“Sure Cuts A Lot” (SCAL) Software Review and COUPON CODE/Sale

April 1, 2009 at 11:02 pm 28 comments

UPDATE  1-11-11:  SCAL on sale $59.95, regularly $75.00.  Hurry!  Sale ends soon!
magnanimity_scal_layout_apron

I made this layout using my Cricut along with the Sure Cuts A Lot program (often seen abbreviated on-line as SCAL for short). Since I’ve been asked a lot of questions about the program and how it differs from using the Cricut Cartridges, I hope this post answers a few questions for those of you interested. Plus, for my time, the company offers me a buck or two for anyone who follows this link to buy.  It will take some time to get through the details, so I’ll take them up on that!

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I cut this using three different fonts on one sheet of 6X12 paper with one setup in about five minutes. With the Cricut, to get three fonts, you are limited to the ones they make cartridges for, you must own those cartridges, and you must either buy a “jukebox” to link them together it you want to cut from them all at the same time so that they can all be plugged in at once, or you must switch them in and out, wait for them to load, and then cut.  You could not cut this design with Cricut cartridges, the fonts are not available.

WHAT IS YOUR PROCESS?

I laid my photos and journaling spot on my page, estimated how large I wanted the title, sized each set of letters on my screen, chose fonts on my system, then clicked “cut”.  No switching cartridges or having to buy cartridges manufactured by Cricut and never a limitation on a project by the fonts Cricut decides to produce.  Download a new font, use it immediately!  I needed shapes one night for a child’s school play to make front plates for each “actor”.  I downloaded each shape I needed and had the kids ready with costumes in less than an hour.  Easy volunteering.

WHAT IS SCAL?

Sure Cuts a Lot is a third party program (not endorsed or affiliated with the Cricut makers) that allows you to hook up your Cricut to your computer, then cut out any fonts already loaded onto your system–the coolest thing. SCAL comes with software allowing you to type in your text, select your font, size things, then cut any font on your computer WITHOUT having to buy the $30-$50 Cricut cartridges. You update your cricut with a driver on their site, then simply hook the cut machine and computer together with a standard “printer cable”, run the program, design, and cut!   It’s simple enough for ease of use, and yet complex enough for the seasoned designer.

HOW MUCH DOES Sure Cuts A Lot, “SCAL”, COST?

The prices may vary from the writing of this post, but current pricing from the SCAL website purchase page is:

$90.00 CD-ROM + Downloadable (meaning, they immediately send you the program and a CD for future reference).

$75.00 Downloadable only (see current sale price, if available, at the top of this post):  you get the full program, burning your own CD for backup.

While these prices might be more than we are used to paying for software, consider that EVERY Cricut cartridge allows ONE font and is $30-$60 or so.

SHOULD I BUY THE DOWNLOAD, OR THE CD? That depends on whether you know how to backup files.  If you can burn a CD or save to an external hard drive, I’d just download it.

WILL SCAL CUT ANY FONTS?

Yes.  However, some fonts cut better than others. Look for fonts that are closed (have no “breaks” in them). Poor font choices might be a grunge font, or a font with letters made up of small dots.

GOOD FONT EXAMPLES–here is a 4-H “How-To” presentation poster we made in about half an hour:

cricut-scal-poster-example-1

My son picked the colors, helped me decide on fonts, and glued them on, running them through the Xyron to make “sticker letters” while I made cuts. HINT:  To make lining up letters straight a breeze, overlap them together in SCAL so that they are “attached”, like in the words “BALLOON” AND “MENTOS”.

WHAT SIZE LETTERS WILL SCAL CUT–THE SAME AS THE MACHINE?

SCAL will actually cut SMALLER than the settings on the Cricut is preset to cut, which is often very handy.  I’ve cut less than 1/2″ in size (you would not want it to try a very complex font at that size).   For very small projects, it helps to have a mat in good condition and to set your SCAL settings to cut “slow”.  A trial cut makes getting settings adjusted easy enough.

DO YOU USE YOUR CRICUT AND SCAL A LOT IN SCRAPBOOKING?

I use the Cricut a lot for a lot of everything!  Sunday school projects for the kids to adhere, card-making, and MOST DEFINITELY scrapbooking. I easily put titles on my pages and am finally thrilled with them!  I’m no longer digging for stickers to match, or the right size/placement for my photo layouts.  My papers match to layouts AND, I’m using all those coordinating papers I’d been collecting!  I used to have to plan layout colors around what stickers I had!  Not any more! I can do a lot of title varieties like I’ve admired in scrapbook magazines.  It’s so fun!

