This is the most comprehensive and real Cricut Joy review! I'm sharing my 100% honest and straightforward opinion on this little cutting machine and answering the question: Is it REALLY your new DIY best friend?
Today I'll be covering the following topics:
- What is it and how does the Cricut Joy work?
- How the Cricut Joy is different from a Maker or Explore Air 2
- Cricut Joy specifications
- Cricut Joy appearance and physical characteristics
- What does the Cricut Joy come with?
- Where to buy it?
- Materials you can cut with the Cricut Joy
- Craft and Project ideas
If you're all new to the world of Cricut, I've been there and I completely understand how overwhelming it can be! Be sure to check out these articles for a full introduction to everything Cricut:
A note on honest product reviews:
I've been writing here and reviewing products for nearly 12 years. In that time, I've had plenty of thoughts over the best and worst ways to review.
I honestly think it's impossible to review any item and not find at least a few features or areas that could be improved. All of my reviews provide details on product downsides and features I wish to see changed.
You're going to see cons in addition to the pros, and you'll also see reasons why a product might not be right for you.
If you read reviews that are all glowing praise and zero criticism, be wary. Think critically to decide if the reviewer is trying to sell the product instead of helping to inform you before you decide to buy or not.
- What is a Cricut Joy?
- How the Cricut Joy is Different from the Maker and Explore Air 2
- Appearance and Physical Characteristics
- Is the Cricut Joy Worth It?
- Where to Buy your Cricut Joy
- What does a Cricut Joy Come With?
- Mats and Tools: What You Really Need to Start Using it
- Materials You Can Write and Cut with a Cricut Joy
- Pros and Cons of the Cricut Joy
- Cricut Joy Project Ideas
- Final Thoughts: Yours and Mine
What is a Cricut Joy?
The Cricut Joy is a die-cutting and writing machine that's known for its small size and easy-to-use style.
The Joy is being made and promoted as the easiest Cricut machine ever. Because of that, it's very easy to assume that it can only perform basic functions and simple tasks. But that's just not true!
You'll be impressed with how simple it is to make the most intricate cuts and crafty creations. You'll blow your friends’ minds when you say “I made that in 10 minutes” while showing them the delicately layered card you custom made for them.
Take a look at the official video introducing the new machine:
How does it work?
Every Cricut uses a combination of hardware and software to bring your ideas to life. The hardware is the Cricut cutting machine. The software is the Design Space program or app.
The Cricut Joy uses Bluetooth technology to connect to your computer, phone, iPad or tablet. You create your designs and projects in the easy-to-use Design Space software, then send them to the machine.
The Joy has a small blade that cuts paper, vinyl and other materials according to the design you sent to it. The blade can also be switched out for a pen or marker to write or draw on various materials.
How the Cricut Joy is Different from the Maker and Explore Air 2
All three machines are easy enough for anyone to master, and they all use the same software to make your creations. They all also can write and cut over 50 materials.
That's where the similarities end, but that's not a bad thing!
Why are they all so different? Because each machine serves a different purpose. Crafting with a Cricut is not a one size fits all endeavor!
The Cricut Joy is perfect for quick, everyday projects. You'll see that most of the available designs require very little customization.
You can change these projects up if you want to, but you're also free to hit the ground running with the Joy. Just select your project and start making!
The Cricut Explore Air 2 is made for a wide range of DIY and homemade hobbies. It goes beyond little projects. It offers a wider maximum width and is compatible with over 100 materials. It also can use a scoring tool and three different types of blades.
The Cricut Maker is for professional level projects with exceptional performance and versatility. It offers 10x the power of other machines to cut over 300 materials with commercial grade technology.
The Maker is a professional machine because it's capable of 10 more functions (like embossing and engraving) in addition to cutting and writing. There are also more functions being developed all the time.
Appearance and Physical Characteristics
My sister's first words after showing her the Joy was, That's a Cricut? I could totally understand her surprise.
First, this little guy is very nondescript. The Cricut logo is embossed on the outside cover, but it's subtle. There's a very small LED light on the top center of the machine. There are no buttons, switches or dials anywhere on it.
