Are you a DIY fan?
And do you love embossing?
If it is so then there are three amazing machines in this survey, all for your attention.
They can be used for embossing any and all types of images and designs on a considerably big range of materials such as tissue paper, paper, card, foil and thin leather etc.
In this buyer’s guide and review, not only you will find out not only the reviews of best three embossing machines, but the buyer’s guide that will let you know what to look for while purchasing an embossing machine.
Here you go.
Before we take you to the reviews of all three machines, here is the buyer’s guide for you.
These are the most important characteristics to look for before you buy an embossing and die cutting machine.
Some of the criteria is based on general principles and some of it touch the technical specs.
Here you go:
Embossing & Die Cutting
You better know what are your paper or embossing art needs. If you’re someone who mostly or only needs embossing, you must go for an embossing specific machine or one that offers better embossing experience as compared to die cutting.
There are two classes of accessories. There are certain items that are considered highly required e.g. plates, rubber mat for embossing, folders and dies and then there comes the second category.
The extra accessories that you can buy and unfold deeper and better experience of embossing or die cutting.
Ease of Use
You are going to see that one of the reviewed machines is not easy to use with embossing, while it makes die cutting a super easy and fun thing to do.
You must look for a machine that makes your favorite craft easiest for you – be it die cutting or embossing.
Consider the Functioning
How does the target machine functions? Is it too heavy and yet not enough sturdy? Is it lightweight, but it offers you a bigger space for action? Does your machine offer you a bigger plate where you can increase the emboss area? Is your machine’s crank handle sturdy enough? Does your machine include a hook that can be upped or downed to lock or release the tray and thus to give you better control on plates and dies and folders etc.?
Cricut Cuttlebug Die Cutting & Embossing Machine
Looks more like a stylish and modern toaster or a women handbag from 2030, but this is a compact die cutting and embossing solution that you badly need for you DIY or small business purposes.
Here is our take on pros and cons.
- Collapsible Handle & Compact Fold-n-Store Machine
- One 6×8 a plate & two 6×8 b plates
- One 6×8 rubber embossing mat
- Works with All Emboss-able Materials.
- Works Better only with Thin Objects
- Difficult to Cut Through Thick Objects.
Let us start with the cons, explain them, understand the gravity of the problem and then move to the pros.
Works Better only with Thin Objects
The problem with embossing or what embossing demands is make the same and complete graphics on the paper or any other type of layer.
The problem with this machine, and it is important to note that it was reported by only one or two customers, is that it does not put enough pressure on the A or B plates or whatever, but somehow the image that transcends from machine to paper is not complete.
They say that it mostly works with thin objects like ribbon or a piece of paper.
Difficult to Cut Through Thick Objects
We’re making a picture here.
The problem that we can identify is lack of pressure.
Before we go ahead, let us explain the purpose of an embossing and die cutting machine. It cuts a piece of paper or any object as per the design of a die and then you can emboss whatever you want.
However, both processes take pressure, and since this machine is 100% manual, maybe there is a lack of balance in how the machine applies the pressure.
As a result, we see unfulfilled embossing and incomplete die cutting. Just like the case with embossing, die cutting can also work on thin objects.
Keep in mind that out of 220+ customers who bought this product on Amazon, only a few complained of this.
Now, here is all the detail about the pros.
Collapsible Handle and Compact Fold-n-Store Machine
The design of this machine can be very well matched with 90s radio sets.
It is a compact machine that can be folded and stored in a small place and when you want to apply the die cutting or embossing procedure, just open the front part, and through that tray you feed your dies or materials.
The crank handle is a collapsible one – just like many handles on manual machines. As long as you do not need to use this machine, you can easily tuck this away.
One 6×8 a plate & two 6×8 b plates
What are these a plate and b plates after all?
Here is how this whole embossing or die cutting thing works:
- You have a thick a plate that must be at the bottom
- You have a b plate that should be placed on a plate and then place paper or any object that you like in an embossing folder.
- And then you place the second b plate on top of that.
Then you move the lever on the side and keep moving it like a mincer’s handle until you see that your plates come out from the other side.
When it comes to die cutting, you replace the first b plate with a c plate and repeat the same process.
Basically, these plates and embrace folder and other things that you get with this machine are just to help you complete the process.
One 6×8 Rubber Embossing Mat
Since this machine is not only an embossing machine, but it works equally good for DIY die cutting as well, there is rubber mat that you can use for embossing with a die.
Mainly its purpose is to support the die and emboss the image on the material – whatever it is.
You follow the same process as above.
Have a thick a plate, then replace the c plate with again the b plate, enter the paper and die in the embossing folder and on top of that folder place the other b plate and you will have die embossing.
Works with All Emboss-able Materials
Every (considerably) thick and thin material can be used for embossing or die cutting if you have this small and compact embossing and die cutting setup.
