Whether you've been a life-long crafter or you're just getting into it, the possibilities are virtually limitless. You have always enjoyed making items needed in your kids' classrooms, and love the way most of them turn out. Examples include that banner for a holiday party or the necklaces for field day. Both of those were fun, but they took a lot longer than they needed to. With so many little pieces to pre-cut, you were at it for days, sometimes letting it seep into your workday. If there were a way to make the piecing go faster like the Sizzix Big Shot, you would be able to do more.
Luckily, there is a way. Die cut machines are starting to become portable and affordable. In fact, there's a good chance someone in your crafting circle has one. Maybe you've been secretly eyeing the machines online or looking at them when you make a trip to the craft store. You wonder if getting one is really the smart thing to do. They do still seem expensive. Plus, you aren't sure if there is one that will give you the range you would need.
Sizzix Big Shot
Pros & Cons
Sizzix Big Shot
Die Cut Machines
With so many options on the market, it can be quite challenging to know if a product has everything you want. Along with that same line, maybe you find one and wonder if a less expensive machine can do the same thing. Comparing items across the board can get time-consuming and quite confusing.
The Sizzix Big Shot is an award-winning die cutting machine that has been around for a few years. With multiple medium abilities and a wide array of functions, it could be a good fit for your crafting needs. What are all the features it offers? Are there any other machines that might do a better job? We've taken the time to wade through the specifications, information, and features of the Big Shot to give you a summary of what it can do.
What Is the Sizzix Big Shot?
Die cut machines have been around for a while, but until recently they were reserved for schools, organizations or professional crafters. This is no longer the case. These little cutting machines are becoming easier to find amongst crafters. What exactly does a die cut machine do?
The simple answer is it cuts shapes using metal "cookie cutters" which means you can cut the same shape a dozen times and each one will be exactly like the one before. Gone are the days you toiled over cutting each individual letter out by hand for that banner or the little flower pieces for the necklaces. A die cut machine can cut all of that, plus more. Most die cut machines will cut more than just paper. If you have a friend who loves to quilt but finds cutting the small squares tedious at times, some dies can cut the quilting material. Your friend can get to sewing and save tons of time and energy.
The Sizzix Big Shot is a powerful little tool to have in your crafting arsenal. It's a hand-operated machine that allows you to quickly slice through many materials such as leather, cork and wood veneer to name a few. Each cut is perfectly executed every time. You only need to load the machine with your die pattern and material, then pull the handle.
What Are the Features of the Big Shot?
The Big Shot is a relatively decent size machine. It is not portable which means it doesn't fold up like some of its counterparts do. It does offer an expanding tray for use with larger products and dies. The larger workspace is useful for working with fabric and larger pieces of material.
It is a highly versatile machine and can be used in such things as:
Scrapbooking and paper crafting
One of the best features of this machine is that it will emboss patterns up to six inches. Often if you want that kind of element, you have to purchase a separate device.
The Big Shot can cut through an assortment of materials in order to bring your creations to life.
Examples of materials it can cut through are:
What Are Cutting Dies and Folders?
If you are new to die cutting machines, you may not know what dies and folders are. Simply stated, the dies are the patterns used for cutting. They are metal plates, and they come in all shapes and sizes. For example, if you want to make a Mother's Day card and want to cut out the word "mom" to make the card three dimensional, you would find and use a die you like that says "mom," choose the type of material you want the word to be made out of. In this case, a foil cardstock might make it look nice. Finally, you place the paper and the die on top of the cutting pad. You then make a sandwich on top with another cutting pad. Place the sandwich in the machine, crank it through and when you remove the top cutting pad, you will find a perfectly cut and beautiful "mom" waiting to be added to a card.
A folder is used when embossing a chosen material. The folder is the pattern you want to be imprinted on the material you choose. You would place your piece of paper in the folder, put the folder in between the two cutting plates and crank it through. When it's finished, you will have a beautifully textured element to add to any project.
Ease of Use
Right out of the box the Big Shot is easy to use. If you purchase a starter kit along with it, you will get materials, patterns and a comprehensive guide on using the machine. If you are unfamiliar with using any die cut machine, then we recommend getting the starter kit. Since it comes with ready-to-make projects and easy-to-follow instructions (designed for beginners), the starter kit can teach you how to use the machine with a step-by-step guide. In short, you put whatever material it is you want to be cut between the two plates on the tray, adjust the thickness level of the material and send it through the machine. Cranking the handle is relatively easy unless you have a particularly thick material and die, then it might get harder. In these cases, it's good the unit has rubber feet to keep it stable while in use.
