The 9 Best Manual and Electric Die Cut Machines

Spoiler: the Cricut Maker Machine is our top pick

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Used to cut various materials—like vinyl, cardstock, chipboard, leather, wood, and more—into specific shapes, die cutting machines allows you to create custom cards, T-shirts, signage, and more.

“They streamline the crafting process and also allows you to cut consistent, uniform shapes faster—especially if you need them in bulk," Su-Queen Teo, a printing manager and owner of The Paper Crown, tells The Spruce.

We researched top die cut machines in the market and evaluated each for versatility, price, and capabilities before naming our top pick, the Cricut Maker Machine. We love its unlimited design options and intuitive directions.

From the beginner machines to more advanced options, here are the best die cut machines to buy today.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Cricut Maker Machine

4.7
Cricut Maker Machine

Cricut

What We Like
  • Easy-to-use smartphone app

  • Fast mode for quicker cutting

  • Compatable with more than 300 materials 

  • Good for beginners

What We Don't Like
  • Custom design software is cloud-based

  • Bluetooth must be reconnected when you turn the machine back on

Used by hobbyists and artisans alike, the Cricut Maker is one of the top-rated die cutting machines on the market. With an extensive line of cutting tools, accessories, and an impressive 4kg of downward force, the Cricut Maker can cut more than 300 different materials—paper, leather, wood, and more—with relative ease. 

This model comes with two cutting mats to hold your material firmly in place, as well as materials to get you started on your first project. Our tester noted that the setup process could not have been easier and the machine works quickly with minimal guidance.

But the standout feature of the CricutMaker is its DesignSpace app, which features hundreds of project options—some are free, and others cost around 99 cents— that you can download, cut, and create. For the more custom creators, you can work on designs on your phone or laptop and transfer them directly to the machine thanks to the CricutMaker’s Bluetooth connectivity.  

Though this is a little pricier than similarly capable models, users say “it is 100 percent worth every single penny." Our tester found that the combination of the sleek look, multiple designs, and longevity make it worth the high price.

Dimensions: 7.1 x 6.25-inches | Material Compatibility: Fabric, felt, leather, and more | Max. Material Size: 12 inches wide | Connectivity: Electric

Cricut Maker Machine

The Spruce Crafts / Erika Owen

What Testers Say

"This device is great for all beginning crafters and would make a fantastic gift for someone who loves crafting. This neat gadget for adults is easy and fun to use with great results."—Erica Puisis, Product Tester

Best Manual : Sizzix Big Shot Plus Starter Kit

Sizzix Big Shot Plus Starter Kit

Sizzix

What We Like
  • No power source required

  • Creates clean lines

  • Good for beginners

What We Don't Like
  • Heavy

Teo has tried a number of manual machines, but says the Sizzix Big Shot Plus is the best for making clean lines and impressions. A step up from the original Sizzix Big Shot, the bigger platform allows you to cut materials up to 9 inches wide. Additionally, the newest model allows you to die cut and emboss even more material, such as paper, foam, cork, and wood. 

Despite the versatility of material, Teo says the machine works best on paper, making it perfect for cardmaking and scrapbooking. Each machine comes with cutting pads, multiple die sets, and several pieces of cardstock to kickstart your project. Additionally, purchasing the Sizzix Big Shot Plus gives you access to the entire Sizzix library of dies for endless crafting possibilities.

Dimensions: 15.75 x 7.5 x 11.75 inches | Material Compatibility: Paper and wood | Max. Material Size: 9 inches wide, 6 inches thick | Connectivity: Manual

Best Electric : Silhouette Cameo 4 Die Cut Machine

Silhouette Cameo 4 Die Cut Machine

Amazon

What We Like
  • Fast results

  • Long cutting lengths

What We Don't Like
  • Machine can only use one tool at a time

If you’re tackling larger projects, then it’s worth investing in the Silhouette Cameo 4. The machine can cut projects 12 inches wide and up to 10 feet in length—similar models tap out at just 2 feet in length. The Cameo 4 also features a built-in roll feeder so you can load an entire roll of vinyl or heat transfer material and crank out projects without having to stop and refill. Not to mention the built-in crosscutter lets you trim vinyl or heat transfer right from the roll.