The materials that you can use with this machine are not limited to, but include:
- Tissue paper
- Thin Rubber
- Thin Leather
Sizzix 660425 Big Shot Die Cutting & Embossing Machine
Crictut machine was fine, but if you’re really serious with die cutting or embossing business (I mean real small scale business and daily use), you must try Sizzix.
This machine, even by the looks of it, looks like it means business. And you will see it in the pros and cons.
So why wait? Here they are!
- Works with Materials up to 6” Thick
- Die Cut and Embossing Solution Comes with Complete Kit
- Compatible with Entire Sizzix Product Library
- Sturdier than Many Others.
- Problem with Crank Handle
- Advanced Accessories are not Included.
We have got all the pros and cons. Let us dissect the cons first.
Problem with Crank Handle
No, the issue is actually not with the crank handle; like rest of the jig the crank is also medium quality plastic, but the problem is with its screw.
The China made screw is so small that while moving the handle to emboss or die-cut something, handle comes out.
This cannot be easily fixed unless you try some home-made hacks.
Advanced Accessories are not Included
They say that this Sizzix machine is compatible with their whole different line of accessories that they call product library.
Those items are not included and you have to buy them separately.
Those items include:
- Framelits Dies
- Textured Fades, and
- Impresslits Embossing Folders
We know that these are extra or advanced accessories, but considering how basic are the stock accessories, we must say that this is a drawback.
Here’s the detail about the pros of this product.
Works with Materials up to 6” Thick
Unlike Cricut embossing machine, this one die cuts and embosses the materials as much as 6” thick.
Considering how the price of both is almost the same, it should be considered a success if Sizzix machine answers the questions raised by angry customers of Cricut embossing machine.
The materials that it works with are included, but not limited to:
- Craft Aluminum
- Rubber etc.
- Die Cut and Embossing Solution Comes with Complete Kit
Apart from the accessories from product library, you get all the basic parts that make it a complete kit.
In almost every embossing + die cutting machine, you get a thick plate, two to three thin plates, embossing rubber and the folder etc.
Make no mistake and don’t think that all of them are same. For example, Sizzix comes with a big multi-purpose platform instead of a thick plate and it has 2 cutting pads (plates).
It is very easy to use them – just like in the case of previously reviewed embossing and die cutting machine.
Just put a plate on platform and then put the object and die and on top of that the other plate – that’s it, roll that handle and you will get what you want.
Compatible with Entire Sizzix Product Library
Although the wide range of the product library items that Sizzix have to offer you, do not come with this deal, you can still buy them later.
Luckily, this is not a product out of nowhere and Sizzix considers this one of the key products they made.
This is the reason, why all Product Library items are 100% compatible with this embossing and die cutting machine.
Here’s the list and detail about those products:
- Bigz Dies – Floral layers, tattered florals & cupcake holder dies
- Thinlits Dies – Garden greens, birch trees, thank you phrase and many other dies
- Framelits Dies – Circle, rectangle and floral dies
- Textured Impressions – Rubber impression pads
- Texture Fades – Fades for deep texture embossing
- Impresslits Embossing Folders – Folders for advanced embossing
And remember, all these are compatible to your Sizzix embossing and die cutting plant, except Bigz Plus and Pigz Pro dies.
Sturdier than Many Others
As compared to Cricut and Spellbinders’ lightweight, modern and more like a decoration piece embossing and die cutting machines, the Sizzix embossing and die cutting machine has a real heavy look to it.
It is actually sturdier than others.
It has a platform/plate bigger than others and one look at it tells you that it means business.
This items weighs lesser than the both of its contenders in this review. It is more lightweight than both of them, and still sturdier than them.
Cricut – 11.55 pounds
Sizzix – 7.5 pounds
Spellbinders – 13.8 pounds
This proves that apart from sturdiness, it also beats the other two in terms of portability. Since it is way lighter than others, it can be easily packed and moved from one to another place.
Spellbinders GC-200 Grand Calibur Die Cutting & Embossing Machine
This one …
More like the Circuit Cuttlebug …
Looks like a machine from back in 60s or 70s … like old fashioned American mailbox or something.
10/10 on looks if they matter at all. Here’s our take on pros and cons.
- Die Cutting & Embossing Machine with Vintage Style
- New & Improved
- Easiest Die Cutting Process
- Compatible with Leading Brands’ Dies & Folders.
- Embossing Made Complicated
- Not Sturdy for its Weight.
I know the cons are hard to understand, let us explain those first.
Embossing Made Complicated
Part of what we’re about to learn here should have been mentioned in pros, but since we’re discussing cons first, let us have a look at broader picture.
So, the die cutting is so easy – perhaps the easiest method I noticed among all three of this jigs.
All you have to do is place die and the object (e.g. card, leather, paper) between two big, flat and same colored plates.
