Whether you're low on space, new to die-cutting, or want a compact companion to run alongside your other Cricut machines, the Cricut Joy is one of the best die-cutting machines (opens in new tab) on the market.
The Cricut Joy is Cricut's smallest and cheapest electronic die-cutting machine, so as well as appealing to novice crafters, it's also a good choice for anyone on a budget. But just because it's small, it doesn't mean it can't perform. The Cricut Joy uses the same cutting technology as the larger, more expensive Cricut models, but it just comes in a small package, giving you more flexibility to craft from anywhere.
In fact, the Cricut Joy is possibly one of the easier machines to use because it doesn’t have as many tools and functions to get bogged down with. However, that doesn’t mean it can’t tackle complex crafting projects, which we will cover in this review.
Type: Digital die-cutting machine
Max material dimensions: 4.5 inches wide and up to 240 inches long
Material options: 50+
Compatible tools: 3
Connection type: Bluetooth wireless technology
Software: Cricut Design Studio
Cutting force: 210 grams
Dimensions: 8.4 x 4.25 x 5.5 in
Weight: 3.85 lbs
Warranty: 1 year
The Cricut Joy has the power to cut over 50 materials from cardstock to vinyl, can foil, as well as drawing and writing capabilities. It also has the ability to work with Cricut Smart Materials, something the older machines lack. And once you’ve worked with Cricut Smart Materials, believe us, you won’t look back.
Now, as we've already mentioned, one of the really good things about Cricut Joy is its size. It's one of those machines that you'll be able to take anywhere with you, and if inspiration hits, it's so light and compact you'll be able to get it out and to work in no time. Of course, if you want a machine that will produce crafts on a greater scale, you may want to check out the Cricut Maker 3 or Cricut Air 2, which are larger in size and have a lot more in the way of features.
This Cricut Joy review will cover everything you need to know about this machine. We will discuss the good and bad points and investigate whether the Cricut Joy deserves a spot in your craft machine lineup. We thoroughly tested the Cricut Joy making a range of different projects using a variety of materials so we could get a proper all-around view of how well it works.
Cricut Joy: Design
The Cricut Joy is the entry level Cricut machine on the market. It's certainly the cheapest in the line up but is also the most compact making carrying and storing this machine effortless.
If you're a fan of clean lines then you'll love how sleek this machine is with its smooth, rounded edges. It comes in a glossy white and turquoise color combination. And although it's made using plastic, it feels sturdy when handled and used. This machine looks good, too, if you're lacking in space and have nowhere to store it away, then it won't become some eyesore sitting on your bookshelf. Its size, however, is the big selling point. If you don't have a dedicated craft area or you want to craft in different spaces, then it's ideal. It's also a perfect machine for younger users who need something more compact but solid enough that it won't get damaged.
The design of this machine also makes it super simple to use. The front pulls down, where you'll find the casing that houses your blade and pen. Switching from one tool to another is very simple; you just need to unclip the clamp, which, although it can feel a bit stiff, is easy to maneuver.
There are small guides to the sides, where you place your mat or Smart Materials, and the rollers will easily glide the materials in and out of the machine. There is a built-in sensor that the Cricut Joy will use to read the length of the mat or the Smart Materials so that it knows that it has enough material to do the job.
Cricut Joy: Features
The Cricut Joy may be small, but it can still pack a crafty punch. It can cut up to 50 different materials, including art board, card stock, iron-on vinyl, faux leather, paper, and vinyl, so there’s not much that you can’t do with it. Of course, the size means there are some limitations, and this machine is better suited to small-scale craft projects like card making or cutting decals. If you own or are planning to buy one of Cricut’s add-on machines, such as the Cricut Mug Press, then you’ll find that the Joy is the perfect match as it is the ideal size for mug templates.
The Cricut Joy also supports Smart Materials which means you can ditch the cutting mat and create cuts up to 20 feet in length. Smart Materials were first designed to be used with the Cricut Joy so there’s plenty of choice when it comes to patterns and design.
The Cricut Joy is better suited for quick, everyday projects. It only works with the fine cutting blade, so for more complicated projects like engraving or scoring, you’d need to look towards the Maker or Explore models.
If you prefer writing and drawing over cutting, then the Cricut Joy does this incredibly well. It ships with a fine-point pen but works with the whole Cricut pen range. Once in Design Space, you’ll find plenty of wonderful drawing designs (as well as allowing you to upload your own) and beautiful fonts to personalize your projects. It’s a shame there’s just one holder for tools, unlike the pricer machines in the range that have a dual-carriage system. This means that if you want to draw then cut with the Cricut Joy you’ll have to do it in two separate sessions.
The integrated Bluetooth technology is also another great feature of the Cricut Joy. It means no messy wires, and you don’t have to have your computer attached to your machine for it to work, this is a huge bonus if you use a device that doesn’t have a USB port.
Cricut Joy: Setup and usability
The first thing you’ll notice when you accept your Cricut Joy delivery is just how small the box is. Packaging is kept to an absolute minimum, and everything other than the plastic bags that contain the accessories is recyclable.
The Cricut Joy comes with a fine point blade (which you’ll find already installed in the machine), a StandardGrip Mat, a Cricut pen, and a folder with instructions and some sample materials for practice projects. All you need to purchase separately are the materials you need to create your projects. There is also a Cricut Joy tote bag, which we recommend buying as it makes it even easier to store and transport your machine, so keep an eye out for any Cricut Joy bundle deals.
