Do you love the idea of creating unique scrapbooks of your memories, greeting cards for friends and family, or one-of-a-kind garments and gifts?
If so, then you need to find the best die-cut machine. These machines are sized and priced for personal use. With them, you can cut out designs in various materials like paper, cardstock, vinyl, and even fabric.
Many die-cutting and embossing machines are on the market today. Sorting through them all can be confusing, so we’ve taken the hard work out of the process by doing it for you.
The result is the following 9 selections, any of which might be perfect for your creative side.
Factors to Consider When Buying the Best Die Cut Machine
If you are new to the world of die-cutting machines, then it can seem a bit overwhelming. You may even be wondering what a die-cutting machine is in addition to whether or not you need one.
A craft die-cutting machine also may be called a personal cutting machine. Typically, these machines are used in conjunction with paper crafts like scrapbooking and cardmaking, though people can use them for any creative project. Such cutting machines may be compatible with paper, heavy cardstock, vinyl, and other materials as well as fabric, leather, wool, balsa wood, and thin metals.
Die-cutting machines are used to cut out shapes, designs, and words in these materials. Broadly, personal cutting machines are grouped into two categories: manual and electronic.
With a manual machine, you make a “sandwich” that may include a die with the pattern, the material you want to cut, and at least a pair of plates. The sandwich is inserted into the machine, and then you turn a hand crank to take it through the machine to make the cut.
Electronic machines typically are used in conjunction with a PC, laptop, tablet, or smartphone. Frequently, they operate using software that allows you to quickly and easily adjust the size, perspective, angle, and other features of the images you want to cut. There’s no hand crank on these machines. A few commands on an electronic device start the cutting job for you.
Size of your projects
Before you purchase a cutting machine, you’ll want to give some thought to the size of your projects and how frequently you plan to use the machine.
Manual machines tend to be better suited to smaller projects and less frequent use because turning the hand crank can get exhausting.
If you’ll be making larger pieces or cutting on a more frequent basis, then electronic cutters are the way to go. You’ll save your arm muscles and be able to craft those larger pieces.
Space to store and use a cutting machine
It’s also worthwhile to consider how much room you have to store and use a cutting machine. Some cutters have quite a large footprint, and they don’t necessarily fold up for convenient storage.
If your crafting space is at a premium, then you may want to choose the most compact cutting machine.
Alternatively, if you want the flexibility of being able to cut larger pieces, you may want to look for a slightly larger machine that can be folded away for storage.
Die Cut Machine FAQ
Should I choose a manual or electronic die cutter?
People who have mobility issues or trouble grasping items may want to steer clear of manual cutters, as they can be fatiguing or even painful to use. Absent such issues, this choice comes down to how big your projects are and how often you want to use the machine.
Projects with a larger scale are almost always easier with an electronic cutter, and no one wants to churn out hundreds of tiny stickers every day with a hand crank. However, if you won’t use your cutter often and only plan to use it with small, one-off items, then the manual cutter may be a good choice.
Do I have to be tech savvy to use an electronic cutter?
No special technical knowledge is required for using electronic cutters. Most of the software involved is pretty straightforward, and there are tons of videos online to help you troubleshoot most issues.
Is having a cutting and embossing machine really worth it?
While it’s true that most die-cutting machines tend to be a bit expensive, most crafters believe that these tools are among the most powerful in their arsenals. In general, die-cutting machines are versatile, easy to use, fun, and take your creative projects to the next level. If you’re serious about crafting, then you’ve definitely got to look into getting a cutting and embossing machine.
Best Die Cut Machines:
Best Overall – Cricut Explore Air 2View at Amazon
The Cricut Explore Air 2 is not only the best die-cut machine for paper but also for cutting a variety of other materials. If you’re making projects that use heat transfer vinyl, iron-on vinyl, cardstock, faux leather, poster board, adhesive foils, and more, then this is the cutting machine for you.
This electronic cutter makes it possible for you to make your own stickers and home décor in addition to making gifts, crafts, apparel, and more. The Cricut has a 12-inch opening and comes with a 12 by 12 adhesive cutting mat. Additional accessories are available so that you can maximize your creativity.
The Cricut Design Space software comes with a purchase. Thanks to it, you can design your own images on your smartphone, tablet, or computer, and then have the Cricut cut them for you.
You also have the option of subscribing to Cricut Access, which is a library that’s packed with more than 100,000 projects, designs, images, and fonts. The Cricut is incredibly easy to use, and the software makes it accessible to anyone. A Cricut Access subscription is definitely worthwhile for the dedicated crafter.
Users praise the Explore Air 2 for being even easier to use than its predecessors. However, critics wish that the extra cost of a Cricut Access subscription wasn’t necessary.
