Note that the products discussed on our site are independently selected by (obsessive) editors. At no extra cost to you, things you buy through our links may earn us a commission.

Welcome to our review page of the best die cut machines. Digital die cutting has become a popular method among scrapbookers, paper crafters, and card makers. They add plenty of versatility to the creative process and open up a whole new realm of possibilities. Die cut machines help users cut out immaculate designs, shapes, and fonts. Not everyone can cut out perfect looking letters with a pair of regular scissors! While the machines themselves appear complicated and can be a little intimidating at first, once you dive in and start using one it quickly becomes one of your most-used crafting tools.

At A Glance: Our Top 5 Picks for Die Cut Machines

What’s Here

Today we are going to explore the ins and outs of the best die cut machines and what makes them tick.

One of the Best Die Cut Machines the Silhouette Cameo Electronic Cutting Machine
Image Credit:

First, in our die cut machine reviews section we will check out the most popular machines and highlight their best features.

Then, we’ll answer the question: what is a die cut machine exactly? You will also discover why these handy machines have revolutionized the way paper crafters produce their art.

10 Best Die Cut Machines Comparison Chart

Here is a chart of our picks for best die cut machines. It contains some brief information about each one for easy reference. We’ve grouped it in order of type of operation, and then price ascending, and our review section reflects this organization as well.

Cricut Cuttlebug Machine
  • Plate Size: 6″ x 8″
  • Operation: Hand Crank
Spellbinders Grand Calibur Die Cutting Machine
  • Plate Size: 8.5″ x 11.75″
  • Operation: 2 Pass Hand Crank
Sizzix Big Shot Cutting and Embossing Machine
  • Plate Size: 6″ x 12″
  • Operation: Hand Crank
Fiskars Fuse Creativity System Starter Set
  • Plate Size: 12″ x 12″
  • Operation: Hand Crank
Sizzix Vagabond 2 Cutting Machine Inspired by Tim Holtz
  • Cutting Deck Size: 6″
  • Operation: Electronic
Cricut Explore Air Wireless Cutting Machine
  • Cutting Deck Size: 12″ x 12″
  • Operation: Computer
Cricut Explore Air 2
  • Cutting Deck Size: 8.5″
  • Operation: Electric/Wireless
Silhouette Cameo 3 Starter Bundle
  • Cutting Deck Size: 12″ x 12″
  • Operation: Computer
Sizzix eClips2 Starter Kit
  • Cutting Deck Size: 12″ x 12″
  • Operation: Computer
Brother ScanNCut2 Home and Hobby Cutting Machine
  • Deck Size: 11.7″
  • Operation: Electronic

Our Top 10 List of the Best Die-Cut Machines

Welcome to our best die cutting machines reviews section. We update our pages regularly so you’re always viewing the freshest information and latest product selections.

Manual Die-Cutting Machines

Here are the top manual die cutting machines available. The benefits of manual machines are there smaller price tags and are easier to use.

1. Cricut Cuttlebug Machine

cricut cuttlebug die cut machine

One extremely popular cutting machine, perhaps even more so than the Big Shot, is the Cuttlebug. This is an affordable die cut machine that is very versatile: it accepts a huge range of dies. If you already own dies it is likely they will be compatible with the Cuttlebug. On top of that, it is one of the most portable machines only weighing 5 and a quarter pounds. The crank handle pops in and out and the machine folds up nicely.

  • Plate Size: 6″ x 8″
  • Machine Weight: 6 pounds
  • Operation: Hand Crank
  • Starter Kit: comes with a starter manual, spacer plate, 5×7 flower embossing folder, and two cutting plates
  • Compatible Materials: mostly anything that is up to 1/8 inch thick, die cuts

2. Spellbinders Grand Calibur Die Cutting Machine
Spellbinders Grand Calibur Die Cutting Machine

Spellbinders has upgraded their Grand Calibur Cut & Embossing Machine. It accepts traditional 8.5×11 inch paper, without trimming. It also can emboss paper easily. The 2-Pass process easily makes the results you are looking for. It’s compatible with most name brand dies and folders, so your options aren’t limited. Even with the upgrade, your old Spellbinders accessories will still work great.