Here’s an embellishment I did recently for a baby album:


WILL SCAL CUT FANCY FONTS WITH SCROLL FLOURISHES?

Yes. Being able to cut intricate letters is one reason I bought SCAL, as I can’t find cartridges with the fonts I like best.  I {{{heart}}} those fonts and hope to do some wall art with them out of vinyl adhesive paper--just as soon as I find the perfect quote! You can check Cricut’s website for settings for cutting vinyl, and there are tutorials on youtube to help you learn how.

DO YOU USE YOUR CRICUT OFTEN FOR PROJECTS OTHER THAN SCRAPBOOKING?

Yes!  I use it every week for some project:  cards, names on cards, personalized items, crafts for Sunday School, quick kid’s birthday cards. I’m in awe every time I pull the letters out of the paper.  I often tell my kids, “Come look at this!” when I’m lifting the letters off the mat.  It amazes me every time!

scal-names

It is a luxury I would not want to live without.

Cutting Hint: When I’m cutting out children’s names for them to adhere, I connect the letters by applying a trapezoid on the bottom and merging it to the letters–that way I don’t have to keep up with multiple letters to take to classes.  The children can easily glue them to projects.  I have a file saved with all their names so that if I want to cut them again, I just open the file and click “cut”!

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The kids love to have things with their names on them…we made personalized bookmarks with these:

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Kids love to embellish like nuthin’ you’ve seen!

WHAT ABOUT THE CARTRIDGES?

Well, I keep thinking I’ll buy a cartridge to treat myself, but I’ll tell you, every time I shop, even if I find some lower than full price, I’m never tempted after I really look at what’s on the cart.  I think, “I can already do that!”   I just keep looking at them for ideas, then finding free cut files to cut few images on the cart that I would really use.

IS SCAL EASY TO USE?

I was able to use it the first night I got it installed with no problems.  I found Sure Cuts a Lot even easier after I explored the menus.  I can adjoin letters, create blocks of text, use any font or shape, and easily make my own shadows and blackouts. Having also used Design Studio, the software that can be bought to adjoin Cricut cartridges, I found SCAL to be easier and more versatile.

CAN YOU CUT SHAPES?

Yes, you can cut shapes! Yes.  The program comes with a “shapes” folder, allowing you to cut circles, squares, triangles, any basic shape.  You can put words inside that shape to get, say, the effect of a stop sign with the word “STOP” cut out.   You can cut .ttf (the file extension for True Type Fonts), or .svg files. You can also cut any “dingbat” files…search dafont.com for “dingbat” fonts and see what you come up with!  You can cut any .jpg with clean lines.  You can cut batman, sports symbols, all sorts of animals, bugs, dolls, butterflies….etc.

scal-poster-2c

(ABOVE) My daughter’s 4-H Demonstration poster

To make the Borax box, we used a rectangle and just typed the words “BORAX POWDER” inside.  We added the plus signs.  Making the water bottle was the most fun; we used a rectangle, merged with two flattened circles on the top and bottom, then added a small square on the top to make the cap. We set the SCAL program to meld all the shapes together, and typed “H2O” to cut that out of the bottle. scal-poster-2b

The poster has been squished in the van for a month or so now, but this was the whole poster for daughter.  She added all the goo shapes on her own free style with markers or construction paper.  She did all the gluing and told me what she needed. scal-poster-2a1

We made the purple “shadows” to put behind the letters “How to” and “GLUE”.

(NOTE:  The word “GOO” is using the “blockout” SCAL feature (it fills in the holes in the letters, whereas a shadow doesn’t).

OTHER FILE TYPES FOR SHAPES:

SCAL users often keep blogs to share .svg files– I’ve downloaded the popular “label” shapes, as well as scalloped shapes in circles and squares!   No need for graduated punches!  See in my sidebar “Great Cut Files for Cricut + SCAL Software

There is also a forum on the SCAL website where people share .svg files, AND a couple active yahoo groups you can join where people share their work and files.  I talked to a kind gal from Australia off and on for several days working on a project.  People are so great!  (As opposed to Cricut support with whom I’ve heard customer service is slow, if they respond at all.)

ORGANIZATION of ELEMENTS:

For my fonts, I sometime refer to the free beta program:  The Font Thing (not a product of SCAL or Cricut, just worth mentioning here) where I can organize fonts by category, type, or style.

the-font-thing.JPG

In The Font Thing, you can type a phrase and scroll down through the list to see how it looks in various fonts.

