A good die cutting and embossing machine can take your crafting and card making to a whole new level with ease, allowing you to do things you’ve never done before with the utmost quality and precision.
That being said, not all die cutting and embossing machines work the same way, so it’s important to be careful and considerate when selecting a die cutting and embossing machine to suit your crafting needs.
Additionally, because the best die cutting & embossing machines can involve a significant monetary investment, it’s always a good idea to carefully select a durable, highly functional product that will be worth the money–and won’t result in you having to buy a replacement machine just a few months down the line.
Best Die Cut & Embossing Machines 2018
This guide, with five in depth product reviews of some of the best die cutting and embossing machines on the market today, as well as a buyer’s guide with the most important tips and tricks to help you get a die cutting and embossing machine that meets your particular needs and your personal budget the first time, is here to help you decide on a die cutting and embossing machine that will truly be the best for you.
|Sizzix Big Shot||4.7/5|
|Cricut 2000293 Cuttlebug||4.5/5|
|Sizzix 655268 Big Shot||4.6/5|
let’s dive into the die cut machine review comparison and after let’s look at some general tips and tricks for buying a die cutting and embossing machine.
Since the Cricut Cuttlebug first hit the market, its popularity and effectiveness have helped make the company as a whole and this series of die cutting and embossing machines in particular some of the most respected and well known on the market.
This updated version of the Cuttlebug wants to continue that tradition while also adding a little innovation and packing in plenty of extra features.
One of the major advantages of the Cuttlebug 2003782 is its portability. While most die cutting and embossing machines of this size these days are made with at least some focus on portability, this Cuttlebug model is revered for being one of the easiest to move around–meaning you can craft virtually anywhere and any time.
The versatility of this embossing and die cutting machine is also one of the major advantages that helps it stand out from the crowd. While most machines are made only with cutting and embossing paper in mind, the Cuttlebug 2003782 is designed to cut a wide variety of materials, including the following and more:
- Tissue paper
- Acetate ribbon
A machine that works delicately enough to cut tissue paper without tearing it, while still having the robustness necessary to cut through foils and even thin strips of leather, is seriously impressive.
It’s not just the machine itself that’s impressive, though. What comes with this machine is above standard, too. In addition to the machine proper, the package includes 1 6” x 8” A plate, 2 6” x 8” B plates, and an A2 embossing folder and 2 dies. On top of that, the package also includes a rubber embossing mat sized perfectly for this machine at 6” x 8”.
That means that this package comes with virtually everything you need to get started, including dies and an embossing folder to help you learn the technique and begin expressing yourself through die cutting and embossing immediately.
However, one of the shortcomings in the product is also apparent in its included components. While the A plate and 2 B plates are certainly enough to help you get started, most serious card makers, scrapbookers, and other die cutting and embossing enthusiasts seriously recommend purchasing a C plate as well to help you take your die cutting and embossing capabilities to the next level.
Luckily, a C plate for this machine can be found easily and isn’t too expensive, so this isn’t a serious drawback, but I still thought it worth mentioning.
There are, of course, other advantages to Cricut’s Cuttlebug 2003782 die cutting and embossing machine. One of the primary features is its suction system, which allows it to secure itself to virtually any clean, flat surface without much movement.
All of you who have used or even just extensively read about die cutting and embossing machines know how important stability is to creating beautiful, clean cuts and embossed accents, so you know the suction system is a serious bonus.
That being said, I have heard from some reviewers and fellow craft enthusiasts that the suction system does wear down a bit more quickly than the machine as a whole, especially with overuse. While the overall durability of Cricut’s embossing and die cutting machines is almost legendary in the crafting industry, it seems the suction system on this model in particular requires a bit more careful usage, as well as maintenance.
However, virtually every embossing and die cutting machine–and every other kind of machine, too, for that matter–requires maintenance and careful use to continue running properly. Caring for your Cricut Cuttlebug correctly is one of the best ways to ensure it lives up to your expectations.
All in all, I would recommend this model of Cricut Cuttlebug to anyone looking for an embossing and die cutting machine, from beginner to expert. While simple enough for children to use, it also offers enough added features and overall versatility to impress serious card makers, scrapbookers, and other crafters.
- The cross compatibility with other embossing folders and dies allows you to save money and gives you more options, since you can buy folders and dies from multiple brands instead of only from Cricut.
- As one of the most highly portable die cutting and embossing machines on the market, this Cuttlebug has gained a reputation as one of the best choices for arts and crafts enthusiasts who are often on the move.
