My In-Depth Look at This Handy Device
With a good die cutter, you can do a lot of things, and most modern models have a wide variety of functions included.
But what if you don’t need all that? I know a lot of people who want to do arts and crafts and just need something that will work straight out of the box.
Well, you can just get a simpler model that will be more limited but do the job you need exceptionally well. A die cutter doesn’t need all the fancy bells and whistles in order to be great.
The machine I’m going to talk about right now is just one of those models and if you need further proof of that, just keep reading for my detailed Sizzix Big Shot review!
- About Sizzix
- Sizzix Big Shot – Grades Table
- Sizzix Big Shot Step by Step Review
- The Special Features
- The Accessories
- General Performance & Experience
- Sizzix Big Shot - Breakdown
- Final Thoughts
Sizzix is an older company than you might think and it started out as a company called Ellison, which actually made the first commercial die cutter ever, all the way back in the 1970s!
That company still exists today and it’s mostly focused on making products that cater to teachers and are supposed to be used in classrooms. It was made by a married couple, LaDorna and Robert Eichenberg.
LaDorna was an art teacher and saw the need for machines like die cutters in the classroom and created the first commercial die cutter to fulfill that need. Soon, the orders started rolling in by the hundreds and the rest is history.
Sizzix is just one branch of the company that’s focused on products made for at-home-crafters, small crafts shops, and DIY-ers. It was founded in 2001 and the current CEO is the granddaughter of the original company founders.
The company is ever-growing and today it is one of the foremost manufacturers of die cutters with a wide assortment of high-quality products on offer.
While there are many complex die cutters out there and they have their uses, there is still room for simpler ones as well, and the Sizzix Big Shot is a real live example of that.
The way it works is easy to understand, and anyone can use it effectively, even those that are complete beginners to the die-cutting world. I can even let my child use it and they do great with it! With some instructions from me, of course.
It’s surprisingly versatile as well since it can work on a ton of different materials – everything from paper and cardstock to things like leather, wool, and aluminum. It can do embossing as well.
The cutting is also sharp and precise – proving that you don’t need an expensive computerized model with complicated software in order to have such amazing results.
It can do embossing as well, with little effort! I know a lot of die cutters that do embossing have it as almost an afterthought and it doesn’t turn out as good as it would with a dedicated embossing machine, but here that’s definitely not the case.
It’s great for the price, and it is definitely proof that machines like this still have a place on the market and can do exceptional work.
Take a look at all it can do in more detail down below!
Sizzix Big Shot – Grades Table
For all you experienced DIY people out there, here’s a handy table that demonstrates the results this machine achieved on my tests.[ninja_tables id="5556"]
For detailed explanations of these grades and overall breakdown, please read on - my detailed review follows!
What You Get in the Box:
- The Big Shot cutting machine
- An extended multipurpose platform
- Two cutting pads
The Most Crucial Features:
- Dimensions - 14 1/4 x 12 3/8 x 6 5/8 inches (40 x 29 x 24 cm)
- Weight –7.50 lb (4.52 Kg)
- Cutting Size – 6 inches (15.24 cm) wide
- Usable Materials – It can be used with a wide variety of materials, including paper, cardstock, fabric, leather, craft aluminum, vellum, foam, and so on. It’s incredibly versatile in that regard.
- Compatibility – It’s compatible with the entire Sizzix library of products, and you can easily use them with any of the dies or folders available to you.
- Embossing Function – Besides cutting, this machine can also emboss on all different kinds of materials.
- 1 to 3 Years of Warranty – You get 1 year of warranty with this machine, but that can be extended by 2 additional years if you register it on the Sizzix website.
Sizzix Big Shot Step by Step Review
Now that you know about the basics, let’s break it all down, feature by feature and tell you about everything that’s good and bad with this die cutter.
The Overall Design
As far as the design goes, this is a fairly simple and straightforward machine which has its benefits and its downsides.
The size is good, and it’s relatively compact, so it doesn’t take up too much space. That’s always a good thing, and it’s even better here since it’s quite heavy for its size so you will want to keep it on the counter.
It’s simple and fairly easy to use – beginners will have a blast with it. Even children can use it – mine certainly did and they haven’t ruined it at all.
The build quality here is definitely not the greatest, and it’s all down to a few weak points, the worst of which are the screws.
If you can somehow replace them with better ones, the machine is bound to last for quite a while longer than it otherwise would. I certainly did and I definitely noticed that the machine was a bit less noisy after that.