Past Cricut machines have resembled the size of an inkjet printer while weighing even more. Even the Explore Air 2 isn't easy to move around.
The Cricut Joy is tiny in comparison. It takes up a small amount of space and can easily be moved from one spot to another.
But the small size and relatively light weight is a bit deceptive. While it can be lifted and held with one hand, this little machine is absolutely sturdy.
I'm not about to do any drop tests or “will it blend?” challenges, but the Joy doesn't feel fragile at all. I'd absolutely let my kids use it.
As for the color, it's only available in the teal color shown.
I'm a fan of the turquoise unit with the white face cover, because turquoise is pretty. It fits in nicely with the rest of my crafty supplies in the office area of my home.
I would love to see the Cricut Joy in solid matte white, champagne, ecru, black or even grey. This machine is so great for people who live in small spaces, but the bright color means it likely doesn't blend with most existing home decor.
Offering the Joy in matte neutral colors would give it the potential to blend in similar to other smart devices. Speakers and Smart home hubs live on shelves – changing the finish on this little cutting machine could encourage users to keep it out and use it more often!
When you first open it, you'll notice how sleek it is. If you're a design fan like me, I think you'll appreciate the clean lines.
You can also see how simple it is. There is one slot in the housing. It's holding the fine point blade in this image. The same slot can also hold a pen.
But that doesn't mean you have to choose between writing and cutting when you make and design projects. You just have to swap out the blade and the pen when it's time for the machine to switch functions.
This table shows the most important specifications of the Cricut Joy. It's not just a bunch of words and numbers though. I'll definitely reference and explain more as I work through the review.
|Weight||3.9 pounds (1.75kg)|
|Dimensions||8.4″ x 5.4″ x 4.2″|
|Power source||AC power adapter|
|Fine Point Blade||Yes|
|Fine Point Pen||Yes|
|Materials||Cuts 50+ materials|
|Standard Grip Mat||Yes|
|Free software||Design Space for iOS, Android, Windows & Mac|
|Free projects||50 ready-to-make projects|
|Max width of cuts||5.5 inches|
|Max length of cuts||4 feet|
Is the Cricut Joy TOO small?
As we get through more specifications and details about the machine, you'll see that the materials and accessories all make the Joy a simple, quick, easy and portable little crafter.
You might look at the width of the Cricut Joy vinyl and mats and think that's it far too small to make anything worthwhile. I get it.
I had a hard time wrapping my head around how such a small machine would be useful when it could only make projects up to 5 inches wide.
But then I realized I was looking at it all wrong! I had completely missed that all these projects can be rotated and made sideways.
Once I realized things like letters and words could be cut at up to five inches tall and just about any length I started to really understand the value of the Joy.
After all, five inches is really tall when you're making a graphic tee or putting a permanent sticker on a mug. Even most bigger objects won't require single cuts taller than the machine allows.
I also think this machine has all the capabilities needed for the most popular Cricut projects.
Cutting out stickers and heat-transfer vinyl to decorate household items and fabrics can be done in a flash. Labels and paper flowers are also a simple job for the Joy.
The Joy is also able to cut the most common materials: vinyl, iron-on, paper, cardboard, cardstock, and more are no problem for the Joy.
Is the Cricut Joy Worth It?
First, I want to acknowledge that worthiness is in the eye of the beholder. Or something. Asking Is the Cricut Joy worth it? is asking for my opinion.
The Cricut Joy might be small, but it's not super cheap. Neither are the materials you'll be told you need to make your projects.
But there's a big advantage to the small size. It absolutely makes it worth it if it fits your wants and needs.
In all honesty, I haven't come across a hobby that doesn't require both initial and ongoing investments. And the investment isn't always just money! Those that don't require money often require time to gather the “free” supplies needed to make it happen.
So if you have a need or a desire for a simple, quick cutting machine, the Cricut Joy is almost positively going to be worth it for you.
Who is it for?
The Joy can do a lot, but its primary purpose is to quickly make simple, everyday projects. It's also intended to be compact and portable.
