Getting the correct and best die cutting machine for your needs can be difficult. There are many brands and models available that are suited for varied tasks that you may or may not need. Some will be perfect for you, some too fancy or advanced and some that you will flat out want to avoid! When you are making that decision there are even more things to take into consideration – how much do you want to spend? What features do you need? What sort is best for your card making abilities, are you going to be doing lots of card-making on a large scale etc. Navigating all the various models and finding the right one for you can be a minefield. That’s why we’ve taken it upon ourselves to review the Top 5 Best Die Cutting Machines to help you to make the right choice when it comes to buying a die cutting machine.
The first thing to do is decide what type of die cutting machine you want – a manual or digital/electronic cutting machine. If you want something quite basic then the obvious choice is to stick with a manual machine. The digital ones can be designed for the more advanced users and often have lots of fancy features. If you just want something basic for your card making then below you will find reviews of some of the most popular and what we consider best die cutting machines and where to buy them.
Top 5 Best Die Cutting Machines Reviewed
5. Spellbinders Prizm Die Cutting Machine
Spellbinders are very popular when it comes to crafting and card making products. This cutting machine is designed to be lightweight, portable and used with small dies. Specifically the S1 and S2 Spellbinders dies but also compatible with other small die templates (check to see if yours are amongst those). It cuts up to 2 and a half inches wide, is 1.8 pounds in weight and has a straightforward crank handle.
Whilst it never feels nice to say anything bad about something people have worked hard on, the quality and popularity of products that Spellbinders are known for hasn’t extended to the Prizm Die Cutting Machine. Firstly, it’s a cheaply built machine. It feels flimsy and weak and doesn’t inspire any confidence in the build quality. Next – the dies get stuck in the machine. Pretty much the one thing a die cutting machine needs to do it often fails at. Then there’s the many reviews of the handle either stopping working entirely or breaking off!
Granted it’s a small and cheap machine, designed purely for very small dies, but there is no excuse for the extremely frequent reports of it breaking.
The reviews on both Amazon and Hobbycraft reflect all of these flaws, with many people having had to return the product. All-in-all steer clear of this one – it is definitely not the best die cutting machine you can get.
Perfect for: messing around for fun if you don’t mind wasting your money. Or for your very small dies, but be warned it’s likely to break at some point.
Get more details on the Spellbinders Prizm Die Cutting Machine or you can find the entire range of the Spellbinders website
4. Docrafts “Xcut Xpress” Die-cutting Machine
The Docrafts Xcut Xpress is a height adjustable, A4 width roller die cutting machine. It has a wide A4 opening that accommodates large embossing folders and dies of all major brands. It can cut card, paper, felt, foam and even think plastic. Due to the adjustable roller height featured on the machine, it is also able to use as a printing press. You can create linoprints, etchings and more with a turn of the handle. This is a gives a low cost option for experimenting with printing techniques.
It also folds up into a carry case for extra portability.
- Machine size: 18 x 40 x 63 cm (7.1 x 15.7 x 24.8 inches)
- Maximum cutting width: 21 cm (8.3 inches)
- Maximum cutting depth: 2.5 cm (1 inch)
- Manual machine/li>
- Compatible with all major manufacturers’ dies
- Cuts paper, card, felt, foam, fabric, adhesive paper, Xcut: corksheets, chalkboard sheets, acetate sheets, thin metal sheets, new adhesive wood effect sheets, new pearlised textured sheets
There are a few problems with the Xcut Xpress machine. There are quite a few reviews of it breaking easily, which is disconcerting. One or two is understandable, things happen, but if it’s a trend that can signify a greater issue. Also, because of its design there is some trouble exerting enough pressure on the crank when cutting thicker materials. If you feel like you might not have the strength for this and are in any doubt then we wouldn’t recommend taking that risk. There are also some reviews of the cutting plate becoming warped and twisted. This would be a real problem especially if no replacement was offered. However there are just as many positive reviews with no complaints. So it’s a bit of a lucky dip.
On the plus side is the ability to fold it up and take it with you or store it easily. It also boasts the capability of working as a printing press. If that’s something you’re interested in then the Xcut Xpress could be a good, cheaper starting point for that.
Overall a bit of a mixed bag. Proceed with caution but don’t rule it out entirely.
Perfect for: large die cutting, anyone looking to try a printing press for a cheap price.
Verdict: Exercise caution.
Get more details on the Docrafts Xcut Xpress Die Cutting Machine or you can find the entire range of the Docrafts website
3. Cricut Explore Air 2
The Cricut Explore Air 2 is a machine not to be messed with. It’s an electronic/digital machine that wirelessly works with your laptop/PC or tablet via an app and uses free Cricut Design software that comes with it to allow you to create and edit projects. You’ll be able to create new images and upload them into Design Space and the Cricut Cloud, which you can then use to cut, write or score fold lines into your chosen materials.
