Easy to use
Can’t make your own designs
Slow to use
Plastic plates often need to be replaced
Expensive for a manual machine
We purchased the Sizzix Big Shot Machine so our reviewer could test and assess it. Keep reading for our full product review.
The Sizzix Big Shot Machine is a manual die cut and embossing device that’s designed to help with a wide array of crafting projects. The easy-to-move machine is powered by you, so you don’t have to worry about finding an outlet or connecting to Wi-Fi in order to get your craft on. While it may not offer the advanced features (or price tag) of digital machines, the Sizzix is known for being a dependable workhorse that allows you to create masterpieces for scrapbooking, card making, and even quilting! We wanted to test its capabilities, so we loaded up the two plexiglass rectangles with dies, embossing plates, ink, paper, silicone, vinyl, and more and got cranking. Read on for our results.
Setup Process and Instructions: Easy-to-follow diagrams
We found the whole setup process to be easy, especially since the machine came fully assembled. You’ll want to unfold the long booklet of instructions (but good luck getting it back together) to delve fully into how the Sizzix Big Shot Machine operates. You can also follow along with the helpful picture instructions that are printed on the multipurpose platform that’s included with the machine. The illustrations show you how to place the plates, die, and paper (or whatever material you’re working with), and the rest is fairly intuitive.
There are even videos online if you want more help. Once you have your material picked out and properly set up between the pressing plates, you simply crank the handle and it’s done. Yes, it’s that easy!
Design: A Sturdy and simple machine
As more and more machines take a digital turn, it’s refreshing to have a device that uses old-fashioned manpower. The Sizzix Big Shot Machine looks like a modern printing press, and it’s essentially just that—only instead of newspapers, you’re creating cutouts for birthday cards, pressed folders to decorate your office, and whimsical vinyl stickers for your kid’s new bike. A highlight of the machine is its versatility. You can use it with cardboard, cork, foil, felt, and more. The options prove endless, just as long as you have the right die for the job and don’t want something wider than 6 inches.
With chunky grayish sides, a durable handle, thick crank, and lined base, the Sizzix Big Shot Machine looks like a high-quality crafting tool. Measuring approximately 14 x 12 x 7 inches and weighing 7.5 pounds, it’s a compact, lightweight machine that can easily fit on whatever space you’ve designated for arts and crafts. If you’re crafting with a friend, you can also pack it up and take it to their house.
The best part about this machine is its simplicity. The hand crank does all the work of pressing the plates to whatever material you’re using. What you really need is a strong surface both to give the die-cut device stability and to make sure it can handle the pressure of pushing down. We found the kitchen table worked nicely as well as the floor.
In terms of materials, the Big Shot features solid core steel rollers, solid steel gears, and an ABS plastic exterior. It comes with two plexiglass cutting pads and an extended multipurpose platform, which is all you need to make the “sandwich” that you’ll feed through the machine to get your die cut or embossed final product. Because of the quality materials and the fact that the crank is fairly easy to turn, this machine can be used by the whole family. We felt that the design seemed particularly safe—although parental supervision is still recommended if children will be using it.
Performance: Ignore the sound and enjoy the outcome
The first few times we used the Big Shot, we were startled by cracking sounds as the plates passed through the press. At first, we thought the plexiglass had broken, but turns out, everything was fine. The only explanation we could think of was the releasing of the plates, and the volume was loudest when the plates were new and not so marred. It happened just about every time, though.
Aside from the jarring noise, the machine works great, and the bunny and moon cardstock cutout we made looked even better than expected. The edges had a nice roundness that gave the image a professional quality you just can’t get with scissors. We also tested out embossing, which gave the aforementioned bunny gently raised inner ears.
Despite the bang at the end, the Sizzix runs smoothly. You just press your chosen material with the die or embossing plate, place it on the included multipurpose platform under the appropriate layer of plastic (refer to diagram), and lightly push it through while working the crank. It’s complete when the plates fully come out on the other side. Then punch out the design and do it again. While this process can’t compete with the speed of a digital die cut machine, we didn’t find it to be too taxing.
