We are reader supported. When you buy through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

Cricut Joy vs Cricut Maker (2021): Which Cutting Machine Should You Buy?

Rather than going bigger and further, Cricut made its newest cutting machine more compact and portable. The Cricut Joy is the smallest crafting standalone product from the company yet, and it has a few new tricks that even the advanced Cricut Maker doesn’t have. Check out the full features of the Cricut Joy and see how it compares with the Cricut Maker below.

Cricut Joy vs Cricut Maker Comparison Chart

ModelCricut JoyCricut Maker
 Cricut Maker
PriceCheck Price

at Cricut.com

Check Price

at Amazon

Weight3.9 lbs9 lbs
Max Cutting Area4.25″ x 6.5″12″ x 24″
Cutting VersatilityCuts 50+ materialsCuts 300+ materials
ToolsCricut Joy onlyAdaptive Tool System
Tool HolderSingleDouble
SoftwareDesign SpaceDesign Space
Upload Own DesignYesYes

Design and Size

The Cricut Joy is smaller and lighter than the Cricut Maker.

Cricut Joy vs Cricut Maker Design
Here’s a relative size comparison between the Cricut Joy (left) and Cricut Maker (right).

If you’ve ever wished Cricut offered a smaller version of their latest cutting machines, well, they heard your prayers. The Cricut Joy is a compact cutting machine that you can easily carry in one hand and bring in a small bag. Placing it side by side with the Cricut Maker just highlights how tiny it is. You’ll find it very easy to store away when not in use.

Plugging the Cricut Joy in will turn it on; there are no buttons on its sleek surface. There’s no storage space either, which shouldn’t be a surprise. In comparison, there’s a storage area on the Cricut Maker both at the top and under the tray. If you like keeping your Cricut tools and accessories together, the Cricut Maker certainly makes it easier. There are also light indicators to let you know the status of any cut you’re doing.

You have a variety of color finishes to choose from with the Cricut Maker, while there’s only one for the Cricut Joy (for now). The Cricut Joy‘s teal and white gloss stands out nicely, with its tray cover closing snugly. Inside you’ll see that there’s only one tool holder for it though, while the Cricut Maker has a dual one.

Cutting Power

The Cricut Maker can cut thicker and more materials than the Cricut Joy.

Cricut Joy vs Cricut Maker Cutting Power
With an additional Knife Blade, the Cricut Maker can cut even matboard and balsa wood.

With roughly 4,000 grams of downward cutting force, the Cricut Maker is one of the most powerful cutting machines available today. Its Rotary Blade cuts through fabrics easily, and you can purchase a Knife Blade to cut even thicker materials such as basswood, leather and more. Moreover, its wider cutting area lets you take on larger projects as well as more intricate designs.

In comparison, the Cricut Joy is almost the complete opposite. It can only cut 50+ materials compared to the 300+ of the Cricut Maker and its cutting width is only 4.25 inches. There’s only a single tool holder as well, which is only compatible with tools specially made for the Cricut Joy. Its Blade is intended only for popular materials such as vinyl, cardstock, iron-on and paper. However, Cricut is releasing new materials designed specifically to work only with the compact Joy.

Cricut calls them Smart Materials, which are long rolls with thicker backing so you can cut without sticking them onto a mat first. These can go up to 20 feet long, making them perfect for numerous repeated cuts or very long shapes. If you want to get lots of label stickers or adhesive decals for example, the Cricut Joy can cut them all out for you in one go.

Ease of Use

The Cricut Joy is simpler to use than the Cricut Maker.

Cricut Joy vs Cricut Maker Ease of Use
With Smart Materials, the Cricut Joy is a breeze to craft with.

Cricut simplified the crafting process you need to go through with on the Cricut Joy. There are no buttons to push on the machine itself, as all the controls you’ll need are on the Design Space software that you can install on your phone, tablet or laptop. Once you plug it in, it will turn on and pair with your device, and you can immediately select your designs and materials to get to cutting.

The new Smart Materials speeds this up further, since you won’t have to put them on a cutting mat first. The Cricut Joy‘s sensors automatically adjust for the special material once you select it on the software, so you can finish that much faster. For projects that only have one cut, one color and one material, this will save you a lot of time to get lots of cuts done.

You’ll have to manually insert the pen every time you start and switch projects though, since it won’t fit inside with the tray closed. In contrast, the Cricut Maker can hold up to two tools at once, so you can cut and write in quick succession. You have to use a cutting mat every time though, and you need to be careful when pulling materials off so you don’t inadvertently ruin complex cuts.

Other Features

The Cricut Maker can be used for engraving, scoring, and more.

Cricut Joy vs Cricut Maker Features
With the Adaptive Tool System, you can push your creative boundaries a lot more with the Cricut Maker.

Cricut designed the Maker to be their ultimate professional-level machine. It’s unmatched in terms of versatility, thanks to its Adaptive Tool System. You can purchase other tools such as the aforementioned Knife Blade to do a lot more with the Cricut Maker. Debossing, engraving, scoring and more are possible, and combined with the huge variety of materials you can use, the possibilities are mind-boggling.

In contrast, the Cricut Joy offers to simplify projects requiring volume, and greatly speeds up simple cuts. It has its own specialties, which include card-making using its Insert Card sets. There’s a lot of potential new applications that Cricut can introduce specific to the Cricut Joy, which we’ll undoubtedly see in the coming months.


The Cricut Joy is recommended for beginners while the Cricut Maker is better for serious crafters.

Crafting has never been so accessible, as the Cricut Joy looks perfectly poised to welcome new hobbyists into the fold. It’s a lot friendlier to your wallet and its simplified interface makes it easy to use and work with. Moreover, you can try your hand at making small things first and try out popular materials to personalize almost everything you can think of.

If you want something more powerful, the Cricut Maker is well worth the price. Its simply one of the best cutting machines today, and there are so many things you can create with it. Veteran crafters will appreciate the performance and depth that the Cricut Maker offers, but even novices can start on their crafting journeys with it and continue to hone their skills with more complex projects.


๐Ÿ“Œ Can I use Cricut Joy materials with other Cricut cutting machines?

The Cricut Joy
Smart materials such as Smart Vinyl and Smart Iron-On are designed specifically for Cricut Joy so you can cut them without a mat. You may use them with other Cricut machines, but you’ll need a mat with them, thus defeating their purpose.

๐Ÿ“Œ Which Cricut is best for beginners?

The Cricut Joy is hands-down the best for beginners as its exclusive Smart materials make writing and cutting designs a breeze. However, it can be limited due to its size. If you want a more versatile Cricut, the Explore Air 2 is another solid choice for beginners.

๐Ÿ“Œ Can Cricut Joy make T-Shirts?

Of course, you can cut vinyl for shirts easily on the Cricut Joy
. However, if you want to cut larger designs, we recommend getting the Cricut Maker
or Cricut Explore Air 2 instead.

๐Ÿ“Œ Can you make money with a Cricut?

In a nutshell, yes, you start a business with a Cricut. You can conveniently cut stickers and vinyls for personalized shirts, mugs, totes, and a wide range of items.

RELATED  Best Laptops for Crafting (2021): Top Picks For Digital Crafting
Derick Bondoc

Managing Editor at Compare Before Buying. Writer and researcher passionate about gadgets, gaming and snacks.