The best die-cutting machine for beginners depends a lot on your own needs. There are so many options and brands that it can be hard to narrow it down to just one!
And while every machine will cut the basic materials most crafters use, you might want something a little more sophisticated for your own projects.
So, what should you look for when you're trying to find the best die-cutting machine for beginners?
What Is a Die-Cutting Machine?
First, let's talk about what a die-cutting machine is and what it does. A die-cutting machine cuts a variety of materials, such as paper or vinyl, into detailed shapes.
The "die" is basically a stencil for your desired cutting pattern.
When pressure is put on the die, it cuts into the material, which can then be used for a variety of crafting projects. The best die-cutting machine for beginners can cut paper, leather, fabric, vinyl, and many other common materials.
Types of Die-Cutting Machines
Naturally, there are different types of die-cutting machines. But they all fall into one of two categories: manual or digital.
A manual die-cutting machine is one that you operate by hand. Usually, you either turn a handle or physically press down.
These tend to be less expensive than digital machines because there are fewer moving parts.
With a manual machine, you'll have to buy separate dies for every shape you want to cut. Luckily, there are multiple companies out there, and the dies tend to be relatively inexpensive and versatile.
Digital die-cutting machines cut your pattern based on a design file. This design is sent to the machine either through a cartridge or wirelessly from a computer. In other words, digital die-cutting machines operate in much the same way printers do.
Even though these cost more upfront than the manual machines, they don't require dies, so you can cut that future expense out of your decision.
What to Look For in the Best Die-Cutting Machine
Though the best die-cutting machine for beginners is a bit subjective, some key factors are universal in any crafting machine. Any time you buy a machine, you'll want to consider how versatile it is, how easy it is to learn and use, and what size you need.
All die-cutting machines will cut. However, many of them also have other crafting capabilities.
Many, for example, come with the option to emboss your material or pierce it. In fact, many machines are powerful enough to engrave hard materials.
Some digital machines have the added bonus of being able to cut by color. You can upload your image and have the machine trace it and cut it out automatically.
Many machines even have the ability to exchange their blades for markers and draw an image onto a material.
Ease of use
Especially for a beginner, ease of use is incredibly important. You may end up outgrowing your simple machine, but learning a difficult one may turn you off of die-cutting for good.
The best die-cutting machine for beginners will have simple instructions but will also satisfy the owner's growing creativity and skills.
Size and portability
Finally, you'll need to think about size and portability, which will largely depend on what you plan to use it for.
If, for example, you're cutting paper to make holiday cards, you don't necessarily need a large, powerful machine. You might also want to bring your machine with you if you plan on crafting away from home.
If you're not planning to lug your machine with you anywhere, and you want the capabilities that come with a more heavy-duty machine, then you'll probably want one of the bigger and heavier options.
How We Reviewed the Best Die-Cutting Machine for Beginners
We value honest reviews. Therefore, when we reviewed the options for the best die-cutting machine for beginners, we concentrated on aggregating a variety of reviews from both professional sources and consumers.
We narrowed our choices down to only those machines with stellar reviews, especially from customers. In a best-of list, it is clearly important to include only machines that have met or exceeded the expectations of the target audience.
That being said, you can't go wrong with any of the machines on this list. As such, they are listed in no particular order. However, we've divided the list into manual and digital machines for ease of comparison.
Best Die-Cutting Machine for Beginners — Top Manual
Many of the best die-cutting machines come from companies that have been around forever. They also tend to be more straightforward to operate and even cost less.
Such factors make these machines great for beginners, and you don't have to feel too guilty when you upgrade from your "starter machine."
1. Sizzix Big Shot
- MACHINE COMES WITH – A complete starter kit! See the product description below for listed items.
- DIE CUTTING AND EMBOSSING - This Big Shot is the ideal tool for a range of creative pursuits for everyone from the...
- THE A5 SIZED OPENING - Allows you to create an ever-growing collection of designs, with limitless possibilities for...
Sizzix is a veteran of the die-cutting machine industry. And the Big Shot is a great and versatile machine for both beginners and experts.
First of all, the Sizzix Big Shot offers both cutting and embossing on many materials up to 6 inches wide. This obviously gives you a wide array of materials to choose from when crafting.
There's a wide variety of accessories available to enhance the capabilities of this machine, such as an extended platform to make bigger projects possible. You can also purchase an adapter to use third-party dies.
It's also a very small machine at about 14 inches long, 12 inches wide, and 6 inches tall.
Weighing just over seven pounds, this machine is highly portable if you need to carry it with you.
The three-year limited warranty ensures that you can get the machine repaired or replaced should anything happen to it in that time frame.
2. Sizzix Big Shot Pro
- MACHINE COMES WITH - 1 Standard Sliding Tray, 1 Standard Cutting Pad, 1 Premium Crease Pad, 2 Mylar Shims, 1...
- DIE CUTTING AND EMBOSSING - For the crafter who wants it all, comes the Pro-strength die cutting machine that does...
- INDUSTRIAL STRENGTH - Constructed from steel, Aluminium and metal alloy, this die cutting machine comes with an...
