Stamp School 12: Talkin’ ’bout Dies & Die Cutting Machine!

Hi friends! Tonight I have a very broad general video about they types of dies and die cutting machines (computerized/electronic vs. manual) and what each kind is good for. Keep in mind the machines I use are about 8 years old and they are still doing everything I need them to do so I have not upgraded. I may have been a bit harsh and unfair of a certain brand of cutter (due to my past experience with the company but newer customers are saying they are great now) so I do intend to provide a more thorough discussion of die cutters. I actually am looking to do a google hangout with some advanced die cut machine users so we can have a discussion of different machines and you can ask questions live. If you know of a crafter I should ask to be a guest let me know. Now here is a very general discussion on die cutters.

OK, so maybe I was a bit harsh on Cricut but having to be connected to the internet is a deal breaker for me. I did just find out that the new Scan and Cut can be hooked to your computer for fonts and SVGs now (oh the temptation!) but I have not used the Scan ‘n Cut, I am merely drooling over others recommendation. I mentioned the blog Clever Someday as a great resource of several popular die cutting machines, Kay also has great tutorials, I have learned a lot from her, if you want more info on computerized die cutters check her out. If you want to watch the Google Hangout live make sure to follow me on Google+ because I can send an invite to everyone that follows me I think… I will likely post it here and Facebook as well. Also you can post a question here in the comments if you can’t make it but live questions will be answered first. I am hoping to do this in a day or two so stay tuned.

But today I wanted to go over the basic advantages each type of machine has:

Electronic/Computerized Cutter (pros & cons)

  • (con) larger initial investment $250-$500 for consumer models
  • (pro) ability to cut designs in the size you want
  • (pro) most let you cut computer fonts you have (or can download free or cheaply)
  • (pro) most let you easily convert clip art into cutting files
  • (pro) it gets cheaper the longer you use it because once you buy the machine you can do a lot without spending another dime
  • (pro) you can make cutting files to cut stamped images *with some machines, difficulty will vary.
  • (con) steeper learning curve than manual machine
  • (con) blades and mats will need replacing
  • (con) if something goes wrong it will probably be expensive to fix
  • Best for cutting thinner/less dense materials but deep cut blades are available

Manuel Machines

  • (pro) smaller initial investment $60-$300 depending on fanciness
  • (pro) cuts with dies and embosses with embossing folders and texture plates (and stencils!)
  • (pro) little learning curve other and figuring what plates you need for pressure.
  • (con) you get what you get, no adjusting the sizes, if you want a bigger shape you need a bigger die.
  • (con) you have to keep buying dies if you want more shapes
  • (pro) easily cuts through thicker items with thick dies
  • (pro) there is not much to go wrong with them especially if you invest in a quality machine, I’ve been using my Big Shot daily for 8 years with no trouble
  • (pro) no blades to replace but you will need to replace the cutting pads occasionally
  • (pro) can be used with letterpress plates
  • Best for the crafter who does not want to mess with a computer when crafting and likes to cut thicker materials

I hope that helped a bit. Stay tuned for a more in-depth discussion. I will have the recording available if you can’t make it to the hangout, it will be my first live youtube thing so wish me luck! Thanks for stopping by and til next time happy crafting!


19 Responses

  1. Oh yes I still have the red sizzix. Have to use your mussels. I also have the big shot and love it. You look so cute and cool tonight. Have a good rest of the week.


  2. I have both the Cricut Expression 2 and the Vagabond. I don’t have a desire to connect to the Internet with the Cricut. As long as it uses the cartridges I have, I’m fine.


  3. OK, I updated my Google + and added you to my list. I hope I get the notice when you do the Google Hangout live. I have no idea how that works, so if we need to sing up for something on Google Hangout, please let us know. Thanks.


    • I will send a notice on google plus, facebook and here. It will probably be shot notice because If I can grab people together quickly I’m gonna do it:) I have a test call with Melody Lane at 1:30 this afternoon to make sure I can work everything LOL! So maybe this afternoon!


