All You Need To Know About This Manual Die Cutter
No matter whether you’re a creative soul or not, I think we can both agree that die-cutting can be really fun.
It can be a great past time activity to do with your friends or family, as well as a tool for creating charming and unique gifts. If you’re entrepreneurially-minded, who knows, you might even make a buck or two with such a device.
Sounds awesome, right?
Well, it’s only the tip of the iceberg as there are numerous other possibilities that a die cutter and/or embosser can give you. To those who’ve never used one of these machines - don’t fret; operating them is easy as 1,2,3.
Now, that I’ve got your attention, I’d like you to meet the Circuit Cuttlebug, a die-cutting and embossing machine that I’ll be doing an in-depth review of.
I’m going to thoroughly inspect it, and then tell you how good it is at performing the tasks that it’s made to perform.
- Cricut Cuttlebug Quick Grades Table
- Cricut Cuttlebug Put Into Practice
- To Sum Everything Up:
- Cricut Cuttlebug Review - My Final Thoughts
Cricut Cuttlebug Quick Grades Table
Here is my opinion of the machine, summed up in a handy table for your convenience. Each row provides you with simple yet very usable information.
On the other hand, every grade should come for a reason, right? That’s why below you’re going to find detailed explanations and an in-depth review!
What’s Inside The Box?
- Cricut Cuttlebug gadget
- A 6x8” A plate and two 6x8” B plates
- A rubber embossing mat (6x8”)
- A user manual
- An A2 (5x7”) embossing folder
- Two metal dies
Tech Specs and Features
Dimensions (LWH): 13 x 6.5 x 11 inches (33 x 16.5 x 28 cm)
Weight: 11.55 pounds (5.2 kg)
Automatic features: No
Digital controls: No
Cutting dimensions (LW): 7 x 6 inches (17.78 x 15.24 cm)
- Acetate ribbon
- Tissue paper
As you can see from the previous section, this device is rather compact, so it doesn’t need a large work surface and requires very little storage space.
On the other hand, its small size prevents it from being able to cut and emboss materials of large dimensions, which may be a problem for some users. Make sure to think about how big of a cutting dimension do you need before making a purchase.
Now, you might find the machine to be a bit heavy for its dimensions. Don’t get me wrong, the weight is similar to many other products of this type, but it’s important to know this because many folks get surprised when they try to lift it. Due to this, it’s advisable to store it on the ground or perhaps the bottom shelf and never place it on surfaces that can’t hold this weight.
Its design is undoubtedly one of the highlights and why this product is so popular in the die-cutting market. The handle and the sides can be folded when they are not used, which gives it all of its storage benefits. When you unfold them for use, the suction on the bottom is activated, sticking the device to your working surface, which is necessary for these machines. Unfortunately, the suction isn’t great compared to some of its competitors, but this should not be a huge issue.
Cricut Cuttlebug Put Into Practice
Now it’s time to see what the Cuttlebug can actually do and what you can expect when you get your hands on it.
Perhaps the most significant thing about the Cuttlebug is how easy it is to operate. Really, anyone from your child to your grandmother will be able to use it. There is a small difference between the cutting and embossing processes, so let me explain the cutting first.
Cutting with Cricut Cuttlebug - Here’s how it works:
- Take the A plate and place it on the device’s inserting surface.
- Place the rubber mat over the A plate so that it prevents the B plate from sliding.
- Take one B plate and put it over the rubber mat.
- Place the die right in the center of the B plate and make sure that the side which cuts is facing up.
- Put your preferred material on top of the die.
- Cover everything with the second B plate so that you’ve made a kind of a “B plate” sandwich.
- Crank the handle until the material comes out on the other side cut.
Embossing with Cuttlebug
When it comes to embossing, the only difference is that you’ll be using an embossing folder instead of a cutting die, so that’s pretty much it.
The entire process takes mere seconds, and it’s very simple to repeat.
The handle is easy to grip and runs rather smoothly, so you won’t have to put in a lot of effort to turn it. You can crank it in both directions and produce the exact same result, which means that you’ll be able to operate it with ease regardless of whether you’re right or left-handed. Also, it seems to be quite durable, so it should be able to take a lot of workloads.
A thing that you should be careful about is to properly align all the plates and the mats because if you don’t, they might slip or turn while passing through the machine. Once you’ve got them all aligned, place them directly in the center of the machine, and then start cranking the handle.
