Brother Scan N Cut - Test Lab 1 - Intricate Cut

Brother Scan N Cut – Test Lab 1

So I’ve had mine for a couple of months, and it’s now only just over a week until the Brother Scan N Cut machines start shipping from Create and Craft TV so I thought that I would try and do a post per day this week to try and bring you up to speed with all of the things that I have tried, tested and discovered since I have had more time to work with it and to hopefully give you a head start for when yours arrives.

Most of the things that I will cover in this series of posts will also go on to cover a lot of the questions that you have sent to me via Facebook, Twitter and also this blog (thank you for all of those – you have kept me very busy indeed!)

First up I should say that I will be covering Working With Fabric and also The Brother Canvas design suite in more depth in separate posts later in the week, so if these interest you, please don’t forget to subscribe to this blog for email updates of when these posts are released.

Anyway, lets make a start …

Q: How Intricately Can The Machine Cut?

There are going to be a number of variables here.

  • Complexity of design.
  • Strength of medium being cut.
  • Line Weight.

I decided to do quite a basic test for this post. I drew a few curved lines with an 0.5mm Pigma Micron pen and then used the Scan To Cut Data option.

I used a lightweight cardstock to test the cut.

This is the result.

Brother Scan N Cut - Test Lab 1 - Intricate Cut 3

I did increase the size of the scan by about double in this test so the lines that were cut were approx 1mm thick as you can see here.

Brother Scan N Cut - Test Lab 1 - Intricate Cut

The machine even picked up the varying line thickness of the ink against the textured paper which I think was quite cool.

Anyway, here are the two side by side.

Brother Scan N Cut - Test Lab 1 - Intricate Cut 2

Conclusion: Not a bad result. I would however recommend starting bigger and decreasing the image rather than starting with a small image.

Also, unless ‘freehand’ is the look that you are going for, you will want to be fairly precise and use a ruler, french curve or other guide against which to draw your lines when hand drawing the design.

I used the standard mat as I was using cardstock. You will need to be very careful when removing intricate designs from the mat in order to prevent them from tearing – or perhaps do your design so that there are lots of overlapping lines so that there is more ‘structure’ to the overall design.

Q: Do I always have to stamp or print in black?

No. You can use most colours as long as there is a good contrast between the colour and the paper against which it is printed. Here is an example where I used four different colours to stamp a flower.

Brother Scan N Cut - Test Lab 1 - Direct Cutting In Different Colours

As you can see, the machine picked up three of the colours very well but sadly did not recognize the yellow as there wasn’t enough contrast between it and the paper (in all fairness, this image makes it look a lot brighter than it is in real life – even I was having trouble recognizing it with my eyes).

Conclusion: You don’t have to always print or stamp in black but should consider using ‘bolder’ colours to create the outlines for things that you wish to scan and cut.

Q: Do I have to colour my stamped images in after I have cut them or can I colour them before using the Direct Cut feature?

You can do either, but will need to remember the point above about having a good contrasting outline for the machine to recognize.

Here is the test that I did. One of the kite shapes was coloured (with a graduation of reds from my Spectrum Noir pen set) and the other was left blank.

I also did the Direct Cut process on these shapes at the same time (i.e. I didn’t do one sheet coloured and then one plain).

Brother Scan N Cut - Test Lab 1 - Hand Coloured Image Using Direct Cut

One point though, you will need to be a tidy colourer if you are going to colour before cutting. You can see in the next image how I went over the line and the machine thought that this was part of the outline.

Brother Scan N Cut - Test Lab 1 - Hand Coloured Image Using Direct Cut 2

Conclusion: It should not matter if you are colouring before or after the cutting process takes place as long as you have a nice solid outline to the image for the machine to recognize – but stay inside the lines if you plan to colour first! (Lol, flashback to colouring as a child then…)

Q: Can I Use The Direct Cut Feature To Cut Out A Stamped Image That Has Been Heat Embossed?

Yes* (I put the asterisk thing here for two reasons, one, I have only tried it twice and it may depend on a number of things).

