Long Term USCutter 14 Inch Vinyl Cutter Review
I’ve been using the 14″ desktop vinyl cutter from USCutter almost daily for a whopping seven years now. When I purchased this product back in 2012, I was worried it was a mistake. It wasn’t. In this long term USCutter 14 inch vinyl cutter review I outline why. This article covers the 2 or 3 minor problems experienced, their resolution and more. We’ll cover the good, the bad and the ugly. If you’re expecting perfection this isn’t the cutter for you. If you have reasonable expectations and appreciate a great value, read on!
Before We Start:
This is a pretty long review but I feel it is necessarily so. I wanted to help those of you who might be on the fence and looking for an honest and detailed review. If you don’t want all the long winded details you can scroll down to the conclusion of the review for a quick rundown of the main points at once. I’ve also included a table of contents to help you jump to important sections if you prefer to navigate through the review that way.
The rest of you are probably like me. You like to have as much information as possible before shelling out $200-$300 of your hard earned cash. If you’ve found this review you’re probably in the same boat I was back in late 2012.
You’re wondering whether a budget value vinyl cutter like this is a waste of time and money. You might be wondering whether it will suit your needs or if you should invest in something bigger and better. Will it last? Does it work well enough? Are the negative reviews just impatient and uninformed customers or is this thing a piece of junk? Can you trust those one sentence positive reviews? Do they still love the cutter a year later? Did it die a flaming death? These are all questions I had while debating this purchase. I hope to answer these and more for you.
Also, before we get started with the review we wanted to point out it contains affiliate links. Full details are provided here. Simply stated, if you take action (such as making a purchase) after visiting links here we may receive earnings. No worries. It doesn’t cost you any more. You pay the same and a company such as ebay or amazon simply rewards us for referring the sale. It’s a win-win scenario. We help you out with a detailed review. By buying through our links, you help reward me with a little bonus beyond the warm fuzzy feeling I get!
Without further delay let’s get into the good stuff!
USCutter 14 Inch Vinyl Cutter Review Table of Contents
- Why This Vinyl Cutter
- Shipping & Packaging
- In The Box
- Setup and Use
- Where to Buy
WHY I CHOSE THIS VINYL CUTTER:
I’ll start with a quick story about why I needed this product and why I chose it over other options. Feel free to skip this section if you aren’t interested. I’ve included it because it sheds light on situations where this cutter might be a near perfect solution.
Back in 2012 I was involved with creating and developing a few different types of unique handmade products. The work required some fairly intricate decals and stencils. In the beginning we cut the artwork and stencils by hand with a hobby knife. I do NOT miss those days.
That approach worked fine for a month or two while we gauged market interest and decided whether to move forward. When it came time to scale-up our operations, cutting by hand became unmanageable instantly. We needed the ability to quickly and consistently cut vinyl, paper and cardstock. Cost and confidentiality were an issue so outsourcing wasn’t an option. We began searching for a vinyl cutter or craft cutter.
We needed to cut small and medium sized decals and stencils without spending a fortune. On the surface, a hobby level cutter (Something like the Silhouette or Cricut) sounds perfect. Unfortunately we ruled those (and most other craft cutters) out pretty quickly. At the time most craft cutting machines on the market were excluded due to price or lack of features.
Nearly all of them required the purchase and use of proprietary cartridges or software. This greatly limited our options. To get them to do what we wanted to do we’d have to spend a fortune or modify them and void any warranty right out of the box.
Our needs fell somewhere between a hobby craft cutting machine and a full blown vinyl cutter costing thousands of dollars. We needed to have the ability to create and cut our own designs just like a sign shop does. However at the time we didn’t need (nor did we have the funds or space) to purchase a huge commercial vinyl cutter. To make matters worse, we wanted to stay at or around our target budget of $200. Go ahead. We’ll wait for you to stop laughing.
