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Crafter's 101 - Die Cutting

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Our Crafter's 101 series is designed to teach you all about the concept and products around a particular technique. In this Crafter's 101, you'll learn everything you need to know about die cutting – different types of dies, machines, techniques and accessories.

Papercrafters have been die cutting for years....and the technique is still a core part of papercrafting, and as time goes by, it's finding applications in other branches of crafting too – such as sewing and mixed media.

Die cutting can be a tricky process, especially if you’re new to the craft. There are so many different machines, brands and parts that it can be rather daunting..so, if you have any questions about any of the techniques or products on this page, please  enagage with us on our Facebook page - if our friendly customers don't beat us to it, we'll do our best to help you!

What is die cutting?

Die cutting is a broad term, but in crafting, the act of die cutting refers to a process in which you use a machine to either electronically, digitally or manually mass-produce cut-out shapes. You can create the same shape, with the exact same dimensions, over and over without using scissors, stencils, or a craft knife. This saves you time and makes sure your work and your cut out shapes look perfectly consistent and professional every time. You can die cut a number of materials such as fabric, cork, paper, hessian...you name it! If you have a great machine the possibilities are endless. 

Dies

In die cutting, dies are metal-shaped objects with a raised, sharp area for cutting. They are similar in appearance and effect to cookie cutters - the shape of the die is the shape that will get cut out on your paper. There are a few different types of dies.

Steel-rule dies are sharp and protected with foam or plastic material for your safety. They are typically designed for cutting thicker materials or to use for multiple cuts all at once.

Thin metal dies are not as sharp and can't cut quite as thick of materials as steel-rule dies can (if you have a high pressure machine (link “high pressure machine” to Gemini URL)this won’t be a problem though!). They look more like your traditional cookie cutter- a metal shape, without any surrounding foam or plastic and are lighter and easier to store.

Dies come in a wide array of sizes and styles - from circles and squares, to intricate lace edges, animals, words, frames you name it! With so many dies to choose from, there’s a die for every purpose and occasion 

Technique

Using stick it

With dies becoming more and more intricate – crafters in the past have struggled to find the correct adhesive to adhere their intricate die cuts to their projects. Here at Crafter’s Companion – we’re BIG fans of Stick It.

Stick It is incredibly thin - not much more than a conventional piece of photocopy paper - yet it encompasses a high tech adhesive that is both hard enough to endure the incredible pressure that die-cutting machines impart, but pliable enough to match the contours of your intricate die-cut shapes without squeezing out of the edges or leaving a sticky residue on your dies and equipment. 

Machines

Die cutting machines are machines that help us cut shapes, embossing, engraving all types of material. Most people who die cut regularly have personal die cutting machines that are about the size of a toaster. Lots of Crafter’s use their machines on a daily basis and they take pride of place in any craft room!

Types of die cutting machine:

Manual:

Manual die cutters are lightweight, affordable and popular choices. The crafter uses a manual handle on the side to operate it. A wide range of dies can be used with manual die cutters, and many crafters like the hands on approach as well as the ability to see exactly where they are cutting.

Electronic:

With electronic die cutters – the crafter has to place the chosen die into a die sandwich to be able to pass it through the machine. Simply insert the sandwich into the mouth of the die and the machine automatically pulls it through. They are not as portable as manual die cutters, but there is much less room for error and there is less work involved, freeing up your time to do other tasks. 

Dies are purchased separately to the die cutting machine – unless you buy one of our brand new Gemini Die Cutting and Embossing Machines where you get 16 FREE dies with your purchase. There is a wide variety of sizes, and you’ll need to check the maximum size your machine can handle. Don’t forget to store your dies correctly to avoid them getting lost or damaged

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