time I do this, I can probably just use soap and water without worrying about washing all the adhesive off (this stuff does NOT wash off). 
  • You can protect the outside border of your mat by using blue painter’s tape or washi tape. Works like a charm. I taped mine over a cardboard box to spray outside so that I didn’t get adhesive all over my backyard. 
  • Even if you spray outside, it’s still gonna be stinky. This adhesive spray has a very strong smell. 

Spray N Bond Basting Adhesive

This was expensive, but it’s a really light tack spray. Worked great to refresh my light tack mat. 


Some offbrand from China. These have worked great for me. I bought a pack of the 12×24″ and a pack of the 12×12″, so I have a total of 6 mats (plus two other brand mats). This way, I have plenty to rotate between. I don’t find that their tacks are that much different from each other, but with the basting adhesive spray, I’m golden no matter what. 

Silhouette Studio Software Troubleshooting

Syncing your Silhouette to your computer

To use the Bluetooth option:

  1. Enable Bluetooth on your computer, but you don’t need to connect to the device in your built-in Bluetooth settings.
  2. Instead, open the Silhouette Studio software and navigate to the Send tab at the top right.
  3. At the bottom right you’ll see an icon that looks like the machine. Click on that, then you can click on the device you want to connect to. It will check for firmware updates and install any as necessary. 

Bluetooth is the least reliable option, but as long as you’re in range it should do the trick. It has worked fine for me, but is just really slow to connect. I prefer connecting via USB cable. 

Page Setup 

Before you do anything, determine whether you are going to use a cutting mat or not and whether you are using registration marks or not. If you try to change these settings after you’ve done your layout, you are gonna have a bad time, my dudes. 

When to use a cutting mat: If you are cutting shapes out of a material, use a cutting mat. I’m not actually sure when you wouldn’t be using a cutting mat. Maybe if you’re just perforating or scoring material? 

When to use registration marks: If you are printing something out and then cutting it, use registration marks. If you buy Silhouette brand holographic sticker paper, you’ll notice that the paper has white sections on all four corners – this is to account for the registration marks, otherwise the cutter will get confused by the light reflecting off of the holographic paper. 

Silhouette Studio Version

Apparently the latest version of Silhouette Studio can’t handle doing a test on craft foam and some other materials. It just closes with an error.

If you run into this issue where Silhouette Studio crashes when you try to test material:

  1. Navigate to the Silhouette Software downloads page and click Learn More.
  2. Click Download Legacy Versions.
  3. Select version 4.4.554. There may be a newer version that works, but this is what I found on Reddit and it worked for me. 
  4. Uninstall your current Silhouette Studio software, then install this version. 
  5. Important: Once installed, open Silhouette Studio, then close it. Now you can try opening your existing files. I found that if I didn’t open and close it first, then it kept saying it didn’t recognize the file type of my existing .studio3 files. 

Silhouette Cameo 4 Cut Settings

Just putting this here so I remember. I hope it helps you, too.

Material: Silhouette Holographic Sticker Paper

Prior to printing, make sure to turn on registration marks and account for the white spaces on the sticker paper. They put it on there for the registration marks, but it’s still kind of obnoxious that you lose a whole corner because of it. I think I have a defective Autoblade (brand new but doesn’t cut through at max depth and force) so… whenever I get a new one… I guess I’ll update this!

Die cut:

  • Blade: Autoblade
  • Depth: 10
  • Force: 33
  • Speed: 4
  • Passes: 5

Kiss cut:

  • Blade: Autoblade
  • Depth: 6
  • Force: 33
  • Speed: 4
  • Passes: 4

Material: Michael’s Craft Foam

Mat: Strong tack

Die cut:

  • Blade: Kraft 3mm blade
  • Depth: 21
  • Force: 8
  • Speed: 6
  • Passes: 1

Material: Commonwealth Felt (Wool blends)

Mat: Strong tack

Die cut:

  • Blade: Rotary blade
  • The default Felt, Polyster settings are fine
  • Force: 19
  • Speed: 5
  • Passes: 1

Material: Canon Photo Paper Pro Premium Matte (56 lbs)

Mat: Strong tack (could probably do with standard tack)

Die cut:

  • Blade: Autoblade
  • Depth: 6
  • Force: 30
  • Speed: 4
  • Passes: 3

Material: Canon Lustre Pro Paper (69 lbs)

Mat: Light tack

Die cut:

  • Blade: Autoblade
  • Depth: 7
  • Force: 30
  • Speed: 4
  • Passes 4