I was beginning to think it couldn’t be done. Then I came across the 14″ Vinyl Cutter from US Cutter. This is the smallest of their “MH Series”. Essentially it is a cheap Chinese tabletop vinyl cutter. The price could not be beat. At the time the base price for the cutter was $179.99. After much debating and worrying we pulled the trigger back in late November of 2012 and ordered one. It proved to be one of the best purchase decisions our business ever made.
Back in 2012 the base price for the cutter was $179.99. We purchased six extra replacement blades for $19.99. I made our purchase during a special $9.00 flat rate shipping offer so FedEx Ground shipping was $9.
The grand total for the entire setup was $208.98. This cutter is still being sold today but as you’d expect things are a bit more expensive almost 7 years later. In 2019 you should expect to pay around $220 to $240 plus about $20 for shipping. This cutter is still a great value.
SHIPPING AND PACKAGING:
The cutter arrived promptly from a U.S. based distribution center. It shipped via FedEx Ground in a large box. Everything was carefully packed and our cutter arrived undamaged and ready to go. Avoiding damage during shipping is always the first hurdle with a purchase like this.
IN THE BOX:
Our purchase included everything we needed to get started except for actual vinyl. Our purchase included:
- 14″ Vinyl Cutter (USCutter MH Series MH365 MK2 Cutting Plotter) with 3 cutting blades.
- Pen Holder for Plotting (Great for visually testing new designs before cutting.)
- USB cable
- Serial Cable (For connectivity with older machines without USB or those who want to cut via a serial port)
- Software: Signblazer Elements and Sure Cuts a Lot Pro
- Owner’s Manual
- 90 Days warranty
- Lifetime free phone tech support
The checkout process offers many optional upgrades. One of the upsells is additional replacement blades. I opted to purchase a pack of 6 replacement blades (three 30° and three 45° blades) for an additional $19.99 USD. At the time I had no idea how often a blade would need changing. I expected a lot of tweaking, many test cuts and many errors. We ordered the 6 pack to be safe.
In hindsight I didn’t have to purchase them with the cutter. The blades last much longer than you’d anticipate. We did a lot of cutting before we dulled the original three blades. Around $20 for 6 blades is very reasonable but you probably won’t need them right away. If budget is a concern (and it probably is or you wouldn’t be considering this cutter) you can hold off a bit. I’ve seen the same blades available via ebay, amazon and similar sites for much less than $20. I’d recommend checking pricing and ordering blades at a later date.
Without the power cord and USB cable plugged in, our cutter measures approximately 20 1/2″ wide at its widest point. The depth is approximately 9″ and it stands about 10 1/4″ high. This little guy takes up about the same room as a bulky desktop printer. It is almost too big to be considered desktop but it is still ideal for small workspaces.
Not Really a 14″ Cutter – Expect 10″ of Cutting Width:
The product listings call this a 14 inch vinyl cutter. Get that idea out of your head now. You do not have 14″ of cutting area. You end up with approximately 10″ of cutting width. I knew this going in but it’s easy to overlook this if you haven’t carefully researched.
The product title is only partly true. The cutter provides enough space to accept nearly 14 1/4″ wide vinyl or stock. The problem is you aren’t able to cut across that full width. The carriage assembly that does the cutting sits completely inside the 14″ inner frame width. It takes up around 3 inches of dead space on the right side where the carriage rests.
You also need to carefully consider where the pinch rollers rest. These are the rubber coated wheels that help guide the vinyl as the feed roller moves it back and forth. They’re under spring tension that is adjustable but they tend to leave marks no matter what precautions we take. We typically leave enough space to have the pinch rollers outside of the main design area. If you factor in keeping roller marks out of your final cut design, your maximum cutting area is actually a bit smaller yet. A safe bet is to estimate an actual usable cutting width of ten to ten and a half inches.
The product description will likely tell you all of this but most vendors leave it to you to read and understand. Many folks are surprised when they get set up and realize they have less than a foot of cutting clearance with their 14″ vinyl cutter.