Most other parts that are bound to fail first are those made out of plastic – the core is made out of steel though, so it’s definitely durable enough to withstand a lot of punishment.
The gears and blades are also from solid steel and the cutting should remain consistently good even after a lot of use with tougher materials. That might be the reason why it’s so loud when working, but that’s difficult to say.
Either way, it does seem to make a lot of noise and I’m quite limited as to when I can use it. I can’t just turn it on in the middle of the evening.
The Special Features
While this is not a machine that’s huge on any special features, it does have a few that stand out, and you’ll see exactly what they are.
Besides just cutting, this machine is also able to perform embossing and can do it on a lot of different materials, even ones you wouldn’t expect like different types of fabric.
It’s not a side-feature either, and it’s as good as machines designed specifically for embossing. I know that’s hard to believe but it’s true and I managed to do a lot of quality work with it. It is even louder than usual when embossing, so watch out for that.
The machine is made to be compatible with almost all Sizzix products and can be used with Thinlits, Framelits and Bigz dies as well as Impresslits Embossing folders and Texture Fades.
Just be aware that not everything will translate perfectly to this machine but most of it will turn out just fine.
This machine doesn’t have too much in the way of accessories, but what it does have is of decent quality. Here’s what you get in the package:
Extended Multipurpose Platform
This is the better one of the two included accessories. It’s adjustable, and it has diagrams that will help you make the perfect cut when you’re working.
If you’re a beginner that can be exceptionally helpful, but even I found myself having to use them a couple of times.
It’s not exceptional, but it does the job, and it’s something you don’t need to buy as an extra.
A Pair of Cutting Pads
Next, you get a pair of standard cutting pads which allow you to make a sandwich with the platform for cutting.
They work well for what they are, but they definitely won’t last for too long, and you’ll need to replace them eventually. Don’t worry about it though, they are cheap and well worth it.
General Performance & Experience
I put this machine through some quite rigorous tests and I tried to make it cut almost every material it is supposed to be able to cut, just to see what would happen and how it would hold up.
So far, I have to say that it holds up marvelously! It was even able to cut through some tougher, thicker fabrics without a problem. It struggled a bit with multiple layers of fabric, but it got through it in the end.
Even though it did struggle with that, the result was good and usable, even though there was a bit of scuffing around the edges. I didn’t use a design that was too detailed though – that might turn out a bit worse. However, that’s only true when you’re cutting multiple layers of material.
The tougher the material you place in it though, the noisier it gets, just be aware of that. I was quite surprised when I tried to cut some aluminum with it and it roared like an angry beast!
I thought something was definitely breaking inside of it, for sure, but it turned out fine. The result was great as well and there were no evident problems, except for the noise.
The cuts were precise as well, on most materials and I was impressed with that. I noticed that the results with some types of foam weren’t that great, especially with thicker, high-density foam. Sometimes it turned out fine, sometimes it was completely ruined.
Cutting wool was surprisingly good and consistent though, which I did not expect at all and it went through it buttery smooth without any jams.
Even after all that I put it through the cutting still remained consistently good and the machine did not deteriorate at all. It also didn’t get any nosier, thank the Lord – I don’t think I could take that.
The plastic cutting pads did get banged up, though and I think I’ll have to get a new pair quite soon. I thought they would last longer than they did.
Overall, I’m satisfied with how the machine performs and I’ll definitely keep using it in the future, especially for a smaller project that I want to be done quickly and without much fuss – it’s ideal for that.
Sizzix Big Shot - Breakdown
- Easy to use for beginners and pros alike
- Offers extremely precise cutting
- The price is just amazing
- Does well when cutting tougher materials
- Can be used with lots of different materials including paper, card stock, fabric, craft aluminum and more
- Relatively small and doesn’t take up much space
- Works quite fast
- It’s heavier than it looks and difficult to move
- Not the most durable machine around
- Makes a lot of noise when working
While the Sizzix Big Shot is a more modest machine than its name might suggest, it does its job admirably and to near-perfection. It’s not perfect, but it is more than reliable.
It is accessible to beginners and pros can get a lot of use out of it despite it not being computerized. If you know how to work it, it will be able to do any job you want.
You’ll be able to do things you wouldn’t expect as well, like embossing, and get professional results with it.
Now, don’t expect it to last for years – it’s definitely not built for that, which is probably the reason for its relative affordability.
It’s also heavy and loud, so you need to pick the right spot for it or it will cause you a lot of grief.
Still, if you want a great but affordable die cutting machine, this is probably the best one you can find, and the flaws probably won’t bother you too much.