  4. As an avid paper crafter I totally agree about the whole new cricut/Internet thing. So disappointing for them to design a better machine… But everything has to be in the “cloud” :(…. Loving my manual machines for years too and of course my “old” cricut expression. Looking forward to your upcoming posts 😉


  5. I have that exact Big Shot! I also have 3 other Sizzix(Ellison) machines, the Sidekick (little red manual machine that does Sizzix’s Sizzilets), the big red machine that you mentioned that turned you off die-cutting and the first generation of the eClips. I bought the eClips because you could hook it to your computer or use the cartridges and those were cheaper than the Cricut ones. I’m not a big fan of anything Cricut, but I do own several of the smaller dies they put out for their small green manual machine. Did you know that the Sizzix brand was originally a collaboration between Ellison & Provo Craft!? When they split Ellison got the Sizzix brand name and everything that was out under that brand, that’s when the blue Big Shot came out then they went back to the the red & white Big Kick when the dust settled and Prove Craft came out with their little green Cricut machine. I think Ellison held the original pattens on the die cutting stuff since they were a commercial die cutting machine & die manufacturer.


  6. I have both a Spellbinders Grand Calibre and Pazzles die cut machine. Love them both but for different reasons. I got my Pazzles maybe 9 or 10 yeas ago (on my second one when they updated the software and a new machine wasn’t much more than the software update itself) and a Cricut couldn’t do nearly as much. Cricut has since stepped up their game, but I think I’ll stick with my Pazzles. Bought my Grande Calibre more for embossing, and bought that one over others because it was able to take larger embossing folders, although I’ve also acquired quite a few cutting dies. I’m afraid I love my toys!


  7. Another great video. Thank you. I agree on so many fronts. I do have a Cricut machine and a love-hate relationship with it!


  8. thanks so much for introducing me to the clever someday website. i have been needing thid for about 4 years and it does exist/
    also. and i feel really dumb about this, but, for the last month or so i haven’t been able to find where to give you a thumbs up and i really want to. where, on the screen can i do that now. forgive the lousy punctuation…tore my rotator cuff so am one handed at present.


  9. Great discussion. I’m a Silhouette Cameo user and fan. I also have and use a Big Shot. Melissa at Silhouette School blog is The Best to discuss the many features. She has literally written the book (ebook) on how to use the Silhouette. You might want to contact her. Electronic die cutters are amazingly versatile. Just a learning curve. I’m 64 years young and I love to learn what my machine can do! Mats and blades cost less than having to purchase single use dies


  10. I have a Silhouette Cameo. It’s a fabulous machine for both beginner user and someone who wants to design their own images. The instructions that come with the machine aren’t great though, so you will want to search out resources like Kay from Clever Someday. Also I heartily recommend the wonderful folks at Silhouette Plus. You have to join (it’s free, I think that they are just trying to eliminate spam), but there is a huge amount of information and lots of people to answer questions.

    For any one interested in the Silhouette products, you can download and play with the basic software for free. There are plenty of free files to download so you can try before you buy. You need the Designer edition to use .svg files. It lists for $50, but it goes on sale all the time usually for less than $30. There are so many free cutting files out there, that this is a purchase that will save you money. Check out Miss Kate Cuttables, they have a free svg cutting file everyday.

    I had a Cricut Expression and have used both the Craft Room Design and the Design Space software packages. I found them to be slow and buggy with very limited ability to adapt the purchased images. I didn’t use it very often. Two and a half years ago I got a Silhouette Cameo and use it almost every day.


  11. Hi Lindsay! I would love to participate in your discussion! I love KNK machines! I own and use a KNK MAXX AIR 24″ and a KNK Zing and love them both! And….the new machine they are coming out with, the FORCE, is going to ROCK YOUR WORLD!

    Laura from Stampendous shared your info with me and suggested I reach out to see if I could help in any way 🙂


  12. Thanks for sharing all these information. I have a Cricut Explore. It took me some time to learn the software. But I love that I can cut any simple image..
    Moxie Craftie


  13. I have the Silhouette Cameo and only used it twice 😦 It is a great machine but for my crafting uses it’s a bit much. The Big Shot is a machine that would suit my needs a lot better! Thank you for all your suggestions very helpful 🙂


  14. Interesting read and thanks Lindsay! I’m glad to know someone as lovely and creative as you Big fan of yours!
    -Grace from fb!
    P.S. Hoping u like my paintings on your fb page!