The first time that I tried it I used black embossing powder and there were a few flecks out of place. This test did not work.

The second test that I did I used clear powder over a coloured impression. This one work perfectly as you can see here …

Brother Scan N Cut - Test Lab 1 - Heat Embossed Image Using Direct Cut Function

Conclusion: I haven’t really done enough testing to give it a 100% tick but initial results look good and testing will be ongoing and I will report back on more results in the near future.

Q: Can I Use A4 Cardstock And Scraps Of Paper And Card?

Yes. Just use the scan preview feature on the cutting mat screen to see where they are on your mat and then you can position your shapes precisely where they need to be – as shown in this image (which could be better – I really need to figure out a way to photograph this screen better).

Brother Scan N Cut - Test Lab 1 - Cutting A4 And Scraps Of Cardstock

Q: What Things Will The Machine Cut?

Oy! This list could go on forever! Ok, here are a few that I have tested and seen to work.

  • Copy Paper, Vellum, Parchment
  • Light (160gsm), Medium (220gsm) and Heavy (350gsm) Cardstock
  • Mirror Card, Pearlescent Card, Satin Card
  • Crafters Chipboard
  • 100% Quilting Cotton Fabric
  • Felt (with a fused backing applied)
  • Lightweight Faux Leather
  • Oil Cloth
  • Denim
  • Thin Magnetic Sheet (like the kind you print onto to make family photo fridge magnets)
  • Shrink Plastic
  • Doeflex Template Plastic
  • Modelling Sheet (A thin plastic sheet that is maleable when heated).
  • Acetate
  • Project Acetate
  • Craft Metal

Phew, and that’s just a few things!

Conclusion: It’s VERY versatile and will work with you no matter what craft you are into.

Q: Can I Export A Design That I Have Scanned Into The Machine And Then Edit The Lines In The Canvas Design Suite?

Yes. You can see the example below of the scanned image that I used earlier to test intricacy loaded up into the Canvas design suite and the line editing tools selected.

Brother Scan N Cut - Test Lab 1 - Editing Imported FCM Files

Q: Can the Brother Scan N Cut cut out sheets of printed decoupage?

Probably one of the most frequent questions that I have had.

Tests have been inconclusive. Whilst theoretically possible, it is proving more complex in practice.

As the machine recognizes outlines via contrast between areas of a page, when you have a complex design with multi tonal areas (i.e. a countryside scene or flower) the machine will always do it’s best to find as much as possible but doesn’t always detect the entire outline. In addition, as we would only really want to use the direct cut function, this would not recognise landlocked areas.

There is potentially a way by using an acetate overlay that you can give the machine a helping hand to recognize the overall outline, but again, not sure it would work with landlocked areas. You can see the process I mean by watching this video.

I don’t for a minute believe that it is a fault of the machine, as it has been doing exactly what it was designed to do which was recognize areas of contrast. Instead I think that this might just be a dream featured that has been transposed onto it by our combined desire not to have to cut out all of those fiddly bits.

Conclusion: Tests still ongoing.

Now for some quickfire questions.

Q: Can I ‘Direct Cut’ Multiple Stamped Images In One Operation?


Q: Can I Cut A Shape Within A Shape To Create An Aperture?

Yes. Just position them one on top of the other in the design screen on the machine and cut as normal.

Q: Can I Weld A Word Into An ‘Aperture’ So That The Word ‘Hangs’ In The Aperture?

Yes, but you will need to do this in Canvas Workspace and will first need to “subtract” one shape from another to form a frame with an aperture in it before attempting to weld a word into a frame.

Coming Up…

Ok, That pretty much concludes this ‘test lab’. There is clearly much to explore with this machine so I will be doing more in the Test Lab series in the future.

Here are just some of the questions that I have not yet tested but will be looking at in the future …

  • Scanning Multi Coloured images
  • Direct Cutting With “Busy” images
  • Direct Cutting with light ink on dark card
  • Can I Cut ‘One Stroke’ Paintings
  • 3D creations
  • Will it cut foiled designs
  • Is there a score/perforate feature?
  • Can I cut Zentangle designs?
  • What is the test cut button for?
  • Can I cut swing cards?
  • Is it possible to cut boxes?

