Silhouette Curio Review … You can do what with it?

While Reviewing Silhouette Curio, I was shocked to find out what it can do…

 

Silhouette Curio machine

I won’t keep you on the edge of your seat anymore I will tell you everything about Silhouette Curio. I’m talking about dog tags. You can now easily customize dog tags and oddly shaped pendants with the Curio Silhouette.

Before this machine, you got your trusted marking stamps and your hammer and whacked it. You prayed for alignment, and you have added the next letter. Not anymore, everything can be automated. All this and more I will cover after the review.

By now, you are probably accustomed to my style. I level with you when I’m doing reviews. I will tell you the good and bad and of course the ugly part of these machines.

Many reviewers are squeamish about this because they are afraid that they will lose commissions, so they only talk about the positive stuff.

If all you want is feel-good touchy-feely stuff, you’re at the wrong place. I will lay everything out for you what works and what doesn’t, and after that, you can decide if Silhouette Curio is the right fit for you.

As you got accustomed, I will do the bird’s eye view first, and then I will get into the details. As we all know, the devil is in the details. Lastly, I will tell you exactly how you can etch dog tags as well.

Let’s see what this cutting machine has for us:

Silhouette Curio Specs

 

Silhouette Curio
Size17.2 x 5.5 x 7 inches
Weight7.5 pounds
Cutting FeatureYes
Drawing FeatureYes
Embossing Feature (Emboss Deboss)Yes
Etching FeatureYes
Scoring FeatureYes
StippleYes
PixScan TechnologyYes
Cutting force210g
Cutting Size (cutting capacity)8.5 x 6 inches

Upgrade Available 12 inches

Auto BladeNo
Dual CarriageYes
Max Material Thickness5mm
Computer Connection NeededYes
Noise LevelLoud
Recommended Retail Price$249.99

The Silhouette family has several machines. Many people ask if the Curio is a replacement for the Silhouette 3. The answer is no. It’s an extension of Silhouette Cameo 3. It’s convenient for the company to sell you two machines than one. The profits are greater. By selling more cutting machines they are selling more accessories as well.

It’s not so advantageous for you, though. If you don’t want to buy two machines, then the best option would be choosing the Cricut Maker. It does everything in one machine. If you’re interested, I have already reviewed Cricut Maker.

silhouette curio pen

Why Does the Silhouette Curio Exists?

 

Let’s get back to our review. Why is it an extension? Because it can do Embossing, Etching, and Stippling. And sadly it can’t cut Vinyl and Paper (when I used the term embossing I refer both to emboss deboss operations). That’s the job for Cameo 3. How convenient you may say. But let’s not judge the book by its cover ehum the machine by its casing.

I have already done a comparison blog post between Silhouette Cameo 3 and Silhouette Curio. This post is dedicated to the Silhouette Curio Machine.

 

Silhouette Curio Machine Capabilities:

Curio Size and Weight Detailed

It’s an OK sized machine a bit smaller than the Cameo and a lot lighter as well. If you are using both machines, you will need a big enough table for them. Hopefully, when you’re doing field work, one machine is enough. It’s not easy to carry two machines around plus a device which helps you control those (maybe two separate ones so you can be more efficient?).

With its 7.5 pounds it’s a light machine yet it can do so many things. The Silhouette Cameo is advertised to work with 100 materials. My review on it was harsh; I have to admit that but none less true. I believe that with the Curio, you can finally achieve working with 100+ materials. Sadly it took several years and a second machine to serve justice to the marketing message.

With the Curio Machine, you can both cut and draw. For example, the dog tags need to be cut out of strong cardboard but more on this later. As I mentioned earlier, it cannot cut paper and vinyl. Here is what sets it apart.

With the help of Embossing, Etching, Stippling, Scoring new materials are unlocked. These include Wood, Soft metals (aluminum, copper, brass). With these options, you can increase your arsenal. More things to create the more money you can make.

PixScan Technology

pixscanIf you have used any machine from the Silhouette family, you are familiar with the PixScan software. This helps you digitize your artwork so you can multiply it. For example, you have a particular handmade design all you have to do is take a picture with your smartphone than you have to upload it into the software where you do the necessary changes.

The PixScan technology helps you scan and cut your pattern with ease.