The Smart Set Dial means you can quickly and easily cut almost any material, even leather or felt. It has the capability to work on projects as small as a quarter of an inch through to 11.5 x 23.5 inches.
So, on paper it sounds fantastic. What could possibly be wrong? Firstly – it’s complicated! It claims to work quickly out of the box but unless you’re tech savvy then it can take some time to adjust or get familiar with. Setting it up isn’t nearly as easy as Cricut claim. Secondly – the price. Don’t get us wrong, you get what you pay for. The features and capabilities are endless but they come at a cost. And for many a lot of what the Explore Air can do will be much more than they need. However, if you want all those options and features and can afford it then there’s very few other negatives.
Why have we placed it at number 3 then? The price is a sticking point as most will not want to spend that much. You may also find its just overkill for what you want to do and something simpler a better choice. And the software isn’t great for the less technologically gifted and will take some getting used to. But that isn’t a slight against its quality, which is great. As we said, if you can afford it and aren’t put off by the complexity or learning curve of the software then we would highly recommend it.
Perfect for: professionals, advanced card makers, anyone wanting advanced die cutting options.
Verdict: Great machine, bit pricey and complicated.
Get more details on the Cricut Explore Air 2 Die Cutting Machine or you can find the entire range of the Cricut website
2. Cricut Cuttlebug
It was a close run competition for the top spot with the Cricut Cuttlebug just being beaten to first place. Nothing should be taken away from the Cuttlebug though as it’s a cracking little machine and could arguably be considered the best die cutting machine for beginners.
With its Unique rolling technology, the Cricut Cuttlebug machine can cut shapes, emboss shapes, or cut and then emboss shapes to add texture and dimension to your projects. It accepts the dies you already own and loves the materials you love, freeing you to cut and emboss from a wide range of crafting materials. It’s compact fold-n-store profile allows for good storage and it’s pop up handle means you can take it with you easily.
The few drawbacks are mainly that it doesn’t come with many plates and that they’re quite expensive to buy. But if you can overlook that then there’s a reason the Cuttlebug is so popular, and that’s because it’s good.
Perfect for: mostly everyone. Especially good for the less experienced or new to crafting and card making.
Verdict: A very good choice.
Get more details on the Cricut Cuttlebug Die Cutting Machine or you can find the entire range of the Cricut website
1. Sizzix Big Shot
And our winner is – the Sizzix Big Shot! Yes, the Sizzix big shot is the best die cutting machine as far as we’re concerned. It’s one of the most popular machines made by one of the most well known brands, and for good reason.
The Big Shot is a manual cutting machine that is extremely simple to use. All you have to do is turn it’s handle and it will pass through your material. No software or cables needed. It’s perfect for making cards but also scrapbooking, fashion, quilting and more.
As it’s a Sizzix machine it’s perfectly matched for Sizzix dies and embossing folders. It’s also widely compatible with other die cutting brands including Tattered Lace, Spellbinders and Xcut. It will take almost any other folder or die up to 6 inches wide so you don’t have to worry about the existing folders and dies you already own. The Big Shot comes with a multipurpose platform designed just for this.
- Machine size: 36.2 x 31.4 x 16.8 cm (14.25 x 12.375 x 6.625 inches)
- Maximum cutting width: 15.6 cm (6.125 inches)
- Maximum cutting depth: 1.6 cm (0.625 inches)
- Compatible with Sizzix and most other manufacturers dies
- Cuts cardstock, paper, fabric, felt, foil, heat and shrink plastic, leather, paper wood, poly foam, self-adhesive rubber, sheet magnet, sponge, staticcling vinyl and thin craft material
We don’t really have anything negative to say about the big Shot. Yes it’s simple, but we see that as an advantage. It’s easy to use, no fuss and just does the job well. Perfect for if you’re new to die cutting but just as good for the more experienced. As far as we’re concerned it’s not only the best manual die cutting machine but the best overall.
Perfect for: Anyone and everyone, from the beginner to experienced.
Verdict: The best die cutting machine!
Get more details on the Sizzix Big Shot Die Cutting Machine or you can find the entire range of the Cricut website
Some other machines that are worth mentioning include the Spellbinders Grand Calibur and the We R Memory Keepers Evolution Advance. Both are worth taking a look at if none of the above seem to fit what you’re looking for.
Hopefully these reviews will have helped to serve as a guide for selecting the best machine for your needs. Once you’ve chosen one you can then use it to create amazing cards and designs using some of the ideas on card-making-world.com!
We’d love to hear your thoughts. Do you have a favourite? Have you experienced any problems with the ones mentioned here? Just leave us a comment below.