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Die Cutting Machine Review

Hello! Today I am sharing a “review” of several of my favorite die cut machines. I would recommend any and all of these, but am sharing lots of information in hopes that you can decide which is most suited for you.

Die Cutting Machine Review by Jennifer McGuire Ink

[All products are linked to multiple sources in the thumbnails at the end of this post. Multiple stores are also linked in the parentheses following the product name. Compensated affiliate links may be used at no cost to you.]

A few things to keep in mind:

  • I don’t think any one of these machines is better than another. They each have their pluses! And we each have different needs. So hopefully you will find your perfect die-cutting match.
  • There are a couple machines I like that I didn’t mention much in the video, but do below.
  • I tried my best to gather and share accurate data. If I (or you!) catch a mistake, I will update it here.
  • I do not work for any of the companies. I personally purchased machines to be used in this video.

Also, there are two discount codes that may help if you are considering one of these machines. Check those out below!

Let’s first talk about my personal favorite type of die cut machine – electric machines.

ELECTRIC MACHINES

There are three electric machines I am focusing on today.

Gemini Junior

The Gemini Junior from Crafter’s Companion is the die cut machine that I have been using the most lately.

Die Cutting Machine Review by Jennifer McGuire Ink

Here is a bit of info on the Gemini Junior:

  • Feed Type: Auto-feed. Plates go through machine without needing to push a button.
  • Cutting Plate Size: 6″ x 9”
  • Size: Approximately 14 lbs. and 8″ x 11″ x 6″
  • Comes With: Comes with all you need! Machine, 2 cutting plates, metal plate, magnetic shim, plastic shim, embossing mat, example embossing folder and dies, user guide.
  • Die Types: Thin dies & embossing folders
  • Replacement Plates: Yes, replacements plates and shims are available
  • Recommended Accessories: None – comes with what you need
  • Please check the company site for international power info.

This is the plate sandwich I use, but please check THIS pdf for what the company recommends. All of these plates come with the machine.

  • clear cutting plate (TOP)
  • frosted plastic shim
  • (optional metal cutting plate)
  • magnetic shim
  • die (cutting edge to paper)
  • paper
  • clear cutting plate (BOTTOM)

In my opinion, here are the positives of this machine:

  • The auto-feed feature allows the machine to do the die cutting while you sip coffee or continue crafting.
  • Cuts intricate dies (even multiple dies at once) beautifully every time. I have never had a challenge.
  • Comes with what you need.
  • Small footprint so it takes up little room.

Gemini

The Gemini from Crafter’s Companion is the bigger version of the Junior I mentioned above.

Die Cutting Machine Review by Jennifer McGuire Ink

The Gemini is very similar to the Junior, but varies mostly in size:

  • Feed Type: Auto-feed. Plates go through machine without needing to push a button.
  • Cutting Plate Size: 9″ x 12”
  • Size: Approximately 21 lbs. and 8″ x 14″ x 6.5″
  • Comes With: Comes with all you need! Machine, 2 cutting plates, metal plate, magnetic shim, plastic shim, embossing mat, example embossing folder and dies, power cord, user guide.
  • Die Types: Thin dies & embossing folders
  • Replacement Plates: Yes, replacements plates and shims are available
  • Recommended Accessories: None – comes with what you need.
  • Please check the company site for international power info.

This is the plate sandwich I use, but please check THIS pdf for what the company recommends. All of these plates come with the machine.

  • clear cutting plate (TOP)
  • frosted plastic shim
  • (optional metal cutting plate)
  • magnetic shim
  • die (cutting edge to paper)
  • paper
  • clear cutting plate (BOTTOM)

The advantage of this machine over the Gemini is that you can cut a lot more at once – even a whole piece of cardstock.

 

Big Shot Express

The Sizzix Big Shot Express is another die cut machine that I have been using a lot… and for a long time. This is a new-and-improved design.

