Basics of Die-Cutting

Dear Fellow Crafters,

For those of you who first started die-cutting back in the 1990’s (I think), you’re an old hand at the basics. But for those of you who are new to these amazing tools how about a Basics Re-Do and some tips.

Back in the day the only dies were shapes but today there are a wide assortment of options for both dies and machinery – you might say there is something for everyone.

To create a die-cut you need a die-cutting machine. Each machine is slightly different but will operate in basically the same way You place a metal die with the raised or embossed edge facing your cardstock and insert it between cutting plates. TIP: if using a thin die from Spellbinders, Sizzix or Crafters Companion, use a magnetic platform with cutting plates. If not, use low tack tape like artistic tape to secure the die in place.

Machines differ. Some are small and portable and manual and some are electronic. In either case,  you need clear cutting places to “sandwich” you dies to the paper and the platform. With use, these plates become scratched. TIP: Number them when new and rotate them to get even wear. Cutting dies will last a long time with care. When you are done cutting a shape, remove all the paper bits from the die before using it again. TIP: a paper piercers, lint brush or other sharp tool will help.

What do you do if you’re die-cutting and you get interrupted by life? What happens if that tiny “Happy Birthday” die gets lost on your crafting floor? These phenomenons have happened to me, more than once!  I had seen a Pinterest pin on this very topic and thought I could do better. I had a large (24″ x 18″) box with a clear plastic lid. I lined the bottom with magnetic sheets and placed my nesting and other dies on top. Then I closed the lid and put removable tape on all 4 sides. I hung my die frame on the back of my craft door. Because they were all safe, in one place, and dust-free I could tell at an instant which ones I needed at a given notice.

But my best tip ever is to use a clear plastic box (like one that holds grocery bakery items) and line it with magnetic tape. If you are crafting and you know you only have a certain length of time to die-cut and you don’t want to put the die away, put it in this type of magnetic box and close the lid. You can take this tip a bit further if you have no room on your crafting table. Make a Die-Cut frame. Line the background paper with thin magnetic tape and you are done. Use the glass for another project.

Happy Die-Cutting!


To die for

Die Cutting

Paper Crafting 101 – To die for 10/28                            Picture

Dies can be used to cut everything from your favorite papers and cardstock to thin metals and light-weight wood. They can be used to emboss a border and used as a mask.
A die is a piece of metal that has been manipulated into a specific shape. The metal die can be wafer thin, perfect for use with paper, felt or fabric and the thicker ones can cut through dense material like cardboard. Some dies are simple shapes like circles, ovals, squares. Others are intricate shapes like lacy circles.
There are many die cutting machines on the market that do basically the same thing and use some of the same dies. Some are electronic and others are manual. The Cuttlebug by Provo Craft, The Grand Calibur by Spellbinders and the Sizzix Big Shot are a few of the machines. One of the main criteria that should govern which machine you buy (in addition to price) is how many times you will use it and what type of dies you are likely to buy. If you are a scrapbooker, then you will need a lot of labels, frames and titles. If, on the other hand, you are a card-maker, you will want a machine that makes a lot of frames, images and background paper.
To start, you make a “sandwich” of the cutting platform, the paper or other material, the die, and the top plate. You have to create the right pressure to cut the material.
Buy the dies you love and buy the simple shapes. In the beginning, I concentrated on embossing folders (Sizzix) and made my layered cards that way. I liked the Swiss dot folder, which I sanded and raised the dots on white-core paper. I then bought the various shapes – squares, ovals and rectangles. I discovered that I could make my cards into the simple shapes (like squares and rectangles) and the dies fit the shapes. Then I discovered Spellbinders and started buying their shapes. One of my recent discoveries is that the Sizzix Large circles work especially well with my Marvy Punch Circles, eliminated the need to buy more circles.
What folders and dies do you buy?
~ Ssllie