Updated July 2021
Written by Allen Foster Authors 's image

PRODUCT REVIEW: Cricut Explore Air 2

This is the company's most popular model. It is a versatile machine that allows you to embellish a wide range of elements with creative flair.

Bottom Line

The flexibility of this crafter's dream tool allows you to create nearly anything you imagine. The precision gives each project a crisp, clean polish that rivals the quality of commercial home decor and crafts.

Pros: The machine accepts over 100 materials. Cricut Design Space software gives you freedom to work from patterns and templates or to create your own designs.

 

Cons: It does so much that it can be overwhelming to new users. While not expensive, the pricing is high enough to make it a product for serious users.

 

Who is it for? DIY crafter who wants to take their projects to the next level as well as advanced crafters.

 

What does it do? It can cut, score, and write patterns and your own designs. It can be used with over 100 different materials, offering an expansive range of options.

 

How much does it cost? $249.99*.

 

*Pricing is subject to change.


Shopping guide for Cricut Explore Air 2

Written by Allen Foster
Updated July 2021

Size and weight

Dimensions are 5.97 inches tall, 22.17 inches long, and 6.99 inches wide. Weight is 21 pounds.

 

Materials accepted

Works with over 100 materials including cardstock, poster board, vinyl, bonded fabric, glitter paper, and cork. Maximum width accepted is 12 inches; maximum length is 2 feet.

 

Connectivity

The Cricut Explore Air 2 machine can connect to your iPad, iPhone, computer, or smart device via USB or Bluetooth.

 

Features

Fast mode: In Fast Mode, it can cut and write up to two times faster than the previous model’s fast mode.

 

Double tool holder: With its double tool holder, blade and pen are at the ready.

 

Designing: While it works best with Design Space software, it is compatible with Cricut cartridges.

 

Purchase includes

  • The machine
  • Power adapter
  • Blade and housing
  • Fine point pen (black)
  • LightGrip mat (12 by 12 inches)
  • Introductory book
  • USB cable
  • 50 projects (ready-to-go)
  • Practice materials
  • Trial Cricut Access membership (new subscribers only)
     

Warranty

Electronic parts have a one-year warranty. Non-electronic part warranty is 90 days.

Variations

The machine comes in a variety of colors: black, blue, lilac, mint, and rose. It comes as part of two different bundles:

 

Cricut Explore Air 2 + Essentials Bundle: Besides regularly included items, this bundle features samplers, iron-on protective sheet, transfer tape, cutting mat variety pack, tool set, knife, and portable trimmer.

 

Cricut Explore Air 2 + Everything Bundle: Besides regularly included items with the Air 2, it includes a portable trimmer, tool set, cutting mats, samplers, and transfer tape.

 

Pricing

Generally speaking, the Cricut Explore Air 2 machine retails for $249.99. The Cricut Explore Air 2 + Beginners Bundle retails for $279.99. 

 

Many outlets offer the machine and bundles at a significant discount. Read our guide for strategies on finding sales.

 

Some outlets offer financing. If that appeals to you, check with individual outlets.

 

You may want to subscribe to Cricut Access, a service with over 100,000 images and 500+ fonts. It gives you 10% off licensed images and purchases and has a library of thousands of ready-to-make projects. Pricing is $9.99 per month/$95.88 per year. You can upgrade to a premium account that offers 20% off all materials and free economy shipping on orders of $50+. Cost $119.88 yearly (no monthly option).

 

Where can I buy one?

 

About Cricut

The philosophy behind Cricut is “to help people lead creative lives by providing tools to make their do-it-yourself projects beautiful, fun, and easy." The company's goal was to create a tool that changes the way people think about crafting.

 

From the first somewhat clunky and small machine that used Cricut cartridges to the current top model, Cricut has been refining, adapting, and innovating its line for the past 15 years.

Contacting customer service

Email: Visit the company's website and send an email through the company's contact portal.

 

Chat: Visit Cricut.com. Click on the speech balloon in the bottom right corner to start a conversation.

 

Phone: The number is 877-727-4288. Call from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday.

 

Owner's manual

Cricut has gathered all documentation and tutorials for each model in one space. For a deep dive, visit the company's website. If you prefer to look at the owner's manual, find that here.

 

How to set up your machine

Whether you are running Mac OS, Windows, iOS, or Android, setup is easy.

 

Mac OS/Windows

1. Unbox your machine, plug in the power cord, and turn it on.

2. Use the USB cord to connect it to your computer, or pair it via Bluetooth.

3. Visit Cricut's setup page.

4. Download and install Cricut Design Space software.

5. Follow prompts to create your ID and set up your Cricut Explore Air 2 machine.

6. If setup was successful, you will be asked to make a test cut.

 

iOS/Android

1. Unbox, plug in the power cord, and turn on your machine.

2. Pair your iPad, iPhone, or other mobile device via Bluetooth.

3. Download, install, and launch the Cricut Design Space app.

4. Follow prompts to create your Cricut ID.

5. Locate "Machine Setup" on the menu and tap it.

6. If setup was successful, you will be asked to make a test cut.

Ways to use your Cricut Explore Air 2

This crafting tool excels at diecutting and making intricate patterns. You are limited only by your imagination. Following are some ideas.