Working Around the Smaller Cutting Area is Possible:
We were aware of all of the size limitations at the time of purchase. It still worried us. Fortunately the narrow cutting width hasn’t been nearly as restrictive as we originally imagined. We tend to cut small to medium sized designs. With some creativity you can work around the cutting size limitations. We even cut the occasional large decal or stencil with a bit of extra effort.
There are numerous ways to get around the cutting area size restriction. You can cut large designs in several different sections and assemble the larger final product later for instance.
When cutting multiple quantities we simply modify how we lay things out. Some cutting or design software programs limit you, but you typically have at least a maximum length of 10 or 15 feet in a single design. Take advantage of this. You can turn designs to cut long way in the cutter, This allows you to cut in long banner-like layouts without much trouble. For example, if we’re cutting out multiple 10 inch tall robot decals, we simply turn the design sideways and cut them in a long row.
Make no mistakes about it. This is an entry level, value priced cutter from China. USCutter even calls it a “value cutter.” The MH series is essentially the bottom tier of their three value priced cutter lines. We weren’t expecting much. We were warned by many it isn’t intended for heavy commercial use.
When I unboxed the cutter the quality was about what I expected. Not horrible, but there were some mildly concerning design issues. The base of the cutter, top cross brace and main feed roller are a heavy steel. They provide weight, stiffness and durability where it is needed. The rest of the design is predominately plastic.
The main end caps? Plastic. The carriage arm? Plastic. The pinch rollers? Mostly plastic. The power switch? Cheap plastic. The wheels for the carriage assembly? Plastic. Even the control panel and LCD display have a very cheap plastic feel. You get the idea. After making a mental note about which parts I was sure would fail first, we set up to make some cuts.
SETUP & USE:
Our purchase included everything we needed except a compatible computer and vinyl. Thanks to the small size, setup was pretty minimal. There wasn’t much to do beyond unpacking the unit and installing software and drivers on our PC. Then we plugged in the power cord, connected the USB cable and loaded some vinyl!
We started as complete novices and had to learn as we went. It isn’t rocket science but like anything you’re new to, there’s a bit of a learning curve. Things like cutting force and speed need to be set. This cutter is fairly forgiving but you still need to have a ballpark idea of what settings to tweak and why.
Fortunately, there are plenty of YouTube videos and forum posts surrounding the setup and fine tuning of these cutters. One of the most important details to get right is setting your blade depth or protrusion. A google search is your friend here too.
You’ll need a way to create and cut designs. This is where the software comes in. Some users choose to use a seperate software for design and cutting. Paid and free solutions are available. If I recall correctly our cutter came with a copy of signblazer elements and Sure Cuts a Lot Pro.
I’ve seen and read some things about SignBlazer but we never really installed it. We decided to try Sure Cuts a Lot Pro first and never looked back. We like it so much we’ve been using it and paying the reasonable fee to upgrade to every new major release since 2012. It worked well for all of our needs and has continued to do so. Sure Cuts a Lot allows us to design and cut from one piece of software. We can do things like create designs from scratch, import and export SVGs, import from a library or even trace images and designs for cutting.
If you’re on a budget there are free solutions. Most cutters include software to get you going. Some even give you a one year license to a professional version of software or a similar solution. Creating designs in a free open source graphics editing program like Paint.Net, GIMP or Inkscape is a great way to get started.
Another free solution is to set up and use a cutter in a “print to cut” setup. This allows you to send files directly to the cutter for cutting. This is similar to sending an image to a printer for printing. Essentially you click print and select your cutter instead of a printer. This scenario works with some added inconvenience.
We prefer cutting via some sort of dedicated cutting software. This allows much more flexibility and makes life much easier. Cutting software allows you to easily make adjustments on the fly. With something like SCAL Pro you can resize designs in a couple seconds, make changes to cutting settings and optimize designs for cutting by simplifying to reduce nodes for example.