I also have other posts planned for this week that will cover using fabric and using the Brother Canvas design suite.

Right, well thanks for reading and I hope that it has helped you in some way.

Look out for more on the Brother Scan N Cut this week.

As ever, if there are any questions that you would like me to add to the list then please feel free to use the comments section below.

John :)

366 thoughts on “Brother Scan N Cut – Test Lab 1

  1. Is there anyway of it cutting a coloured flower etc without It leaving a bit of white around the edge that then has to be trimmed by hand. I cut a lot of clipart and stamps so I doing want to have to draw around acetate each time I use the machine.


  2. This is a HELP request. I have just bought a scan n cut machine. I have just had a go at finding free SVG files on the internet, downloaded them to my computer, extracted the files from the zip folder (I can see them on my hard drive). When I went into ‘canvas’ and tried to import them to a new project I got a message saying they could not be imported – error S10. What am I doing wrong? Please help me as I so want to play with my new machine.


      • Thank you for your very quick reply. By too big – do you mean physically or file size? I noted you cannot import files larger than 2mb. These were smaller than that, I think. I will keep playing and check your post.


      • There are a variety of file size constraints. Not only the file size but if it has more than 300 cutting lines, this would also be considered too big.


  3. So sorry to bother you but unable to get help. My scan n cut came without the power cable, a new one is being delivered but no sign of it yet – can I use any power cable?


  4. Hi
    I really would like to know how successful this machine would be for cutting out shapes in hand made felt? I read and understood the need for the backing. However handmade felt can be unpredictable not only in thickness but also density. Please could you test this for me if possible. Would really love to make my own designs. I use the Big Shot at present and find the dies very limiting to my creativity. Before this I cut everything by hand, very time consuming and not always as precise as I would like.
    I would really love it if this machine could cut my own felt with my own designs. Thanks. Tricia.


    • I would love to test this for you Tricia but as you say, the variations in handmade felt would probably mean that even if I had success, yours may be of a different consistency therefore the tests would probably prove void.


  5. help have a cut and scan , scanned medium car with high tack plus material, its stuck in the machine went through will not return and unable to pull it oou.


  6. John, I see CAC have removed SAC from their website and are now trying to flog cartridges at £35 a throw despite claims “you will never need to buy cartridges”.


    • The machine was so popular that it sold out.

      It is a choice whether to buy additional designs subs and does not make any difference to the operation of the machine

      Come on Robert, or Gordon, or whatever name you email me in next time, you can do better than this.


  7. The machine may not be for some people, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t ‘fit for purpose’. There are many satisfied users of this machine – one only has to read or belong to other ‘Brother’ groups to realise this. Reviews only represent a small minority of the buyers and users of the Scan N Cut.
    I own another electric cutting machine, ( also two manual die cutting machines), and I find they all have a part to play in my crafting. What some can’t do others can and vice versa.
    I guess it comes down to the old addage – ‘ You can please some of the people some of the time ….’.
    John, keep up the good work – we all value it!
    Beba :-)


  8. John, why did you delete my message about reading the SNC buyer reviews on the CAC website?
    So much for your ‘open’ policy that let people read for themselves the reviews written by people who have actually bought this thing!
    Your censorship confirms and speaks volumes on not wanting people to read the REAL truth about this ill-conceived product.
    I assume that as there are no SNC shows scheduled you guys have realised that apart from a sad few, 99.9% of the population can spot a lemon a mile off.(a very expensive lemon)


    • Hello again Robert. I hope that you are well :)
      As explained to you in my recent email I am happy for you to express your opinion but won’t have you making any negative remarks about other users on my blog.
      That was the reason for deleting your message, not any other.
      You continually highlight that I may have a biased view but continually quote the negative reviews and fail to mention the positive ones – isn’t this also a biased view?
      You have still failed to mention your own personal experience with this particular machine and only appear to have a negative view on this one product. I can only assume therefore that you have some personal interest in doing so, which really doesn’t add any credence to your viewpoint.
      I look forward to your next bullet in about how awful it is and what a bad job I am doing of it on my personal blog.
      Take care, chat soon :)