With that knowledge, I can see three different kinds of people who need a Cricut Joy in their lives:
If you've always wanted a Cricut or other cutting machine, but you've been scared of the learning curve or intimidated by its power, the Cricut Joy will be PERFECT for you!
The Cricut Joy is perfect for beginners!
If you're a happy user of a Cricut Explore Air, Air 2 or Maker (all notably sturdy, heavy and big devices ) but you wish you could:
- Bring your cutting machine to meetings
- Make crafts while on vacation
- Take your machine to friends' houses
- Use your machine at the office or in a cubicle
Then the Joy will be the perfect companion to the machine you already have and love.
I can't stress this enough: there's a huge amount of value in the tiny size and strategically limited capabilities of the Joy.
Trust me, I have big dreams for all the things I could make with my Explore Air 2. Like oversize paper flowers or abstract mounted reindeer.
But what do I really use it for? Making fun shirts, cards, mugs and stickers. Small things. Things that can easily be made on a smaller, simpler, far less cumbersome machine. Like the Cricut Joy!
Here is who the Joy isn't for:
If you've been using an older Cricut or Silhouette, if you've mastered that machine and you're looking for an upgrade, the Joy is not worth it for you.
You're going to want to spend more and get a Cricut Maker. The power and capabilities are a better fit for you.
Where to Buy your Cricut Joy
The Cricut Joy is available at several retailers, but I recommend buying it directly from the manufacturer at Cricut.com.
Most crafters prefer to buy their cutting machines directly from Cricut.
Shop Cricut.com for your Joy, Explore Air 2, Maker & more!
Most crafters prefer to get their cutting machines directly from Cricut.
If you want your machine today, if you just can't wait, you can buy it with same day pickup or delivery from Michael's.
The downside to the instant gratification? You can't use coupons on any Cricut brand products and prices are often higher.
What I'm really getting at, though, is that you should think twice before buying one from Amazon.
The truth is, it's become risky to make bigger purchases on Amazon. You're protected with Amazon's return policies and their A-to-Z guarantee, but that doesn't save you from the hassle of dealing with orders gone wrong.
So, while Amazon's prices on Cricut machines are occasionally lower than what you'll find on Cricut.com, be very, very cautious before you place your order.
Here's what you need to check for:
- Make sure you're buying a brand new machine.
- Make sure the model described matches the one you want, not just what's in the picture.
- Double check the brands of all accessories.
- If you're buying a bundle on Amazon, be sure to check the brands of everything that comes with it. The deal might not be so great if those “free” extras aren't the quality you expect.
What does a Cricut Joy Come With?
A really important question that needs to be answered is: what comes with a Cricut Joy? A regular, non-bundled Cricut Joy box contains:
- Cricut Joy machine
- Blade + housing
- 1 fine point pen with black ink
- 1 4.5″ x 8.5″ StandardGrip Mat
- Welcome card
- Power adapter
- Free trial membership to Cricut Access
- 50 ready-to-make free Cricut projects
- Materials for practice cuts
While the blade and housing are listed as “included” with the machine, they're already installed.
There's literally no assembly required with the Cricut Joy. You just need to plug it in and it's ready to use!
Mats and Tools: What You Really Need to Start Using it
The machine comes with the very basic supplies you need to start your crafting projects, but there are definitely some things you can get to make the process easier.
I actually have a whole post planned around useful Cricut Joy materials and accessories, so I'll keep this very brief. I'm just focusing on the 5 items that will help you start creating ASAP.
- Starter tool set. You'll be so much happier if you have a weeder, spatula and scraper to help you get your materials off the mat. You can get all three in one pack with this Starter Tool Set.
- Smart Vinyl. You can use any type of vinyl with your Cricut Joy, but Smart Vinyl is better because you can cut without the mat.
Smart vinyl is available in short and long rolls in a huge variety of colors, finishes and patterns.
You'll also see that Smart vinyl comes in permanent, removable, writeable and iron-on types. They're all made for the exact width of the Cricut Joy and you can do matless cutting with all of them!
