Comparing Scrapbook Die Cutting Systems: Slice, Wizard, Cuttlebug, Cricut, (Coluzzle)

December 17, 2008 at 1:01 am 13 comments

I’ve been comparing die cutting machine since I don’t have any at all for cutting shapes and letters.  It is a lot more expensive to buy a ton of punches than to invest in one of these, so I’m in the market for one.  Here’s what I’ve been finding, for anyone interested in comparing die-cutting machines.

The cheapest Slice (click to see video)I could find was about $109.00 tonight here.  The other day I saw one in a special deal where you got a pre-order free cartidge that would ship in February. The Slice is very cool.  But, I often craft while watching TV with the fam, and it might be too loud for me (note that in the video, they voice-over the sound…it cuts into a glass matte, so it is going to make a razor against glass sound–search other videos on youTube to hear that).  I think another possible con for me might be the need for a sticky surface  I like using my cutting surface fully for several products, all the time–I am imagining a hairball of all sorts of paper getting stuck on my cutting mat.   I’m also not sure I’d want to go all the way through the digital screens to find each letter I needed.  But, I love the font selectionsand it just looks so darn fun to play with!  LOVE how up to date the cartridges and fonts are, and the variety of alpha sizes for each letter on one cartridge as it’s electronic.

The Wizard, an all metal, very sturdy die cutting machine, creates GREAT embossing with it’s like 500 or 5000 pounds of pressure…I can’t remember, but has a loud ratchety sound when you push the level up and down to feed the plates through (again, interferes with card making while TV watching, or crafting after The Hub is in bed (often, when I’m hitting a creative surge). I craft in the guest room right next to our bedroom and right next to the TV room.  This same company also makes the wonderful “Nestabilities” dies which greatly reduce the cost of punches for frequently used stacks geometric and scalloped shapes.  Their dies look best in the Wizard, but people say they also get great results with the Cuttlebug (next), once they learn the correct “sandwich” to use without breaking their Cuttlebug “B plate” (replacement cost approx. $7 for 2).  I would love to have this one if it were easily to store, lighter weight, and didn’t make the noise.

The Cuttlebug is raved on scrapbooking forums as a compact, handy, low- cost die-cutting machine that will accept any manufacturer’s dies.  Drawback (as with all manual die cut machines)…letters have to be done individually and projects that may require repeat cutting would take a while.  Dies only come in the size of the die (as compared to the Cricut or Slice where multiple sizes can be acheived).  A plus is that you can use tiny scraps of paper and just place them over letters without having to pre-cut paper with any precision, AND it’s a simple approach requiring no computer.

The Cuttlebug embosses as well, (though I’ve read not to the very sharp extent that the Wizard does, still very pleasing results for users). The Cuttlebug also embosses it’s own nice Provocraft brand “A2 folders” (which is the size of a small card).  The Wizard will emboss these folders as well.  They are called “folders” because the card sort of sandwiches between the positive and negative imprints of the embossed design, the the machine smashes in the image as you roll it through.  (I found that applying pressure using a Pampered Chef mini muffin wooden tool works pretty well also with these  folders if you don’t have a Cuttlebug, especially if you spritz the paper with alcohol mist first for a stronger imprint).

The cheapest Cuttlebug I could find in my comparisons online was $39.99  at Custom Crops If you order today and place an order above $100.00, you get free shipping with their code posted on the home page. This machine is currently compatible with all dies on the market, simply by changing the plate thickness “sandwich”.  You can look up those “recipes” online in scrapbooking forums.  Just the fact that every person I know who has one uses words like:  “I LOVE my bug…once you have one, you will love it and not regret it” is a selling point.

I would personally have this machine simple to use with nestability dies.  I love cards done with these.  I have been working on my collection and have my family buy me sets for Christmas each year.  It try to wait a year to avoid the “new die” markups.  There are machines now like the “bug” that allow for even larger dies.  I probably won’t upgrade, but know some friends who love this flexibility.

The Cricut, another electronic cutter, allows operation without a computer using font cartridges, or you can hook it up to a computer with a program called SCAL (acronym for “Sure Cuts a Lot” at $75.00).  SCAL is a third-party software program unaffiliated with Provocraft (makers of the Cricut) that will allow you to cut any font on your computer, or any .svg file.  Here’s a link that gives you “all the details” on SCAL in conjunction with the free downloadable program, Inkscape, which converts your font layouts to an .svg file needed by SCALSCAL has a WYSIWYG editor so that you can see what the machine will cut, eliminating the need for the package sold by Provocraft. (Cricut Design Studio or something like that, also about $70.00-$75 at Wal*mart).  I’m told you can update any drivers with older free trials of this program, but they are getting hard to find…Provocraft is trying to block the sale of this product as their company doesn’t own it.  I personally would not buy the Cricut without the ability to cut my own fonts…they should just get on board with the program or something.  I love SCAL.