The machine’s 5kg force allows it to cut through just about anything, though most users utilize it for cardstock and fabric. Each Cameo 4 comes with an AutoBlade that automatically detects material depth, a rotary blade, kraft blade, and punch tool.

And good news—you can load multiple tools into the machine at once. That said, the carriage can only use one tool at a time. For example, the machine can draw and then cut, but it can’t do both simultaneously. Even still, this machine offers faster production speeds over previous models of Silhouettes.

Dimensions: 22.44 x 7.87 x 6.69 inches | Material Compatibility: Cardstock and fabric | Max. Material Size: 12 inches wide, 6 inches thick | Connectivity: Electric

Best for Beginners : Cricut Explore Air 2 Machine

4.2
Cricut Explore Air 2

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Easy to use

  • Pre-programmed projects

  • Fast Mode for quicker turnaround

  • Bluetooth and USB connectivity

What We Don't Like
  • Must be connected to Wi-Fi for design work

If you’re a novice crafter who is intimidated by die cutting, the Cricut Explore Air 2 has a straightforward setup and simple software that make it easy for you to get started on your project. Thanks to the fine point blade, these can be done on more than 100 different materials, including premium vinyl, HTV vinyl, faux leather, cardstock, and more. 

The CricutExplore Air 2 comes with other accessories, including the Cricut 12-inch LightGrip cutting mat and a black fine point pen. It’s also compatible with a deep cut tool and scoring tool and has a double tool holder. You also have access to the Cricut Design Space app, which includes hundreds of pre-programmed projects. Of course, you are welcome to create something original, just keep in mind that all design work takes place while the machine is connected to Wi-Fi.

But the real draw of this Cricutis the much-touted “Fast Mode” feature. All you have to do is move the dial to the proper material and check the “Fast Mode” box from your device for a quicker turnaround. 

Dimensions: 8.43 x 5.43 x 4.25-inches | Material Compatibility: Vinyl | Max. Material Size: 5.5-inches. | Connectivity: Wireless

What Our Testers Say

"The Cricut worked quicker than other machines we’ve used and the whole process felt smoother."—Linnea Covington, Product Tester

Best for Fabric : Bira Craft Die Cutting & Embossing Machine Combo

Bira Craft Die Cutting & Embossing Machine Combo

Amazon

What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Compact and easy to store

  • Comfortable handle grip

What We Don't Like
  • Base plates might need frequent replacement

The Bira Adjustable Die Cutting & Embossing Machine is a must-have for crafters who are more focussed on quilting and sewing than making scrapbooking and cards (though it can do the latter two just as well). Though heavier than other machines, the weight keeps it stable while you crank out your intricate designs. 

Users' favorite features, however, are the easy-to-use adjustment gears. With the simple turn of a knob, you are able to change the height, blade depth, and cutting force to meet your project’s needs. Though the manual element may deter you, users say it allows for clear cuts and better control over the final project. And it helps that the crank handle has a soft grip to provide comfort for hours of crafting. 

Dimensions: 18 x 14 x 9 inches | Material Compatibility: Paper and fabric | Max. Material Size: 9 inches wide | Connectivity: Manual

Best for Vinyl Stickers : Silhouette Portrait 3

Silhouette Portrait 3

Silhouette

What We Like
  • Matless cutting options

  • Auto tool detection

What We Don't Like
  • Software can be difficult to use at first

You wouldn’t expect such a small machine to do so much, but the Silhouette Portrait 3 makes it easy to take on larger projects. Where most machines can only handle material that’s 2 feet long, the Silhouette can handle up to 60 feet of most materials—vinyl, paper, cardstock, and fabric, to name a few.  