  15. Lindsey, I have really been enjoying your crafting ideas and videos. I really enjoyed this tutorial on die cutting. I did notice that there is a machine you did not mention: The Accuquilt which is primarily marketed to quilters. I cannot see any reason as to why other brands of dies cannot be used in this machine for crafting, other than the fact that the thickness of the die may be different. Is there someway you could do a tutorial on the actual thickness of each brand of manual die? I did notice a YouTube from someone else showing what was necessary to use a Sissix die in an Accuquilt machine but it seemed rather clumsy and overly fussy. Perhaps a table of dies and their thicknesses would be helpful for those of use out here in computer land. My Accuquilt dies are 1/2″ thick including 3/16″ of the foam which is compressible. The only other measurement that is important is the width for the various machines which can be found at The Accuquilt dies are VERY expensive compared to Scrap-Booking dies. One set of Alphabet dies is $200 retail and are quite large compared to SB dies.. You can see why I am interested in using other brands. My other problem is in knowing what brands are out there. Beyond a Google search, I’m not sure where to look. Would you please consider a tutorial on the subject of swapping dies between various machines?

    On Wed, Sep 9, 2015 at 9:09 PM, Thefrugalcrafter’s Weblog wrote:

    > thefrugalcrafter posted: “Hi friends! Tonight I have a very broad general > video about they types of dies and die cutting machines > (computerized/electronic vs. manual) and what each kind is good for. Keep > in mind the machines I use are about 8 years old and they are still doing > eve”


  16. Pretty good one, could add a LOT more detail and info about various machines for a future video. (hint, hint) Left me wanting more…. I have my little green Cuttlebug for embossing and using thin dies, and a Brother Scan and Cut which I haven’t used in a while, but which is great for when you want to cut multiple images or when you want to change the size of an image before cutting. It has more computer capabilities, but that’s above my pay grade at this time—basically I like it because you don’t have to buy any cartridges or dies. If I’d owned the Scan and Cut first I would have bought less thin dies because I wouldn’t need them.


  17. I have a Big Shot machine and I wouldn’t trade it in for anything. I also have an electronic eBosser that cuts dies and embosses. I bought the machine because I thought it would speed up the cutting process, but it doesn’t. It works great, but I still prefer the Big Shot. But, if you have any problems with your hands, the electronic machine is the way to go. The hand crank machines can be pretty hard on your hands if you do tons of cutting.


  18. Hi Lindsey. I enjoyed your video, thank you for sharing. I didn’t hear anyone mention the Cut ‘n Boss by Craftwell (I think branded by Teresa Collins). I’d never been in to die cutting (it never entered my sphere of play) but I happened across a demonstration of this machine and bought it even though I didn’t know what I was going to do with it. Of course, that’s typical of me when it comes to arts & crafts play. Next on my list is the Brother Scan ‘n Cut. After watching demos on that, I know it’s my next toy! I’ll be watching for Black Friday or some other deal. Back to the Cut ‘n Boss… It cuts all kinds of materials even if you don’t have a steel rule die. It accepts all size dies including the thicker steel rule ones and it embosses as well. It’s electronic and I’m very happy I grabbed it. After watching your video, I’d say the Cut ‘n Boss is like the manual machines but with a motor.

    Question: Are there other companies that make the thicker steel cut dies other than Sizzix and if so, which ones?

    FYI: There’s a new product called Cut Tidy that might work for you and your beautiful doily die. I’ve not used it so cannot give you an opinion, but the concept is interesting. Basically you place your card between layers, your die on top and cut. The card & pieces are contained in the layers and the die remains clean.

    I’ve enjoyed all of the videos I’ve viewed (am new to your channel) and am especially enjoying stamp school as I’ve never been in to stamping, but may just take the plunge. Keep up the great work and have a wonderful day! Hi to Kathy & Lorraine (forgive me for misspellings).


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