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What Pens Work With Cricut? How to Use Any Pen with Your Cricut Machine

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Cricut pen tutorial

Owning a Cricut machine is wonderful! There is so much you can do with it. But sometimes, you want to venture out beyond the means of what Cricut provides, like with Cricut pens. I absolutely LOVE Cricut pens, their gel pens and calligraphy markers are great, but what if you want to use others like sharpies, brush markers, glitter pens, and more? I don’t know about you, but I want to know all the pens that work with Cricut!

Fortunately, there is a very easy way to make nearly any pen work with your Cricut machine. This hack I will share with you today allows you to use other brand pens with your Cricut Maker, Explore Air 2, Explore 3, or Maker 3 machines! I will also include some tips for Cricut Joy as well.

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What pens work with Cricut?

Pens that naturally work with your Cricut machine include any Cricut brand pens such as these gel pens, metallic markers, or calligraphy markers.

But what about making other markers and pens work with Cricut? Perhaps you already own or just love the look of some other brand’s pens, so you wish you could use non-Cricut brand pens with your Maker, Explore Air 2, Explore 3, or Maker 3 machine.

How to use any pen with your Cricut machine

How to use Sharpie markers with your Cricut

Here’s the secret, clamp A of your machine holds a pen adapter. That adapter inside is actually removable! Why does this matter? Because if you can remove the Cricut pen adapter, then you can insert alternative adapters that will allow you to use any pen with your Cricut machine!

These alternative adapters allow you to use Sharpies, Bic markers, Tombow brush markers, Crayola fine-line markers, and many other options!

My two favorite pen adapter options are from this shop on Etsy or this brand on Amazon. Both work well with any Cricut Maker, Maker 3, Explore Air 2, or Explore 3 machine!

How to Use Any Pen with Your Cricut Machine: Easy Cricut Pens Tutorial. Learn how to use pens like Sharpie, Bic, Crayola markers and Tombow brush pens with your Cricut machine!
Pen Adapter Set from Kid Sharp Productions!
Rainbow Pen Adapter Set by Craverland

How to Change Your Cricut Pen Adapter – Video Tutorial

Below is a quick video tutorial that will teach you how to change your Cricut pen adapter in Clamp A of the Cricut housing to the third-party pen adapter set. Keep reading below to see a picture tutorial and all my recommended Cricut pens!

How to Remove Your Cricut Pen Adapter

Cricut pen adapter

First, you need to know how to remove the pen adapter that comes with your Cricut machine. Open your Cricut machine, and the pen adapter is found in Clamp A to the left. Toggle open the clamp and start to press down on the clamp while wiggling the adapter up with your fingers.

How to change your Cricut pen adapter.

While pressing down on the center housing and up simultaneously on the adapter, from the bottom, release the pen adapter. You will need to be gentle but fairly firm.

How to remove Cricut's pen adapter in the Explore Air 2, Maker, Maker 3 or Explore 3 machines.

Once loosened, you will remove the white adapter from the inside of the Cricut center housing. There is only one was the adapter comes out, so it will be obvious.

How to use pen adapters with Cricut.

Now that clamp A’s housing is empty, you can insert one of the adapters! Some Cricut pen adapters will label which pens they work with; others will leave it up to you to test various options with each adapter.

That means you can change out the Cricut adapter for new ones that will hold a variety of different pen brands.

How to Use Any Pen with Your Cricut Machine: Learn all the pens that work with Cricut like Sharpie, Bic, Crayola markers, Tombow brush pens, and more!

In the image above, I am inserting a Bic marker into my Cricut, and it worked great!

Remember, even if one of the adapters is labeled “BIC markers,” that doesn’t mean there may not be other brand pens that work with that adapter!

I discovered that my Tombow dual brush markers work with the Uni-ball Signo adapter. Using a brush marker with your Cricut like this could help you create lovely brush calligraphy art!

Easy Cricut pen tutorial

Are you looking for more Cricut hacks? Read my 28 Cricut and Design Space hacks every Cricut owner should know! You may also love my 25 sanity-saving craft vinyl hacks every crafter needs!