IS IT HARD/SAFE TO INSTALL FREE FONTS ONTO MY COMPUTER

Oh, SO easy.  See this post. (I wrote a step-by-step post on that a while back!)

WHAT IF I NEED HELP WITH SCAL?

The folks at the SCAL forum are great at addressing common questions.  I’d start there.  I had one problem  getting things set up at one time, and the owner emailed me within just a few hours with help to straighten it out.  I was so pleased with the kind service.  Also, I can possibly help with some basic questions if I have time to spare. 

CAN I RUN SCAL SOFTWARE ON MULTIPLE HOME COMPUTERS?

Their website says you can run it on two computers, but you can only use one of the programs at a time.

ARE THERE ANY DOWN SIDES TO SCAL OVER JUST USING THE CARTRIDGES?

Perhaps some who take their Cricut to crops and print from sheer cartridges would not like having to be hooked to a computer. I have recently acquired a laptop and love taking it with me.  I like having the wi-fi, my facebook, my design program, and my cutting all running at my fingertips.  :)

DOES SCAL UPDATE?

SCAL is constantly updating and improving.  Anything you want to do, there is probably a tutorial available on someone’s blog to help you learn how to do it.  (EDIT:  2010 Updates have made the program even MORE usable.  You can take any .jpg image, separate it by color, and cut each piece.  The new version is also compatible with both Windows and now Mac computers!)

People who know what they are doing can create cut files that cut FAST.  Those less experienced will sometimes offer files that have not been optimized for cutting and will cut slower.  The more “straight” the path, the faster it cuts.  January 2010 Update: Currently, I am buying several beautiful SVG cut file packages and cheap fonts at www.letteringdelights.com that look adorable.  Here’s an example of a cut file set they have available for FREE right now called “Balloon Craze”  (plus, they send coupons after your purchase, and links for free fonts.  Very fun site!)  You can find plenty cut files and fonts for free, but sometimes, I like to “treat myself” to a fun looking set.


Thanks for reading my review.  You might wish to subscribe to my blog using your RSS feeder (through a service like bloglines or your iGoogle reader) so you don’t miss posts on SCAL.  I plan to be posting pretty often for a while as a teaching tool to help you as you get started.

Click Logo below (or in the sidebar) to Buy:

sure-cuts-a-lot

Click here for More Info found on the Sure Cuts A Lot Site!

UPDATE:  As of 1-2011, I am not sure whether the coupon codes are valid, BUT…there is currently a sale running on the software.  Click the image above to check it out!


To help you get started with a fun label cut file:  FREE SVG Cut File for SCAL: Label 1 (MaggieSVGs).
Also, recently posted:  Free Label Cut Files
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Entry filed under: Free SVGs, SCAL, SCAL (Sure Cuts A Lot), Scrapbooking. Tags: , , , , , .

Shout Out to A New Favorite Organizational Pad Whimsical Bird Card (SCAL + Cricut Instructions)

28 Comments Add your own

  • [...] out using the “dbwoodsy font” + Sure Cuts a Lot (or “SCAL” software–click here for my explanation and review of SCAL, or here to purchase).  I think I bought this font at a scrapbooking font site for [...]

  • 2. Jan  |  May 22, 2009 at 4:45 pm

    I just got my scal, won’t let me cut on expressions machine unless I have a cartridge in it, my firmware is updated and Followed all directions from u tbe, still will not work without carts.any suggestions would be helpful.
    Jan
    happy2scrap56@yahoo.com

  • 3. Maggie  |  May 25, 2009 at 9:50 pm

    The SCAL program will not work unless you leave one cartridge in the machine. It can be any cartridge at all. Then you cut whatever you see on your screen, or use the cartridge in your machine either one. Hope this helps!

  • 4. Jereme  |  November 30, 2009 at 5:31 pm

    Jan, a cartridge is required to be installed in your Cricut for Sure Cuts A Lot to operate (this is noted on the manufacturer’s web site). I believe the Cricut does a system check and if a cartridge is not installed, it simply will not make any cuts.

    Jereme

  • 5. Trisha  |  January 27, 2010 at 7:18 am

    Maggie,

    Hi. Cool website – I’ve learned a few new tips for my sure cuts alot program from here. I was wondering if you know how to contact the scal manufacturer directly? I’m having some trouble and not getting the answers I need from the place I ordered the program. Thanks!

