Die Cut Machines | How To Choose The Right Cutter For Your Project

Sizzix Big Shot
Sizzix Big Shot | Source

In a recent hub, I wrote about a leather craft project that I embarked upon and how I had to use my own handmade flower template for the cutouts. I mentioned that I wasn't too impressed with the result of cutting the flowers manually. So after much inquiring, I found out about a machine that I could use for cutting shapes (flower shapes) out of leather, the Sizzix - Big Shot Die-Cutting Machine.

What I didn't know until later on was that there are several other die-cutting machines out there that does similar and maybe even more advanced project. And if you're wondering what die-cutting machines are, you are about to find out

What Are Die-Cut Machines?

Die-cut machines are machines that are designed to cut uniform, clean-cut shapes and/or letters out of different types of materials ranging from paper (for scrapbook layouts,homemade cards and other paper crafts), leather (for leather accessories), fabric (for quilting), rubber, plastic, and sheet metal.

These machines are used for the cutting and manufacturing of both household, home décor lettering kits and industrial types metal, word, and plastic letters and molds. Before you go on to the reviews of these different die-cutting machines, let's take a look at why you might one to consider buying one.

Reasons To Choose A Die-Cutting Machine Over Your Scissors

You'll Do Fine With Your Scissors
You'll Need A Die-Cutter
If you only occasionally (once in a blue moon) need to cut one layer fabric at a time. No bulk fabric cutting.
If you frequently (twice or more times a day/week) have to cut different shapes out of fabric. And do bulk fabric cutting.
If you don't care much whether your cut shapes turns out with uneven edges.
If you would rather have cut shapes with even edges.
If you do not replicate same shapes and size of cut fabric.
If you often replicate same shapes and size of cut fabric.
If you're not in the business of scrap-booking, craft sales etc.
If you're in the business of scrap-booking, craft sales etc.
If you only work with basic shapes & easy to cut letters.
If you work with intricate shapes and not-so-easy to cut letters, such as, cursive letters.

Types of Die-cut Machines

Die-cut machines ranges from industrial types (the types that cuts street signs etc.) to table top household types that are used for scrapbooking and various other crafts. The purpose of this hub is to show the different types of household table top die-cut machines and their intended use.

In the household die-cut category, there are manual and electronics die-cut machines. The electronic die-cut machines uses cartridges that has various built-in shapes and letters. The manually operated die cut machines usually have separate die cuts templates that can be attached to the machine for specific cut shapes and letters.

Some die-cut machine cuts everything from cardstock to fabric, stencils, and even leather. Some only cuts through fabrics (for quilters), while some only cut papers, these are intended only for scrap-booking and card making. And then there are some industrial type that will cut through metal, plastic, and other hard materials.

Cutting a simple star shape may be accomplished using a craft or regular scissors.
Cutting a simple star shape may be accomplished using a craft or regular scissors.
Cutting an intricate shape like this dollie-wheel need a more sophisticated cutter that uses a die or template.
Cutting an intricate shape like this dollie-wheel need a more sophisticated cutter that uses a die or template.

Was there ever a time you needed to cut shapes/letters and wish you had a Die-Cutting Machine?

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Die-Cut Machines That Uses Cartridges

When you buy a die-cut machine, you may get an initial die-cut template or cartridge (one or two) of different shapes, letters and fonts needed to begin your project. Additional die-cuts or cartridges will then have to be purchased separately.

The followings are some of the die-cutting machines that uses cartridges:

Cricut Create Personal Electronic Cutter

This is one of the Provo Craft - Cricut family of Die-Cut Machines. This machine cuts a variety of materials in several shapes without being hooked up to a computer. All the shapes and letters comes with a cartridge that offers an assortment of shapes, letters, and phrases that can be used to create projects for every occasion. It can cut between 0.25 to 11.5 inch die (shapes and letters). If you are into scrap-booking and card making, this machine is one to consider.

Cricut Expression 24" Personal Electronic Cutter

Another one of Provo Craft's design - The Cricut Expression Cutter does everything that the Cricut Create Personal Cutter does. It cuts shapes, letters and phrases. It's a little bigger though, because it comes with two big mats, the 12" x 24" mat and the 12" x 12" mat, allowing you to create even bigger shapes and letters, up to 23.5" wide. Comes with its own font and shape cartridge. Another great option for those into scrap-booking and card making.

Cricut Cake Personal Electronic Cutter

Are you a baker, a pastry chef, or cake designer? Then this is the perfect cutter for you.