I’ve mentioned that the machine is a bit on the heavy side and that it has suction underneath so that it sticks to the table. This is all done to keep it in place while cutting/embossing, and it will (in most cases) stay in place if you put it on a strong and heavy working surface.
If you try to use it on a lightweight (unstable) folding table, the force that’s produced when turning the handle might move the table around which is something that you don’t want. So, unless you don’t mind pinning down the table with your hand all the time, use the Cuttlebug on a stable and sturdy surface.
Before we move on, I’d like to give you a piece of advice on how to maximize the longevity of your plates. You see, like with all similar machines, the dies cut into the plates thus scratching or deforming them over time.
It would be wise to designate one of the B plates as the cutting plate and use the other one only on top. Once the bottom plate starts showing signs of damage, simply flip it around and use it until it’s completely worn out. By doing this, you’ll spare the top plate and will only need to buy one when the time comes.
What you can make with Cricut Cuttlebug
The Cuttlebug shines when you use it for card making or scrapbooking. The materials used for the latter allow the device to make precise and smooth cuts delivering professional-looking results.
So yes, it works best on paper and paper-like materials, but it can handle a bunch of other ones too (see Specs and Features section), but the cuts won’t be as nice. Also, the thickness of the material shouldn’t exceed 0.125”, as this might damage the device or one of the plates.
The biggest con of the device is the limitation of the cutting dimensions. You won’t be able to cut or emboss anything wider than 6 inches with the B plates that you get in the package. In case you need something bigger, you will be able to get a C plate separately, which is a bit wider (7.75”). It’s not a huge improvement, but it might make a difference for some users.
To put all of this information into perspective, I’m going to compare the Cuttlebug’s capabilities to those of some other die cutters/embossers. One thing that this one lacks compared to many other models is the ability to emboss edges of material when die-cutting. This means that you will first need to cut and then emboss in a separate step. This doesn’t sound like a big deal but it might be relevant to specific individuals.
The obvious advantage of the Cuttlebug over others is its ease of use and compactness. However, the latter can also be a disadvantage, but this solely depends on your needs and preferences.
Accessories & Compatibility
Ok, I’ve explained the performance with the basic set-up of this device, and now we’re going to take a look at some cool additions that could make your work easier or more fun. There are several accessories for the Cuttlebug that can be found on the market, and I’m going to present them in the following sections.
One of the most popular accessories for cutting with the Cuttlebug is the Magnetic Mat.
The metal dies will stick to this mat, which will minimize the chance of it slipping and thus ensure super-precise cuts.
It is available in three sizes:
- 6x13 inches,
- 6x8 inches,
- 5.25 x 7.25 inches
Besides the Magnetic Mat, other accessories are the additional dies and embossing folders, and you can find a small universe of them online. I’d like to recommend the dies and folders created by the designer Anna Griffin as these seem to be very popular with the die-cutting crowd.
The last thing that I’d like to mention is a bit about the company itself and what you can expect from them after purchasing this device. The customer service is very good and will gladly help you with any problem that you might encounter with your Cuttlebug.
I’ve already mentioned that the machine looks and feels sturdy, so one could expect an extended warranty period, right? Well, the company offers only a 1-year warranty on this product which might raise some doubts, but so far, not many people have complained about Cuttlebug’s durability.
To Sum Everything Up:
- Easy to use
- Easy to store
- Great price
- Foldable handle and sides, compact
- Good and detailed instructions
- Cuts/embosses many different materials
- Good customer support
- Small cutting surface
- A bit heavy
- Suitable for personal craft, but not mass production
- Suction isn’t excellent
Cricut Cuttlebug Review - My Final Thoughts
All in all, Cricut Cuttlebug is definitely worth considering if you’re into arts and crafts. As I’ve mentioned several times before, its selling point is its compact size and ease of use. Also, it would be a crime not to emphasize how good it cuts and embosses - it’s truly professional grade.
Despite its size limitations, the sheer amount of dies and embossing folders that you’ll be able to use with this one is almost unlimited. It’s very durable and should last you a long time even when used frequently. Of course, you will have to change the plates from time to time as they will inevitably get worn out at some point.
Those who wish to cut and emboss large dimensions will not be happy with the Cuttlebug, and should definitely look for something else. Also, you’ll have to use a strong and stable working surface with it if you don’t want it to move around.
Besides various dies/folders and the Magnetic Mat, there aren’t many accessories that this device supports, which might not be ideal for folks who like to experiment a lot.
Finally, this machine won’t allow you to produce a high volume, but it can be perfect for those who die cut as a hobby or even for a small family business.