In addition to cutting on a cutting mat, the Silhouette Portrait 3 can perform two different matless cuts that are ideal for vinyl or sticker making. The first, a kiss cut, allows the machine to cut through the top layer only. The second, pop-out cut, uses a special perforated cut mode to allow you to pop out the design once it’s printed. 

Another amazing feature: the Auto Tool Detection, which allows the software to detect what tools are inserted into your machine, and lets you know if you need to swap them out for others. Though the software includes this and other amazing features, such as cut adjustments, users warn that it can be a little difficult to learn at first. 

Dimensions: 16.2 in. x 5.5 in. x 4.4 in | Material Compatibility: Vinyl, paper, cardstock, fabric | Max. Material Size: 9 inches wide | Connectivity: Electric

Best for Quilting : AccuQuilt GO! Fabric Cutter

AccuQuilt GO! Fabric Cutter

Amazon

What We Like
  • Designed to handle thick fabrics

  • Can cut up to 6 layers at once

What We Don't Like
  • Purchasing additional dies can be expensive

Although many die cutters can handle fabric, very few can handle the thick material needed for quilting. Not only can AccuQuilt GO! Fabric Cutter tackle the thickest of fabrics, but it is designed to cut up to six layers of thinner fabric at once. And the speed doesn’t sacrifice the quality—customers confirm the dies cut very accurately, which saves quilters a lot of time and removes the worry over uneven pieces or incorrect cuts.

Perfect for seasoned and beginning quilters alike, the machine comes with 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. 

For quilters who like to take their craft with them, the AccuQuilt GO!’s  patented portable design makes it easy to bring the machine to classes, retreats, and even on vacation. Just keep in mind that it weighs about 19 pounds. 

Dimensions: 17.75 x 7.75 x 17 inches | Material Compatibility: Fabric | Max. Material Size: Not Listed | Connectivity: Electric

Best Portable : Cricut Joy

4.5
Cricut Joy

Cricut

What We Like
  • Easy to store and carry

  • Can tackle quick, small projects

What We Don't Like
  • Limited tools and supplies provided

The Cricut Joy is a great option for both new crafters and experienced DIYers who like to travel with their tools. Measuring less than 9 inches long, the machine takes up little space but still has the cutting, writing, and label making capabilities of larger models. A downside is that the smaller size can only cut designs with a width of up to 4.25 inches, but that’s perfect for things like cards and labels. 

Like most Cricut machines, the Joy connects to smartphones and computers via Bluetooth, making it easy to upload and create your own designs. Note that the tools are limited with the Joy—each machine comes with a premium fine point blade and housing, fine point pen, and a standard grip mat—nothing more. When testing the Cricut Joy, our tester spent roughly $100 on additional tools. Fortunately, you can purchase the starter bundle, cutting tools, markers, Smart materials, and mats separately for a relatively reasonable price.

Although it lacks some of the features seen in the larger models, the CricutJoy is a great basic die cut machine or a good addition for crafters that want a portable option for small-scale projects.

Dimensions: 8.43 x 5.43 x 4.25 inches | Material Compatibility: Vinyl and cardstock | Max. Material Size: 5.5 inches | Connectivity: Wireless

What Testers Say

"For me, it’s a great choice—size matters. I didn't want it taking up space for a device I’ll only use once every few weeks."—Stacey L. Nash, Product Tester

Best Budget : Bira Mini Die Cut Machine

Bira Mini Die Cut Machine

Bira

What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Easy to store

What We Don't Like
  • Base plates might need frequent replacement

The Bira Mini is a great option for those who are just starting their die cutting and embossing journey. This manual die cutter can accept materials up to 3 inches in width, making it perfect for creating cards and tackling other small-scale projects. Each machine comes with multiple cutting and embossing plates, seven cutting dies, and a rubber pad to keep things in place. 

Depending on how often you use your Bira Mini, the base plates may need to be replaced more often than those of other machines. This could get pricey after a while, so something to keep in mind if you’re trying to keep costs down. 