Features of the Sizzix Big Shot
One standard feature the Sizzix Big Shot comes with is an extended multipurpose platform which is just over 14 inches long. That not only gives you a solid base on which to work, but also gives you a built-in cheat sheet about how to use the platform depending on the material and die you are using. This feature is a nice bonus and can help when you are working with material or dies that you usually don't create with.
The standard plates that come with the Sizzix Big Shot are almost 9 inches long. If you want to work with any die or folders that are longer than this, you will have to purchase the extended plates separately.
The Big Shot works with all folders and dies made by Sizzix (with a few exceptions); however, it also works with a variety of other die and folder brands as well. One review we read said all folders that are 6 inches or less work with the Big Shot.
Remember the opening for the Sizzix Big Shot is 6 inches across. However, Sizzix quilting dies up to the Bigz XL 25-inch will, in fact, work in the Big Shot. If you need to use any that are larger, for quilting or any other projects, you should upgrade to the Big Shot Pro which is bigger and stronger.
Dimensions: 14 ¼ inches x 12 3/8 inches x 6 5/8 inches
Weight: 7.5 pounds
Warranty: 3-year limited warranty and outstanding customer service
Opening: 6-inch opening to cut or emboss
Work Space: 14 ¼ inches extended platform
Plate Size: 8 ¾ inches (standard size)
Mode of Operation: Manual Crank
Interfaces with Computer: No
The price for the machine is well within the range of similar products, especially given the amount of versatility the Big Shot offers. We found it in black and gray on the Sizzix website for $119 plus shipping. We found the same machine on Amazon with free shipping. Amazon also has the "pretty" teal color version. The price of that model is
How the Sizzix Big Shot Compares to Similar Machines
Die cut machines are prevalent in the crafting world. There are quite a few machines similar to the Sizzix Big Shot. To help bring you a quality review, we went ahead and looked at some similar offerings. The results are below.
Cricut has become synonymous with home die cutting and crafting machines. It is one of the most recognizable and popular brands available. It has an extensive product line and offers a variety of devices from manual (like the Cuddlebug) up to digital cutting machines. The Cuddlebug is very similar to the Big Shot.
The similarities are:
1. Both machines emboss and cut
2. Both machines have a 6-inch cut opening width
3. Both machines weigh the same (7.5 pounds)
4. Both machines allow for the use of cross-brand dies and folders
Unlike the Big Shot, the Cuddlebug folds for portability and storage. It also has suction cups on the bottom to help hold it in place when in use. A drawback of the suction cups is they don't always work. The machine has a tendency to slip around.
The Cuddlebug doesn't seem to be as sturdy as the Sizzix Big Shot. The crank is smaller, and the whole machine feels less durable. Ironically, on Amazon the product is more affordable. For these reasons, we rate this product to be 4 stars out of 5.
Spellbinders PE-100 Platinum 6.0
Spellbinders significantly improved their previous die cut and embossing machines with the introduction of the Spellbinders PE-100 Platinum 6.0. This machine is built to last, and you can feel it. The unit weighs quite a bit for being a much smaller machine than the other devices we reviewed.
The Sizzix Big Shot and Platinum 6 have a lot of things in common such as:
1. Both machines can emboss and cut
2. Both machines can cut through thick dies and materials
3. Both machines offer a 6-inch wide cutting gap
The Platinum 6.0 also folds for portability much like the Cricut; however, unlike the Cricut, it is heavier and more durable. The Platinum doesn't slide all over the place when you use it, especially when using larger dies. The machine accepts some other company's dies; however, when it comes to cutting through thicker dies and materials, they suggest you only use their brand of dies for the best results.
The Spellbinders PE-100 Platinum 6.0 is a great product that affords versatility and portability all in one. Although the machine folds and can be stored, it is heavy, weighing in at 10.5 pounds. We were unable to find anything about a warranty, and we know from research that Spellbinders has a history of making machines that don't last. That being said, we believe the revamped construction and design of the Platinum may prove to be very durable. Overall, we give this product 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Creative and crafty people love products that offer versatility. The Sizzix Big Shot makes its mark on the home die cut and embossing machine line up. The extended work platform is a huge bonus as it affords you a larger workspace. The helpful instructions on the platform are beneficial to have as well. The fact that you can use so many other brands of dies with the Sizzix Big Shot increases the versatility and overall wow factor of the machine. The price is affordable and in line with similar products. Our overall rating is 5 stars out of 5.
Featured Image via Amazon logo, text and banner added.