Die Cutting Machine Review by Jennifer McGuire Ink

Here is a bit of info on the Big Shot Express:

  • Feed Type: Push and hold button to feed plates through.
  • Cutting Plate Width: 6″ x 9″
  • Size: Approximately 10 lbs and 14″ x 11″ x 7″
  • Comes With: Two cutting plates, Extended Platform and Extended Thin Die Adaptor. (The diagrams on the Extended Platform and Extended Thin Die Adapter offer easy guidelines about how to make the perfect  sandwich.)
  • Die Types: All, including traditional thick dies, thin dies & embossing folders
  • Replacement Plates: Yes, replacement plates are available
  • Recommended Accessories: Multi-Purpose Platform, Embossing Pad, Metal Adapter Plate
  • Please check the company site for international power info.

This is the plate sandwich I use, but please check the website HERE for what the company recommends.

In my opinion, here are the advantages of this machine:

  • A Multi-Purpose Platform is available which is very handy – no need to keep track of shims. I use this exclusively.
  • The machine has a “table” that the plates can sit on while you prepare you die and paper.
  • Can use in both directions – feeding to the left or right.
  • Easy to grab handle.
  • Recently redesigned and improved.

VAGABOND 2

Another excellent die cutting machine is the Vagabond. I used this machine for MANY years and simply stopped because it is too tall for my die cutting drawer in my new craft room. It cuts beautifully and will even take the traditional non-wafer thin dies! You can learn more about it HERE.

 

 

BASIC MACHINES

There are two non-electric machines I like using.

SPELLBINDERS PLATINUM 6

If you are looking for a high quality non-electric machine, I would recommend the Spellbinders Platinum 6.

Die Cutting Machine Review by Jennifer McGuire Ink

Here is a bit of info on the Spellbinders Platinum 6:

  • Feed Type: Crank to feed plates
  • Cutting Plate Width: 6″ x 9″
  • Size: Approximately 11 lbs and 14″ x 6″ x 5″
  • Comes With: Instruction book, standard platform, two cutting plates, embossing plate, embossing mat
  • Replacement Plates: Yes, replacement plates are available.
  • Recommended Accessories: None

This is the plate sandwich I use, and you can check HERE for what the company recommends.

  • clear cutting plate
  • die
  • paper
  • clear cutting plate
  • platform

In my opinion, here are the positives of this machine:

  • Machine folds up for easy storage.
  • When you open the machine, there is a “table” to prepare your die cutting.
  • It’s cute! 🙂
  • Note: There is a larger version of this machine available, too.

Sizzix Big Shot

Another great machine is the Sizzix Big Shot. It is much like the Big Shot Express but is non-electric. It is a little narrower and lighter weight, too. A great machine!

Die Cutting Machine Review by Jennifer McGuire Ink

Here is a bit of info on the Big Shot:

  • Feed Type: Crank to feed plates
  • Cutting Plate Width: 6″ x 9″
  • Size: Approximately 7.5 lbs and 14″ x 12″ x 7″
  • Comes With: Extended multipurpose platform and pair of cutting pads
  • Die Types: All, including traditional thick dies, thin dies & embossing folders
  • Replacement Plates: Yes, replacement plates are available
  • Recommended Accessories: Embossing Pad, Metal Adapter Plate

This is the plate sandwich I use, but please check the website HERE for what the company recommends.

In my opinion, here are the positives of this machine:

  • Comes with an extended multipurpose platform which is very handy – no need to keep track of shims. I use this exclusively.
  • The machine has a “table” that the plates can sit on while you prepare you die and paper.
  • Easy to grab handle.

MINI MACHINES

There are two great mini machines that are great for quick or on-the-go die cutting.

Tim Holtz SideKick

The mini machine I used the most is the Tim Holtz SideKick from Sizzix.

Die Cutting Machine Review by Jennifer McGuire Ink

Here is a bit of info on the Tim Holtz Sidekick:

  • Feed Type: Crank to feed plates through.
  • Cutting Plate Size:  2 1/2″ x 4 1/2″
  • Size: Approximately 2 lbs. and 8″ x 5″ x 3.5″
  • Comes With: Two colored cutting plates, embossing plate, fun selection of starter dies, stamps, a coordinating embossing folder and user guide
  • Die Types: Small, thin dies and embossing folders
  • Replacement Plates: Yes, replacement plates are available.
  • Recommended Accessories: None.

In my opinion, here are the positives of this machine:

  • Able to suction onto many work surfaces to stay in place.
  • Has plate for mini embossing folders included.
  • Great for on-the-go crafting or to have on your desk for small die cutting.