It is important to have reasonable expectations with a purchase like this. I didn’t expect this to perform as well as a Roland, Graphtec or any other big name professional cutter. You shouldn’t either. Then again, I was amazed at what could accomplish with this cutter for price paid.
With this cutter and good software you can cut pretty much anything you like. We’re limited only by our imagination and some physical and size limitations of the cutter. Even a value cutter like this one opens up a world of creative possibilities. Yes. There are also some things this cutter doesn’t do well. Let’s cover those now.
It Doesn’t Like Tiny Intricate Designs:
Other than the narrow cutting area, the inability to do very small and precise movements may be this cutter’s major flaw. If you intend on cutting very small designs with intricate details, a cheap vinyl cutter like this isn’t the best choice. Small and detailed designs require smoothness and precision you just won’t get out of cheap mechanical stepper motors from China.
If you’re looking to do tiny, intricate designs on a regular basis I’d highly recommend putting your money toward a better cutter. One that uses servo motors over stepper motors would be ideal. Servos offer much smoother movements and enhanced precision.
We usually cut small and medium sized designs and are very pleased with our results. However, we do run into issues when cutting very small designs.
How small is too small? It depends, but it is likely smaller than most folks need to worry about. Intricate design details and lettering down to around 1/8″ are no problem. Overall our designs typically range from 1″ to around 10 inches. The files we cut often have simple details as small 3/4 to 1 mm. These are the areas where we can hit issues without proper care. Honestly smaller than 1/8″ with complex details starts to become a major headache quickly.
TIP – How to Cut Small Intricate Designs with the US Cutter MH 14″ Cutter:
Don’t worry when you see me throw out the 1/8″ size. That isn’t really the smallest detail you can cut. This cutter will definitely cut much smaller with some tweaking. We go down to between 1/32″ and 1/16″ routinely with simple designs. Small design details involve choosing the right vinyl and some careful planning.
My best advice is to experiment. Cut a lot of complex designs on cheap vinyl. Use different blades. Start by just gradually reducing size. You’ll quickly find the size where the stepper motors and cutter begin to struggle to maintain detail in your design. Eventually you’ll hit a size where the details distort to a point that is noticeably unacceptable. You can tweak settings such as cut speed and force but they’ll only help a little.
When I’m pushing the limit on small and detailed designs I typically slow down the cut spee. Switching to a 60° blade generally helps a little too since it allows for more precise cutting. These help to a certain degree.
Ultimately you’re limited by the mechanical and electrical abilities of the vinyl cutting machine. There’s only so much accuracy and precision you can achieve out of a cutter in this price range. Experiment to find those limits and you’ll quickly learn to design around or within those limitations. We regularly tweak designs to make tiny details a bit larger for example.
With that said, many normal users don’t need servo level precision. These budget cutters are the perfect cost cutting solution in these scenarios.
Large Long Cuts Can be a Problem:
We don’t regularly cut very long graphics. We normally cut designs about 3 feet in length or less. There are no issues in this range.
On the rare occasions where we make very long cuts in the neighborhood of five, ten or 15 feet we see issues with tracking. It becomes difficult to keep things precisely aligned over these long cuts. The extra length simply presents additional opportunities for problems to become evident.
If one of the pinch rollers doesn’t roll quite as smoothly as the others or has different tension you may never notice it on normal sized cuts. If the carrier isn’t jogging smoothly you sometimes don’t pay for it with smaller cuts. Sometimes you don’t know about small issues until you try to feed a dozen or so feet of vinyl through in a single cutting operation.
We’re not working with finely tuned precision parts and components here. Every tiny imperfection in movement in a stepper motor or feed mechanism gets amplified over a very long run. There’s more time for static to become a problem too.