Cutting Force

The cutting force was a serious disappointment for me. It’s the same as the Cameo. The Curio Cutter’s power is 210 grams. Most machines are working in this range. The only exception would be the Brother Scan and Cut two which has the cutting force of 350g. And there’s also the Cricut Maker which is at astonishing 4000g. There’s no typo there are three zeros after the four.

It’s interesting to see that with just 210 grams of power, it can work with a variety of materials.

 

Cutting Capacity

Let’s talk about cutting size (cutting capacity). The standard one is 8.5 X 6 inches. Well, this is pretty small if you are used to the 8-inch format. But don’t worry, you can work up to 12 inches. For a price that is. If you decide to purchase the Silhouette Curio large base, then you can work with an 8.5 X 12-inch surface. That’s enough cutting capacity for most projects.

As you can see, these guys are trying to milk every ounce of profit from this machine. It’s like intentionally handicapping the machine, so you unlock different features with cold hard cash.

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Auto Blade

The Auto-Blade is a great feature; sadly, it wasn’t imported into the Curio. It allows you to automatically set the blade depth. Thus saving you time and eliminating human error. Since this feature is not available, you have to do it manually and double check so you don’t make any mistakes.

Dual Carriage

It has Dual Carriage. Finally, something to be happy about. This means that you can insert up to two tools into the machine. This means that you can do two tasks in your project at the same time. This saves you time. After getting used to dual carriage I can’t imagine life without it.

Imagine this, you are working on a complex project which requires you to use four different tools. This means that you set everything up in the software and let it do its thing. After the first two tasks are finished, you can program the next two. In just two moves, you have finished four tasks. This drastically cuts down human error.

 

Cutting Depth and Clearance Levels

The Silhouette Curio has been upgraded because it can work with materials which are up to 5mm thick. Important! This doesn’t mean it can cut 5mm. It just means you can work with materials that are this thick.

The actual cutting depth is set to 2mm and it has a maximum 5mm clearance . No, it doesn’t cut metal, for that, you need a laser or something with more power.

cutting toolLet’s talk a bit about the Silhouette Curio Cutting Tool. In your basic package, you’re getting only a standard blade. It’s limited. You’re seeing where I’m heading right? If you want to access more materials, you need to buy a deep cut blade separately. It’s a good idea to bundle your purchases so you pay less for shipping, whenever your deep cut blade goes dull it’s a good idea to buy a mat as well.

Even though the Silhouette Cameo has Bluetooth technology, the Curio doesn’t support wireless connection. So you will have to deal with cords running left and right.

Curio Noise Levels

Now here’s the bane of the Silhouette family. These machines are loud. The Silhouette Curio inherited this bad trait from his older brother. Some people say that it’s not that loud. I beg to differ just watch a few YouTube videos, and you quickly understand that most videos are muted while the machine is working.

But there’s hope. I’ve had a glimpse at Silhouette Cameo 4 it is noiseless. Yes, it’s quiet. You can leave your sleeping baby in the room with the machine it won’t wake her up. But until that’s released, we need to deal with this noise. Working during the late evening hours is out of the question because it will disturb the ones around you.

The price is so and so. It’s not the cheapest and not the most expensive, either. It’s somewhat in the middle. The same goes for accessories. The price range for them is in the middle though you need to buy a lot of them if you want to use the Curio Machine to the max.

 

Silhouette Studio Software Installation How to

Now let’s talk a bit about the Silhouette Curio Software. The company has created Silhouette Studio Software. Once you open the box, you find this Frisbee thing packaged in paper. What is it? A CD in today’s packaging? What if I don’t have a CD-ROM?

From my point of view, you don’t need the CD either way. You most likely need to update because they ship you with the older version. With the recent software updates, you can unlock much much more.

So relax if you don’t have anything to read a CD with. You can find the latest version of the software online. Here’s another nuisance there is no wireless connectivity. You need to use a cord to connect to the Silhouette Curio Cutting Machine.

Hey if you like cords running left and right no biggie, I got used to cleaning working environment without messy cords dangling everywhere.

So once you have installed the software and connected Curio to your device, you’re off to the race. Well, not quite. Now you need to learn how to use the software.

 

How to start Embossing and Stippling

 

If you have used the Silhouette Studio software before you will notice that you have a few new options. This enables us to do Embossing and Stippling.

silhouette curio etching stippling tool

Brace yourself the learning curve is steep if you want to master stippling and etching. Even veteran Studio users had a hard time using it right at the first try. It seems that there are way too many operations needed to get the embossing feature activated. Several crafters have complained that they couldn’t get the Embossing started.