Altenew Mini Blossom

Another mini machine that I like is the Altenew Mini Blossom.

Die Cutting Machine Review by Jennifer McGuire Ink

Here is a bit of info on the Altenew Mini Blossom:

  • Feed Type: Crank to feed plates through.
  • Cutting Plate Size: 6″ x 3″
  • Size: Approximately 2 lbs. 3 oz. and 8″ x 5″ x 4″
  • Comes With: Two Plates
  • Die Types: Small, thin dies
  • Replacement Plates: Yes, replacement plates are available.
  • Recommended Accessories: None.

In my opinion, here are the advantages of this machine:

  • Lightweight and small… perfect to keep on your desk for small die cutting.
  • You can color the flowers on the machine!

I hope this “review” was helpful!

DISCOUNT CODES

If you are looking to purchase a machine, check out these discount codes:

PRODUCTS MENTIONED

Want to find the products I featured? I have listed them below. (Compensated affiliate links used at no cost to you. Thank you for your support! Affiliate and product disclosure can be found here. All products were personally purchased. As always, this post was NOT paid for or sponsored.) Click on the icons below each product picture to go to a favorite store.

Gemini Junior Die Cut Machine
[ SSS ]
Gemini Junior Replacement Cutting Plate
[ SSS ]
Gemini Die Cut Machine
[ SSS ]
Gemini Die Cut Replacement Plate
[ SSS ]
Sizzix Big Shot Express Die Cutting…
[ SSS ]
Sizzix Multipurpose Platform
[ SSS ]
Sizzix Replacement Cutting Plate
[ SSS ]
Memory Box Metal Adaptor Plate
[ SSS ]
Spellbinders Embossing Mats
[ SSS ]
Tim Holtz Vagabond 2 Die Cutting Machine
[ SSS ]
Sizzix Big Shot
[ SSS ]
Spellbinders Platinum 6 Die Cut Machine
[ SSS ]
Spellbinders Platinum 6 Replacement…
[ SPL ]
Tim Holtz Sidekick Die Cut Machine
[ SSS ]
Tim Holtz Sidekick Replacement Plates
[ SSS ]
Altenew Mini Blossom Die Cutting Machine
[ SSS ]
Die Cutting Machine Replacement Plates
[ ALTN ]
Tim Holtz Craft Pick
[ SSS ]
WPlus9 Happy Birthday Dies
[ SSS ]
Neat & Tangled Modern Triangles Die
[ N&T ]
Couture Creations Bohemian Bazaar…
[ SSS ]
Lint Rollers
[ AMZUS ]


Leave a Comment

45 thoughts on “Die Cutting Machine Review”

  1. This is exactly the video I’ve been waiting for Jennifer , I can always follow your recommendations without a care in the world 😊 . Hopefully getting my new craft room set up on our new farm by this coming Spring so I’ll pick up the Gemini Jr. then , your the best !

  2. I just purchased the Gemini Jr less than a month ago. I’m sooo thankful that you posted this detailed review. My mind was being stubborn switching to having the metal die on the bottom of the paper facing up. So glad/reassured to hear that it’s okay to switch the layers so I can continue placing the die down. You’re the best. Thank you for all that you do. You’re very much appreciated.

  3. Love watching your videos! I have always wanted a Gemini Jr just haven’t been able to afford one. They seem awesome for people like me with tendonitis but I will still love having my big shot crank for now

  4. Hi Jennifer, love your videos!
    The links to the metal plate adapter are not working for me, and I can’t find those anywhere. Is there another brand of metal plates you would recommend? Or another store that would have them?

  5. Hi Jennifer!
    Thank you so much for sharing this Die Cutting machine review…it is really helpful! Have a wonderful day! 😊

  6. It’s always great to see an experienced crafter share their experiences. Thank you!
    After a recent unfortunate experience with Cricut (aka Provo Craft) I have been in the market for a new machine. Do you have any thoughts on the Brother Scan n Cut or the Silhouette?

    Thanks!!

  7. WOW! What a lot of great information. I am not in the market for a new machine, but maybe someday I will be. Right now I work with my old original Cuttlebug. Works fine for me, so why fix something that isn’t broke for me. Besides, that’s money I can spend on other supplies, right?!?! Thanks for this video and all the information.