- Increased cutting capability in the areas of both delicacy and strength means that this product can effectively cut and emboss foils, tissue papers, acetate ribbon, and even thinner leather!
- The built in suction system provides much needed stability to make your die cuts and embossed accents come out perfectly every time.
- Does not come with a C plate, which must be purchased separately and is considered necessary to expand your embossing and die cutting machine’s capabilities.
Some users have experienced difficulty with the suction system running down a bit more quickly than the rest of the machine, but this can definitely be mitigated by proper use and careful maintenance.
Sizzix is one of the oldest and most popular names in the consumer level embossing and die cutting machine market, and the Big Shot is their major series of die cutting and embossing machines. What puts the Sizzix Big Shot among the best machines, and what makes the model 660425 stand out? Read on to learn more.
While the price tag on the Sizzix Big Shot 660425 may potentially scare some users off, there’s a reason for the extra expense, and Sizzix tries to highlight and enhance all the value that this product can bring.
First and foremost among the features that separate the Sizzix Big Shot 660425 from other embossing and die cutting machines, and even from other models in the Sizzix Big Shot line, is its Extended Multipurpose Platform.
While the rolling Multipurpose Platform is a standard feature on Sizzix Big Shot models, the Extended version greatly enhances both the versatility and the overall capability of this machine.
In short, the Extended Multipurpose Platform makes the Big Shot 660425 compatible with virtually all of Sizzix’s extensive library of embossing folders and dies, as well as making it one of the most widely cross compatible products with other brands of embossing folders and dies.
It also allows for much easier cutting of longer sheets of material, allowing you even more flexibility, freedom, and creativity in all of your embossing and die cutting endeavors.
However, it’s not just the platform that sets the Big Shot 660425 apart. Additionally, the unit’s ability to cut such a wide variety of materials is what places it among the best die cutting and embossing machines available on the market today.
In addition to all the standard papers that die cutting and embossing machines can work with, this offering from Sizzix allows for cutting of foils, leathers, tissue paper, and even fabric.
The ability to work with fabric is one of my favorite features when it comes to this product by Sizzix, as it allows a lot more creativity and flexibility than similar models.
One somewhat significant flaw with this model of Big Shot that I’ve heard about is the screw that holds the handle onto the rest of the unit. It comes loose with repeated use. However, a tool is included with the Big Shot to assist with tightening the screw, and in the event that the screw is stripped or broken, Sizzix’s highly respected customer service has generally been willing to replace it at no charge.
Even taking this flaw into account, I’d happily recommend the Sizzix Big Shot 660425 to serious card makers, scrapbookers, and die cutting and embossing enthusiasts. Though it costs slightly more than some comparable models, the increased capability and versatility from the Extended Multipurpose Platform combined with the greater cutting and embossing ability makes this one of the most versatile embossing and die cutting machines on the market.
Especially if you’re interested in cutting fabric and other thicker, harder to work with materials, this just might be the machine for you!
- The extended multipurpose platform offers more versatility and ease of use when compared with other die cutting and embossing machines in the Sizzix Big Shot series that lack this extended platform, and of course with die cutting and embossing machines from other manufacturers as well.
- The extended platform also makes this one of the most easily cross compatible machines with products from other brands and makers, and allows for access to virtually the entire library of Sizzix die cutting and embossing products.
- Enhanced cutting and embossing capability makes it easier to work with both more delicate and more robust materials, even including fabrics, which can really help you take your card making or scrapbooking game to the next level.
- This model of Sizzix Big Shot comes with a three year warranty as well, making it just a bit easier for you to protect your investment in a die cutting and embossing machine.
- The screw inside the handle comes loose quite often, which can be annoying or disputing over long periods of use. However, a tool to tighten the screw is included, and Sizzix’s customer service is happy to replace any broken or stripped screws as well.
To some users, the price may seem a bit high, though the enhanced cutting ability and versatility do make it a great value for those interested in cutting or embossing harder to work with materials.
The Cricut Cuttlebug 200293 comes with everything you need to get started die cutting and embossing straight away, including a cool flower embossing folder, right out of the box. It also offers several advantages over other die cutting and embossing machines, including increased portability and storage.
The smaller overall size of this machine and the fact that it can be folded to create a virtually flat front profile makes it much easier to store, which makes it an ideal choice for crafters and makers with limited storage space.
However, its small size isn’t the only thing the Cricut Cuttlebug 200293 has going for it. It’s also an incredibly versatile die cutting and embossing machine, designed to accept a very wide array of dies and embossing folders from both Cricut and other die cutting and embossing brands.