  • Plate Size: 8.5″ x 11.75″
  • Machine Weight: 13 pounds
  • Operation: 2 Pass Hand Crank
  • Starter Kit: base plate, cutting plate, embossing plate, embossing mat, instruction booklets
  • Compatible Materials: will work with accessories from most leading brands, works with most materials

3. Sizzix Big Shot Cutting and Embossing Machine

Sizzix 660340 Big Shot Plus Cutting:Embossing Machine

The Big Shot is one the most popular manually operated (hand crank) die-cutting machines. One of the reasons the Big Shot is so popular is the consistency of results. It can handle multiple layers of thin material at once too. Furthermore, it can cut essentially anything that scissors can: felt, foam, fabric, paper, card stock, and even leather.

Perhaps more importantly, when you purchase the Big Shot you gain access to the entire Sizzix product library. That means the whole Sizzix ecosystem is at your disposal with plenty of embossing and die-cutting tools. Of course, these are sold separately but it is impressive that there are thousands of different dies and embossing folders that are available for purchase.

  • Plate Size: 6″ x 12″
  • Machine Weight: 7.5 pounds
  • Operation: Hand Crank
  • Starter Kit: comes with multipurpose platform and pair of cutting pads
  • Coordinating Licensed Brands: Tim Holtz, Karen Burriston, Eileen Hull, Dena Designs, Hero Arts, Vintaj, Stephanie Barnard, Scrappy Cat, Stampin’ Up

4. Fiskars Fuse Creativity System Starter Set
Fuse Creativity System Die Cutting Kit

A lesser-known option is the Fuse Creativity System by Fiskars. The unit itself has a clever design, it folds up nicely into a little case with a carrying handle. That being said, at 23 pounds it is much larger than the other manual die-cutting machines that made our top 10. The great thing is the heavy-duty machine can cut thicker materials such as light metals.

There is a storage compartment for accessories, plates, and dies. Many people will opt for this machine over the others because it can handle plate sizes of up to 12 inches wide. This is an excellent die cut machine that may be worth the extra money.

  • Plate Size: 12″ x 12″
  • Machine Weight: 23 pounds
  • Operation: Hand Crank
  • Starter Kit: two letterpress plates, ink pad, base plate, cutting plate, steel rule die
  • Compatible Materials: cuts thicker materials such as chipboard, thicker fabrics, foam, and light metals

Electronic Die-Cutting Machines

These machines are the top electronic and computer-operated die cutting machines. While they are more expensive, they give users much more creative autonomy.

5. Sizzix Vagabond 2 Cutting Machine Inspired by Tim Holtz

Sizzix 660855 Vagabond 2 Machine Inspired by Tim Holtz

We love the Vagabond because of its style, and unique ability to handle everything from small dies to 6-inch wide plastic-backed treasures and embossing tools. Many of the Sizzix components work with Vagabond 2. The design is inspired by the distressed style of Tim Holtz. The case easily opens up to reveal the concealed power of this motored machine.

  • Cutting Deck Size: 6″
  • Machine Weight: 17.5 Pounds
  • Operation: Electronic
  • Starter Kit: extended platform, extended thin die adapter, cutting pads
  • Compatible Materials: Sizzix brand accessories

6. Cricut Explore Air Wireless Cutting Machine

Cricut Explore Air Wireless Cutting Machine

The latest and greatest wireless paper cutting machine from the leading brand Cricut. The Explore Air gives you the flexibility of not being tied down to a cord, so you can set this up in any room in your house. This has built-in Bluetooth technology which allows you to control the machine with your PC, iPad, or iPhone. Pretty sweet! It can do .svg, .jpg, .bmp, .gif, .png, and .dxf files as well as any existing fonts on your computer without a hitch. This is arguably the best cutting machine on the market right now.

  • Cutting Deck Size: 12″ x 12″
  • Software: Cricut Design Space
  • Machine Weight: 19 pounds
  • Operation: Computer
  • Starter Kit: user guide, storage bag, USB and power cords, cutting mat, accessory adapter, metallic silver pen, iron-on sample, cardstock sample, 50+ free projects, 100+ free images, German carbide premium blade
  • Compatible Materials: cuts over 60 materials

7. Cricut Explore Air 2

cricut explore air 2

This little die cut machine packs a big craft punch. Cricut embedded this model with Bluetooth technology in order to upload designs wireless without trouble. The convenience goes beyond this by including online software and a convenient iPad app.

