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Die cut machines are a crafter’s best friend. With this one tool, you can cut, score, and write designs ranging from simple shapes to signature fonts on materials like vinyl, cardstock, chipboard, leather, wood, and more. If you’re looking to create custom cards, t-shirts, signage, mugs, and more, then a die cut machine is the quickest and easiest way to get professional-looking results.
Manual die cut machines require a combination of plates and dies, cranked through a machine by hand. These models are economical but require that you keep an inventory of dies on hand to produce the various designs you’re looking for.
Gaining in popularity are digital die cut machines. This type of die cutting machine connects to the internet to download your personal designs or you can select from a large inventory of available designs offered by the software. Many people prefer digital die cut machines because they don’t have to buy and store individual dies. These machines also offer many different functions and the top-tier models are equipped with various tools for materials of all sorts.
Here, the best die cut machines on the market today.
Best Overall: Cricut Maker Machine
The Cricut Maker is a top-tier die cut machine that is much-loved by hobbyists and artisans like. With an expansive line of cutting tools, accessories, and an impressive 4kg of downward force, this die cut machine can cut more than 300 different materials. Genuine leather, felted wool, balsa wood, and other dense materials are easily handled by the efficient, fast cutting ability of the Cricut Maker.
Included with this model are a fine point blade, rotary blade, and fine point pen so you can cut, write, and score various materials. A unique feature of this die cut machine is the ability to download digital sewing patterns that will cut and mark fabric—just sew the design and you’re done!
The best thing about this die cut machine is the adaptive tool system. It’s compatible with the dozen Cricut tools currently on the market, including useful options like a rotary tool for fabrics, perforation blade, or an engraving tip. This top-of-the-line Cricut model is a splurge but its ability to adapt to the latest in Cricut tools and technology adds to its value.
Best for Beginners: Cricut Explore Air 2 Machine
While some advanced die cutting machines may be daunting to new crafters, the Cricut Explore Air 2 is a great option for beginners. This machine combines the user-friendly Cricut software with advanced cutting abilities to help you create endless projects. It cuts, writes, and scores. The included fine point blade is able to cut more than 100 different materials, including premium vinyl, HTV vinyl, faux leather, cardstock, and more.
In addition, the Explore Air 2 comes with a Cricut 12-inch LightGrip cutting mat, black fine point pen, and access to the company’s Design Space software. This machine is also compatible with a deep cut tool and scoring tool and has a double tool holder. Bluetooth and USB connectivity options make it easy to download digital drawings and pictures for your projects.
While this die cut machine for beginners has a cult-like following among crafters, you should note that all design work takes place while the machine is connected to Wi-Fi.
Best Manual: Sizzix Big Shot Cutting/Embossing Machine
Manual die cutting machines offer simple and straightforward cutting capabilities, without the need to use computer software or a power source. Simply load the die and use the hand crank to complete the cut. The Sizzix Big Shot is a manual die cut machine that offers reliable results and ease of use. It’s a popular choice for scrapbookers and others that want to use a manual machine that doesn’t require computer software or need to be plugged in.
This model can cut materials as delicate as tissue paper or as tough as balsa wood. It includes a set of Sizzix’s Thinlit dies and Bigz dies, but is also compatible with the brand’s Framelit dies. More dies are readily available, along with extended platforms and other accessories. The wide assortment of dies and accessories for the Sizzix Big Shot are often cited as reasons for picking this model over the larger (and heavier) Sizzix Big Shot Plus.
Best Portable: Cricut Joy
For crafting on-the-go or a small die cut machine that stows away in a craft room cubby or drawer, consider the Cricut Joy. This portable die cutter is a mini-maker that measures less than 9 inches long and cuts material up to 5.5 inches in width. It connects wirelessly to computers and smart phones using Bluetooth—and its easy enough for anyone to easily get the hang of using it.
A unique feature of this portable die cutter is the fact that it doesn’t require cutting mats, as long as you’re using Cricut’s exclusive Smart Materials like vinyl, HTV iron-on, and label vinyl. However, Cricut's standard grip mat is also included.