The Big Shot Pro is the older brother of the classic Big Shot. It combines the ease of the smaller machine with more advanced capabilities.
The Big Shot Pro, like the original Big Shot, can cut and emboss. However, while the Big Shot is limited to materials 6 inches wide or less, the Big Shot Pro can cut and emboss a variety of materials up to 12 inches wide.
Just as with the Big Shot, there are many accessories and adapters you can purchase to expand this machine's already wide capabilities.
One such accessory, which will undoubtedly come in handy, is a sliding cutting tray. With this tray, you can accommodate materials of many lengths.
However, it's not quite as small as the Big Shot. The Pro measures 24.25 inches long, 15 inches wide, and 7.5 inches tall. This means the machine is still portable, but less so than
the Big Shot.
It, too, comes with a three-year limited warranty.
3. Cricut Cuttlebug
Cricut is a well-known name in crafting. Its die-cutting and embossing machines are among the best selling on the market and for very good reason.
The Cricut Cuttlebug is the smallest offering from the brand, but don't let its size fool you. The Cuttlebug has the ability to cut a variety of materials, including thin leather.
It's also incredibly versatile and can use Cricut dies as well as those from most other leading brands.
The Cuttlebug measures 14.4 inches long, 12 inches wide, and 7.2 inches tall. This puts it at a comparable size to the Big Shot. However, at 11 pounds, this machine is heavier. It does make up for the seeming loss in portability, though, with its pop-up handle.
The Cricut, however, does not have quite as good a warranty as the Sizzix machines. The company only offers a one-year limited warranty.
4. Bira Craft Die-Cutting & Embossing Machine Combo
- 3 1/8" Feeding Slot, EXTRA AREA makes a big difference! Measures approximately:8 1/4"x 3 3/4"x 4 3/4"
- The suction cup will stick firmly on smooth working surfaces with by pressing down red lever, and released by...
- A compact, lightweight, affordable and easy-to-use machine. Works with all leading brand acid etched dies,...
The Bira Craft 3-inch die-cutting and embossing machine is specifically made for paper cutting and embossing. However, it can also cut various other thin materials, such as thin vinyl and EVA foam.
Like the Cuttlebug, this machine can use dies from other manufacturers as long as they fit the cutting bed. This is slightly tricky, as the bed is limited to 3 inches wide. For paper crafts, though, this is a perfect size for most projects.
At 8 inches long, 3.8 inches wide, and 5 inches tall, this machine is smaller than the other models we've seen. It's also only 3 pounds, which makes it the most portable machine on this list.
Bira Craft guarantees 100 percent satisfaction or your money back. So you can't really ask for a better warranty than that. Plus, the customer service goes above and beyond to ensure that you're happy with your machine.
5. Spellbinders Platinum 6 Die Cutting and Embossing Machine
- Powered by the same versa cut technology used in Platinum, the new Platinum 6 offers the same strength, pressure...
- Effortlessly cuts up to eight layers of most materials in a single pass
- It can blaze through even the heaviest of materials from leather, to wool, to craft metal, to Balsa Wood
The Spellbinder brand is known for durability and high-quality construction. The Platinum 6 model is the perfect example of their attention to quality.
The Platinum 6 is an upgrade from the previous Platinum models. It's made with the same durable materials and has the same powerful downforce, meaning that it can cut several layers of over 40 different types of material, including balsa wood and wool.
This machine can also use dies from other manufacturers to cut and emboss your materials. Its 6-inch cutting and embossing beds are the perfect sizes for most craft projects.
The Platinum 6 is 12.6 inches long, 9.5 inches wide, and 7.5 inches tall, and it weighs 12.5 pounds. It may seem as though it's not as portable as some other machines but its ability to fold, as well as its pop-up handle, allows it to travel with you easily.
Spellbinder's one-year warranty will ensure that you get as much use as possible from this machine.
Best Die-Cutting Machine for Beginners — Top Digital Options
If you want to create your own designs or if you want a machine with more capabilities, you might consider a digital die-cutting machine. In terms of digital, the best die-cutting machine for beginners will allow the user to easily create their own patterns and will function consistently.
1. Silhouette Cameo 4
- Silhouette Cameo 4 with Bluetooth and Manufacturer's 1 year Warranty. No Internet Connection Required. Now able...
- 38 Sheets of Oracal651 Premium Vinyl - 12" x 12", 12 Sheets of Premium Transfer Tape - 12" x 12", 6 Sheets of High...
- 4 Tool Adapters - Allows for use of Cameo 3, 2, & 1 Tools, Hook Tool, Scraper Tool, Ratchet Adjustment Tool, Dual...
Silhouette is another well-known and highly regarded craft brand. The Silhouette Cameo 4 is the newest version of their Cameo model, and it offers some great upgrades.
This newest model has two carriages rather than one. While the first carriage has a respectable downforce of 250 grams, allowing it to cut all thinner materials with ease, the second carriage has an impressive 5,000 grams of downforce. This allows the Cameo to cut thicker and tougher materials than its predecessor.