I’m not saying this cutter can’t cut straight over long runs. We simply haven’t made correcting these issues a priority since we rarely encounter them. I’m confident with the right settings and tweaks we could achieve satisfactory results with long cuts. We just do it so rarely we haven’t bothered to take the time to figure it out. Honestly we take the easy way out and just avoid potential issues.
Whenever possible we simply break long cut jobs down into smaller and more manageable tasks. If necessary, we line things up manually at the end when assembling the final design.
I think you’re starting to get the picture here. This isn’t a cutter designed to do the extremes. If you’re looking to reliably cut with precision at a very large or tiny size this cutter typically won’t do it.
Believe it or not, one of the most frustrating problems I had with this cutter was cutting circles. Our USCutter MH Vinyl Cutter wouldn’t cut perfect circles. Everything else we cut would come out perfect, or at least perfectly acceptable. Circles were a mystery.
We could NOT get the thing to cut a perfect circle. Initially we ignored the problem because it didn’t come up very often. Of course kharma caught up. Fixing the problem was unavoidable when we had to have perfect circles in a design. The cutter couldn’t do it.
It would regularly cut a slightly more oval shape. Other times it wouldn’t close the circle completely or the ends would be offset and not inline. We could not figure it out and most of us were to the point of tearing our hair out in frustration. Solving the issue became my personal mission.
I tried everything I saw online. First, I grounded the machine to eliminate issues with static. We tried new blades, different settings and different vinyl. I cleaned and lubed the carrier track and blade holder. Nothing worked.
I almost gave up. Maybe the inaccurate steppers from China just couldn’t summon the precision to make a clean and perfect circle. Then on one last attempt I found a forum post complaining of similar issues. It recommended checking the belt tension. Full of doubt, I decided to try.
The carriage is essentially the business end of the cutter and does the cutting. It is driven by a rubber belt on this cutter. The tension felt fine but adjusting it is easy.
I popped the end cap off the cutter. A few screws are all that hold it in place. Then I tightened the tensioner screw just a bit more Not much, but just enough to take the almost imperceptible slack out of the belt. I don’t think the entire process took 5 minutes. Most importantly, it solved the problem!
The cutter now cuts perfect circles. About once a year or so I find we need to repeat the procedure. I’m assuming either the belt slowly stretches or the the tensioner slowly vibrates just loose enough to create a little slack. If we run into issues with incomplete lettering, cuts being slightly out of shape or designs not closing or cutting completely I immediately check belt tension. It’s almost always the culprit.
I don’t want to harp on this point, but this vinyl cutting machine uses cheap stepper motors. I’m pointing this out because. . . well. . . they aren’t quiet. When he was younger, my son referred to the noise as “a dying robot” when we’d cut. That’s a bit of an exaggeration but it gives you an idea. This thing is far from silent. You can have a conversation near the cutter but the background noise is distracting. You’ll hear this thing ten or twelve feet away.
If you’re looking for a very quiet cutter this isn’t it. Quiet also isn’t in this price range. Quiet comes when servo motors are used to drive the cutting mechanism. Servos are quieter, more reliable, more accurate and capable of cutting through much thicker material than steppers. They’re also much more expensive. Any decent quality professional vinyl cutter uses Servo motors. That’s one of the main reasons they cost so much.
What good would a long term US Cutter 14 Inch vinyl cutter review be if we didn’t cover durability?
I’ll be honest. During unboxing we had a hard time imagining this cutter lasting more than a year or so. I silently decided if it made it 18 months I’d be happy. Fortunately, we were dead wrong. This thing has exceeded our wildest expectations for durability.
You just need to handle it with normal care. You can’t beat on it. It won’t take being run for hours each day 6 days a week. However, this cutter will more than handle normal use. It will even take some, ahem, not so normal handling.
Trust me, this vinyl cutting machine has been banged around. Things have been dropped on it. I may have accidentally knocked it over once or twice. Thanks to the small size it can be moved fairly easily. That portability leads to mishaps that just don’t happen with the big guys. It has survived all of this and asked for more. When it saves me hundreds or thousands of dollars, I’ll gladly tolerate a little noise.
