Die cutting for papercrafts involves pressing card or paper against a metal die cutter so that the paper or card is cut into the pattern on the metal die. These dies come in all sorts of patterns and sizes and can create some wonderful effects for your papercrafts.  They can enhance the look of your card making or scrapbooking, giving them a more professional finish.  The pictures below show examples of some of the dies that I like to use.


In order to press the card against the die to cut out the shape you will require a machine to roll them through.  There are lots of these available to purchase but the one I have chosen to demonstrate with is the Spellbinder Grand Calibur.  This comes with special plates that the card and dies are placed between.  These are then rolled through the machine by turning the handle.  I have shown this as a step by step process below.

First, choose the card that you want to cut out and the die that you wish to cut it with.  Take your base plate and lay the die with the sharp, cutting side facing up.  Next, lay your piece of card onto this and top the 'sandwich' off with the cutting plate.

(A useful tip is to reverse the process and begin with the cutting plate at the bottom, place the card onto this and then the die with the sharp, cutting side down (always facing the cutting plate).  Then place the base plate on the top.  This way, before you place the base plate on, you can just secure your die in place on the card with a little bit of masking tape to prevent it from any possible movement while going through the machine.  Before you put it through the machine simply flip the whole 'sandwich' over so the base plate is on the bottom again).  

Hold the 'die-card sandwich' just in the entrance of the machine and begin to turn the handle as you feed it in.  Make sure you have it in straight so that it can travel all of the way through.  Just before the last of it pops out of the end, reverse the handle and bring it back through to the front again.  This just ensures that the die cuts all of the way through the card in every spot, especially if you are using a heavier grade card.

Remove the plates from the machine and take the cutting plate off the top.  You should be left with something resembling the cut out below.

The second step is to emboss the design.  Many of the dies have patterns on them that don't need to be cut out but just imprinted onto the card to create raised, 'bumpy' areas to enhance the cut out further.  Before removing the excess card, keeping the base plate under the die and card, place the brown rubber embossing mat on top of the die and cut out card.

To complete the 'sandwich' place the pink embossing plate onto the rubber mat.

Run this whole 'plate-die-card-mat-plate sandwich' through the Spellbinder again as before and then remove your die from the plates.

Take the excess card away from the die and carefully remove the card from the die.  The more intricate the detail on the die, the trickier this can be.  You need to be careful not to tear any thin, fiddly bits!  It helps to use a pointy tool of some kind to poke out delicate bits.  A cocktail stick or pin can be useful if you don't have a custom craft tool that will do the job.

You can then present your cut out in any way that you like to suit the purpose of your project.  I used the outer part of this particular die to cut out a red background layer to make the front stand out, again placing the die, sharp side up onto the base plate...

...placing red card onto it and then the cutting plate, running it through the machine as described before and pushing it out of the die cutter.


The red card was then placed behind the white cut out shape.

I have included some examples of cards and other projects in the gallery that have been made using die cuts. Please browse to see different ways in which they can be used.

In time you can build up a nice collection of dies to suit a variety of needs for your crafting topics.  There are many different die cutting machines available to purchase at varying prices.  The Spellbinder Grand Calibur that I have shown above is a manual machine that involves turning the handle by hand.  It is also possible to purchase automatic machines that don't involve manually turning the handle.  This would be easier for those that may have physical difficulties with turning the handle, as this can be quite laborious and would be especially useful if you want to use it a lot! 

Since taking the photos for the demonstration above I have upgraded my die cutting machine to an electric one.  This is the Crafter's Companion Gemini Junior and I have to say, it's pretty amazing!

It's a very powerful tool that allows you to cut the most detailed and intricate dies that the older, manual machines like the Grand Calibur can't handle.  The more cutting points that a die has across it's width, the more pressure is required to cut through the card as it passes through the machine.  The Gemini Junior is more than capable and is highly recommended! A larger version of this is the Gemini, but many people prefer the Gemini Junior for it's portability.

It works in a similar way to the manual machines like the one shown in the demo above.  The dies and card are placed between plates that come with the machine.

It is simple to use, especially when combined with Crafter's Companion's new 'cut and emboss' folders. 

These work by simply wrapping the embossing folder around a 5" x 7" card...

...placing it all between the base plate and the cutting plate...

and then feeding it into the machine. 


The result is a beautifully cut and embossed card that is ready to embellish as required.  

Manual die cutting machines have the advantage of not needing a plug socket if you're out and about but I love my Gemini Junior for performance.  Whichever you choose, you will be able to create some pretty amazing and professional looking cards and scrapbook pages with it!