So, you are thinking of investing in the best die cutting machine for beginners that will make your introduction to die cutting easy and take you to the next level.
A die cutting machine is used to cut materials like metal, fabric, sponge, leather, or paper in a particular shape. The mass-produced cutout shapes can be used in scrapbooking, making decorations or greeting cards, designing shirts, creating quilts, and other papercrafts.
You have the option of getting a manual or digital die cutting machine.
The former uses manual handles and are operated using dies and cartridges; the latter ones are run using software programs. This is done by sending the design to the cutter using a software or a cartridge with some pre-loaded images.
Digital ones then proceed to cut the shapes in the desired forms. They also perform other functions like drawing or embossing; they can pierce and engrave on objects.
Best Die Cutting Machine Comparison Chart
Type of Appliance
Maximum material width supported
Sizzix Tim Holtz Vagabond 2 Die Cutting Machine
Manual with electric motor
Sizzix 660425 Big Shot Machine
Cricut Explore Air 2 Mint
Cricut Cuttlebug Die Cutting & Embossing Machine
Silhouette CAMEO-3 Cutting Machine
12” wide and 10 feet long
Brother CM350 Electronic Cutting Machine
Cricut Explore Air Wireless Cutting Machine
¼ to 11½” wide x 23½” long
Cricut Design Space
Die Cutting Machine for Beginners Reviews
1. Sizzix Tim Holtz Vagabond 2 Die Cutting Machine Review | best manual die cutting machine
What is unique about the Sizzix Tim Holtz Vagabond 2 Die Cutting Machine is that it is made to look like a well-travelled suitcase. With the push of a button the sides will open up. The power cord can be unhooked and stored away in a side compartment, making it easy to travel with this device.
This die cut machine is well-suited for all types of users, ranging from novices to experts, who require a powerful machine, and even those with limited mobility.
This compact machine comes with gears fully made of metal, adding strength and durability, and an industrial strength electric motor. This means that you will not have to apply yourself too much when it comes to die cutting.
Alternatively, the presence of the electric motor to cut or emboss materials means that the Sizzix Tim Holtz Vagabond 2 Die Cutting Machine will be a little bit heavier than typical manual die cutting machines. But it is not too heavy and the presence of a handle contributes to making it a highly portable machine.
This die cutting machine is compatible with dies and folders from different manufacturers. It is highly versatile in that it is able to seamlessly cut through and emboss a variety of materials with different degrees of thicknesses, the maximum being 6" wide. It also comprises of an overload protection so as to make sure that motor jams do not occur.
The complete Sizzix product library is supported by the machine. However, Bigz Plus and Bigz Pro dies are not compatible.
The shim snaps onto the platform and does not move when in use, making it quite handy. The package also includes an extended platform, an extended thin die adapter, shim, and one pair of cutting pads. Thicker materials may not require the platform or the shim, but thinner dies may require them.
1. Suited for all types of users.
2. Compact and easy to travel with.
3. Metal gears make it durable.
4. Overload protection prevents jams.
5. Shims ensure the device stays still when in use.
2. Sizzix 660425 Big Shot Machine Review | best die cutting and embossing machine
Even though it is a relatively small die cutting machine, the Sizzix 660425 Big Shot Machine was designed with efficiency in mind.
Able to work on materials that are up to 6” wide, this award winning, user-friendly cutting and embossing machine will be able to handle basic tasks, making it the best die cut machine for anyone including beginners.
All you have to do is to place the material you wish to cut between the cutting plates and choose the right degree of thickness. Once this is done, you just have to turn the handle, which will send the material into the machine in order to be processed as per your specifications.
However, this may sometimes be a little difficult because of the type of material or the die used. The rubber feet help to prevent the die cutter from skidding when in use. You can use this die cutter with a whole host of materials. This includes cardstock, felt, foam, vellum, magnet, leather, craft aluminum, etc.
The Sizzix 660425 Big Shot Machine comes with one extended multipurpose platform and a pair of cutting pads. Some assembly is required upon opening the die cutter package as you will have to attach the handle to the rest of the device with the hex wrench and screw provided.
It is not as portable as the sides do not fold up. At the same time, however, it is not very heavy.
It can be used with the Sizzix product library. This includes Bigz, Thinlits and Framelits dies, Texture Fades, Textured Impressions, Impresslits Embossing Folders, but excludes Bigz Plus and Bigz Pro die.
1. Able to use with multiple die cutting and embossing tools.
2. Rubber feet prevent skidding when in use.
3. User-friendly, portable and versatile.
4. Contains a multipurpose platform and cutting pads.
5. Rubber feet prevents device from skidding.
3. Cricut Explore Air 2 Mint | best die cutting machine for vinyl
The Cricut Explore Air 2 Mint die cutting machine works twice as fast as its previous models.
You can access ready designs and projects from Cricut vast library or even upload your favorite images free of cost. Also, you have free access to Design Space, which is Cricut's simple design software and offers more than 80 different material settings.