This might make it a great option for those of you who have already gotten into die cutting and embossing, as it’s likely to work with the dies and folders you already have.
Another key feature that adds to its versatility as well as its overall functionality and durability is its die cutting and embossing power, which enables it to work with a wide variety of materials. While it’s not the die cutting and embossing machine able to work with the most materials on the market, it might just be the most versatile at this size and at this price point.
One drawback I did notice is that although this die cutting and embossing machine is great at cutting Cricut dies and other dies from major brands like Sizzix, it’s not great at cutting cheaper dies from lesser known brands. This is at least partially down to die quality as to the various attributes of the Cricut Cuttlebug itself, but I still thought it worth mentioning.
Of course, there’s also the size to consider. With a feed slot of about 6 inches of width, it’s not made for cutting the larger 8” dies or using 8” embossing folders. Of course, it’s perfectly suited for most applications, including making standard sized greeting cards.
The 6” feed slot is pretty standard for the best die cutting and embossing machines, as larger dies and embossing folders are generally only used for far more specialized applications, but I’d still like to see a similar machine with a larger feed slot someday.
On the other hand, there’s a reason this Cuttlebug is so small. Its greatly reduced lateral footprint not only makes it extraordinarily portable and easy to store, but also frees up additional workspace when you’re actually using it.
You don’t need a huge work desk or an entire room set aside just for crafting purposes to get the most out of this machine, making it ideal for frequent travelers, college students, and crafters living in smaller spaces.
Portability being one of the main design focuses when this machine was conceived and manufactured, there are several other features made to allow you to work anywhere you want, too. First and foremost among these is the new and improved suction system, which allows you to stabilize your unit on virtually any flat surface.
However, there is one more drawback I want to mention, even though it’s a standard problem across the board with a lot of devices, even the best die cutting and embossing machines.
The pressure of the rollers is not adjustable, meaning that only the thickness of the “sandwich” of plates, folder, and material is able to adjust the cutting or embossing pressure. This can get tricky in certain situations, like trying to emboss only part of a complex tri-fold card.
This problem isn’t unique to this Cuttlebug, but it does mean that you might need to exercise a little creativity to get the machine to do exactly what you want. That being said, this is true of virtually all die cutting and embossing machines, and if you’re into crafting, you’re probably a creative problem solver already!
All in all, I’d recommend this Cuttlebug to just about anyone, whether they’re just starting out die cutting and embossing or already a seasoned pro. That being said, I’d especially recommend it to those of you who are constantly on the move or have real concerns about available storage and work space, as it compact size makes it ideal for mitigating these problems.
- Comes with virtually everything you need to get started right out of the box: an A plate, 2 B plates, and even a bonus embossing folder with a great flower design. That being said, I do strongly recommend adding a C plate to your purchase if you plan to use the die cutting applications straight away.
- Extremely compact design and easily foldable wings makes this one of the easiest die cutting and embossing machines to store and transport. Its suitcase-like handle also aids in portability. To top it all off, its smaller size also makes it much easier to do more with a smaller work area than other machines will allow.
- Works with a wide variety of materials and maintains its capability over long periods of time, even when working with tougher materials like foil.
- A new and improved suction system is both easier to use and a bit more secure and stable, allowing you to work confidently on virtually any clean, flat surface.
- This Cuttlebug is available at a great price point, making it ideal for beginners, but also packs most of the features and value found in much more expensive die cutting and embossing machines.
- Although it is widely compatible with a variety of embossing folders and dies from Cricut and the other leading brands, it’s not as compatible with dies from cheaper manufacturers than some die cutting and embossing machines, which can mean an overall increase in expense over time. However, the machine itself is extremely affordable, and there are many cheaper dies available from the big brands, too!
- Does not feature adjustable rollers, although the wide variety of plates and pads available to work with this Cricut Cuttlebug model mitigate this problem quite a bit.
- Requires the C plate, available separately, for die cutting applications and for use with a lot of other manufacturer’s embossing folders. However, the C plate is available for under $15, so it’s not a huge additional investment.
The big advantage of the Big Shot series of embossing and die cutting machines from Sizzix is their ability to cut almost anything. The Big Shot 655268 is no exception to this rule, as it can cut and emboss a wide variety of materials ranging from the standard (paper, cardstock) to the very difficult to work with (foils, leathers, and fabrics).
Of course, its cutting and embossing force and versatility are not the only things this machine has going for it.