  • Deck Size: 8.5″
  • Machine Weight: 14 pounds
  • Operation: Electric/Wireless
  • Starter Kit: Machine, blade, cutting mat, power adapter, USB cable, guide, 4 sheets of cardstock
  • Compatible Materials: cardstock, vinyl, vellum, fabric, chipboard, and even thin foils.

8. Silhouette Cameo 3 Starter Bundle

Silhouette CAMEO 3 Starter Bundle

Silhouette’s electronic die cutting machine is the most popular in the digital machine category. Though a continuous internet connection is not required, you’ll need to plug it into your computer (much like a printer) for it to work. Behind the machine is the Silhouette Online Store which has 50,000+ pre-designed shapes and fonts.

It has been dubbed “The Ultimate DIY machine”. True to its name, you can cut paper, vinyl, fabric, and many other materials. The machine itself is gorgeous, a bright white with light blue accents, and an intuitive touch screen panel on the right.

  • Cutting Deck Size: 12″ x 12″
  • Software: Silhouette Studio Software
  • Machine Weight: 11.1 pounds
  • Operation: Computer
  • Starter Kit: user guide, Silhouette Studio Software, AutoBlade, 12-inch Cutting Mat, CrossCutter, Metallic Sketch Pens, & Other Bonus Extras
  • Compatible Materials: cuts over 100 materials

9. Sizzix eClips2 Starter Kit
Sizzix eClips2 Starter Kit Die Cutter

While the Big Shot is Sizzix’s most popular manual die cuts machine, the eClips models are their flagship electronic model. The eClips2 is the latest version and it offers some of the most precise cutting technology available.

  • Cutting Deck Size: 12″ x 12″
  • Software: eCAL Lite
  • Machine Weight: 17 pounds
  • Operation: Computer
  • Starter Kit: user guide, cutting mat, blade holder, 2 cutting blades, 6 foot USB cable, power supply, and cord, and authorization for eCal lite cutting software download
  • Compatible Materials: cuts over 100 materials

Honorable Mention

10. Brother ScanNCut2 Home and Hobby Cutting Machine
Brother ScanNCut2 Home and Hobby Cutting Machine

Brother has a great reputation among printer and scanner competitors for bringing office quality products to the home. Their ScanNCut 2 Home & Hobby Cutting Machine is the perfect blend of their scanning technology and what you need to make the perfect arts and crafts.

The 4.85″ touch screen display allows you to easily customize designs, and control your die cut machine. With the free cloud-based app, you can create new projects, browse your gallery, and start creating wonders. The large cutting area can handle papers up to 12″ x 24″.

  • Deck Size: 11.7″
  • Machine Weight: 10.4lbs
  • Operation: Electronic
  • Starter Kit: Machine, mat, cutting screen, blades, touch screen pen
  • Compatible Materials: all standard materials

What Exactly is a Die Cut Machine?

A die cutting machine usually employs a small blade to cut out elements from card stock or a number of other common materials. Die cut machines are used to cut out letters, shapes, numbers, and even custom designs. These cutouts are then used for a number of projects from crafts to party decorations, scrapbooking, and everything in between.

Businesses and teachers will even use them as an aid to construct bulletin boards and create supplies for school room activities for example.

Some die cut machines can cut a variety of materials. While one model may only be able to handle paper, a different model may be able to cut materials such as fabric, felt, foam, rubber, and paper.

Die Cut Examples

What’s Out There?

There are a number of die cut machines available for purchase. One of the key differences is whether the machine needs to be hooked up to a computer or if it can be used without one. Some are electronic while others are manually operated via a hand crank mechanism.

Those that don’t need to be plugged in are much more portable, allowing you to take it to parties and get-togethers without being tied down to one area of your home while working.

The machines that require a computer, like the Brother ScanNCut 2, can really do some amazing things. This is particularly true when you can access the internet and explore the wide array of designs on the web. Of course, these digital die cut machines have a steeper learning curve than the manual machines but once you master the technology you and your creations will be the envy of all your friends.