We meant it when we said this is one of the easiest Cricut machines to use. There are no buttons on this machine, you just have to attach the power cord and connect it to your device. Everything is controlled via the Cricut Design Space software.
To get the set-up process started, make sure you’ve downloaded Cricut Design Space to your device of choice, it works on all Windows and iOS devices. Once downloaded, you’ll need to open the app, and it will walk you through the process of pairing your Cricut Joy, it really is that simple, so even if you’re not very good with technology, you’ll find this process quick, easy, and super efficient.
Cricut Joy: Software
- Only works with Design Space
- Can be tricky to use at first
- Cricut Access provides plenty of images and designs for a small monthly fee
To use any Cricut machine, you must download Cricut Design Space. This is what you’ll use to design your products, create the mat layout and then send it to the machine for cutting or drawing. Without Design Space, your Cricut simply won’t work. The good news is that it’s free and has 50 ready-to-make projects included.
When you set up and log in to your Design Space, you’ll see that thousands of images, fonts, and projects are available for you to use, but outside of your free allowance, they usually charge around $0.99/£0.89 per image. If you use your Cricut Joy often and don’t want to source your own designs, then you can set up Cricut Access. This is a subscription service that will give you access to 20,000 images, 700 fonts, thousands of ready-designed projects that you can customize and make your own, and exclusive members perks (including money off other Cricut machines) for just $7.99/£7.99 per month. Cricut Access is a rolling contract so you can just dip in and out of the subscription depending on what you have planned for the month. You also have the option of uploading your own designs, but for cutting projects, you need to use SVG files for it to work.
Getting to know the Cricut Design Space can take a bit of getting used to. You need to learn how to correctly place your items so that they’ll stay in place when you cut your design, and you’ll need to understand when you need to weld, attach, flatten, and mirror your design. But once you understand the basics, there will be no stopping you.
Cricut Joy: Performance
We tested the Cricut Joy with both cutting and drawing designs.
When it comes to cutting the Cricut Joy handles this well. It’s not very quick but the cuts are clean and concise, even with intricate designs. It works brilliantly with Smart Materials, especially when cutting continuous shapes, because you have the option to cut up to 20 feet in length without having to stop and reload the material.
When it came to drawing, overall, the Cricut Joy handled this well but depending on the type of material used, it’s not always very sharp. There’s no print then cut option, but you can draw then cut. However, because there’s just one tool slot you will need to change tools halfway through the project to complete it. And whilst it takes just moments to switch the tools, it does feel inconvenient to do it.
We put the Cricut Joy to a tougher test, which was a bit of a struggle for the machine. The Joy can only be used with the fine-point blade that has been specifically made for this machine. So while you can cut wood and plastic with the higher-end models such as the Cricut Maker 3, it just doesn’t have the cutting pressure to be able to handle these materials.
It’s very important that you don’t attempt to cut anything that is too heavy for your Cricut Joy blade to handle, as you will damage it. Stick to vinyl, paper, and cardstock for the best results.
Features such as engraving and scoring are also unavailable on the Cricut Joy.
Cricut Joy: Price and warranty
Being the smallest in the Cricut lineup, the Cricut Joy is also the cheapest. It costs $179.99/£189 for just the basic package, including the machine, a StandardGrip mat, a fine-point blade, housing, and a Cricut fine-point pen. It is worth looking at the various Cricut Joy bundles as they often come with Smart materials, weeding tools, and a carry case. The Cricut comes with a one-year manufacturers warranty.
The Cricut Joy can be purchased directly from cricut.com or from outlets including HobbyCraft, Michaels, John Lewis, and Amazon. If you have the room to accommodate a larger machine and want a bit more freedom with the number of tools available, then the Cricut Explore 3 is $319.99/£299.99 whilst the more professional unit, the Cricut Maker 3 will set you back $429.99/£429.999
Cricut Joy: User reviews
We are not the only ones with great things to say about the Cricut Joy. Those who’ve rated the Cricut Joy on Amazon have given it an impressive star rating of 4.7 out of 5. Users have commented how compact the machine is and how it’s ideal for beginners and those who just want to make small, personal projects. The cost is another positive point that users have pointed out; being under $200/£200 makes this machine extremely affordable. Some users found that the free designs were limited and that paying the monthly fee for Cricut Access didn’t equal good value. Some users were also disappointed that you couldn’t cut tougher material like wood and that it only takes one tool at a time.
Should you buy the Cricut Joy?
As the name suggests, the Cricut Joy is a pleasure to use. It’s light, compact, and thanks to the integrated Bluetooth technology, gets to work in an instant. It’s better suited to small-scale craft projects such as cards, decals, and labels. But for the money, you couldn’t ask for more. It still works with over 50 different materials, and its support of Smart Materials is ideal for those who want to cut continuous shapes or even make signs and stencils. It also works really well with the Cricut add-on machines such as the Mug Press. Overall, this is a well-made machine designed to cut and draw with accurate and consistent results and is perfect whether you're a new crafter or you just want to dip your toe into the world of electronic die-cutting machines.
If the Cricut Joy isn’t for you
The Cricut Joy won't be for your if you want to be able to use heavier materials such as wood and plastic. However, there are options, if you have the cash to splash, then go for the Cricut Maker 3, which can cut, emboss, draw, and engrave all at the touch of a button.
If you’re limited with how much you can spend but still want to be able to work with a range of materials, then take a look at the Cricut Explore 3, which gives you the same power as the Maker but without the hefty price tag.