Die Cutting For Beginners: The Ultimate Guide

If you are into arts and crafts you have probably come across the term die cutting.

Regardless of which project you are working on, having a die cutting machine available is super helpful.

Today’s post will be an introduction to die cutting. After you finish reading, you understand all the basics and will be ready to start die cutting yourself.

What is die cutting?

Die cutting used to refer to a process used by shoemakers to cut pieces of leather into the right sizes and shapes.

But nowadays die cutting is a broad term in crafting space that refers to a process in which you use a machine to cut out shapes. A good machine will let you work much faster and more accurate. Especially if you want to cut the same shape over and over again, a die cutting machine can save you a ton of time.

Depending on how powerful your machine is you can cut a variety of different materials ranging from low strength (such as paper or vinyl) to harder materials (such as rubber, leather, balsa wood, or metal).

Die cutting can be used to make lots of crafts including:

  • Scrapbook designs
  • Stencils
  • Magnets
  • Stickers and decals
  • Homemade cards
  • Fabric cutouts
  • T-shirts
  • Personalized glasses

What is a die cutting machine?

You probably figured out already that you will need a die cutting machine to start die cutting.

These machines are designed to cut materials such as paper, fabric, wood, metal, fabric, etc.

They are great because they can work very fast and accurate. They are basically a miniature assembly line that you can have right in your house.

The word “die” refers to any specialized tool used for cutting materials. Most modern die cutting machines use a small blade as a die.

The maximum cutting size and which materials you can cut depend on your machine’s cutting force, specialty blades, and the size of the machine.

Which die cutting machine is the best for beginner?

The latest die cutting machines are incredibly powerful and versatile. They can cut pretty much any materials you can think of.

If you are a vivid crafter that works on at least one project a week, then you will love using one of these powerhouses. I would suggest either getting a Silhouette Cameo 4 or a Cricut Maker.

Both Silhouette and Cricut are two major brands when it comes to die cutting machines. For a direct comparison between these two machines, you can read our article on Silhouette Cameo vs Cricut Maker.

However, if you are a more casual crafter these two machines might to expensive for you. Fortunately, both Silhouette and Cricut also offer cheaper models for beginners. For more information, read or article on which Cricut to buy or on which Silhouette to buy.

How does the die cutting process work?

The first time you work with a die cutting machine you might be overwhelmed with all the buttons and options available. So let’s break down the die cutting process into simple steps.

First, it’s important to know that each die cutting machine comes with a software program that you can install on your computer. You can make your own designs in that software or import your own images. Often the software comes with a library of images as well but not all of them are free to use.

Secondly, the software is also used to instruct your machine how to cut, which material it’s cutting, and which blade to use.

Once you finished your design and choose all the appropriate cutting setting in the software, you can feed your material into the machine and press cut.

Then the machine will do all the hard work for you and will result you with the cut results when it’s finished.

Below is an instructional video for first-time users of the Cameo 4 that gives a good impression of the die cutting process.

What do you need to start die cutting?

To start die cutting, you really only need a die cutting machine and the material you want to cut.

Most die cutting machines will come with at least one blade and all the essential accessories (like a cutting mat).

If you can afford it, you can buy one of the starter bundles that normally comes with detailed instruction booklets, vinyl to cut, and some basic tools.

But besides a starter bundle, I wouldn’t recommend buying any of the other tools, accessories, or blades right form the start. There is so much to choose from and you’ll break the bank if you buy it all.

Start with what you really need, and buy the extras when you have more experience and really need them.

Easy die cutting projects for beginners

If you don’t know where to start, here are 5 different projects that are easy to pull off.

Trying one of these projects is a good way to understand the entire die cutting process and how your machine works.

1 Personalized wine glasses

2 Vinyl T-shirts

3 Wall decals

4 Greeting cards

5 Scrapbooking