Accessories: Expect to spend
One of the downfalls of this device is that you need to separately purchase dies, replacement plates, and embossing disks. Without these items, you can’t use the machine. It does come with one set of plexiglass cutting plates, but with each press, the surface gets cut into and over time, it affects the way the materials glide through the machine. After using both sides of one plate, it will have to be replaced, but this shouldn’t happen for a while.
Aside from paper or whichever material you want to use, the other tools you’ll need are the embossing and die plates. Sizzix offers several styles, but we tested out the Thinlits, Triplits, and Framelits.
Triplits help with layering objects such as balloons or flowers, giving the items a three-dimensional effect. Thinlits press into the paper and cut out whatever shape you’re working with. These proved great for decorating a window with perfectly cut snowflakes. The Framelits are used for shaped frames or can be layered to create decorations for packages and table settings. Another highlight of this machine is that it’s compatible with other brands’ die cuts and embossing tools. Be sure to check on specifics before purchasing, but this adds to the device’s overall versatility and value.
While purchasing each accessory separately can be daunting (or fun, depending on how you look at it), you won’t have to buy extra blades—a nice perk. The Sizzex works like a press to cut the paper and doesn’t have anything in it to slice and dice as the digital versions do. So, as long as the handle works and you have your platform, plates, paper, and dies, you’re set for the long run.
Cleaning: Quick and easy
Getting paper scraps and residue off this machine is a breeze, and we like that. You can spot clean the actual device and there aren’t many crevices for debris to escape into. As for the plates, they have tiny holes on the back so you can use a pin or mechanical pencil to poke out clingy cardstock. There’s no sticky pad or scraping that needs to happen, making cleaning this manual machine as easy as working it.
Price: Expensive for a manual machine
The MSRP of the Sizzix Big Shot is $120, but you can typically find it for under $100. If you find it on sale, it’s worth picking up, but otherwise, the retail list price feels a bit steep for what you’re getting. That’s partly because you’ll have to shell out more for accessories and replacement plates, and when you factor that in, it quickly becomes an expensive endeavor.
One of the downfalls of this device is that you need to separately purchase dies, replacement plates, and embossing disks.
The machine does work well though and it feels like something that will last for a while since there’s not much to break. Because there’s no digital or motor aspect, you can rely on the Sizzix to stick around, which makes it a good investment in the long run. It comes with a one-year limited warranty, but you can register your machine on the Sizzix website for an additional two years of coverage.
Competition: Digital versus manual
Cricut Explore Air 2: The Sizzix Big Shot’s biggest competitors are all electronic. Digital die cut machines are certainly an upgrade, but for some, they may be overkill—both in price and function. Cricut products have paved the way in the digital die cut world for years, and the latest Explore Air 2, which we also tested, is no different. With programmable projects, a digital DIY workspace, and sleek form, it’s a state-of-the-art machine perfect for crafters who want a professional edge. The device also runs on Bluetooth through a smartphone, tablet, or computer. All that tech will cost you more than double that of the Sizzix, though.
Spellbinders Platinum 6 Die Cutting & Embossing Machine: If you’re looking for an option more like the Sizzix, check out the Platinum 6 Die Cutting & Embossing Machine from Spellbinders. It’s a manual device that can cut through 40 materials and up to six layers. Unlike the featured product, this one has sides that fold up for easier portability, however it is heavier than the Sizzix. The list prices are about the same, although you can often find the Spellbinders model for slightly cheaper. The Spellbinders model also comes with a one-year warranty, whereas with the Sizzix, you have the option to register it and extend the warranty to three years.
If manual machines are your jam, this one will last.
Digital die cut devices can do way more than manual machines in terms of design and creativity, but they also come with a steep learning curve if you’re unfamiliar with their software. If you want something simple, portable, and effective, the Sizzix is for you.
- Product Name Big Shot Machine
- Product Brand Sizzix
- MPN 660425
- Price $119.99
- Weight 7.5 lbs.
- Product Dimensions 14.25 x 12.38 x 6.63 in.
- Warranty 1 year, limited