Many people like using the Cricut Joy for quick projects and for making decorative cards. While it doesn’t have the same features and cutting capabilities of larger models, it’s a great basic die cut machine or a good addition for crafters that want a portable option for small-scale projects.
"Overall, the Cricut Joy is fun to use, and it works if you want a simple, family-friendly crafting device." — Stacey L. Nash, Product Tester
Best for Large Projects: Silhouette Cameo 4 Die Cut Machine
If you’re looking for a die cut machine to tackle large products or fast production, the Silhouette Cameo 4 is up for the challenge. It features a built-in roll feeder so you can load an entire roll of vinyl or heat transfer material and crank out projects faster without having to stop and refill. In addition, the Cameo 4 can cut projects 12 inches wide and up to 10 feet in length—similar models of die cut machines tap out at just 2 feet in length.
The Silhouette Cameo 4 features an adaptive tool system that allows you to use tools from previous generations of Silhouette machines. Available tools include an AutoBlade that automatically detects material depth, a standard blade, premium blade, deep-cut blade, 2mm Kraft Blade, and Silhouette sketch pens.
You can load multiple tools into the machine, but the carriage can only use one tool at a time. This means the machine can draw and then cut, for example—but it can’t do both simultaneously. Even still, this machine offers faster production speeds over previous models of Silhouettes.
Best for Fabric: AccuQuilt GO! Fabric Cutter
While several popular models of die cut machines are capable of cutting fabric, the extra thickness of the material can pose a challenge for some machines. However, the AccuQuilt GO! Fabric Cutter is specifically designed to cut fabric quickly and efficiently. Included with the machine are two square dies and one half-square triangle die, along with a cutting mat. More dies are also available for purchase, though they can be a bit pricey
This die cutting machine for fabric is a go-to option for seasoned and beginning quilters alike and has a lot of popularity in quilting circles. The dies cut very accurately and are capable of effectively cutting up to 6 layers at once, which saves a lot of time and quilters say that it results in less worry over uneven pieces or incorrect cuts. The machine also folds up for more compact storage, and it is technically portable—though it is a bit heavy to transport.
Best for Embossing: We R Memory Keepers Evolution Advanced Die Cutting Tool
If you’re shopping around for a die cut machine for embossing, the Evolution Advanced from We R Memory Keepers is a compact and easy-to-use model. This model has a fold-up platform with storage underneath for dies and the detachable handle, and you can purchase a separate motor to power the machine if you’re looking for an electric die cut machine versus a manual version.
When it comes to embossing, the Evolution Advanced streamlines the process compared to other die cut machines. Instead of using multiple plates to create the correct ‘sandwich’ for embossing, the Evolution Advanced uses a multi-purpose base plate and an adjustable roller system to create the right pressure for embossing.
Best Budget: Bira Craft Die Cutting & Embossing Machine Combo
The Bira Mini Die Cutting Machine is an affordable option for basic cutting and embossing. This manual die cutter can accept materials up to 3 inches in width and is great for making cards and other small-scale projects. You may find that the base plates need more frequent replacement, but overall this light-duty die cut machine is frea great bargain.
Compared to many die cut machines, this pick is compact and easy to store, making it a good pick for occasional use. It’s a good basic option for scrapbooking, card making, and other paper projects.
What to Look for in a Die Cut Machine
What types of material you want to work with should help you determine the type of machine that's best for you. If you just want to do simple work with paper and vinyl, then a basic machine is probably fine. On the other hand, if you want to be able to use a variety of different materials—like cork, foam, and wood—you’ll probably need a more sophisticated model.
It’s easy to get wowed by all the awesome features and functions of some die cut machines, but they also can push up the price tag quite a bit. If you just need some basic functionality and won't use your machine very often, you probably don’t need to pay top dollar. However, if you'll use yours on a regular basis for a variety of tasks, you may want to invest in one that meets your needs and can potentially grow with you, as well.
Certain die-cut machines come with a variety of bells and whistles. For example, some also function as scanners, which gives you more creative control if you want to make your own unique designs. Others will also emboss items. Consider both your needs and your budget and decide accordingly.