This is a good video showing the settings on the Cricut machine keypad and how to adjust them for papers from a thin vellum to a thicker cardstock.

The “personal” sized Cricut also called “mini” will cut 6″X12″ paper, perhaps 6X24 if you CUT A 12×24 mat and get creative with it.  If you have already the EK Success Cuterpede paper trimmer, you know how easy it is to cut 6″X12″ cuts by swinging out the side extension arm which gives you a perfect 6″ guide.  The best price I’ve found for this machine new online with one standard cartridge post black Friday sales was at Custom Crops for $119.00.  They promise to ship within 2-4 days and free shipping with purchases over $100 with a code from their home page.   I considered one with no cartridge since I want to hook it to a spare computer, but if I want to use it at crops, thought it would be nice to have at least the one “traveling font” (I’ve also since read that you need at least one cartridge to make SCAL work…don’t know if this is backed up by science or not).  That is the case.

The Cricut “Expression” is also available this year on their site for $219 which will cut 12X12 papers.  I didn’t think I’d need this size, but have seen wall applications using vinyl where I can see the benefit of a larger size…for, say a family wall Monogram with a big circle around it.  I think I can design around that for now, though using quotes or words rather than large objects.  (I have since upgraded to the Expression.  Prices have come down on black Friday sales.  I think I got mine at Wal*Mart this year [2010] for $180 with two free cartridges.  I’ve also seen them on ebay with four cartridge packages for about that much.)

The pluses for the Cricut are:  if you need to cut out duplicates, you just tell it to cut again without having to cut shapes or letters out over and over as with a traditional die machine.  Also, you can cut any dingbat on your system with the upgrades discussed above.  The negative is, is doesn’t emboss, which is something I’m really into for cards right now.

The Coluzzle:  This isn’t really a “die cutting” machine per se, but it is, then again.  You take a specially made knife with a swivel blade and run it around thin, plastic templates to create your shape.  I personally own and love this system for it’s lightweight and compact storage and portability.  It is harder to do alphas and the ones I do have are HUGE.  I love that about them…then again, not much flexibility.  I have continued to add to my Coluzzle system, however, even as I look at other systems simply due to it’s usefulness in addition to other systems.  I like the basic shapes best and love them…use them all the time.  I use them a lot of Sunday School projects, or to mass cut images for cards if I have time to work while we are traveling.  It cuts very well in my lap and is lightweight for travel.

Useage:  currently, I love to use it to cut two size shapes and follow the pattern of the smaller shape to create a scallop on the larger with my decorative scissors.  I am using a lot of my decorative scissors in this way for cards…I think the results are very beautiful and clean, simple…and a lot of fun:


I actually cut four coluzzle ovals for this card, cutting one down with scissors.

Also, I often use it in my 2nd grade Sunday School class–the kids love to watch me do them.  For portability and ease of storage and use…I love this product.

Negative:  cutting the leftover areas where channels end is a bit tricky.  I often need to do cleanup with scissors.  I bought a Creative Memories Oval Cutter off ebay this Christmas for clean edges on my ovals and circles, such as in trimming actual photos.  I love that with my Coluzzle, I can just lay the necessary mat over my work space and cut, whereas with my CM trimmers, I’ve got to have a cutting mat.  I tend to keep a dirty work surface, so all that to say, there are times I prefer to use both.

Entry filed under: Authenticity, Card Making, Everyday, Mine!, Scrapbooking. Tags: , .

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13 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Cousin Misty  |  December 17, 2008 at 11:30 pm

    I love my cricut. We use it almost as much for school as for scrapbooking. I don’t have the computer program that goes along with it, though. I hope Santa brings you something fun.

  • 2. Connie  |  January 25, 2009 at 11:24 pm

    I have a cuttlebug and the cricut expression. I’ve bought 40 cricut cartridges so far and have used all but one. I don’t buy a cartridge unless I have already designed a card using it. (This is were the design studio comes in handy.) The one that I haven’t used, I bought new on eBay for $15.00.

  • 3. Theresa  |  February 2, 2009 at 11:17 am

    I am in the market for a die cutting machine as I design and put together page kits for quick and easy pages. I am looking at the Klic-n-kut 13″ and the Pazzles Inspiration. How easy is it to get new designs off the web without it costing anything?