Once you got the hang of it, the smooth sailing starts…

In case you were wondering what to do about designs, well there’s the Silhouette Design Store from where you can purchase patterns and design for some cold hard cash. You have a huge variety to choose from there are over 100,000 items in the shop.

Silhouette Design Store

Just in case you forget to donate them money they will remind you periodically with additional purchasing suggestions.

One of the crafters noticed that the tools that Curio has fit neatly into Cameo 3. Guess what the company opposes tool swapping between the machines. Why? Because it cuts into company profits. At the time being use it at your own risk.

 

Silhouette Curio and Wood Projects

 

wood cutting

Since Curio has a clearance of 5mm, you can work with thicker materials like wood. If you want to work with wood materials, then Curio can help you. One of the best ways to personalize wood pieces is with sketching. You can create beautiful awards with a marker or a pen. Also, when you are working with wood, make sure that the piece is extra sturdy by using tape to fix the edges. Don’t forget it takes some time to get used to thicker materials. Be patient with yourself.

Here’s a Hot Tip for you if you want to cut different object. Stay away from models which are smaller than a ¾ inch in size because it might break them or harm your cutting mat.

How to Emboss Dog Tags

 

Are you ready for this? Now I will tell you how to emboss dog tags and other odd-shaped items like pendants.

First, you need chipboard or heavy cardstock; these will be important a bit later. Get a piece of paper and a dark pen. Make sure there’s big contrast difference between them. Place the dog tag on the paper and draw around it. Take the dog tags and snap a picture with your smartphone.

Upload the image to Silhouette studio. Then use either chipboard or heavy cardstock to cut out the shape with the Silhouette Curio. Wait, there’s more.

dog tags

Once you have cut out the form put in your original dog tag, so it’s nice and snug, after this you can start the etching process, I know at first this seems to be a lot of work. But look at the bright side you only need to do it once. You can reuse this template over and over again.

This is how you can easily personalize dog tags or other odd shaped items with the Silhouette Curio.

Here’s a frequent question from people. Can you do embossing with silhouette cameo? No, this is why the Curio exists.

The last point which I will be talking about is Silhouette Curio Embossing. This is one of the main selling points of the machine. Yet it leaves an unsatisfied feeling. When it comes to Silhouette embossing, it tends to work best with thinner materials than thicker ones. Also besides Embossing, you can do Debossing.

The software manages everything for you just remember which side you are putting down. There are many steps to master this in the software. I know it’s hard, but once you got the hang of it, you can Emboss like a boss.

 

Other Cheaper Alternatives?

 

Some crafters complained that the Silhouette Curio Emboss isn’t that good, and some much cheaper machines which cost $49.99 can do a better job. These are all manually operated.

embossing tool

Silhouette Curio Drawbacks

 

Here are the negatives about the Silhouette Curio. I’m not a product hyper and any Silhouette Curio Review should contain this.

First of all, it seems that the company intentionally has made this product as an extension. It’s another purchase for us crafters which entitle more accessories. Certain features are inaccessible until you invest in more tools.

They are increasing their bottom line that’s it. The learning curve is steep. It feels like it’s easier to get a master degree in molecular physics than mastering the embossing process.

The machine is noisy. And this tendency is running in the Silhouette family. The accessories are priced in the average range; they are not too expensive or cheap. But you need to factor in that you need to buy accessories for two machines.

It doesn’t have a wireless connection, so you need to use a cord to connect. If you are doing expos and fairs, you are carrying both machines and maybe two devices to manage them. That’s a lot of baggage to carry.

The cutting pressure hasn’t been updated. It’s the same as the Cameo 3. But if you purchase the right tools, you can unlock different features. They have purposefully banned the use of cutting paper and vinyl, so the company isn’t cannibalizing sales from the Cameo 3.

The work space is small, but if you shove out some money, you can get an upgrade.

Last but not least, some $50 manual embossers might do a better and faster job than the Silhouette Curio.

 

Final Thoughts

 

All in all, it’s an ok, and by ok I mean average machine. Hopefully, this error and cash grab are corrected with the coming Silhouette Cameo 4. From all this information by now, you probably made an accurate assessment if this is the right machine for your craft.

