You may be able to extend your blade’s life with something you probably already have-heavy duty aluminum foil! I first found this tip from here and tried it out myself. I used non-heavy and doubled it up twice, but I can’t recommend it. I don’t know for sure that it works as well as heavy duty.
Tear out your heavy-duty aluminum foil big enough to cover your cutting mat’s sticky area twice over, fold it in half, and apply to the cutting mat. In Silhouette Studio or Make-The-Cut, use large letters or simple shapes like flowers to be cut. Ratchet your blade to 1 and in the program, set the speed to 1 and the thickness/force to 1. Do this at least 2-3 times before trying to cut out a test design with paper. The more you use your blade, the more often you would want to do this to keep your blade sharp.
Alternately, you can do this by hand yourself so there is no danger of ruining your cutting mat. Use a hard surface like a clipboard under your foil and doodle some shapes.
Got some negative cut outs that you would like to save without losing its arrangement? You might want to try Press’n Seal instead of transfer tape. I tried this technique with the negatives of the peaceful dove and it worked.
After cutting out the design, I left the paper on the cutting mat and cut enough Press’n Seal to cover the design. I then pressed it down onto the design with an old credit card by starting from the middle and worked outward. I ran my fingers over the Press’n Seal afterward to ensure it was stuck to the paper, and then I used one of my tapered clay tools to gently wedge off the design from the cutting board. I would have liked it to have been a bit stickier, but it still works.
You can alternatively cut off a piece of Press’n Seal, lay it sticky side up, and then hand arrange a design to save your paper pieces. Remember to mirror the design!
If you’re getting extra tearing or other bad cutting behavior, you should try cleaning out your blade holder before chucking it out in anger and getting a new one. Take it out of the machine and ratchet the blade to 0. After that, hold it in your left hand horizontally with the blade side outward, then, with your right hand, push inward and twist off the white cap by turning it toward you. It should easily come off and the blade will be exposed. Just tap the paper scraps gently out and then maybe use a Q-tip if there is still some left.
Check out what I found in mine!
I found this tip out on a youtube comment on this video. If it is your sort of thing, you can head over there and thank Kip. ^_^
UPDATE October 7th, 2013:
I tried this with my blue blade holder and I can’t get it to unscrew. When you press inward, you should feel the cap already give a little and then easily come off. Do not try to force it to come off!
I examined both of the blade holders and they look identical except for the coloring. So, try and see if you can take the cap off and tell me about it.