Die Cutting Machines - MANUAL


SO YOU WANT TO BUY A CUTTING MACHINE

This page is an overview of the Sizzix Big Shot Family of machines which are the most popular manual die cutting machines.  This listing is by no means exhaustive, so, if you are considering a machine that is not mentioned here, let me know and I will research it and add the results to this list.

BEFORE YOU BUY, ASK YOURSELF THESE QUESTIONS!
  1. What do you need or want it for?
  2. Do you have space to store and use a large, medium or just the space for a small machine?
  3. How much money do you want to spend?

I WOULD RECOMMEND THE PLUS FOR NEW CRAFTERS, however, you are the only one who can actually know which will work best based on your budget and commitment to your craft.


SIZZIX MACHINES
THE BIG SHOT

The Big Shot Plus was launched early in 2015.  Many crafters question how it compares to the regular Big Shot or the Big Shot Pro.  I am fortunate to own  all three machines, the Big Shot, the Plus and the Pro.  And, to be quite honest,  I use all three of them almost everyday.

All three are platform based machines, meaning that you adjust the pressure by selecting the right sandwich of platforms and cutting plates to go through the opening. The Big Shot and the Plus are pretty much identical in the opening depth (meaning the distance between top and bottom roller), but the Pro is a bit deeper. 

All three are designed to work with the Sizzix consumer technologies i.e.,: wafer thin dies (Framelits and Thinlits), embossing folders, chemically etched plastic back dies (Sizzlits, Embosslits), and Bigz dies. This also means that, because the dies and folders thicknesses are fairly consistent  across the craft industry, you will be able to use the dies and folders from different manufacturers with the Sizzix machines.  This includes, Spellbinders, Prima, and Memory Box, three of the most popular die manufacturers.

You will see the Big Shot Machines in different colors:  Pink and Black, Teal, Grey and White.  The colors are just cosmetic, all the machines are the same and function the same.
Opening: 6 1/8"
Price: $79.99 - $119.00

Advantages: Price, space, mobility, availability, storage
Disadvantages: limited size, some larger dies wont fit, is the less stable of all three (though the most stable of all of this size machine.)

Perfect for: crafters on the move, newbies to die cutting, for teenagers, when space is limited.

Perfect starting point and, overall, you will be able to do with it 85% of what you can do with the bigger machines, as I would guess that 85% of the current (2015) dies and embossing folders in the market will fit through a opening that is 6" wide. 
It is the one that I use the least now, however, I am going to keep mine and I have a backup that is still in the box.  Another reason I am clinging to these two machines is because they came with the original sandwich folder and I like it better than the individual sandwich plates that are shipped with the newer machines.  The BIG Shot is, undoubtedly,  the most portable and the easiest to store. 

Opening: 9"
Price: Amazon $158.48 (Suggested Retail is $199.99)  I recommend shopping around.

Advantages: A4 size, super stable, even pressure throughout perfect A4 embossing.
Disadvantages: The price may discourage some shoppers.  

Perfect for: serious crafters, people who like to make boxes and Home Decor, craft groups.

I delayed purchasing the Big Shot Plus when it first launched, because I have been using my Big Shot Pro for oversized projects for the past five years and I loathed spending money on a machine for which I felt I would have no need.  I was so wrong.

It seems to work better for intricate dies and embossing and it requires less effort to operate than the other two.   I suffer from a neuromuscular disease and there are days when my muscles simply will not cooperate.  Still, I am able to use the PLUS and get my projects completed.
It is larger and heavier than the standard BS, but is still very portable.  Also, on the PLUS side, I no longer have to relocate my Pro (which is a monster) daily.


Sizzix 656250 Big Shot Pro Cutting/Embossing Machine with Standard Accessories, Periwinkle (this is the one I have.  It also comes in Grey and White)

Opening: 13"
Price:  $279.99 (Suggested Retail $349.99 - $400.00)

Advantages: 12 x 12 size = super saver of paper, incredibly stable, love the storage underneath.
Disadvantages: The price is a little steep, particular for novice crafters.  Storage is a major problem because the machine has a very large foot print and you need at least 12" of rear clearance.  Does not emboss A4 folders very well (the impression may come out uneven) and finally, this thing is HEAVY! 

Perfect for: professional crafters with dedicated large craft rooms, wedding stationery makers, shops, schools and craft groups with a dedicated space (You really don't want to have to deal with this puppy too much.  My hubby sighs every time I call him to PUSH THE PRO!

All the same, I love my pro and when I am working on wedding invitations or birth announcements, this is my go to machine.   I also make a lot of boxes and the pro is really good for those cuts as well.

The Pro is the only one of the line up that has a deeper mouth (distance between the top and bottom rollers) which allows for use of made to order steel rule dies, such as the ones used in professional printing industry. Steel rule dies are expensive.  I have a small supply left over from my graphic business but they would not be used by most casual crafters.   

The Pro is about 4" wider than the PLUS  and will accept the 13" Bigz dies.  I have 5 of the 13" dies and I have used each of them exactly once!  For those who design wedding and other personal stationery,  or sell their handmade projects the machine is worth the money and will pay for itself.  I do not recommend it for the casual crafter. 



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Hugz,
Chana