  8. Thank you for the video. I still have the original Cuttlebug and it works fine for me most of the time. I struggle with intricate dies sometimes, but for the most part I still like it. I play with the thought of a new machine and didn’t know which one to focus on —- electric or “‘crank”. For now I will stick with my Cuttlebug, I’ve had I for so long, it’s like an old friend. 🙂 But it is good to see my options if I ever decide to change.

  9. I love my Anna Griffin Empress. It is so much quieter than the Gemini Jr. Both work great for me. My Cuttlebug has been great too. Thanks for the review.

  10. Thank you! I had no idea that you have to hold down the button on the Big Shot E.. that is sort of defeats the purpose of hands free IMO. I am going with the G Junior!

  11. THANK you soooo much for this! I love my Big shot… would love to see your opinion on cutting machines like the Brothers Scan and Cut etc.
    You work so hard! I hope you know how much we all appreciate you!

  12. Now this is creepy ! Jennifer were you hiding in the isle behind all these machines in Hobbycraft, Tamworth, England when I was just in discussing this with my daughter ? Thank you so much for putting this together. I have a gemini, which I adore, but am looking for a manuel machine for when I don’t need lots cutting out or when I don’t want to disturb the rest of the room. Think you covered all my questions, thank you.

  13. FYI the link to the sidekick in your blog goes to the vagabond. Awesome post and video. You have done great things for the industry. I really appreciate it

  14. This is a great review Jennifer. Anyone starting out or with health issues may not know what is available so this is helpful. Thanks for doing this type of video.
    Merry Christmas to you and your family.

  15. Great video, thank you!! I want to also point out one added benefit of the manual crank machines since I just got a Big Shot… my 5 yr old daughter LOVES to do the crank while I hold the top!! She always wants to help me die cut now and she feels like she is really helping me (which she is) haha!!

  16. I would love a Gemini Junior. I will have to see who carries it close to me in Alberta to avoid paying shipping and surcharges. Thank you for all your videos Jennifer. Merry Christmas to you and your family and all the best in 2019!

  17. Wonderful, informative video! Have used my Big Shot for many years and love it. Recently I purchase a Gemini Jr, my first electric machine and find it beautifully cuts all my dies. I, too, had trouble at first wrapping my mind around the recommended position of the cutting plates, but am getting used to them. I also have a Big Shot Plus that is great when I’m cutting a lot of dies for larger projects.

  18. Jennifer, great resource for when the time comes to replace my old Big Shot. However, none of your links I tried for the Metal Adapter Plate work, including your thumbnail. Takes me to SSS but says “page not found.” Thanks for all your hard work and for sharing your knowledge with us. Merry Christmas to you and your family!

  19. Thank you for this review Jennifer!!! I need to buy a new machine as my Cuttlebug does not do the intricate dies very well and I really didn’t know what to get with so many on the market. I really appreciate your advice and all of your favourite crafty things (which I still need to watch this year!). I used some of your storage tips last year. Merry Christmas!

  20. Thanks for the great info, especially re the electric versions. I love my trusty crank toys, but may have to change eventually because of skeletal issues. This was very useful.

  21. Great video Jennifer , but I wonder why you don’t use the Sizzix rubber mat instead of the Spelbinders mat for the die embossing?
    Thank you so much for this informative video, I love your Favorite Crafty Things serie.

  22. Thanks Jennifer for a great video and fabulous info. I’ve considered updating to a new machine, as I have the original Cuttlebug. I also have an electronic die cut machine and use that a bunch more, as I can design my own thing and it cuts a ton of stuff. But I still use the Cuttlebug for embossing and cut a few things. I greatly appreciate all your info and pass it on, especially to my crafty clients who have health issues, many don’t have the mobility or strength to use the hand crank type machines. Thanks also for doing your favorite things video’s each year, I learn so much from them!

  23. This is a wonderful, comprehensive look at these machines. Mostly I use my Big Shot, because I keep it next to my desk. Since I have a small area, I only take out my Vagabond when I am doing a lot of die cutting. I have the Gemini Junior too, but must admit, I get confused with all the different plates, so basically I use it very seldom. You are so helpful and I appreciate (as do many others) your hard work and information. It is always unbiased. I have a folder on my computer where I can access your videos quickly! 🙂
    Merry Christmas and may the New Year bring us all some peace.