- Card Mat: The card mat is one of my favorite innovations of the Cricut Joy. Using the Card Mat with the insert cards means you'll be able to make gorgeous, custom cards unbelievably fast – and it's only $5.99!
My only frustration with my Explore Air 2 is positioning the materials on the mat for accurate cutting. The Card Mat eliminates that issue by providing a sleeve to use with the Insert Cards. They're then perfectly in position for accurate cutting and writing.
- Insert Cards. They go with the card mat for lightning fast custom cards.
- LightGrip Mat. This mat allows you secure more delicate materials, like vellum, copy paper and foil in order to have your Joy cut them. The light grip makes it easier to remove them without tearing.
Materials You Can Write and Cut with a Cricut Joy
Cricut.com provides a full list of the 50+ materials a Cricut Joy can cut and write on.
Below is a list with the most popular materials and what kind of mat or accessory to use with them.
|Smart vinyl, all types||No mat needed|
|Adhesive vinyl||StandardGrip mat|
|Iron-on vinyl||StandardGrip mat|
|Cardstock, lightweight||LightGrip mat|
|Cardstock, medium||StandardGrip mat|
|Cardstock, heavy||StandardGrip mat|
|Paper, construction||LightGrip mat|
|Paper, copy||LightGrip mat|
|Poster board||LightGrip mat|
|Party foil||LightGrip mat|
|Window cling||LightGrip mat|
|Freezer paper||LightGrip mat|
|Wrapping paper||LightGrip mat|
Pros and Cons of the Cricut Joy
If you've read this Cricut Joy review up to this point, you probably have a good idea of the pros and cons of the little cutting machine. But I'll summarize them for easy digestion.
Pros of getting a Cricut Joy
- It's not intimidating
- It's easy to learn how to use
- It's speedy
- It's the lowest-priced Cricut cutting machine available
- There are more free projects in Design Space than any other machine
- It can cut without a mat
- Cuts single creations up to four feet long
- Can create repeated cuts up to 20 feet long
- The card mat easily and quickly makes unique cards
- It's capable of making the most popular Cricut projects (and so much more!)
- It's portable
- It can be stored easily
Cons of the Cricut Joy
- Machine-specific tools and accessories means that you must buy products specifically made by Cricut for the Joy.
- You need to manually switch the blade with the pen if your design includes both cutting and writing.
- Large designs will need to be broken up into smaller cuts. (the Design Space software will help you with this)
- Materials are limited to a dimension of 5 inches on one side.
- Can't cut as many materials as bigger cutting machines.
Cricut Joy Project Ideas
After all that I've included in this Cricut Joy review, it's time to give you some proof. You need to see that this machine can do exactly the projects so many crafters are looking for.
So I've come up with 20 different projects that can be made just with the Cricut Joy. Some are simple. Others are extremely detailed. But the truth is, they're all very easy! They only require your little cutting machine and materials to cut.
Here are some more creative and fantastic projects that aren't shown in the image above:
19. Envelope Labels
Many of these ideas are free to make and they're all available in Design Space.
I love that every single one of these projects is super impressive, and some are true showstoppers!
Final Thoughts: Yours and Mine
After reading this long and extensive review, what are your thoughts? Is it worth it?
I've thought long and hard about this and I fully believe that this is the perfect little cutting and crafting machine for a variety of users.
The compact footprint and minimal weight offer so many advantages. Not only will it fit into small spaces, it's great for crafting on the go!
Is it REALLY “Your DIY Best Friend?”
I put this question into my article outline as a joke, but I started taking it seriously as I wrote more. The truth is, I actually DO think it's your DIY Best Friend!
I can see serious crafters loving The Cricut Joy as companion to their “main” cutting machine – either the Cricut Maker or the Explore Air 2.
The Joy is so quick and perfect for small jobs. Being able to take it places means you can create on the spot and make things for others in real time!
It's also a DIY best friend because it's so SO easy to use. The effortless setup, the lack of buttons and dials, the mat-free cutting…all of it makes for the easiest, least intimidating Cricut experience ever!