The Silhouette Cameo 4 lets you change out blades and pens so you can cut a wide variety of materials, including metal. However, the machine cannot emboss certain materials like paper and cardstock.
The Cameo is 24.9 inches long, 11.2 inches wide, and 9.9 inches tall. It weighs 18.55 pounds, which means it's not nearly as portable as the manual machines.
Silhouette is known for its great customer service, its helpful online community of users, and its in-depth tutorials through Silhouette U. The brand also offers a one-year warranty on its machines, making them easy to replace or fix.
2. Cricut Maker
- [CREATE MORE] Cricut Maker gives you the freedom to make everything from paper crafts, iron ons, and vinyl decals...
- [ENDLESS PROJECT POSSIBILITIES] Expandable suite of tools. With its powerful blades, pens, and scoring tool, Cricut...
- [NEW ROTARY BLADE FOR FABRICS] With its gliding, rolling action, this blade cuts through virtually any fabric...
The Cricut brand has a wide variety of offerings for anyone interested in crafts. The Cricut Maker is the company's new flagship machine.
The Maker has the ability to cut over 300 types of materials — the largest variety of any of these machines. It also has a wide array of cutting and decorating tools, including pens, that can be easily swapped out with the cutting carriage.
Cricut does limit the user in one capacity: It's impossible to use the blades or decorating tools of other manufacturers. However, the tools offered by Cricut are so varied and well-made that you probably won't miss this flexibility too much.
The Maker is 22.6 inches long, 7.1 inches wide, and 6.2 inches tall and weighs 15 pounds. Since it's slightly smaller than the Silhouette, it is also slightly more portable, though not as portable as manual machines.
Cricut's warranty leaves a tad to be desired. The brand extends a 90-day warranty on non-electronic components and a one-year limited warranty on electronic components.
3. Brother ScanNCut
- CREATE RIGHT OUT OF THE BOX: The CM350E electronic cutting machine gives you the option to work directly on your...
- SCAN DRAWINGS: The 300dpi built in scanner allows you to scan your drawing to convert it to a one-of-a-kind cut...
- STUNNING DIY PROJECTS: Craft with 631 built-in designs, including 100 quilt designs and 7 lettering fonts. Add your...
Brother is an incredibly well-known appliance brand, especially in the sewing community. As such, this machine tends to be quite popular with quilters. Perhaps this is also due to Brother's really clever marketing to this audience: the Brother ScanNCut comes with over 100 quilting patterns pre-programmed.
However, it's not just useful for cutting fabric. The ScanNCut machine is also able to easily cut, emboss, and create rhinestone patterns on a variety of materials.
It's also the only digital die-cutting machine that includes a scanner. You can scan your material and place the design on top of it in the machine's LCD dashboard, taking out all guesswork. The adaptive tool technology detects the cutting material, up to 3 millimeters thick.
Brother's best die-cutting machine for beginners is 22.8 inches long, 10.1 inches wide, and 10.6 inches tall and weighs 12.79 pounds, so it's a little easier to move from place to place than the Cricut or Silhouette. This is a nice feature if you plan to craft in different rooms in your home or if you plan to bring the machine with you elsewhere.
Brother includes a very nice one-year warranty on the entire machine with an added two-year warranty on all the electronics.
4. Cricut Explore Air 2
- MACHINE BUNDLE: Cricut Explore Air 2 Machine bundle with tool kit and vinyl in assorted colors. Air 2 die-cutting...
- USER-FRIENDLY: Machine has built-in Bluetooth for wireless cutting, writing, and scoring. Smart Set dial adjusts to...
- ACCESSORIES: Tool Kit contains Spatula, Weeder, Scraper, Scissors, and Tweezers. 9x12 inch sheets (8) Cricut Vinyl...
Prior to the release of the Maker, the Explore Air 2 was Cricut's flagship machine, and it still is a strong contender for the best die-cutting machine for beginners.
The Explore line of die-cutting machines is very versatile, offering the ability to cut over 100 types of materials. Cricut's design software is one of the easiest to learn, making it perfect for a beginner.
One of the great bonuses for Cricut customers is the wide variety of accessories that the brand offers. These accessories easily fit onto the machine via the included tool adapter.
The Explore Air 2 is 24.8 inches long, 10.2 wide, and 10 inches tall. It weighs 16 pounds, making it one of the harder-to-move machines. However, if you plan to do your crafting in one area, this is not a problem.
As with all Cricut machines, this one comes with a limited one-year warranty on electric components and a 90-day warranty on non-electronic components.
Making the Cut!
The best die-cutting machine for beginners combines versatility, ease of use, and the appropriate size into one perfect package. Every crafter is different and has different needs. This can make it tricky to figure out which machine is best.
The key is to decide what types of projects you'd like to tackle. From there, the decision-making process becomes much easier.
Hopefully, this guide will make it easier for you to decide which is the best die-cutting machine for beginners that will work for you.
What crafts on your to-do list with your new die-cutting machine? Let us know in the comments below!