We’ve had some mishaps along the way on our vinyl cutting journey. The vast majority of them have been our fault. I’m ashamed to admit we’ve allowed vinyl to get jammed up and stall the carriage two or three times over the years. It usually happens when someone wasn’t paying attention and positioned the pinch rollers improperly. That usually occurs when cutting close to the edge on cheap vinyl. If the edge of the vinyl curls up just enough, the blade holder can grab it as it whizzes by. It doesn’t end pretty.
We’ve done it more than once and it is always quite terrifying and dramatic. The result is usually the carriage bunching up a handful of vinyl before slamming to a loud, abrupt and jarring halt that stalls cutting. That is only half of the terrifying part.
These cutters are quite dumb and obedient. There isn’t much in the way of sensors or failsafes to tell the cutter to stop when something goes wrong. It will continue to try cutting until it receives a clear signal to stop. That signal typically comes in one of three ways: the cutting machine runs the entire program, you manually stop it or a catastrophic failure causes something to break.
Back to our example, the carriage doesn’t really know your stupidity has ruined this cut job. It is up to you to ensure it doesn’t ruin your day. The cutter gleefully and obediently attempts to continue to execute the rest of the cut file, whether or not there’s a fistfull of vinyl blocking the carriage.
The steppers motors continue to attempt to complete the cut job even though things aren’t actually moving along as planned. The cutter will continue to try to power the carriage (and more vinyl) through this mess. It’s a circus of loud grinding electronics that sounds just as bad as it looks. I don’t have to tell you this isn’t good. Those cheap Chinese stepper motors I keep bashing just aren’t designed to take this sort of abuse.
Every time it has happened we’ve stopped the machine within a few seconds. Each time I’m convinced we just toasted our little cutter. I imagine a carriage off track, a broken belt or steppers that are fried. Surely if the motors still work they’ll be missing steps or malfunctioning.
Knock on wood, none of that has happened. We’ve been lucky I suppose. To my surprise when we clear the jam and reset the machine it continues cutting as if nothing has happened. Again, prevention is your best insurance. Stuff happens but do yourself a favor. Take a few extra minutes and recheck your setup before cutting to avoid problems.
Despite our best efforts, not much has actually gone wrong with our cutter. We’ve replaced normal wear items like the cutting strip and blade holder a time or two over the years. We’ve only suffered two minor broken components.
Two Broken Parts:
We’ve managed to break two parts. Only one issue you could consider a part failure.
1. The carriage arm that clamps the blade holder in place cracked.
This is due to the plastic design and probably over tightening one too many times. If you don’t tighten the arm enough the blade holder gets shoved up and away from your vinyl when cutting. This leads to cutting too shallow or not at all. As a result, we all get tempted to crank down when tightening our blade holders into the arm.
It is very easy to tighten the knob too much and cause a stress crack in the plastic. You probably won’t even notice the initially. A tiny crack can form. This isn’t an issue at first. Over time it opens up a bit more due to vibration, stress and the tightening the arm down. Eventually the crack opens up to the point the carriage arm can’t keep the blade holder in place against while cutting.
Fortunately replacement arms are readily available which is how we resolved our issue. The repair involved about $10, 60 seconds and a single screw. If you’re handy you can usually repair the old cracked arm too. If you can squeeze the arm back to close the gap you can use super glue or epoxy to mend the cracked arm. We made some test cuts with our repaired arm and it worked as good as new. We kept it as an emergency backup.
2. USB Solder Joint Failure Due to Mechanical Stress (Our Fault)
Other than the broken carriage arm, I’ve personally only seen one other notable failure and it was our fault. We’ve got our vinyl cutter on a table tucked away in a space barely wider than the cutter. We pull it out when we need to use it and slide it back when we need it out of the way. This works fine except for the orientation of the USB cable and power cord. Both get in the way since they plug into the end cap areas on the sides.