Cricut Compatible Pens

Non-Cricut Pens (you will need this adapter set here)

  1. Regular, Metallic & Neon fine-point Sharpie
  2. Ultra Fine Point – Sharpie
  3. Art Pen – Sharpie
  4. Pilot Precise (V5 & V7)
  5. Bic Marking (Fine & Ultra Fine)
  6. Bic Cristal 
  7. Sakura Gelly Roll
  8. Amaza Gel Pens
  9. Sharpie Oil-Based Paint (fine and extra fine)
  10. Uni-ball Signo UM-153
  11. Tombow Brush Pens (use with Uni-ball adapter)

Crayola Markers that work with Cricut machines

Again you will need the pen adapter set.

  1. Fine Line Marker
  2. Super Tip 
  3. Detailing Gel Pen

Cricut Brand Pens

For those who want to stick with just the Cricut brand, here are some of my favorites to use!

  1. Ultimate Fine-point pen set
  2. Black pen set
  3. Glitter Gel pen set
  4. Peacock pen set
  5. Calligraphy Black pen set
  6. Candy Shop pen set
  7. Infusible Ink makers

Are you ready to try out this new Cricut hack? Learn how to write with Cricut inside a Joy card insert here or try out hatch-filing text in Design Space with this typography tutorial!

Note for Cricut Joy Users

This pen tutorial works great with the Cricut Maker, Explore Air 2, Explore 3, and Maker 3. However, the Joy machine works differently because it does not have a separate insert for pens. But I have tried and love these pens here for my Joy machine, which are dual-tip including both fine-point and marker tips. And they write very smoothly!

More Cricut Help for Beginners

I have many more Cricut hacks, help, and projects here on Abbi Kirsten Collections.

How to use non-cricut pens with your machine!

Love this Cricut tutorial? Don’t forget to share it with your friends!

About Abbi Kirsten

Welcome to my colorful corner of the internet, where we play with vibrant crafts and unlock your creative magic! Hang out with me and get lost in a fun array of projects, tutorials, and products, from stunning papercraft ideas to flower templates, Cricut help for beginners, and endless crafter’s hacks. 

To access all the magic, join the Member Vault and participate in my monthly Craft-Alongs in my Facebook group!

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  1. Holly Cassidy says:

    Will these adapters work with a Maker?

    1. Yes! I use them with my Maker all the time. 🙂

  2. FierceFluff says:

    Do you know of any edible markers/pens that can be used with the cricut?

    1. While I am not sure exactly which pen would work with Cricut I’m sure one of the pen adapters in the link above would probably fit something like this: https://amzn.to/2M0zsQv

  3. Will these work with Cricut Explorer One?

      1. Wow! How cool. I had no idea this was possible!


      1. Cricut pens work seamlessly with both Explore and Makers. The adapters come into play when you want to use a non-cricut pen. 🙂

  4. Will these work with the Expressions?

    1. Hi Terri!
      If the Expressions has a pen adapter then I don’t see why not! 🙂

    2. Google “using pen or marker with Cricut expression”. It will show you how to use stubby markers and how to flip the lid to use full size pens with items from Dollar Tree Good luck

  5. I’m new to this I bought a use explorer air. I’m trying to use the design space I created a picture I want to put on vinyl.The blade won’t come down is that because I don’t have a pen in the place for it.

    1. Hi! The blade will work without a pen. It sounds like the blade may not be installed in the clamp properly. You may want to google Cricut help to see a video of how this is done. More than likely the blade just needs to be pushed down into the clamp. 🙂

  6. Audra Johnston says:

    I cant seem to find the link for the pen adapters for the Cricut Air 2. Is it still available? Thank you. Audra

  7. Linda Matola says:

    Do you know if the adapter will work for Marvy uchida dual tip pens?

    1. Hi Linda! I haven’t tried that exact brand but I have used many other similar brands like Tombow dual brush pens and they work well!

  8. Thanks! This worked great! I even tried pens that were not listed and most of them fit in one of the holders.

  9. This is so great! I love that I can use other pens!

  10. This is incredible! I have this set and would love to see how the Tombow writes when used. Which fonts do you use when using the Tombow?

    1. I’ve used anything with a thin style calligraphy script with success. 🙂

  11. Fran Kress says:

    Are your free classes for Cricut Joy?