  • 6. Maggie  |  January 27, 2010 at 7:33 am

    The manufacturer is “craft edge”. You can reach them by googling that name, or by going to the SCAL website and using the contact form.

  • 7. Trisha  |  January 27, 2010 at 10:52 pm

    Thanks – I’ll try that!

  • 8. Caitlin  |  April 4, 2010 at 7:04 pm

    Thanks for posting this! Nice review of SCAL, helped me make my decision!

  • 9. Maggie  |  April 4, 2010 at 7:14 pm

    Great! Click on my link and use this coupon code if you’d like their latest discount!

    I’m still enjoying it!

    Coupon: 8774959

    Discount is not valid for version 2 upgrades.

    Discount is for 10% off and will expire on 4/12/2010 11:59PM PST

  • 10. overstock coupon code  |  April 22, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    Maggie, what is you site? Do you have any coupons for electronics? Thanks,

  • 11. Christina  |  June 12, 2010 at 9:37 am

    Maggie,

    I have heard a few great things about this program and your post put it over the top! I am definitely going to purchase. I want to do the trial version first just to see what is on there.

    I had a question for you though. I saw the GOO that you did with the black and purple. I saw on one website that you can buy ink markers to replace the blades. Is that what you used for it?

    I don’t know if you would know but is the ink marker a blade as well or just a marker and if you want it cut out you have to put it through the machine twice, the ink first and then the blade?
    I’m trying to figure this program out! I just got my cricut for my graduation a few days ago and I want to use it so bad but I haven’t ordered the program or recieved my cartridge yet.

    I also want to let you know that this post helped me out so much, as I was going to buy additional cartridges as well as this but it looks like this program does it all. Thanks for the ideas! Hope you can answer my question :)

    Christina

  • 12. Maggie  |  June 12, 2010 at 1:54 pm

    Yes…to color, you need to “cut” twice…once with a marker, and once with a blade…it is best to not “remove” the mat from the project in between. Simply remove and replace and recut without taking the mat out so that it cuts in exactly the same spot.

    It’s a wonderful program, and it’s gotten even better since I wrote that post…much more to it.

    You can even import any .jpg image now and easily separate it by color in the program, saving different pieces to different layers.

    I love to check their website, and also have bought “sets” from svgcuts.com. Their tutorial videos, especially the latest on the new updates are wonderful.

    I hope you enjoy it. I feel sorry for my friends who’ve wasted a lot of money on carts, but feel they don’t want to switch paths now for SCAL. It’s much more versatile!

  • 13. christina  |  June 12, 2010 at 2:38 pm

    The only other thing is when I was looking on the website it said that you need to still purchase fonts and images. I thought that they all came with the program when you purchase it. Is that not the case?

  • 14. Maggie  |  June 12, 2010 at 4:18 pm

    That is not the case. I’m not sure what wording they used.

    You can cut any true type font on your computer and any .jpg image suitable for cutting.

    You can also find .svg files off the net.

    If you WANT to purchase cut files and fonts, those are out there for you, but there are MANY free ones available. Enough to keep me busy for several years.

    Here’s something fun…search online for free svg files for cutting and see what you get. You’ll be downloading files all day. :)

    UPDATE: I’ve also added a link area in my sidebar of some of the places I like to look for free cut files. See:
    “Great Cut Files for Cricut + SCAL Software”.

  • 15. christina  |  June 12, 2010 at 9:14 pm

    Okay you got me hooked. I’m definitely buying this program tomorrow. Thanks for all your suggestions and tips it really helped! :)

  • 16. Maggie  |  June 12, 2010 at 11:01 pm

    I don’t see how anyone could regret it. A ton of fun!

    I love to “weld” my own words for text…this weekend, I made a Clone Trooper for my son’s birthday. He loved it! He uses it for a template to draw his own. :)

    It just keeps getting better…wish I’d thought of it first!

    PS: If you click on the link from my blog, I get a buck or two, which is cool. You can do the same with your own blog if you choose later! Very easy product to promote.

  • 17. linda  |  August 14, 2010 at 12:49 pm

    how do you make swirleys on a letter so it looks fancy, i want to cut it out and put it on a tile?

  • 18. linda  |  August 14, 2010 at 12:51 pm

    how to put swirleys on a letter to make it look fancy so i can cut it out and put on a tile

  • 19. Maggie  |  August 14, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    You’ll typed the letter, then find a flourish file you want to add, then click the “weld” option on both the letter and the flourish so that it cuts together. Try different swirl options until you find one you like!