We’re constantly plugging in and removing the USB cable. When moving and using the cutter, our USB cord tended to get knocked around. It also rubbed a nearby object. After a few years of this abuse the USB connector solder joints cracked and failed due to the stress. The USB port on the cutter was loose and made connection only intermittently.
Fortunately the repair only took about five or ten minutes. I simply had to unscrew the two screws holding the mounting plate in. Once accessible, I resoldered the joints and added a bit of mechanical reinforcement. Of course, the best course of action is to prevent things like this from happening in the first place.
Should You Buy One?
The answer depends on your unique needs. There are things this cutter does well and some it doesn’t.
Who is this Cutter for?
This cutter is ideal for hobby and light business use. If you’re looking to spend around $220 to $250 for an entry level vinyl cutter it’s hard to ignore. The only other options are the craft cutters geared more toward scrapbooking and occasional home use. Those choices have come a long way since 2012 but I would still choose this cutter over a craft cutter today. I explain why below.
If you don’t mind tweaking and playing with a product to get the most out of it you’ll be happy. If you expect something to work flawlessly out of the box you may want to save some money and buy a more expensive option.
Why This Over a Hobby or Craft Cutter?
Our needs lie somewhere in the middle between a scrapbooking die cutter and a full blown commercial cutting plotter costing thousands of dollars.
We need to cut more often than a $150 or $250 craft cutter would likely tolerate. We also tend to move, bang and bump this cutter around quite a bit in our somewhat dusty shop area. I have my doubts whether something like a Cricut, Sizzix or Silhouette could tolerate the daily abuse.
Many of the craft store cutters also still rely on proprietary accessories, software or technology. Some require a connection to the internet to function. These are all restrictions and limitations we can’t live with.
We don’t need WiFi, Bluetooth connectivity or fancy bells and whistles. We wanted something basic and simple to fix if something goes wrong. This is another area where the 14″ MH Vinyl Cutter from USCutter shines.
Replacement parts are readily available and reasonably priced. The construction is pretty simple and features many common components. Clever do it yourselfers can find alternate sources for parts at a better price and work around many issues. Finding a replacement part for the major brand craft cutters can be difficult or impossible.
USCutter MH 14 Inch Vinyl Cutter Review CONCLUSION:
We were pretty nervous when we purchased this cutter. We’d read other reviews and heard opinions. We were advised it would be too small, too fragile and just too cheap to suit our needs. The naysayers said we’d end up buying a bigger, better cutter within 6 months because we’d grow tired of issues. We chose to ignore these warnings because we felt it would suit our needs nicely. We’re glad we did because we’re still using this little tank almost daily in 2019. We couldn’t be happier!
I’m happy to say, most of our concerns were a waste of time. We’ve been using this cutter almost daily 5-6 days a week since late 2012. We’re going on 7 years of use and couldn’t be happier. We bought the cutter in late November in 2012. It paid for itself by Christmas.
Since then we’ve ran thousands of feet of vinyl through it and used it to make tens of thousands of dollars. I’m confident there wasn’t a better new cutter for around $200 back then. Over half a decade later, I think the same holds true. We’d absolutely make the same purchase again. In fact, if our cutter dies tomorrow I wouldn’t hesitate to order an identical replacement immediately. Our main dilemma would be whether to go up a size or two.
Can you buy a better cutter? Yes. You’ll also spend hundreds or thousands of dollars more for something significantly better.
- An exceptional value
- The Warranty is now 1 year instead of 90 days
- Decent Performance for the Price
- Repair Parts are readily available. Most are reasonably priced.
- Uses the cheapest blades on the market.
- Small size is portable and perfect for a desk, table or workbench
- Cuts small and medium designs very well
- Includes software
- This cutter is compatible with many other types of software if you’re not happy with the software provided with purchase. With some creativity you can even use some free options.