The stabilizing feet featured on this Big Shot model, a staple of Sizzix’s innovation in this business, are a major feature. Just as reliable as the suction systems featured on other units, but much easier to use and a bit more versatile, the stabilizing feet keep all your cuts and embossed details straight while requiring less setup time than similar features on other models.
This Big Shot also embraces the best of both portability and durability with lightweight but tough materials used in its construction. The exterior body of ABS plastic is difficult to break even with extraordinary pressure, but is also extremely easy to move around.
The inner workings are no less durable, featuring steel core rollers that are built to last–a must for anyone who plans to use their die cutting and embossing machine very frequently. If you plan to cut a lot of materials or use your machine daily, the durability of this Big Shot just might make it the best die cutting and embossing machine for you.
One of the big drawbacks of this model of Big Shot as opposed to some of the other Big Shot options available from Sizzix is that it does not include the Extended Multipurpose Platform. While the Standard Multipurpose Platform included with this unit does allow for plenty of cutting and embossing with dies and folders from the extensive Sizzix library and other brands as well, it doesn’t offer the maximum versatility granted by the Extended Multipurpose Platform.
However, there are a few advantages to the slightly smaller platform. In addition to the reduced price up front, there’s also the fact that the smaller platform makes this machine a great deal more portable. Combined with the stabilizing feet I mentioned earlier, that makes this one of the most portable products on the market, and certainly the most portable die cutting and embossing machine with this kind of capability behind it.
It’s not all about portability with the Big Shot, though. This series, and a good deal of the manufacturer Sizzix’s products more generally, are known for their durability as well as their portability and versatility.
All in all, I would recommend this to everyone from professionals to those just starting out. It’s a great choice for those of you on a tight budget who still want a machine capable of cutting and embossing the toughest (and most delicate) materials. It also just might be the best die cutting and embossing machine for those focused on getting maximum portability.
- Easily cuts through and embosses a wide variety of materials, even some of the most difficult to work with, including fabrics and 0.20” plastic sheeting. The huge versatility of this machine allows you to personalize the accents to your cards, scrapbooks, and other arts and crafts pieces even more.
- A smaller size than models featuring the Extended Multipurpose Platform makes for maximum portability, and the patented stabilizing feet keep the die cutting and embossing machine stable virtually anywhere.
- The combination of extremely lightweight and extremely durable materials makes this machine highly easy to move and set up without sacrificing any toughness. The innovative durability features are highlighted both inside and outside the machine, with a tough but light ABS exterior and steel core rollers.
- Does not come with plates, embossing folders, or dies right out of the box, meaning you may need to purchase these items separately at the same time. Luckily, a wide variety of both affordable and premium options are available from Sizzix, and not having them pre packaged means you customize the machine’s accessories to perfectly suit your needs.
- Does not feature the Extended Multipurpose Platform that’s included with some other Sizzix Big Shot models, though the lack of this feature does bring some advantages as well (and it is possible to upgrade!).
Spellbinders GC-200 Grand Calibur
Spellbinders is a company well known within the crafting community as a whole (and among reviewers like myself) for their highly intricate dies and, of course, their innovative embossing and die cutting machines.
As one of the only die cutting and embossing machines on the market that can take a full standard size sheet of paper without trimming, the Spellbinders Grand Calibur GC-20 has a lot going for it. However, there are also a few drawbacks that are worth noting. Read on to find out if this is the best embossing and die cutting machine for your needs.
First and foremost among the features of this machine is obviously the increased size of the feed slot, but there are several other benefits associated with this machine as well. It’s not just size that makes this one stand out!
The Grand Calibur GC-200 also has improved durability features over earlier models of the Grand Calibur by Spellbinders, such as an enhanced support beam that offers greater strength and resilience to the machine as a whole.
Spellbinders’ GC-200 also offers support for the complete library of Spellbinders dies and embossing folders, including their newer series of Grand Nestabilities. In addition, it’s also one of the products that’s most compatible with other leading brands of dies and embossing folders on the market.
All in all, this is one of the best die cutting and embossing machines for those of you looking to work with larger materials, dies, and embossing folders. However, there are a few drawbacks as well.
First and foremost among these is the overall power, especially the cutting power when it comes to work with highly intricate die designs by both Spellbinders and other leading die cutter brands. While the machine is perfectly capable of cutting paper and cardstock when used properly and well maintained, it’s not designed to cut tougher materials like leather or fabric.