    Can I use the Cricut Ultimate Fine point pen set with my cricut joy. Someone gave me a box if pens for the cricut explore machine.

    1. Cricut Joy will require Cricut brand compatible pens for the Joy only because the machine is smaller.

  12. This is so cool! I love your site!

  13. Marmalade says:

    Hi, how do I use a non-cricut pen for my Cricut Joy machine?

    1. Because the cricut joy is a smaller machine they will require only Cricut brand pens. 🙂

  14. Can i use on the Cricut Joy?

    1. Unfortunately the Cricut Joy has a unique pen holder compared to the other machines so this tutorial will not work.

  15. Your site is filled with a wealth of information! Does one of the pen adapters work with artesprix sublimation markers?

    Best Regards,

    1. Hi Alicia,

      You can use the Silhouette pen adapter with the Artesprix sublimation markers.

      Happy crafting!

  16. Maria Difrancesca says:

    Can you use any heat erasable fabric pens with these adapters?

    1. Possibly! You will just need to try your pens with each of the different adapters to see which one fits. 🙂

  17. Melanie O' Brien says:

    Hi Abbi!
    Would really appreciate if you could help me. Would you know of a very good white marker/pen that is compatible with the cricut explore 2 please? I have copper pearlescent paper and would love to do white writing on it. Thanks so much, Melanie

    1. Hi Melanie!
      Try looking for white/silver Sharpie metallic markers and use the pen adapters mentioned in the post to get them to write with your Air 2. Here’s one brand you can explore as well https://amzn.to/3buOJmp

    1. Yes, I am sure one of the adapters would work with those pens. 🙂

  18. Ana Perez says:

    Hi, silly question maybe but I purchased the pen adapters from Etsy that you have listed here, but how do I set my maker pen setting when I go to use them?

    1. Generally, I just leave the pen on whatever it defaults to automatically. It’s not a requirement to set the pen type. 🙂

  19. Have you found any other watercolor pens that will work with the cricut? I love the look of the watercolor but would love more color choices.

  20. Karen Funk says:

    Thank you, Abbi, for this great tutorial on using other pens in the Cricut. I have a Cricut Explore Air 2. Will be checking out the adapters.

  21. Hi,

    Thank you for this very informative blog about using non-Cricut pens in a Cricut machine! I do have a question about Cricut pens that I’m hoping you may be able to help me with…
    I made a beautiful (if I do say so myself😉) picture using Cricut pens. I removed canvas from a frame and used a mat to draw directly on the canvas with my Cricut machine, then re-stapled the finished picture back on to the frame.
    This picture was a given as a gift to a family member. Now 8 months later, portions of the picture have faded away completely. It seems that with each passing week a bit more is gone when I look at it!

    Do I need to re-print the design using infusible ink pens instead? I’ve never used infusible ink before so it would be very expensive for me to do that to make only one picture. I would need to buy multiple colors of pens as I don’t currently have any, and also buy additional supplies to ‘treat’ the canvas to accept sublimation. I also don’t have a heat press big enough to fit the whole picture at one time. (Size is about 11×18). I’d rather not go with this method if I don’t have to☹️.

    I was hoping to reprint the picture again either with regular Cricut pens (and maybe top coat it with something that wouldn’t smear the ink – suggestions?) I thought that the Cricut water based pens/markers were supposed to be permanent? Or perhaps you know of a different brand of pen that will draw on canvas that won’t fade away? It could be a good solution to my problem if I only have to purchase pen adaptors and another brand of pens!
    Any help you could give me would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!

    1. HI Marianne!

      What a beautiful project idea!
      I too have noticed that Cricut pens can smear or fade a little over time. I would not recommend Infusible Ink pens because they are meant for copy paper that will have the drawn design transferred to a polyester based fabric, and canvas material is usually cotton based.
      Personally, I would try a different pen. My suggest would be a Bic or Sharpie marker. Both brands make options that come with really fine-points for detailed drawings. And the pen adapters work well with both those brands. I’m honestly not sure about the sealer, that could run risks of wetting the ink and causing bleeding right from the start. You could certainly try a small test for this, but I think the alternate pens may be your best bet. 🙂
      Hope this helps!