Resources for Your Die Cut Machine

Whether you decide to stick with a simple model or purchase one with all the bells and whistles both serve as an extremely useful tool for arts and crafts.

If you are worried about learning the ins and outs of a machine has some classes including a full course on Creative Die Cutting with Cricut. Lesson 1 “Cutting Foundations” is an excellent introduction to the most important features of the Cricut Expression die cutter.

While die cutters vary from brand to brand, many can cut more than just one material. Many of the best paper cutting machines will do many other materials. Here is our giant list of materials that people cut using one of these machines. Pretty neat, huh?

Elements and Materials List:

  • Paper
  • Felt
  • Foam
  • Rubber
  • Metallic Card Stock
  • Vinyl
  • Magnet Paper
  • Vellum
  • Sticker Paper
  • Chipboard
  • Fabric (backed with interfacing)

Types of Die Cut Machines

There are three main categories of die cut machines which we will go over in this section. Some experienced in the ways of arts and crafts may have a machine from each category. Depending on their needs or the project at hand, they will know which one will complete the task best. Truly, some machines simply excel at certain jobs while producing sub-par results at other jobs.

ManualManual Die Cut Machine

Manual die cut machines usually incorporate some type of handle that pushes the die through when a person operates it. These types of machines are also great for making impressions with the use of embossing dies. Undoubtedly, these are the most portable die-cutting machines because all they need is a little hand and arm strength to operate. You don’t need a wall outlet or computer to operate them. An example of a manual die cut machine is the Cuttlebug, an extremely popular machine that both cuts and does embossing well.


Electronic die cut machines need to be plugged into an electrical outlet. Electricity is their power source and without it they will not turn on. This usually does not present too much of a problem because you’ll usually have access to a wall outlet within range of where you are planning to work. Cricut is a very popular die cut machine in this category. Cartridges are purchased with shapes or fonts and then these are plugged into the Cricut before cutting.

Computer OperatedComputer Operated Die Cut Machine

Some die cut machines require a computer and sometimes even an internet connection as well before they can be used. These digital die cut machines are certainly the most complex of the three categories of machines. However, they allow users to download designs, fonts, and shapes from the internet. This enables you to cut virtually any design in any size. The Silhouette is an example of a product that falls into the computer-operated category. The Silhouette must be plugged into a computer that has internet access to be used. Then, the user of the machine has access to a huge number of designs.

Cartridge vs. Software Based Die Cut Machines

When die cutting machines first came out, the only types of machines available were cartridge-based. This allowed users to cut only the shapes and letters in the included cartridges. The nice thing about cartridge die cut machines is that they do not require a computer or internet knowledge to operate. However, you can be pretty limited on the number of creative choices you have.

Plus you have to factor in the cost of purchasing additional cartridges for each new element you want to create.

Die Cut Animals
Die Cut Box Animals Example

Advantages and Challenges of Software-Based Die Cut Machines

Software-based die cut machines may have a steeper learning curve, but the creative options become virtually limitless. This allows the users to import file types such as .svg, .jpg, and .png and an array of others to create plenty of your own custom shapes. Some digital die cut machines come with their own software packaged with the machine.

There are some 3rd party programs like Sure Cuts a Lot and Make the Cut which is designed to work with many die cut machine models. Another thing to keep in mind is that an increasing number of digital die cut machines are not becoming compatible with printers.

This enables users to create much different print and cut designs. The print and cut method is a wonderful way to make elements like labels, dielines with a pattern fill, journaling cards, and other like pre-designed elements that contain details that may not lend themselves well to die cutting.

Hybrid Die Cut Systems

As of recently, there are now some hybrid systems that incorporate software and cartridges. An example of such a machine is Cricut Explore and the Sizzix eClips. They offer the versatility of both worlds. Whether you want to import your own designs or use cartridges you have the freedom to do so. Though they are more expensive, they are great because you get a smaller footprint and save space by having one machine do the job of two.

smarthome newsletter

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Interested in the latest news and information regarding smart gadgets for your home? What about deals and discounts? Sign up for our monthly newsletter to recieve all this and more.


Note: We do not spam! Subscription emails go out no more than twice monthly. 

You Have Subscribed! Please check your email for confirmation.

Pin It on Pinterest