  24. Loved learning about the Gemini. You made no mention of the Cuttlebug.
    It’s a strong little workhorse and I often think it works better than the sizzix.

  25. Thanks Jennifer. If my Vagabond ever breaks ( which I hope it doesn’t) I may give the Gemini a thought. It would be nice not to have to press a button. But since the Vagabond is a Sizzix product My platforms may work with the Electric Big Shot. I like the fact that the Vagobond reverses directions. Does the Gemini do that? I saw someone ask about the Cricut vs the Silhouette and Scan and Cut. Do you ever use those? I have an old Cricut which is not the greatest but I did like my sister’s new one. I would really like to get into SVG cut files.

  26. This was a very thorough review. Thank you. I like that you addressed the noise “con” that bothers some.Some sers had trouble finding the exact sandwich that worked so your suggestions were “right on”. I found a good price on a Gemini Junior, with the return option, and am going to try it. Have no problem cranking, but some of the intricate dies do not cut well on my Fiskars Fuse or Cuttlebug. Thank you.

  27. I have the big Spellbinders Platinum machine and love it but had been thinking about getting a mini for quick and easy small die cutting. The Altenew Mini Blossom was on my short list so I was glad to see your review of it, thank you! ([email protected])

  28. I saw at their site to flip the plates each time you use them. Do you do this and is it necessary? I love the machine but quit using it because of all the plates and the flipping. Otherwise I love it but that is a pain each and every time. Thanks for all you do and the time you put in. We all appreciate it. Merry Christmas to you and your lovely family.

  29. I ordered but not opened the Sizzix Big Shot Express Die Cutting machine. After this video, I am now leaning towards the gemini junior. I will watch again and see if I can make my mind up. Thanks.

  30. Hi Jennifer,
    Great review of the machines. I am so glad we got to hear how loud the big shot is. I was thinking of that one but the noise level really put me off. I am now thinking about the Gemini Jr but I have to say I have a Cricut and it has been working well for me so far. But the idea of having one that is electronic does sound intriguing. Thanks for going over all of this for us.

  31. Ok, I hadn’t thought I needed a sidekick… why another machine, especially in an efficiency apartment, but now I see it’s good for all those small dies and would save me the uneven warping on my big cutting plates…. hmmm… I’m sure I could justify finding room for it somewhere! ; )

  32. I wrote you a few weeks back asking your opinion on various electric die cutting machines so I feel this video was meant for me! Thank you, thank you, thank you. Spelling out all the pros and cons, seeing all the specifications with the added bonus of your sandwich recipe was a bonus. Guess what Santa is bringing me for Christmas?!?

  33. Hi Jennifer, Thanks so much for the reviews. I always learn something new from you! I used the link provided for the Memory Box metal adapter plate and it takes you to a product not found. Would you please provide an additional link? Thanks!!

  34. Thank you for this informative video. I am considering the purchase of a die-cutting machine and your comparison is VERY helpful. I watch most of your videos and appreciate all you’ve taught me over the past 2 years. Thanks!

  35. 2nd request

    Hi Jennifer, Thanks so much for the die cutting reviews. I always learn something new from you!
    I used the link provided for the Memory Box metal adapter plate and it takes you to a product not found.
    Would you please provide an additional link? Thanks!!

  36. I watched this video when it first came out and found it very imformative. Just came home this afternoon with a Gemini Junior to replace my 10 year old Cuttlebug and went to watch the video again, but it is not available here and not showing on YouTube any longer.

  37. Hi Jennifer, thanks so much for doing this video. Have you tried the Anna Griffin Empress electronic machine? I am wondering how it compares to the Gemini. Thank you!

  38. Jennifer, thank you so much for this wonderful video. I just got the Gemini Junior and love your sandwiches. I tried using 110# card stock on an intricate Cheery Lynn die and had to make two passes, but it was perfect. I had been unable to use it with my prior die-cutting machine. Thank you so much. I have had some serious health issues and needed an electronic machine, and this is perfect. Now I can do a little stamping. Hugs!

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