Die-cutting tips and tricks
- Read time: 4 minutes
- Written by: Crafter's Companion
We absolutely love die-cutting here at Crafter’s Companion and the amazing effects that can be achieved with a machine and a piece of metal. The most delicate images or sentiments can be cut and added to cards, scrapbooks, gift tags and so much more.
We’ve put together this post with some of our favourite die-cutting tips and tricks and it’s the perfect post to read if you’re a beginner or an expert in the craft. It’s never too late to learn something new! Take a look through and see what you can discover about dies, die-cutting machines and die-cutting as a whole.
What is die-cutting?
Die-cutting is the process of using a machine that applies pressure to cut out delicate shapes, achieving effects that usually can’t be achieved with scissors or craft knives. This is done by using dies – a shaped metal with a cutting edge, which is pressed into a material through the die-cutting machine. You’re able to repeatedly create the shame shape with the exact same dimensions, saving you time and giving you a professional finish.
There are also dies available which cut into a material, rather than cut out, and these are usually used to details to edges or corners.
What materials can you cut with dies?
The most obvious materials are paper and card, and these are what you would usually find on the front of most papercraft projects. But there are actually a whole host of other materials that you can cut, including:
Foil – perfect for adding a metallic effect to your creations
Vellum – this translucent paper product will add a soft and elegant look
Chipboard – by adding chipboard, you’ll give your project more stability
Vinyl – this would make brilliant stickers
Cork – add instant texture to projects with die-cut cork
Foam – perfect for multi media projects or for adding underneath paper die-cuts for height
We also stock Multi Media Dies which are perfect for cutting through fabrics, such as cotton, faux leather, corduroy and more!
What else can you do with dies?
Even though dies are mainly designed to cut shapes out from your chosen material, you can also use some dies for embossing! This is the technique of creating a raised impression in your material instead of cutting all the way through and this can achieved by using an embossing mat in your die-cutting sandwich.
An embossing mat provides much less pressure on the die and material, and gives it a softer base the press against, preventing the die from cutting through.
How to care for your die-cutting machine
- If you’re running a cutting plate through your machine more than once, you’ll need to flip the plate each time to prevent bowing.
- Always use the correct sandwich or plate configuration that is recommended by the machine manufacturer, otherwise you could cause damage to your machine.
- Never force your plates through!
- Try to die cut away from the centre of your cutting plates, as this is where the weakest amount of pressure is.
- Make sure you clean your machine periodically. Removing small bits and dirt will help the performance of your die-cutting machine.
What to do if you can’t remove the die-cuts
It can be very frustrating if you’ve just cut out the tiniest and most dainty shape in the world, only for it to get stuck against the die. Our first piece of advice is not to pull it because it would be a total disaster if it ripped! Don’t panic and don’t do anything too hasty.
Our second piece of advice would be to pick up a Die Brush Tool and Foam Pad. With this little set, you can easily loosen any delicate die-cut pieces from dies without damaging them. All you need to do is place your die cut side down on the foam pad and roll the bristles of the tool back and forth over the die. This will release any pieces that may be lodged, so it’s an essential item for any die cutter.
We hope that this handy tips and tricks guide has helped you out in some way, and we can’t wait to see how you put your dies to good use! Make sure you show us by sharing your photos on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #crafterscompanion.