- Good durability for the price
- A great starter or hobby cutter
- Suitable for some commercial and production use.
- No proprietary software, cartridges or other restrictions to worry about.
- A great hobby, starter or backup machine for those on a budget.
- The operating costs are low. This cutter uses the cheapest replacement cutting blades on the market. It doesn’t need much maintenance and when it does the costs are low.
- Plastic Construction
- Not suitable for heavy commercial use. If you’re planning on running a decal or sign shop where this is your main cutter running hours every day you’ll likely be disappointed.
- Stepper Motors lack the smoothness and precision of servo motors
- The carriage arm is essentially a disposable item and will likely wear out over time
- Noisy compared to more expensive options
- Doesn’t do very small and intricate cuts very well
- Can have tracking and alignment issues over very long cuts without proper planning and setup.
- You’ll need to invest some time to get the most out of this cutter. It takes some tweaking and practice to perform at its full potential.
- Not compatible with Mac. Intended for PC only.
- Only accepts up to 14 or so of vinyl. This cutter limits you to using 12″ wide vinyl rolls or sheets. If you want to purchase larger rolls you’ll have to cut them down to fit. It is added work, but cutting down larger rolls often saves money over purchasing the same amount of vinyl in 12″ rolls.
WHERE TO BUY:
Now that you’ve made it through our USCutter MH 14 Inch Vinyl Cutter Review, I hope you’re armed with the knowledge necessary to make a purchase decision. Ready to buy? Let’s run down your options.
I purchased ours via USCutter directly. I’ve been happy with my purchase and wouldn’t hesitate to order from them again. If you’re looking for a bit of added security and peace of mind they sell on ebay and amazon. In the unlikely event you’re not happy you’ll have the buyer friendly policies at these sites to back you up.
I should point out you have other purchase options. The one sold from USCutter seems to be the same 14″ as some other vinyl cutters from China sold on ebay, amazon, aliexpress and more. Some are pretty much identical and others nearly so.
I only mention this because you could theoretically save a little cash if you choose one of these other cutters. Some may be unbranded clones identical in every way except they ship directly from China without support or a warranty. Others may be poor quality knockoffs made with even cheaper components and zero support.
I won’t go so far to say USCutter just slaps a sticker on cutters they order in mass from China. I can’t say that isn’t happening either. Many look very similar. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve seen dozens of different products sold under different brand names that all essentially come from the same factory overseas.
Do your homework and decide what you’re comfortable with. USCutter has set their pricing so close you won’t save a significant amount if you choose to gamble with another seller. It’s up to you what you’re willing to risk to save $10 to $20.
We’re only recommending the USCutter version here because that’s what we bought and that’s what we’re happy with. It shipped from a warehouse in the U.S. and came with a warranty and support. We’ve never needed to use either but having the option offers peace of mind. Feel free to at least consider all your options.
QUESTIONS OR FEEDBACK?
Do you have any questions or thoughts on our long term USCutter 14 Inch Vinyl Cutter Review? Let us know in the comment section below.
USCutter 14 Inch Vinyl Cutter
Ease of Use8.0/10
Tech Support and Help Available9.8/10
- Exceptional value
- Decent performance for price
- Compact and portable
- Plenty of support and information available
- Replacement parts are reasonably priced and readily available
- Surprising durability
- No proprietary software or accessories to limit you
- Simple design only requires a PC and compatible software.
- Stepper motors lack the smoothness & precision to cut tiny designs with precision
- Loud compared to other cutters
- Some issues feeding and cutting straight on exceptionally long cut designs
- Cheap plastic construction in some key areas
- The available cutting width is only about 10"
- Requires some tweaking and time to get the best performance
- Not Mac Compatible (At least out of the box.)
- Not suitable for heavy commercial use
- Vinyl rolls over 12 inches need to be cut down to size.