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Review of the Sizzix Big Shot Universal Cutting and Embossing Machine

Updated on September 28, 2014
Well used and much loved Sizzix Big Shot Machine
Well used and much loved Sizzix Big Shot Machine | Source
Background Embossing Made with the Big Shot and an Embossing Folder
Background Embossing Made with the Big Shot and an Embossing Folder | Source

Explaining the Sizzix Big Shot Universal Die Cutting and Embossing Tool

This page reviews the Sizzix Big Shot Universal Cutting and Embossing Machine. It includes a video demonstrating how to use it, a description of accessories and the pros and cons of this tool.

I am an avid crafter, card maker, scrapbooker and mixed media artist. My Sizzix Big Shot is one tool that I would not forgo. I use it frequently and for a variety of purposes.

Disclaimer: My Big Shot is an earlier model, the black and pink one. I can only assume that the updated version shown here is even better!

The Big Shot is also known by other names when sold in stores such as Michaels Arts and Crafts Store. Its the same tool, renamed according to agreements between Sizzix and certain companies.

What can you do with the Big Shot?

The Big Shot does die cutting, stenciling and dry embossing. Since it is a universal machine, you can use almost all of the dies, stencils and embossing folders, regardless of the manufacturer.

The machine cuts easily through paper, cardstock, vellum, light weight cardboard and chipboard, fabric, and light metal. By light metal, I refer to pop cans or beer cans. I have not tried it on anything stronger than that.

The Sizzix Big Shot is a hand operated roller machine. I leave it set up on my craft table and use it as needed. Please note, it is not an electronic machine like the Cricut, for example. I own both a Cricut and the Big Shot. I use the Big Shot much more than I do the electronic machine.

When you buy the Big Shot, it requires a minimum of assembly and it is easy to put together. If memory serves, all you have to do is attach the handle. I am not highly skilled at "putting together" machinery or equipment, so I appreciate something that does not require me to bang my head against the wall and mutter to myself before ultimately phoning customer service.

You can extend the machine's versatility by purchasing various accessories, such as a longer platform and extended cutting pads. This allows you to use the longer, 12 inch dies that are so popular.

Another great point about the Big Shot is that it is very sturdy and durable, but light enough that you can carry it around to workshops or elsewhere.

Video Demo Showing The Big Shot in Use

Big Shot at a Glance

Big Shot
Manual Operation
Electronic Operation
Price, Basic Machine
approximately $75 US
Minimal, easy
Uses all dies and embossing plates
11.7 pounds
14.2 x 12.4 x 6.6 inches
Cuts through:
Paper, card stock, Vellum, Aluminum, some fabric, light cardboard, light chipboard
Accessories Required
3 year limited warranty
Availability of dies and embossing plates
numerous available
For your convenience,here is an easy to view outline of the Sizzix Big Shot.


An array of accessories can be purchased. Some are crucial to have; others are options.

Must Haves:

  1. Cutting Plates, standard
  2. Cutting Platform, standard

In most cases, the cutting plates and platform is sold with the machine. In time, you may have to replace the cutting plates. They get warped with constant use.

Optional Accessories:

  1. Extended Cutting Plates. Necessary if you want to use the extra long dies.
  2. Extended Cutting Platform: Necessary to use with the Extended Cutting Plates
  3. Vagabond Magnetic Platform: Necessary if you want to use certain magnetic dies
  4. Silicone Texture Rubber Accessory AND Sizzix Texture Accessory Impressions Pad -- must be used together with dies that also have an embossing option.
  5. Solo Wafer Thin Die Adapter. Use when using wafer thin dies. You can cut these dies without the adapter but life is easier if you have one.

Pop-up Balls Cut on the Sizzix using a BigZ Die
Pop-up Balls Cut on the Sizzix using a BigZ Die | Source

Big Shot Cons

What are the cons of the Big Shot?

First, the machine is a sturdy machine, heavier and larger than some of its small competitors This means it has a larger footprint on your craft table. However, the sturdiness is also an advantage because it can handle heavier workloads.

Also on the con side, you end up buying a lot of accessories in order to use the new dies and embossing plates that keep coming out. This is true of all machines, however.

Another con is that the cutting platform eventually warps and has to be replaced. It does not need replacing anywhere close to as often as the cutting pad on the Cricut, however.

Additionally, there can be issues with calibration. All machines are calibrated a little differently. There is a work around. If your Big Shot is not cutting through the paper very well, simply add an additional layer of paper over top. That is, put a scrap of card stock on top for additional push.

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