The Best Stencil Cutting Machine for Crisp Precision Stencils

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A result of a Stencil Cutting Machine

Two years ago, if I had seen an article on the best stencil cutting machine, I would have assumed it about some industrial piece of equipment. I wouldn't have given it a millisecond of thought as I skipped right over to the next item.

But in the last two years, I've been introduced to a whole new world, and the left side of my brain has finally met the right side.

Oh, the things you can make with a stencil cutting machine. And if you're anything like me, once you discover everything it can help you make, you will be in dire need of a room extender. The craft creep in our home is unbelievable.

So I say, forget the stress meds, turn your creativity loose, and get a stencil cutting machine. And if you're going to get one, you might as well get the best stencil cutting machine.

What Is a Stencil Cutting Machine

A stencil machine for the non-professional is more often called a die-cutting machine. And most of them will cut paper of different weights and other materials like felt, thin fabrics, and vinyl. Some can even cut cork boards, leather, rubber, sponge, and thin metal sheets.

All you need is the die-cutting machine, some paper or cardstock, and if you have a manual machine, you will need some dies. You can start your die collection with circle and square dies in graduated sizes.

Then, if you're like most of us, you will quickly progress to dies shaped in ovals, hearts, frames, stars, and on and on. My collection of dies just got bigger thanks to the most adorable snow globe that came in the mail today.

So for crafters, teachers, parents, and many others, a die-cutting machine is a useful piece of equipment. You can make cards, banners, educational items, stickers, envelopes, awards, just about anything you can imagine. And even more.

What's the Difference Between Stencils and Dies?

Well, you can't make a die with a stencil, but you can make a stencil with a die. Another noticeable difference will be the die is made of metal, and the stencil will be thin plastic or paper.

And while different, when they're paired together along with your creativity, the results can be beyond what you imagined.

Stencils

Dies

How We Picked the Best Stencil Cutting Machine

Our review of the best stencil cutting machine is an independent analysis of the different stencil cutting machines available to today's consumer.

To narrow our choices for the best stencil cutting machine, we researched and reviewed the most popular ones. Then we compared their features along with consumer reports and comments

Our goal is to give you sufficient factual, unbiased information. With this, you can make a confident, informed, and easier decision when purchasing the best stencil cutting machine for your needs.

Product Comparison Table

The Best Manual Stencil Machines

These handy, compact, portable, and affordable machines, used for embossing and die-cutting, are a mainstay in almost every crafter's toolbox. When used with dies and embossing folders, they offer a wide range of versatility in creative expression and decorating.

You can cut and emboss paper, cardstock, vinyl, plastic, thin metals, fabrics, and other materials. All you need are a few materials and imagination. They are an excellent beginning tool for making stencils, cards, scrapbook pages, and just about whatever you can imagine.

The only downside of these little marvels is that they are small, and you have to purchase dies and embossing folders. Buying a collection of dies and folders can get expensive over time. But your creativity will be well served with any of these machines until you're ready to dig deep into your pocket for an electronic one.

1

Sizzix Big Shot Foldaway

Sizzix 662500 Big Shot Foldaway, A5 Manual Die Cutting and Embossing...
  • PORTABLE – The Sizzix Big Shot Foldaway die-cutting machine, features a cutting surface and handle that neatly...
  • BUILT IN STORAGE – The compartments are built into the Foldaway, making easy to store your wafer-thin dies and...
  • RELEASE LEVER HANDLE – This release lever handle allows the handle to fold in front of the machine for neat...

The first of our manual best stencil cutting machine picks is the Sizzix Big Shot Foldaway. Unlike the other Big Shot machines, the Foldaway features a cutting surface and handle that neatly fold away, making it perfect for storage and creating on the go.


Also, there is convenient storage in the fold-away surfaces, perfect for dies and small tools. And the release lever handle folds neatly in front of the machine.


When closed, this cutting machine measures 6.25 inches by 10.5 inches by 8 inches. And when opened, it measures 13.75 inches by 13 inches by 8 inches.


The Big Shot Foldaway has a 6-inch wide cutting platform and will work with most dies, including the Sizzix Bigz, Thinlits, Framelits, and Textured Impressions.

Sizzix backs this product with a one-year limited warranty.

Pros

  • Its compact design
  • It has excellent pressure for even intricate dies
  • Friendly and helpful customer service

Cons

  • It's challenging to figure out which plates to use
  • The plates get etched too quickly

2

Sizzix Big Shot Foldaway

Sizzix 662500 Big Shot Foldaway, A5 Manual Die Cutting and Embossing...
  • PORTABLE – The Sizzix Big Shot Foldaway die-cutting machine, features a cutting surface and handle that neatly...
  • BUILT IN STORAGE – The compartments are built into the Foldaway, making easy to store your wafer-thin dies and...
  • RELEASE LEVER HANDLE – This release lever handle allows the handle to fold in front of the machine for neat...

The first of our manual best stencil cutting machine picks is the Sizzix Big Shot Foldaway. Unlike the other Big Shot machines, the Foldaway features a cutting surface and handle that neatly fold away, making it perfect for storage and creating on the go.