 

  • Create custom-made greeting cards
  • Design T-shirts 
  • Make vinyl wall graphics
  • Create themed decorations for an event
  • Decorate coffee mugs and jars
  • Make a stuffed animal
  • Design custom pillow cases
  • Decorate poster board for a school project
  • Use custom-made iron-ons to decorate clothing, pillows, bags, and more
  • Create intricate decoupage
  • Make a puzzle with cardstock or poster board
  • Print and cut out pieces to build architectural models
  • Make paper flowers
  • Craft cardstock party invitations
  • Make stencils to decorate furniture
  • Use foil to create wall art
  • Create an ornate vinyl motif for  home decor
  • Add a personal touch to gift bags and boxes
  • Make a quilt
  • Create professional-looking leather projects
  • Manufacture custom-made stickers, decals, and iron-ons

Common issues

Learning curve

Focus on tutorials that teach the techniques you most want to learn. After you master those, branch out to tutorials in new areas. The machine is only overwhelming if you try to do more than you’re ready for.


The blade doesn't always cut through material

Sometimes, the blade doesn't cut completely through the material. When this happens, make sure you have the machine on the correct material setting. Remove, inspect, and clean (or replace) the blade, if needed. If that doesn't work, increase the pressure for your material setting by 2 to 4, and perform a test cut. You may need to do this a few times to see results.

 

A few other options exist, but it's best to walk through them with a representative from Cricut's Member Care team.

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Fabric may bunch up beneath the rollers

This happens because you are using a piece of fabric that is too large for the machine to handle. Before placing any fabric on your mat, make sure that none of it will extend beyond the adhesive area. This should stop your fabric from bunching up when cutting.


The machine can build up dust, paper particles, and grease

The more you use your Cricut, the more you will notice tiny paper particles and dust building up. You may also notice some grease accumulating on the cartridge track. This is normal. You just need to disconnect the power supply and use a soft, lint-free cloth that has been dampened with glass cleaner to gently wipe it down. Be careful to never use any cleaner with acetone in it, as this will damage your Cricut.

 

Wherever you notice grease building up, simply wipe down the track with a soft lint-free cloth — again, do this only after you have disconnected the power supply.

 

Optional accessories

Once you feel comfortable using your Explore Air 2, you may realize there are a lot of accessories that you want. Here are three popular accessories.

 

Cricut Ultimate Fine Point Pen Set ($20.47 at Amazon): This set of 30 fine-point pens provides a variety of water-based, acid-free, nontoxic colors. Use them to enhance your creations with writing and design.

 

Cricut Foil Transfer Kit ($25.23 at Amazon): This tool can add a splash of elegance to your projects. The set comes with three tips (fine, medium, and bold) as well as 12 Cricut foil transfer sheets so you can begin embellishing.

 

Cricut Essential Core Tools ($27.96 at Amazon): While your machine comes with the bare minimum of tools and accessories that you need to get started, you'll quickly find you require more to do your best work. This set of seven tools will allow you to slice, snip, score, weed, burnish, and more.

 

How to find a Cricut Explore Air 2 on sale

The Cricut Explore Air 2 machine is often available at a discounted rate. While you can frequent the websites of your favorite retailers to keep an eye on price, it's better to sign up to receive regular emails that alert you of sales events and deals.

 

For instance, if you visit Cricut's website and sign up to be on the company's email list, not only will you receive notifications of deals, you will get an immediate discount on your first purchase as a member. That said, buying directly from the company doesn't always get you the best deal. If getting the lowest price is important, do a little comparison shopping at other retailers first.

 

Similar products

If you'd like to learn more about the products Cricut has to offer, consider visiting our page on best Cricut machines. We’ve also listed some similar products which might be of interest to you.

 

Cricut Maker ($369.99 at Amazon): If you are looking for a pro-level DIY experience, the Cricut Maker is the model you want. It can handle over 300 materials, features commercial-grade cutting technology, and accepts materials up to 12 inches wide.

 

Cricut Joy ($178.00 at Amazon): The Cricut Joy is the company's smallest and most affordable model. It can be used for cutting and writing, and it can handle materials up to 5.5 inches wide.

 

Brother ScanNCut DIY Cutting Machine($399.99 at Amazon): This offering from Brother has a built-in scanner that can quickly convert your drawings to a cut file. It features 682 onboard designs, and with the auto blade, you no longer have to make adjustments or select materials because the machine does all that for you.