The Cricut Explore Air 2 is a favorite with scrapbooking fans and other crafters.
- Cuts a wide variety of materials
- The large, 12-inch opening
- Quick and quiet
- A Cricut Access subscription basically is required
Best Manual Die Cut Machine – Sizzix Big Shot PlusView at Amazon
This manual die-cutting machine has a nine-inch opening, making it a solid choice for those who make cards or scrapbooks, though some people do prefer a larger 12-inch opening.
Still, because this cutter is manual rather than electric, it also is less expensive than many other models.
Many consider the Sizzix Big Shot Plus the best manual die-cutting machine because it’s capable of cutting materials that include cardstock, paper, tissue, balsa wood, cork, and felt.
In addition to being a cutter, this machine is an embosser so that you can add a variety of impressions to any of these materials.
The machine arrives with two A4-size cutting pads, the Big Shot Plus Platform, and Adapters A and B so that you can hit the ground running. However, you do have to purchase individual dies to keep moving forward.
The crank on the Sizzix is pretty easy to turn, but because this machine is manual, it lacks a great deal of the convenience that comes with an electronic cutter. Still, many people swear by it, though some wish that it came with instructions.
If electronic devices make you anxious, then this manual option may be perfect for you.
- Cuts a variety of materials
- Includes the basics
- A reliable machine
- Doesn’t include instructions
Best Electric Die Cut Machine – Sizzix Big Shot ExpressView at Amazon
The electric Big Shot is a motorized die-cutting and embossing machine. With the touch of a button, crafters are able to make even the most complex of cuts.
This is the best craft-cutting machine for artists on the go because of its portable size. It even transforms into a cute little suitcase for when you travel.
The Big Shot is compatible with many of the accessories that are designed to work with other Sizzix cutters.
However, with its six-inch opening, Sizzix’s largest dies are not compatible with this machine.
Thanks to an industrial-strength motor and all-metal gears, this machine is made to be durable. Plus, it’s designed to be especially easy for people with mobility issues.
People who have used the Big Shot say that they are impressed with its precision and consistency. Critics complain that the rubber feet on the machine fall off and leave the cutter unbalanced.
If you want a cutting machine that you can use everywhere, then this is the selection for you.
- Great for people with poor mobility
- Accepts all sorts of Sizzix dies up to six inches wide
- Easy to use
- The machine’s rubber feet fall off
Best Die Cut Machine for Beginners – Xyron Creative Station LiteView at Amazon
Although it’s technically a label maker, this Xyron model also can be called the best paper-cutting machine because you can make a variety of projects with it.
In fact, this selection is a great choice if need to add magnets, adhesives,s or lamination to any of your creative projects.
When you buy this machine, it comes with a cartridge of five-inch permanent adhesive. Because of the three- or five-inch loading size, this machine is ideal for smaller crafts.
It’s also worth noting that this cutter is an economical choice, so if you’re really budget-conscious, it may be the way to go.
This machine doesn’t need heat or electricity, and it’s manually operated so there are no batteries involved.
Fans praise this model for being easier to use and more streamlined than earlier versions. For adding adhesive or a magnet to small embellishments, the Xyron is hard to beat.
Critics wish that there was less waste involved in using the cartridges.
If you’ve always wanted to make your own stickers, then this machine will make your dreams come true.
- Easy to use
- Can use with three- or five-inch cartridges
- Cartridges are wasteful
Best Large Die Cut Machine – Gemini – Die Cutting and Embossing MachineView at Amazon
The fast, quiet Gemini has a sleek, low-profile look that compliments any crafter’s desk. It’s able to cut materials of up to 8.5 by 11 inches. Because it includes reverse, pauses, and resume buttons, the Gemini puts creators in the driver’s seat.
This machine can be used with intricate dies, making it the best electronic cutting machine for someone who likes detailed projects. With this machine, you can cut materials such as cardstock, foil, and vinyl. You can even cut fabric if you use the right dies.
Inside the box, you get not only the cutting machine but also a power cord, user guide, three papercraft dies, one multi-media die set, one 3D embossing folder, and the necessary plates.
Crafters love being able to make countless intricately decorated greeting cards with their Gemini cutting machine. Nonetheless, several users complain that the cutting plates begin to warp after just a few uses. The manufacturer recommends reversing the plates for each use, which can be difficult to remember.
The Gemini cutting machine is worth it because it comes with all of the accessories you need to get started.
- Cuts a variety of materials
- Comes with all sorts of accessories
- Has reverse, pause and resume buttons
- Cutting plates can warp
Best Die Cut Machine for Hot Foil – Spellbinders PE-100 Platinum 6.0View at Amazon
Capable of cutting up to eight layers of material in a single pass, the Spellbinders Platinum 6 machine is the best die-cutting machine for beginners. That’s because it’s super easy to use.