Also, there is convenient storage in the fold-away surfaces, perfect for dies and small tools. And the release lever handle folds neatly in front of the machine.


When closed, this cutting machine measures 6.25 inches by 10.5 inches by 8 inches. And when opened, it measures 13.75 inches by 13 inches by 8 inches.


The Big Shot Foldaway has a 6-inch wide cutting platform and will work with most dies, including the Sizzix Bigz, Thinlits, Framelits, and Textured Impressions.

Sizzix backs this product with a one-year limited warranty.

Pros

  • Does a great job cutting stencils
  • You can create your designs
  • No need to purchase dies or cartridges
  • No monthly fees

Cons

  • The very steep learning curve
  • Online free software is difficult to learn
  • Objects must have an outline in black for the scanner to see them

3

Spellbinders Platinum 6

Spellbinders PE-100 Platinum 6.0 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

Our next manual best stencil cutting machine is Spellbinders' Platinum 6 die cutting machine. The Platinum 6 has the same Versa Cut technology used in the larger and more pricey Platinum. And the Platinum 6 also offers the same strength, pressure, and durability.


With that strength and pressure, you can cut through up to eight layers of most materials in a single pass. So, you could make your stencils out of leather, craft metal, and even balsa wood.


The 6-inch-wide cutting platform folds up, and the handle collapses for compact storage and easy portability. And you are not limited to Spellbinders' Contour Steel Rule Dies; most brand name dies will work equally well in the Platinum 6.

Plus, Spellbinders back this product with a one-year warranty.

Pros

  • The solid metal construction
  • Easy cranking
  • It's heavy and solid
  • Easy to understand instructions

Cons

  • The plates scratch and warp after a few uses
  • It's difficult getting the right plates together
  • Not good at embossing

4

We R Memory Keepers Evolution

We R Memory Keepers EVOLAD Evolution Advanced Die-Cutting and...
  • DIE-CUTTING AND EMBOSSING MADE EASY: The innovative height adjustment gear system eliminates confusing mat...
  • UNIVERSAL CRAFTING TOOL: This dynamic embossing tool works with most leading brand die-cuts and embossing folders.
  • VERSATILE: Perfect for DIY craft projects including card making, organization, home-décor, scrapbooking, parties...

The last manual best stencil cutting machine is We R Memory Keepers' Evolution. This compact, light-weight tool has built-in storage for your dies and easy fold-up design for storage and portability.


With its innovative height adjustment gear system, there is no more confusion as to which combination of mats to use when cutting. Plus, almost any brand die will work in the Evolution, making it a universal crafting tool.


The Evolution has a 6-inch by 13-inch cutting platform and comes with one self-healing mat and bonus nesting dies. And you can automate this machine by attaching the Evolution Advanced Removable Motor. However, you have to purchase it separately.

Pros

  • The adjustable height adjustment dial
  • The motor makes cutting a breeze
  • It's very sturdy

Cons

  • The self-healing mat quickly becomes warped
  • The setting guide chart needs improving

The Best Electronic Stencil Machines

And when you are ready to dig deep into your pocket, any of these electronic machines will produce projects that will be limited only by your imagination and creativity.

These machines are considerably more substantial than the compact manual machines. And not only is their footprint more significant, but they also require considerable room in front of and behind the machine when in operation.

Some of them are wireless and Bluetooth compatible, and some aren't. So you will have to plan accordingly.

The upside of these machines is that you don't have to purchase individual dies or embossing folders; all your creative designs will be digital. However, some will require a fee to use their libraries of fonts and designs.

The cutting ability of these machines varies depending on the thickness of the materials you want to cut. Some will even cut wood and metal sheets. But all of them will cut stencil materials.

All of these machines are Mac, PC, and Android compatible.

1

Brother ScanNCut CM350e

BROTHER CM350E ScanNCut2 with ScanNCut Online Activation Card
  • Stand alone use, create right out of the box, gives you the option not to use your PC or mobile device
  • 4. 85 inch Large, Bright, Touch Screen display; Non glare design
  • 300 DPI built in scanner that will let you Turn your scanned images into unique one of a kind cut designs and...

Our first pick in the electronic best stencil cutting machine category is the Brother ScanNCut EM350e. It is a standalone machine with a built-in scanner, letting you design one-of-a-kind creations with a push of a button.


The CM350e has the flexibility of connecting wirelessly or directly to your Mac or PC, and you can scan images directly to the system. It has a built-in 300 DPI scanner, a large 4.85 inch LCD touchscreen display, and includes over 600 designs.


And it can read SVG data files.


It has an 11.7-inch-wide by 12-inch scanning area and accommodates 12-inch by 12-inch and 12-inch by 24-inch cutting mats.

And it comes with a standard cut blade, standard 12-inch by 12-inch mat, two-color pen set, touch pen, spatula, accessory pouch, plus a ScanNCut Online Activation Card.


And with a cutting force of approximately 1,260 grams, you can cut a variety of flexible materials up to 1.5 millimeters thick.


Brother backs this machine with a warranty of one-year limited on parts and labor and two-year limited on electronic components and printed circuit boards.