  9. Hi John
    I don’t know where Robert gets his info from but I think he is the one that is talking rubbish. I bought the scan n cut and think it is the best machine I have come across. I have several cutting machines and this is definitely the best by far. I use the scan canvas to make my own designs along with serif craft artist and I think the scan canvas is great for a free program.
    What I would like to know is how much does Robert use the scan n cut machine, and if he doesn’t where does he get his ill informed information from. Sounds like a bit of sour grapes to me!


  10. I asked, some time ago, how to cut out the patchwork pieces from paper without having the corners cut off. I have loads of lovely papers that I would like to use and this would work beautifully. Anyways, The only way I have found to do this, is to draw the pieces first using the seam allowance feature. Then, when they all are on a piece of copy paper, I re-scan them in and save them, then cut them in the usual way. It causes me no end of headaches, but worth it in the end. I have even written into C&C shows to ask how to do it when Mel has been on the shows, as she has made a beautiful card which they show, but my question has never been answered. Think I’ll give up on this one and get the old scissors out. No disrepect to this wonderful machine that has become part of my crafting on a daily basis.


      • John, I’m impressed you let my negative comments get through – well done !
        If anybody really wants to know about this machine from people who have bought it – go to the CREATEANDCRAFT website, go to scanncut, select reviews, and on the button select ‘lowest brating’. Reading these accounts from people who have actually bought it makes very sorry reading indeed. typical comments: DISASTER, OH BROTHER! ,ONLY GOOD FOR CUTTING PAPER, MATS TORN TO SHREDS, NOT FIT FOR PURPOSE, BLADE BROKE AFTER 3 CUTS, NO REPLY FROM BROTHER HELPDESK, FABRIC CUTTING HOPELESS, SCANNCUT CANVAS WEBSITE INADEQUATE, NEEDS TO BE ABLE TO CONNECT TO COMPUTER, MANUAL IS ON CD AND I DON’T HAVE A COMPUTER!, PRICE OF CONSUMABLES AND EXTRAS IS A TOTAL RIP-OFF, I WILL GO BACK TO SCISSORS! etc etc….
        Also, it has only been out two months and the price has gone up! – WHY?? I thought CAC had an exclusive deal. As you now can’t give them away I hope we do not have to sit through that SNC video again.


      • You are welcome Robert, please continue. I am really enjoying your vitriolic outbursts for a product that you don’t appear to have any first hand knowledge of. It’s also encouraging for me to work 15 days only to get home to your criticisms uninformed opinions.
        I will always let comments through on my blog – positive or not – everyone is entitled to an informed opinion and not everyone is going to get on with every product, that’s just human nature – and not really a reason to spread negativity.
        I look forward to your next comment. :)


      • Hi John. People like Robert Morrison are not worth listening to, when as you say he has no actual knowledge of the Brother ScanNCut Machine, because he does not have one. Perhaps he is hoping you will send him one to try.


      • Hi John. Are there any further Updates available for the Brother ScanNcut at Brother Solutions. I have also just looked at the ScanNCut Canvas Page which states there are updates on it to add by downloading them to a USB Stick and transfer them to the ScanNCut Machine. Can you please explain and tell how I can do this. Regards Edna


      • There are various updates depending on your location in the world.
        Updates, and instructions on how to update your machine can be found on the brother support website.
        The canvas software is different in that your machine does not need updating if it is updated.