This machine’s versatility also makes it highly recommended. It can cut paper and cardstock in addition to vinyl, wool, leather, craft metal, and balsa wood. The handle on the Platinum 6 is collapsible and the sides fold up for convenient storage.
Inside the box, you’ll find an embossing plate, an embossing mat, a standard platform, and a pair of clear-cutting plates. With a six-inch opening, it’s easy to make all sorts of projects with a few turns of the crank.
Praising the solid construction and performance, many people are thrilled with this cutting machine. Nonetheless, some people say that they have a really hard time getting the Platinum 6 to do any embossing.
Anyone looking for a cutting machine that promises compact storage has found the perfect solution.
- Folds up for easy storage
- Cuts multiple layers of material at once
- Cuts a variety of materials
- The embossing function doesn’t perform well
Best Die Cut Machine for Vinyl Stickers – Silhouette Portrait 3 Electronic Cutting ToolView at Amazon
Equipped with Bluetooth, this Silhouette machine is the perfect choice for the tech-loving crafter. It cuts through materials such as paper, cardstock, vinyl, fabric, transparencies, magnetic paper, and more.
Because it’s an electric die-cutting machine, it’s incredibly easy to use. The software that it comes with is compatible with both PCs and Macs, and it comes with 50 digital designs.
This machine from Silhouette can cut materials up to eight inches wide by 10 feet long. Silhouette’s AutoBlade technology even is compatible with this machine.
Fans praise this machine’s easy setup and use. Complaints usually relate to the included software, which can be cumbersome.
People who are comfortable with technology are bound to enjoy using the Silhouette.
- Provides lots of cutting versatility
- Cuts many materials
- Plenty of high-tech innovations
- The software takes some learning
Best Die Cut Machine for Fabric – Bira Craft Die Cutting & Embossing MachineView at Amazon
This innovative little machine features a height-adjustment gear system so that crafters can make it fit any project. The nine-inch opening is wide enough for most projects too.
One of the advantages of choosing this Bira machine is that it works with most acid-etched and steel-rule dies as well as embossing folders from all major manufacturers.
The crank has a soft handle to make it more comfortable to use. Inside the box, you get a standard platform, a cutting mat, an adapter for steel-rule dies, and operating instructions.
Among craft cutters and embossers, this one is competitive because it can cut a wide variety of materials. Crafters appreciate being able to use dies and embossing folders from any manufacturer.
Critics wish that the instructions were more complete. If you’re looking for a manual cutting and embossing machine and you already have a collection of dies, then this is the way to go.
- Compatible with virtually all dies and embossing folders
- Comfort-grip handle
- Good stability
- Could use more complete instructions
Best Budget Die Cut Machine – Cheery Lynn DesignsView at Amazon
Crafters love the Big Sister machine because its internal parts are made of metal, making them more durable than some other manual cutters. Also, this machine is designed for use with a variety of dies from many manufacturers, so your choices won’t be limited.
Cricket arts and crafts are easy thanks to this cutter’s compact size, Nonetheless, the six by 12 platform size is quite large, and with adjustable rollers, you get just the right balance and easy feeding of material through the cutter.
If you like, you can additionally purchase a number of accessories like an eight 12-inch base and cutting plate, magnetic sheets, and optional metal adapter plates.
The Big Sister appears to be solid and well-made. Even a die-hard crafter who needs a cutting machine that can be used every day likely will be satisfied with this machine.
Many people remark that this is the easiest die-cutting machine that they have ever used. It is especially beneficial to be able to use dies from other manufacturers, and the cutting action is sharp and precise, which means that detailed cuts are never a problem.
Nonetheless, some people are struggling to use shims to make some of their projects work.
A sturdy and reliable choice in the cutting machine market, the Big Sister is a great choice for the beginner.
- Stable and sturdy
- Durable construction
- Works with all kinds of dies and embossing folders
- Some projects require shims, which can be tricky
Making the Decision
The Cricut Explore Air 2 is far and away from our choice for the best die-cut machine. Its versatility and ease of use are genuinely worthy of praise. Even people who aren’t familiar with die-cutting machines will get the hang of using the Cricut Explore Air 2 in no time. There is a bit of a learning curve with the software, but with a large and enthusiastic band of crafters willing to provide help online, it’s possible to become an expert without too much hassle.
If you prefer to go the manual route, then we suggest that you take a closer look at the Cheery Lynn Designs Big Sister. Thanks to its solid construction and ability to accept dies from just about any manufacturer, this is an incredibly versatile choice that won’t let you down.