This die-cutting machine is specifically designed for caterers for use in cutting frosting sheets, gum paste, and fondant that is then used to decorate cakes, cupcakes, and cookies. So if you're looking to leave your mark in the world of pastry design, this one's for you.

The Cricut Cake Personal Electronic Cutter makes cutting designs, letters and shapes for your pastries as easy as ABC.

Xylon Wishblade Die-Cutting Machine

Xylon Wish blade (Die-Cutter/Embosser)

This die-cut machine also cuts shapes letters and phrases. In addition to cutting your shapes, it also has the capability to emboss the shapes. Embossing creates a raised or textured design on the paper. This is one feature that card makers are always excited about, because it helps give their hand-made card a professional look.

The Xylon Wishblade is also computer-supported. This means that you can design your own template on your computer, the template can then be incorporated into the Xylon Wishblade for use in your project.

Die-Cut Machines That Uses Die-Cut Templates:

There are several die-cut machines that uses die-cut templates instead of a cartridge. Most all of the machines in this category have a similar feature, a crank handle/roller mechanism. This is because they are manually operated.

These machines also has embossing capabilities and tend to be cheaper than their electronic counterparts that uses cartridges. The following die-cut machines falls in this category:

Sizzix Die-Cutting Machines

Sizzix® Big Shot Machine - This machine cuts and embosses your scrapbook papers. In addition to papers it has the ability to cut fabric, plastic, stencil, sheet metal and leather. It is very popular among crafters due to its durability and versatility.

Sizzix® BIGKick Machine - This is a bigger version of the Sizzix® Big Shot Machine. This machine can cut fabric, paper, leather, metal, mesh, polymer clay, wool, thin wood, and vellum. It does everything that the Sizzix® Big Shot does and more. It works with all other Sizzix machines and even works with other brands' dies and embossing tools.

Provo Craft Die-Cutting Machines

Provo Craft Cuttlebug - The Cuttlebug machine from Provo is designed to cut a shape and emboss a shape. This machine is preferred because of its compact size, foldable platform, and built-in pop-up handle. The Cuttlebug dies come in a variety of sizes and styles that allows you to mix and match your theme.

Provo Craft Cuttlekids - The Cuttlekids Die Cutting Machine, also by Provo craft is the only die cutting machine made especially for children. This machine's dies are easier to work with and are safer for your young crafters. It comes with two fun dies and two pads that provides your little ones with lots of fun with paper or foam craft, and any other craft they love to work with. get started!

The Provo Craft Cuttlekids is a colorful machine that is very portable. It's compact little size and light weight makes it easy for your little ones to handle. The suctions at the bottom of machine secures it to the work surface for easier use! Also, the sharp edges on dies have foam paddings so your little ones fingers are protected from harm.

Pazzles Inspiration Electronic Cutter

The Inspiration Electronic Cutter is a die-cut machine that has the ability to cut, draw, emboss, engrave, pierce and distress on a variety of materials. It comes with software that allows you to design, create, and produce your own images using photos and a scanner, or you can download images from the web. Use any True Type font to create titles, overlays and more.

It also comes with features like; automated image tracing, and automatic welding which gives you lots of design options. Use this machine for paper crafts, to create custom iron on transfers to clothings, accessories, and home decors.

In conclusion, die-cut machines are fast becoming the most sought after household machines for a lot of home-based craft businesses. The truth is, there are so many of these machines out there, and many people do not know where to begin in their bid to purchase one, or in trying to figure out which one is best for them.

I do hope the information given here about each of these machines will help you determine which die-cut machine is right for your project. You can also watch the videos to help you have a visual understanding of what these machines actually does, and how to use them.

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Author: Comfort Babatola- ©2013

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Comments 4 comments

ThePracticalMommy profile image

ThePracticalMommy 5 years ago from United States

Thank you for sharing this! I have been looking at various cutting machines for my crafty sis-in-law who is trying to start a party planning business and likes to make her own invitations.

Voted up and useful!


ComfortB profile image

ComfortB 5 years ago from Bonaire, GA, USA Author

You're welcome ThePracticalMommy. I'm glad you find this useful. I wish your sister-in-law the best in her business endeavor.


Jamie Brock profile image

Jamie Brock 4 years ago from Texas

Thank you for a very interesting hub! You did a great job explaining all the different type die cutters. I have a Cricut Expression and it's great but what I'm really wanting now is the Big Shot.. I think it's neat that you cut so many different things with it. The dies can be expensive but I think it's worth it.. especially if you will be making crafts for profit. Great hub.. voting up!


ComfortB profile image

ComfortB 4 years ago from Bonaire, GA, USA Author

Thanks for stopping by Jamie. I appreciate your comments and votes.

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