The device is equipped with materials that have been exclusively tested and designed to be used with the Cricut machine, giving it the ability to cut more than 100 types of materials from thin vellum to thick leather. Moreover, cutting and writing can be completed at up to twice the speed with the help of this device.
It is the best die cutter for creating custom vinyl stickers, personalized home decor, unique greeting cards, and custom designed apparel. The Cricut Explore Air 2 Mint comes with basic and specialty Vinyl colors, Iron-on Vinyls, Cardstock, Faux Leather, Adhesive Foils, Specialty Paper, Poster Board, etc.
Cricut Pens can produce handwritten cards and projects with more than 370 fonts or simply your desired font from your computer. Fold lines are meticulously forged onto cards, envelopes, boxes, 3D paper crafts, acetate pinwheels, among others.
With the double tool holder, cutting and scoring or cutting and writing can be carried out with high precision. High accuracy in depth and pressure during the cutting process is ensured with the Smart Set Dial.
It also has a German carbide premium blade and an embedded Bluetooth that allows for wireless cutting.
This software is compatible with iOS and Android devices, giving you the comfort of using your mobile and tablet, apart from your computer. You consequently have the ability to work on your designs and even print on-the-go.
1. Works twice as fast as previous models.
2. Design Space offers more than 80 different materials settings.
3. Cricut Pens can be used to produce handwritten cards.
4. High precision with the double tool holder and Smart Set Dial.
5. Embedded bluetooth facilitates wireless cutting.
4. Cricut Cuttlebug Die Cutting & Embossing Machine | best die cut embossing machine
For those looking for a professional-looking finish that has deep, smooth embossing and clean, crisp cuts, the well-constructed Cricut Cuttlebug is the only Cricut machine that can accomplish this.
The embossing area on the folders are larger in size, which means that you can emboss A2 and 5x7" sized papers from edge to edge. It is also appropriate for smaller projects and to ensure consistency in appearance for projects with the help of its coordinating border.
It has a robust suction and operating the device is simple.
Tissue paper, foils acetate ribbon, thin leather, alongside an array of different other materials can be cut and embossed. It also works well with leading embossing folders and cutting dies. Texture can be added to materials in a simple manner with the help of a low tech option.
In order to use the die cutting machine, simply create a sandwich using the cutting pads and the spacer with your embossing folder or die. The created sandwich is processed into the machine using the handle. When the material comes out, it will have been embossed or cut.
A collapsible carry handle and fold-n-store side profile makes the device compact and easy to store. A suction mechanism underneath the machine is activated when the sides of the machine are folded down in order to be used. This will prevent the Cricut Cuttlebug Die Cutting & Embossing Machine from moving when it is in use.
Inside the box, you will also find an A2 embossing folder and two metal dies apart from one 6x8 a plate, two 6x8 b plates and one 6x8 rubber embossing mat.
1. Produces a professional looking finish.
2. Emboss A2 and 5x7" sized papers from edge to edge.
3. Collapsible handle and fold-n-store profile.
4. Suction mechanism is activated when machine’s sides are folded down.
5. Silhouette CAMEO-3 Cutting Machine | best home die cut machine
As the ultimate DIY machine, the sleek-looking, upgraded Silhouette Cameo 3 can be plugged into the Mac or your PC with either a USB cable or Bluetooth. It also works with and without an internet connection.
The LCD touchscreen is easy to use. Apart from letting you view a tutorial, it can also be used to change color schemes, set sleep times, alter color schemes, etc.
Using a small blade, it can execute matless cutting on over a 100 different types of materials, which includes paper, cardstock, fabric, vinyl, and other items that are up to 12” wide and 10 feet long.
The AutoBlade also adjusts the cutting settings for the material selected in Silhouette Studio. This means that you will not have to manually tweak the blade settings.
When the pen is used in place of the blade, the Silhouette Cameo 3 can sketch on the material. The dual carriage will let you use both the blade and the pen simultaneously to both cut and sketch. The device is able to register printed materials and cut them.
It supports Silhouette Studio, which is a great design software that allows its users to create their own designs from scratch. It also has access to Silhouette Design Store that has +100,000 preloaded designs. It is also PixScan compatible.
1. Autoblade adjusts cutting settings for material selected on its own.
2. LCD screen comes with multiple settings and features.
3. Dual carriage that can work simultaneously.
4. PixScan technology allows for design creation from pictures.
6. Brother CM350 Electronic Cutting Machine | best die cut machine for quilting
You can connect to the Brother CM350 Electronic Cutting Machine wirelessly or via the PC, or even a tablet since it is based in the cloud. You can just about scan anything on the large cutting mat with the 300DPI built-in scanner from family photos to homemade drawings. This means that you can custom-cut shapes or outlines.
The LCD touch screen will let you view your scanned image. You can at this point open your cut design and use the stylus to move the design to the area that you want to cut. The welding feature combines shapes and hand drawings on the screen.
It works quite well with fabrics. Hence, this machine is quite popular with seamstresses and quilters. Indeed, this is the only device with a built-in scanner that can cut vinyl.