Job done (explained much better in relevant heading)!
Job is not done so easily in case of embossing. Somehow, Spellbinders saw embossing as something that had to be done so differently.
It is not even close to the two different methods that you notice in the other two machines.
Here is what you have to go through in order to simple emboss something on a material:
- Have the hook down to the table and pull the tray out
- Insert a plate – the bigger one
- Place the embossing folder on a plate
- Then place a rubber mat on the embossing folder
- Then place the smaller plate on the rubber mat
- And then run all these through your machine
This is more or like same what we do in case of Cricut Cuttlebug embossing machine – but it takes longer time (with the hook thing) and one can easily confuse the whole process.
Not Sturdy for Its Weight
You must have already noticed that this machine is heavier than others.
Here’s the exact comparison, again for you to take a look at.
Cricut – 11.55 pounds
Sizzix – 7.5 pounds
Spellbinders – 13.8 pounds
By this criterion it looks like that Spellbinders’ machine is the sturdiest one.
And you know that we’ve already busted this myth in our review of Sizzix machine that although it is the lightest, it is still the sturdiest one.
Here’s the reason why Spellfinders, with all its excessive weight, is still not sturdy enough.
First of all, there are a few complaints that this machine tends to break.
Secondly, the gears inside the thing are not in harmony; they make all type of noises and at time stop to work due to which one fails to get their plates and dies out of the other side of the machine.
Looks like all the weight just makes it heavy and does not add up to performance.
Done with the cons?
Here are pros of this machine, and they definitely outnumber the cons.
Die Cutting & Embossing Machine with Vintage Style
Well, let us give the credit where it is dew. This machine beats the remaining two machines when it comes to style and looks.
We could smirk at it and pass by this feature, but let us admit.
This machine or any embossing machine finds its place on the buyer’s workplace or office table.
Table where they sit and work or write or do some paper-craft things …
Now imagine this machine on such a wooden desk, full of paper accessories. This vintage look would only complement that table, adds to the value of that table and will be used as a decoration piece at the same time.
2/10 for this!
New and Improved
It’s not only a move from red to green color, this machine is new and improved as compared to its predecessors manufactured by the same company.
What’s new and improved?
Well apart from a few visible changes that you couldn’t notice in the last machine, here some more practical differences:
- Machine accepts 8-1/2×11 inches paper without trimming (you no longer trim the sides to fit that paper right in that machine – thanks to the bigger size)
- Machine cuts or embosses on a space up to 8-1/8 inches wide (which means that while previously your maximum area to apply an emboss was limited, not it has been increased in width
And if you want to know what basic parts you will get with this machine, here’s the list:
- Crank handle
- Base plate (the big one)
- Cutting plate
- Embossing plate (colored one), and
- Embossing mat
- Easiest Die Cutting Process
With all its flaws and drawbacks, Spellbinders’ GC-200 Grand Calibur introduces the easiest die cutting process.
For die cutting, you do not use a big flat plate a small colored one.
You have instead two big and flat plates or platforms.
Here are the items you need:
- The grey base plate
- The white cutting plate
- And dies
Once you’ve got all these items with you, here is how simple the die cutting can be.
- Put your card or whatever material you want to die cut, on the cutting plate
- Put dies or one die only on the object material
- Then place the grey base plate on the object material and the dies
- Now have them through the machine and ta da, your job is done
Yes, this machine does offer easiest die cutting process.
Compatible with Leading Brands’ Dies & Folders
All you need with such a machine are the dies to die cut different materials and emboss folders to have different designs embossed on target material.
For this, you can either create a whole line of dies and folders, which is what Sizzix has done (nothing against them) or you can save the time and money and just make your machine compatible with all dies and folders made by leading brands.
This way you can have the freedom to buy whichever die or folder you need, and you can have all of them.
Apart from limited number of dies from Spellbinders themselves, Circuit and a huge range from Sizzix, here are some leading brands that sell dies and folders.
- Vaessen Creative
- Craft Direct
- Craft Stash, and many others.
Verdict on Embossing Machine in 2019
Before we issue our final verdict and tell you which among these is the best one, here’s a table to help you understand their quality:
|Cricut Cuttlebug Die Cutting & Embossing Machine||Sizzix 660425 Big Shot Die Cutting & Embossing Machine||Spellbinders GC-200 Grand Calibur Die Cutting & Embossing Machine|
|Ease of Use||Good||Good||Best|
|Sales/Ranking||200+ 4.5/5||400+ 4.7/5||40+ 3.6/5|
As per the table, the embossing and die cutting machine below is considered the best among all 3:
Sizzix 660425 Big Shot Machine
It is sturdier than any other machine, it has more space, its sales and ranking outshines the remaining two, it has a huge range of accessories to buy from, and thus it is the best embossing and die cutting machine to invest in.