Because of its compact size, you will be limited in the type—and size—of projects. But for those who are looking to hone their cardmaking and scrapbook skills, it’s a great purchase.  

Dimensions: 8 x 3.8 x 5 inches | Material Compatibility: Thinner fabric and paper | Max. Material Size: 3 inches | Connectivity: Manual

Final Verdict

We love Cricut Maker Machine for a variety of reasons, including its ease of use, efficiency, and multiple material compatibility. Perfect for casual crafters and advanced artisans, it’s worth every penny. If, however, you’re looking to save some money, the Bira Craft Die Cutting Machine costs $50 and is perfect for small-scale, simple projects like homemade cards or scrapbooking.

What to Look for in a Die Cut Machine

Versatility

According to Teo, you should first decide what kind of crafts you want to create with your machine. If you’ll be limiting your work to card making and scrapbooking, then a basic machine that can handle paper and vinyl is probably fine. If you are focussing on fashion-related projects, you want a machine that can handle a variety of fabrics. 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.

Output

For casual crafters, most machines can handle your workload, as they tend to tap out at 2 feet in length. But if you’re more of a hobbyist than an artisan, you want to find a die cutter that can do a lot of work in a short(er) amount of time. Consider machines that can cut up to multiple layers at once or handle lengthier materials.

Price

There are a lot of die cut machines on the market, and each one comes with its own unique functions. And although these can elevate the crafting experience, they can also push up the price tag quite a bit. So, again, it’s important to think about how you will use your machine. 

“A hand-crank die cut machine may be more economical and best for basic functions, but an electronic cutting machine could be useful for other, larger projects,” Anna Rose Johnson, senior project manager at Cricut, tells The Spruce. “Consider whether you would want to buy dies each time you would like to cut a new shape [which is the case with hand-crank machines] or if the versatility of an electronic cutting machine may better suit your needs.”  

Features

Every die cut machine comes with unique features. For example, some can emboss as well as die cut. Others can draw and write. Consider both your needs and your budget and decide accordingly.

FAQ
  • What die cut machines are best for fabric?

    When it comes to fabric-friendly machines, Johnson says you have to consider whether you’ll be using it to cut a bulk pattern. If not, she says a die-free electronic machine is a “go-to cut for cutting accurately with fabric.” She adds that you want to look for a machine with a rotary tool, as it can cut unbacked fabrics directly on the mat, so you don’t need to stiffen the fabric before cutting. The Cricut Maker makes a good option for this category.

  • What die cutting machines work best for scrapbooking?

    As long as you are using traditional scrapbooking material, such as glitter paper, cardstock, or vinyl, almost any die cutting machine will do the trick. Johnson notes that if you already own several dies or consistently cut the same shapes, then a hand-cranked die cut machine may work well for your needs. Additionally, since you don’t need to cut large items, you may even want to consider a more compact machine to save space and money. 

  • Is an electronic die cut machine better than a hand-cranked one?

    Ultimately, it all comes down to personal preference. “The versatility and ease of electronic cutting machines provide so many more possibilities for crafters,” Johnsons says. They also require less handuse, which Teo says may be critical if you have arthritis in your hand or arm, or any joint discomfort.


    But don’t turn your nose at hand-cranked machines. They tend to be easier to use and more portable. In Teo’s experience, they may last longer than the electric versions. “I’ve had three electronic die cutting machines and they didn’t last beyond a year.”

Why Trust The Spruce Crafts?

This article was written by Leah Rocketto, a lifestyle writer and editor for a decade. To select the best picks for your consideration, she sorted through dozens of customer and third-party website reviews, and consulted Su-Queen Teo and Anna Rose Johnson. A printing manager and sales consultant, Teo is the owner of The Paper Crown, a handmade card boutique, and utilizes die cutting machines regularly. Johnson, the senior project manager at Cricut, is an avid crafter outside of the working hours. 

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