This device has a maximum cutting width of 11.7”. It can read SVG data files with over 600 built-in designs. This includes 100 quilt patterns and 7 lettering fonts.
That you do not need to use cartridges, dies, or monthly subscriptions makes this machine even more appealing compared to others in the market.
However, to derive the maximum utility from this device you will have to separately buy the ScanNCut Online Activation Card. Getting the ScanNCut feature will let you scan documents, artwork, and photographs in the die cutting machine as a cut file.
1. Comes with an LCD touch screen.
2. Option to connect wirelessly or via a PC.
3. Has an in-built scanner with 300DPI.
4. Includes 100 quilt patterns and 7 lettering fonts.
7. Cricut Explore Air Wireless Cutting Machine | best die cutting machine for card making
With the Cricut Explore Air Wireless Cutting Machine, you can simply turn the Smart Set dial to achieve the perfect cut on almost all materials, removing the hassle of complex material settings. Custom settings can also be set up based on your preferences.
This die cutting machine is wireless, which means you do not have to connect your computer to this device with a USB port. Instead, images can be sent directly from the computer, iPhone or iPad via Bluetooth.
Moreover, with the Cut Smart technology, you can cut through over 60 materials, which includes paper, cardstock, vinyl, iron-on, poster board and fabric for DIY projects, ranging from ¼ to 11½” wide x 23½” long, making it perfect for home decor or personalized wedding gifts.
The Smart Set dial on the machine allows you to select the material you are going to cut. This means that you will not have to spend hours testing out different blade adjustments. You can also cut a box and score the fold lines simultaneously with the help of the dual carriage.
Cricut Explore Air Wireless Cutting Machine requires you to use its software, Cricut Design Space, and cartridges in order to operate the machine. The device comes with an integrated storage compartment and works with all Cricut cartridges.
You can opt to upload your own creative images or simply choose from the Cricut Image Library.
1. Embedded Bluetooth for wireless cutting.
2. Dual cartridge allows cutting and writing or cutting and scoring simultaneously.
3. Smart Set dial lets you select material type to be cut.
4. Cut Smart technology makes it versatile.
Best Die Cutting Machine Buying Guide
The type of die cutting machine for beginners you can consider investing in will depend first and foremost on the sort of tasks you are going to perform through it.
While it may be a good idea to purchase a die cutter that can cut a wide range of materials, it might also end up being on the expensive side of things, particularly if you find yourself not using most of the options. If, however, you are going to be using a variety of materials, a heavy duty machine with the capacity to cut a range of materials is paramount.
Manual die cutting machines are capable of doing embossment, a function that not all digital ones can perform.
Manual die cutting machines tend to be flexible since they can carry out functions with multiple combinations of dies. They are also affordable and portable. Needless to say, however, the manual models will be labor-intensive. You need to ensure moreover that the dies have been set properly in order to avoid errors.
The designs can be sent to the digital die cutting machines from cartridges or from a computer. The digital models, as can be expected, tend to be faster, more accurate, more expensive, and heavier than the manual ones. While not all digital ones offer this function, the designs can also be saved as templates for future use.
If you are only just thinking of getting the best die cut machine for odd jobs here and there, then you can consider making a low initial investment and gradually add accessories to it. A relatively small die cutting machine will probably meet your needs, saving you storage space as well.
The most cost-effective purchase would be opting for a bundle where you get both a die cutting machine as well as a variety of dies.
But if you want to opt for the best die cutting machines commercially, on the other hand, you would probably have to invest in a more heavy duty machine.
The materials you are planning to cut with the die cutting machine is another major factor for consideration. If you are only going to use paper, then a manual one may suffice. But if you are going to cut thick and heavy materials like multiple layers of fabric, metals, etc., then a heavy-duty machine may be necessary.
4. Ease of use
There are lots of die cutting machines out there that do a little bit of everything. Large designs can be turned into piecemeal designs, which can then be combined. Digital die cutting machines can do this a lot better than manual ones.
Most manual die cutting machines are simple to use so that even a child can operate it with supervision. Indeed, you can start using manual ones right out of the box.
Digital ones, especially with recent improvements in both the machines and software, will need a bit of a learning curve, but the possibilities are limitless.
With no wiring, electronic components, and only a few moving parts, manual ones with their steel rollers tend to be more durable. But this does not mean that you should rule digital die cutting machines out as they can also be just as sturdy.
Most die cutting machines that are portable will also be manual ones. Digital die cutting machines, on the other hand, will be on the heavier side and can only be operated when connected to a computer.
Ultimately your decision to opt for the best die cutting machine as a beginner will depend on your budget in addition to your preferred style of die cutting.
Owning a die cutter will result in some great advantages to your scrapbooking hobbies, not to mention the greater heights of die cutting you will consequently get to climb.
You can also save on time as you can cut out the same shapes with the exact dimensions as many times as you need without resorting to the hassle of using scissors or stencils.