Die Cutting Machines & Trimmers

A die cutting machine and a good quality trimmer are required in this papercraft hobby. This article in the Best of the Basics Series will cover my favourites – although I still have my original BigShot die cutting machine (purchased second hand off TradeMe), I have been through a few trimmers!

I made the mistake of purchasing a rather expensive trimmer when I started out, only to find there were cheaper, more ACCURATE and compact solutions out there that were more suitable to my needs. Plus other trimmers that simply didn’t cut straight in a consistent manner – those have been given away! Still have that original trimmer tucked away though……


Die Cutting Machines

There are a number of options available in New Zealand for die cutting machines. There are even electric machines to take the strain of hand cranking away, and ones that cut multiple images without the need for expensive dies!

PRO TIP: Regardless of which machine you use, the cutting plates will get all scratched up. I try to only cut on the bottom plate, and leave the second plate clear to see through as the top plate. As the bottom plate wears out, I switch it out and use the old top plate for cutting, and simply add a nice clean new top plate.

PRO TIP: Plates will warp over time. Flip them regularly and use both sides of the plate, especially the cutting plate. When your cutting plate starts to curve, always cut ‘into the valley, never the hump’. My plates have stayed reasonably straight by following this rule.

Let’s start with these three – a representative of each type of machine on the market.

Sizzix BigShot – a manual machine

Crafters Companion Gemini Junior – an electric machine


Brother Scan n Cut – an electronic machine

The Sizzix BigShot is the machine I currently have on my craft table. Mine is second hand, but it is a total workhorse and very solid and stable. You can get extra bits and pieces for it – a precision base plate for those intricate dies, a magnetic plate to help keep dies in place, extra long cutting plates and platform, a rubber embossing mat and a handy caddy to store your plates in which can hang on the side.

Available for purchase from: Ribbon Rose Spotlight

ALSO: Check out my blog post dedicated to the CHROME Precision Base Plate for the BigShot machine – it cuts intricate dies perfectly. A very worthwhile addition to the craft room.

There is an electric version of the BigShot, called the BigShot Express available (EDIT: I recently purchased the Express, and I LOVE it…. check out my blog post review here) There is also a smaller manual machine, the BigShot Foldaway (similar to the Cuttlebug) and a larger manual version called the BigShot Plus.


I don’t personally own any of the electric or electronic machines such as the Gemini or Scan n Cut. Below is what I know of these machines.

The Gemini comes in three sizes, Original, Junior and Go, and operates on a similar principle to the manual machines – you build your sandwich of plates, cardstock and die and feed through. The difference is you don’t need to turn a handle, rather, press a button. Reviews of this machine are generally very positive – it cuts through intricate dies ‘like butter’. There is no platform, you build your sandwich on your table and feed into the slot.

Available for purchase from Krafters Cart


The Brother Scan n Cut scans your stamped images (you can have a whole page of different images) and cuts them out in mere minutes. You can adjust the white border to be quite thick, or non-existent. It also has a digital library which you can cut shapes from cardstock, selected from its LED menu. There are machines capable of cutting fabrics as well as cardstock.

Available for purchase from: Spotlight Ribbon Rose



Cricut Cuttlebug – discontinued by manufacturer
Spellbinders Platinum
Tim Holtz Sizzix Sidekick – a mini die cutting machine

The Cuttlebug is a widely popular little machine in New Zealand – just about everyone I know seems to own one! It is a compact manual machine and folds away for easy storage. Unfortunately, it has been discontinued by the manufacturer Cricut as of January 2019, so once the stocks in the shops sell out, they won’t be restocked. There are B and C plates available still, so it might pay to stock up on these if you are a Cuttlebug owner.


The Spellbinders Platinum is a larger manual die cutting machine. The sides fold away for ease of storage. It’s cutting platform is larger than the Cuttlebug and BigShot at 8.5″. There are accessories available, such as the embossing mat, larger cutting plates, a 3D embossing plate and a crease plate for the construction of boxes.

Available for purchase from: Ribbon Rose


The Tim Holtz Sidekick is a mini die cutting machine. I have this little machine and it’s super handy! Its maximum cutting dimensions are 2.5″ wide and takes most dies up to this width. It has a suction cup on the bottom to secure it to the table or work surface, and a pair of plates which feed through manually. Included in the box is a little embossing folder, a set of number dies, a tag die and matching stamp set. An embossing pad is available separately, as well as a mini tool kit.

Available for purchase from: Krafters Cart Ribbon Rose


Trimmers & Scissors

I struggled for my first couple of years with ‘not straight’ cuts, paper shifting, blades having to be replaced, other little parts to replace and keep a track of. There was some colourful language at my craft table for a bit! But then I found these:


Available for purchase from:

Krafters Cart

Scrapbook Central

Ribbon Rose

Lets start with (in my honest opinion) the BEST little trimmer out there.

This is the Tim Holtz Guillotine 8.5″ x 6″. It fits perfectly on my craft table, to my left and doesn’t take up too much room. Easily portable, small and lightweight, it cuts cardstock like butter and trims the TINIEST slivers off your card projects for straight lines.

PRO TIP: Took me way longer than it should have to notice this, but check it out – an A5 marker on the ruler! Handy!

If you don’t already own a larger trimmer, then this might not be the one to start with – I would recommend the next size up as a first purchase. I recommend this product if you already have something larger, but keen for something smaller to fit on that messy table, or the ability to pack it in a bag and take it to crops.


Available for purchase from:

Krafters Cart

Scrapbook Central

Ribbon Rose

This Tim Holtz Maxi Guillotine is the next size up from the one just above. I would recommend this one as a first trimmer, simply because it can take cardstock up to 12.25″ tall. It is slimline, and doesn’t take up too much room.

This trimmer also has an extendable ruler arm (cunningly hidden in the bottom) which can easily slot in when you need it.

The handle also comes off and can be stored in the cavity underneath for portability and storage.

It has a ruler at top, centre and bottom for easy reference.

There is a larger 12″ x 12″ guillotine available, but this is not something I personally own. Look into this if you are more likely to be cutting 12″ x 12″ papers.


Available for purchase from:

Spotlight

Fiskars have a great range of trimmers, scissors and punches. They’re usually found at Spotlight (look out for coupons!), but many other craft stores carry the range too.

The trimmer pictured here is a wire trimmer. You place your cardstock under the wire, which acts as a guide. Press and slide the cutter across as far as you want to cut (this is great for when you don’t want to simply cut all the way, but rather in specific places).

There are various sizes of this wire cutter available. Also, replacement blades are available.

PRO TIP: Lift the cutting bar and use your bone folder in the groove for a perfect scoring line.


Scissors

Scissors are a very personal preference. I’m left handed, so this makes finding the perfect scissors (and can opener!) even harder. I’ll list here a couple of my top choices.

Available for purchase from:

Scrapbook Central

Spotlight

Warehouse Stationery

I LOVE these snips. They are from the Fiskars range and suit both right and left handed crafters. They have a great spring action too, saving a lot of effort with those fussy cutting jobs.


Tim Holtz has a range of non-stick scissors in different sizes.

He is also coming out with a range of Left Handed products (yay!) for us crafters, including these scissors for us. Also his range of products has been updated to black accents rather than red, so some retailers may still have red handled products in stock – don’t worry, still same great product.

These scissors have soft grip handles and serrated blades. Nothing sticks to the blades, so they’re great for cutting adhesive, trimming sticky pieces of cardstock etc.


Thank you for visiting – I hope you have found the above information helpful in your card making journey. As new products are released and trends change, you might like to bookmark this page to keep up to date. Feel free to message me if you have any questions.