        J :)


      • Thank you for your reply John, yes, I have come to that conclusion myself. sad tho’
        Best wishes Sioux


  11. Hi John
    Can you advise if Brother will be sending an update for the pre-installed words such as Favourite which is spelt the American way?
    Thanks Nicky


      • Among the many disappointments with this grossly overpriced, under specified, under performing and over hyped machine is all the chit-chat over ‘updates’. Brother have only supplied one update to date, this is the addition of 2 extra European languages for the control panel interface….. BIG DEAL! In any case what sort of updates could there be? Either way I GUARANTEE they will start charging for them…Why does John go on about ‘people have got to grips with the updates’ – THEY HAVE NO RELEVENCE TO UK RESIDENTS WHATSOVER. This is just another ‘smoke and mirrors illusion’ to give this machine credibility which it totally lacks to anyone with half a dozen brain cells. JOHN and MEL blabbering on about this transparently inadequate machine does them no credit whatsoever.


      • Thank you for getting in touch Robert. I didn’t know your IP address until you decided to leave this disappointingly uninformed post.


  12. Hi John. Can you please tell me if there is a Second Up-Date for the ScanNCut. If so where can I Find it and do I need to use a different USB Stick. Regards Edna


  13. When I go into canvas to load the update onto my USB it only offers window formats and not AppleMac is there another link for this that is a secret? Lol


      • Ive was told by brother that they are working on AppleMac d/l but we can use windows 7 and we should be ok but not to open it save it, i have not yet tried it out.
        Good luck Andy


    • I may be wrong but seems to me I read somewhere that mac users can simply download the windows update to a usb stick and install in the ScanNCut? Give it a go maybe.


  14. Hi John. I’m trying to make a landscape card with a word shaped folded header (if that makes sense) I’ve got it in canvas looking good all but the tiny lines that extend from the word to the edges which means my card will be chopped in half. Any ideas?


  15. Hi again John. I have again visited the Scan and Cut Canvas Website clicked into my Log In and found another Download ie:- Version 1,1.2 that Downloads as ” about Chrome HTML ” which I have on a Memory Stick. So John is this the correct Canvas Up-Date to enter into my ScanNCut Machine. I certainly will not do so until I hear from you. Edna


    • The scan n cut canvas is the online version of the software. It is not the software that is in the machine. You therefore do not need to update your machine with any canvas updates.


  16. Thanks for getting back to me about the punched shapes Mel showed about scanning on C and C, never thought about copyright for this. I have to say I love my machine and am very grateful for all the support you give.
    Regards Kath


  17. Hi John. The ScanNCut Canvas Up-Date. Do we have to download it onto a Memory Stick and does it also need to be downloaded to the Machine. Also John do you know when Create and Craft will have a further Stock of the Standard Blade. Regards Edna


  18. Hi John
    Please can you tell me how to cut the patchwork pieces from paper, so that the corners are not cut off.
    Thanks for all your tips and demo’s on C&C, love how you demonstrate


  19. Hi John
    I asked it the machine would cut sheets of thick plastic from a model shop. I sent you details as requested and you replied saying you have some on order to test, thank you.
    It has been a while since I was able to look for a reply and can not find any of the thoughts I have send you or your reply, do you delete them after a while.

    Also someone said they keep loosing the plastic pen, I have drilled a hole in the end of mine and slotted a thin cord through it and ties the other end to the table, not lost it again, mind you do not drill a hole to big and split the pen.

    Thanking you Denise


    • Hi Denise. The sheets arrived when I went on hols to Scotland. Got a bit involved in a personal project but it’s defo on my test list. Really must get around to this as it’s backing up a bit.


  20. Is it possible for anyone to do a youtube video on shrink plastic cuts. There are none available whatsoever beside your review. I would really like to see how it work before I buy this machine will mainly be used for cutting shrink plastic….thanks so much


  21. Hi john would you help me please I’m new to the machine , when I saw it I thought yes this will help me , I cut pictures out of paper, but the scan n cut keeps ripping my paper why ? Also when I scan my print in it keeps saying some pattern is out of scale some thing like that please please help me x


  22. Hi there I have recently received my scan and cut and have stamped several of chloes 3 petal flowers on a single page. When I scan to cut, it is not recognising all the flowers and on cutting ths minority of them. All images seem clear on original and I am stamping a dark silver onto white vellum. Any ideas please? Thank you


    • I’ve not tested how well silver/vellum combo would work. Have you tried the same stamp with black ink on white card to see if the image is causing the issue?


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