Of course, it can be forced to cut these materials, but that lowers the overall durability and functionality of the machine, which is the biggest problem I see among reviewers of this product.
Many of the serious crafters I know have found a great way around this problem: keeping the Spellbinders Grand Calibur GC-200 on hand for cutting larger designs from paper and cardstock, while using another Spellbinders model or an offering from a different brand for cutting smaller sheets of tougher materials like leather and plastic.
If you’re most interested in being able to cut 8” dies and use larger sheets in your work, whether it’s greeting cards, scrabooking, or something else entirely, this just might be the best die cutting and embossing machine for you. However, I would not recommend it to makers who tend to work more with tougher materials like leather, as it is not designed for cutting these kinds of materials.
- One of the biggest advantages of this machine is its increased versatility, which is largely due to its increased cutting or embossing range of up to 8 and ⅛ inches, as well as its ability to accept standard 8 and ½” by 11” paper to allow you to make larger cards and crafts than ever before.
- As well as being fully compatible with the complete Spellbinders library, featuring some of the most intricate dies and embossing folders around, the Grand Calibur is highly compatible with a wide variety of both dies and embossing folders made by other brands.
- Newly reinforced internal components makes for greatly increased overall durability and longevity in this newer version of the Grand Calibur.
- There are occasional issues with cutting power compared to some other machines on the market, and this die cutting and embossing machine is not meant to work with tougher materials like leather and fabric.
Die Cut & Embossing Machines Buyers Guide
When it comes to selecting the best die cutting and embossing machine for your crafting needs, there are a few things you should be careful of avoiding.
First and foremost, don’t buy a machine manufactured by a brand you haven’t heard of, at least not without doing your research first. While there’s plenty of debate about which of the major brands is best, the consensus in the craft community is that they’re all largely superior to the flood of more cheaply made products that’s flooded the market as die cutting and embossing machines have become very popular.
The two leading brands are probably Cricut and Sizzix, though there are some other big leaders–Spellbinders, for example, which makes more specialized products of similar quality to the more general use ones manufactured by Cricut and Sizzix.
There are also many manufacturers who create the dies and embossing folders that these machines use to turn ordinary paper, foil, and other materials into beautiful works of art. Considering which brands of dies and embossing folders you like the most may influence the brand of machine you want to buy, though a lot of the top tier machines are at least fairly cross compatible with embossing folders and dies from other brands.
Of course, it’s not all about brand name. The following things are a bit more subjective, but they’re still to be avoided if they’re not what you want.
It’s best to avoid machines whose embossing and die cutting capability is smaller or larger than what you need. While many machines focus on cutting smaller sizes of paper like A4, and this is perfectly suitable for people making average sized greeting cards, they simply won’t work with standard 8 ½” by 11” paper without trimming.
On the other hand, die cutting and embossing machines with a larger feed slot will allow larger pieces of paper, but are a little bit more difficult to use perfectly with smaller sheets. In other words, if you work with large paper, you’ll need a large machine, and if you generally work with smaller materials, you want a smaller machine.
If you work with both, you have two options: perfect the precise art of feeding smaller pieces of paper correctly into a larger machine, or get two separate die cutting and embossing machines for your different crafting needs.
Also, you should generally avoid features you don’t really want or need, as these can make die cutting and embossing machines both more expensive and a bit more complicated to use. By the same token, you should avoid machines that don’t have all the features you want or are used to, as you may find their capability reduced.
What Comes with Your Die Cutting and Embossing Machine?
Unlike a lot of products, that either all come with the same additional components or only include accessories, it’s important to consider what comes with your die cutting and embossing machine as well as the machine itself.
That’s because several components, such as plates, are actually necessary to make the machine work. Additionally, dies and embossing folders don’t come cheap, so getting a machine that comes with a few right out of the box might help you learn the basics and discover your style with minimal investment.
Generally speaking, you want to buy a die cutting and embossing machine that at least comes with the necessary plates, unless you’re buying it as a replacement for an older die cutting and embossing machine, and you already have plates that are compatible with the new machine. In this case, foregoing the machine with plates included may be a good way to save money, but in virtually all other situations, you’ll need those plates!
You should also carefully consider the accessories and extras that come with your chosen die cutting and embossing machine. Some of these extras will be all-important to some users, while to others they may simply add extra expense and complication. Consider what accessories, extras, and special features you truly want or need, so that you can get a machine that meets those wants and needs.
We hope this post has helped you find the die cutting and embossing machine to suit your needs and your budget. Let me know about any great experiences in the comments–and as always, keep on crafting!