Pros

  • Does a great job cutting stencils
  • You can create your designs
  • No need to purchase dies or cartridges
  • No monthly fees

Cons

  • The very steep learning curve
  • Online free software is difficult to learn
  • Objects must have an outline in black for the scanner to see them

2

Cricut Explore Air 2

Cricut Explore Air 2 Mint
  • [CREATE MORE] The Cricut Explore Air 2 is your personal DIY cutting machine. It will flawlessly cut over 100+...
  • [ENDLESS PROJECT POSSIBILITIES] The Cricut Explore Air 2 makes it so easy to create a wide arrange of DIY projects....
  • [INCLUDED WITH MACHINE] Each machine includes a Cricut Premium Fine Point Blade and Housing, a Cricut 12 inch x12...

Our next pick for an electronic best stencil cutting machine is Cricut's Explore Air 2. This machine will flawlessly cut over 100 different types of material, including premium vinyl, iron-on and htv vinyl, faux leather, adhesive foils, and much more.


You can design on your computer, tablet, or smartphone with Design Space, a free, cloud-based, easy-to-use software that lets you edit, customize, and preview projects. Or choose from ready-to-make projects and thousands of Cricut images.


ou can cut images with precision from delicate lace-like patterns to fragile snowflakes and spider webs for holiday designs.


Included with the purchase of this machine is the Cricut Premium Fine Point Blade and housing, the Circuit 12-inch by 12-inch LightGrip adhesive cutting mat, a fine point pen, and a two-week free trial to Cricut Access.


And Circuit backs this machine with a one-year limited warranty.

Pros

  • The tutorials
  • The accurate cuts
  • It's quiet

Cons

  • The monthly subscription fee for Cricut Access
  • Their software is full of glitches and errors
  • Additional purchases are required

3

Cricut Maker

Cricut Maker, Champagne
  • [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...

Our next electronic best stencil cutting machine is Cricut's Maker. This machine, with its expandable suite of tools, grows with you as you learn each new craft.


With its rotary blade and extra-deep cut blade, the Cricut Maker accurately and quickly cuts over 300 materials from the most delicate rice paper to basswood and leather. And the perforation and wavy knives give you new design options.


The Cricut Maker uniquely provides commercial-grade technology that controls the direction of the blade and the cut pressure to match the material. Plus, it offers 10 times more cutting power.


Included with the Cricut Maker purchase is a rotary blade and its drive housing, premium fine point blade and housing, fine point pen, two 12-inch by 12-inch mats, design apps for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android, 50 free ready-to-make projects and materials for your first project.


And Cricut backs this machine with a one-year limited warranty.

Pros

  • Precision cuts
  • Cuts material no other cutting machines can
  • Easy to use and easy to load

Cons

  • Customer service was unresponsive
  • It's expensive
  • Poor design software

4

Silhouette Cameo 3

Silhouette SILHOUETTE-CAMEO-3-4T Wireless Cutting Machine -...
  • Cuts a variety of material including vinyl, paper, cardstock, fabric, and other materials up to 12 inches wide and...
  • Use the powerful Silhouette Studio design software to create your projects. Features Bluetooth technology for...
  • Features a dual-carriage for multi-tool use and a higher 2 mm clearance to cut thicker materials. Is compatible...

Finally, the last electronic best stencil cutting machine is Silhouette's Cameo 3. The Cameo 3 cuts a variety of materials up to 12 inches wide and 10 feet long.


The Cameo 3 is the leading digital cutter for matless cutting. When using paperbacked materials, the Cameo 3 can cut them without using a mat.


With its newly designed body and touchscreen interface, and a dual carriage that holds multiple tools, you'll have faster job processing. And the automated adjustment of your blade during job processing means no more manually adjusting the blade.


With its 2 millimeters cutting ability, and easier to adjust pinch and spring rollers, it assures accurate and smooth cuts.


Included with the purchase of this wireless, Bluetooth compatible machine have a 12-inch by 12-inch cutting mat, Silhouette's new Autoblade, a blade adjustment
tool, a vinyl cross cutter, Silhouette Studio software, and 100 digital designs.


Plus, Silhouette backs this product with a one-year limited warranty.

Pros

  • Easy to learn, although many complained about the steep learning curve
  • Don't have to be online to use this machine
  • Bluetooth was easy to set up

Cons

  • It's noisy
  • Customer service is awful
  • Software is buggy

Let's Cut Something

Well, did you find the best stencil cutting machine for your craft area? If you're only ready to put your toe in the crafty water pool, start with one of the manual cutters. Then pick up some stencil paper and pick one set of alphabet dies, and for less than the cost of a six-month supply of antacids, you'll be monogramming everything in sight.

Then after you've monogrammed a few items, stirred up your creativity, and realized there's more you could do, it will be time to jump into the deep end. Pick the electronic machine that will help all those creative ideas flow.

Your left brain will be happy for the exercise your right brain is getting, and your stress level will reduce dramatically. Happy creating!

Let us know in the comments below which die-cutting machine you have and how it helped you with your most creative project.

Featured Image via flickr

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