 

silhouette curio bundle

  • Silhouette Curio Machine Bundle with 1 Year Warranty
  • 8.5 in. X 12 in. Base (includes four platforms), 8.5 inches by 12 inch Cutting Mat, 8.5 inches by 12-inch Embossing Mat, 8.5 in. X 6 in. base (includes four platforms), 8.5 inches by 6 inch Cutting Mat, 8.5 inches by 6-inch Embossing Mat
  • Deep Cut Blade, Fine Emboss Tool, Wide Emboss Tool, Stippling & Etching Tool, Cutting Blade, Basics Pen Pack – Black, Red, Pink, Green, Yellow, Purple, Blue, Orange, Metallic Pen Pack, Silver, Gold, Copper, White, and Glitter Pen Pack – Teal, Pink, Green, Black
  • Metal Etching Sheets – 3 pack (5 Inch by 7 Inch), Stippling Sheets – 6 pack (5 Inch by 7 Inch), Embossing Paper – 10 pack (8 Inch by 11.5 Inch), Embossing Paper – 10 pack (5 Inch by 7 Inch)
  • Curio Starter Guide by Silhouette Guru Melissa Viscount, Software and Power Cord, One month to the Silhouette design store worth $25 in downloads, 50 exclusive downloadable designs

silhouette curio machine

This concludes my Silhouette Curio Review. If you like what you have read you can easily buy this cutting machine. If I’ve missed something or you have questions post them below.

Have you heard about Ken? He’s working on his channel called Ken’s Kreations. You can find a lot of helpful videos here.

 

Frequent questions from our readers (FAQ):

 

Can the Silhouette Curio cut wood?
The Silhouette Curio can cut wood. But don’t forget since the machine has only 210g cutting force only thin materials can be cut. The Curio’s maximum cutting depth is 1.2 mm.
Does the Silhouette Curio cut vinyl?
Sadly Silhouette Curio can’t cut vinyl. It’s a corporate decision so if you want to cut vinyl and paper you are forced to buy Silhouette Cameo 3 or Silhouette Portrait.
Is the Silhouette Curio Bluetooth?
Silhouette Curios doesn’t have Bluetooth connectivity option. You need the good old USB cable for communication.
Is the Silhouette Cameo or Cricut better?
This depends on what are you using the machine for. Cricut is better because it’s simply the best machine on the market today. Cameo can only handle soft materials like paper and vinyl. If you want to cut harder materials or emboss you best bet is with the Cricut Maker. No matter which Cricut machine you pick they will all outrank this Silhouette machine. Let’s take a look at the last generation crafting machine called Cricut Explore Air. Even though Cricut Explore Air was released way back in 2016 it has more capabilities than Silhouette Curio.
Can Silhouette Curio cut acrylic?
Silhouette Curio can’t cut acrylic. But you can etch on it.
Can I emboss with Silhouette Cameo?
With the Silhouette Cameo you can’t emboss. It was a corporate decision (as in cash grab) the Cameo is only good for paper and Vinyl. If you want to emboss you need to buy the Silhouette Curio..
Should you invest in a starter kit for this Silhouette Machine?
The starter kit was designed to help you get started right away. I highly support the idea.
What is the Silhouette Curio release date?
The release date was set to 2015 Late Summer / Early Fall.
Is Silhouette Curio vinyl cutting a thing?
Sadly it can’t cut vinyl by design. Only the Cameo 3 can do it and the Silhouette Portrait.
Are any Silhouette Curio tutorials to help me get started?
The best source for tutorials would be YouTube. It’s free, and you get exactly what you want.
What are the Silhouette Curio’s reviews saying?
I’ve checked several Amazon products, and their star rating is between 3.7 up to 4.1. Which means it’s a good product.
What’s included in the Silhouette Curios Bundle?
Well, this differs from one seller to the next. But here’s an example:
Is it the best Vinyl Cutter?
Sadly the title for the best Vinyl cutter goes to someone else. This machine is like a sidekick just like Robin from Batman.

 

Last Updated on:

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Editor's Rating:
3.9
Emily Weathers
Emily Weathers

Hi, Emily Weathers ex-corporate drone, full-time crafter and mother of three running this site. My passion is crafting, and I'm an early adopter. I'm testing many machines, so you don't have to. Since I get to play with these devices, why not write reviews for them? It's the reason for the site's existence, so you make the right choices and avoid money pits. If you want to know more…