  • 20. KIKABIT  |  September 17, 2010 at 2:58 pm

    I just bought the new Cricut Imagine, will SCAL work with it too.

  • 21. Maggie  |  September 17, 2010 at 3:27 pm

    Kikabit,
    This is the first I’ve heard about the Imagine, but from what I understand from quick reads, the Imagine will only work with Imagine cartridges. The machine will not even work with Provocraft’s own Design Studio software. Hope this helps.
    ~Maggie

  • [...] Using Cricut and Sure Cuts a Lot where I downloaded elements off the internet for cutting, and here’s some projects where I used a lot of free fonts.  I prefer this to buying a cartridge for even $15.  Most often, [...]

  • 23. Cheryl  |  June 4, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    I was told not to use SCL with my Cricut machines. Is that something that Provo craft says or is it true that it will mess up my Cricut?

  • 24. tj  |  July 4, 2012 at 8:24 pm

    I am trying to make a 12×12 rubber duck border for my granddaughter ‘s scrapbbok page.

    I went to the help section in SCAL 2 and tried to understand the merged section under the objects menu, but this did not help me at all.

    I have a Cricut Expression that I still use with SCAL 2.

    Please help.

    Thanks,
    TJ

  • 25. Maggie  |  August 7, 2012 at 8:08 am

    You
    Can find info on this searching the net, but after reading up, I found it an acceptable risk.

  • 26. Maggie  |  August 7, 2012 at 2:53 pm

    What you need is called “word weld”. There is a good description of how to do it under another similar question at this forum. The third answer down seems to describe well what you need to do. Sorry for the delayed answer! Summer break here! http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2049111

  • 27. Bryan  |  September 17, 2012 at 5:47 am

    Will sure cuts a lot work with the cricut expression 2?

  • 28. Maggie  |  September 27, 2012 at 11:58 am

    No, not to my knowledge. There was a lawsuit against SCAL after these posts were written to prevent further sale or distribution of the software. My guess is that they blocked it’s use for future models.

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ME: “MAGGIE”

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Sifting the joy from the mundane:

recording, photographing, learning, creating.

I am married to the love of my life, as we raise three children, learning the ways of grace.

avatar-clay-mugs-drying

Magnanimity (derived from the Latin roots magn- great, and anima, soul) is the virtue of being great of mind and heart. It encompasses, usually, a refusal to be petty, a willingness to face danger, and actions for noble purposes. Its antithesis is pusillanimity. Both terms were coined by Aristotle, who called magnanimity "the crowning virtue."

Noah Webster's 1828 Dictionary of the American Language defines Magnanimity as such:

MAGNANIM'ITY, n. [L. magnanimitas; magnus, great, and animus, mind.] Greatness of mind; that elevation or dignity of soul, which encounters danger and trouble with tranquillity and firmness, which raises the possessor above revenge, and makes him delight in acts of benevolence, which makes him disdain injustice and meanness, and prompts him to sacrifice personal ease, interest and safety for the accomplishment of useful and noble objects.[1] (Source: Wikipedia)

MAGNANIMOUS WORK

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"We shall not waste our time in looking for extraordinary experiences in our life, but live by pure faith, ever watchful and ready for His coming by doing our day-to-day duties with extraordinary love and devotion." ~Mother Teresa

MAGNANIMOUS LIFE:

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"Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not come. We have only today. Let us begin." ~Mother Teresa

MONTHS

MAGNANIMOUS ATTITUDE

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A kind heart is a fountain of gladness, making everything in it's vicinity freshen into smiles. --Washington Irving

WHERE I SHOP:

MAGNANIMOUS LIFE

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When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn. -Harriet Beecher Stowe

YOU CAME; I SMILED

  • 935,698 Magnanimous Visitors

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Please know that I am not posting as an expert, but as a fellow traveler. I recommend that you research and double check things on your own before taking any advice or instruction from this site.  Information is given in good faith for the time period in which it was written. I am also an affiliate of the Sure Cuts A Lot software, for Cricut, which means you don't need Cricut cartridges to cut any font or .jpg on your computer.  I get some pocket change for introducing you if you choose to buy it by clicking on my site.  And we all know I need more cardstock, so I do appreciate it.  I sometimes review other products for a fee, but I am not required to give a positive review, and post honestly as to my experience.  I hope you find this useful.

Sidebar photographs by Maggie except "clay mugs". Others, stockxchng (by permission) unless noted.

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