  • 4. Leslie Rogers  |  April 30, 2009 at 8:18 pm

    Thanks for all the research. I just bought a Cuttlebug and now am having second thoughts since I’ve seen the Spellbinder. I think you’re review gave me more confidence, but admittingly, the Cuttlebug states they don’t do brass stencil embossing.
    Thank you again!

  • 5. Maggie  |  May 1, 2009 at 9:59 am

    Leslie, with the additional of the spellbinders metal embossing charm mat, it will do brass stencils and will also, with it, emboss the nestabilities. I may have gone with the spellbinders, except for the rachet noise it makes (I often work when there can’t be that kind of noise, and it’s weight.) Thanks for reading! Hope this helps!

  • 6. Pat  |  July 3, 2009 at 9:59 am

    I purchased tge Big Shot (electric) just recently. I love it. It does embossing and does the long borders from Sizzix. It also does all the other sizzix dies, from the large red to sizzlets. Some of these I could not give up. But the alphabet is less than desireable. So I’m looking at the cricut. What do you think?

  • 7. Maggie  |  July 3, 2009 at 10:03 am


    First, thank for visiting and for your comments.

    I’m using the Cricut with SCAL and love it because I can cut any True Type Font on my computer. I’m not sure I’d be an easy sell with the cartidges, though you can get them on sale if that’s more up your alley. You can look on my sidebar for SCAL for more info–either the ad or the topics where I’ve posted on it. I just posted today with a card I made using SCAL and a DB font from ScrapNfonts and the Cricut markers. I thought it turned out so cute.

  • 8. Karen  |  September 16, 2009 at 4:28 pm

    I am looking for a cutting machine that will cut cupcake “wrappers” (you can see what I mean by Googling with image “cupcake wrappers” – please help!

  • 9. Wendy  |  October 9, 2009 at 5:10 pm

    Thank you for the information on all of these cutting systems! I’m interested in purchasing a spellbinders machine and found your comparison very helpful!

  • 10. Vicki  |  November 22, 2009 at 7:24 pm

    I noticed that you didn’t look into the Pazzles Inspiration. It does require a computer…and is pricier than the others….but it does a multitude of things…cuts images, mats, vinyl, grunge board, acrylic, accomodates12″ by 24″ or more if you can find a mat to facilitate the job. There are a variety of tools for it: embossing, distressing, engraving, piercing, etc. The tools are extra but are an investment. What separates the Inspiration from the Cricut is the fact that you don’t need to purchase any cartridges…those add up. So, for what you can save in purchasing the cartridges, you can invest in the Inspiration. You can vectorize images on the computer cliparts….and the machine does it all for you. If you don’t want to be bothered doing that….then you can import wingdings….or any font that you like…to either be written with your pens, glitter pens, glue pens….endless choices ….or you can cut out the images.

    I waited a long time before purchasing a machine because I didn’t want to spend a fortune on one that would sit in the back of my closet. I use my Inspiration all of the time. I am amazed by what it can do. I would choose it over any of the above listed products. I will admit though….I still love my Cuttlebug and use it right along with the Inspiration because I love their embossing folders….but guess what? I just learned how to make my own embossing folders on the Inspiration. The Cuttlebug is great for dragging along on crops though. Hope this helps!

  • 11. Vicki  |  November 22, 2009 at 7:37 pm

    I wrote a long dissertation about the Pazzles Inspiration and tried to submit it here and it disappeared! I have no idea what happened! Anyway, I love my Inspiration. It may cost more initially…..but I no longer buy a lot of stuff because it does everything for me. I no longer buy greeting cards or embellishments for cards or scrap-booking. This machine is amazing. It does all of the above that you have listed and more. It cuts paper, card stock, vinyl, chipboard, acrylic, etc….it can cut, draw, emboss, distress, punch, cut fancy edges (like the edged scissors), engrave…..I can go on and on. You do need a computer though. The way that I looked at it at the time that I purchased it…I had been looking at the Cricut and was ready to purchase one. I then saw the Inspiration and realized that I didn’t need to buy cartridges for it. I could merely use the fonts on my computer or from the internet by downloading them…or cut wing dings…which is the type of images that the cricut charges for on their cartridges. The only drawback with the Inspiration is that I do go through a lot of mats when I am doing my wedding designs. I make a lot of lacy mats…I used to pay $1-3 for them before designing my own. If anyone reading this is in the market for a cutting system, I would highly recommend that they go to and check out the Inspiration. I will say this….there is a huge learning curve….but it is so worth it. If you are the least bit computer savvy, you would do fine. I love mine….and trust me….I am not affiliated with Pazzles in any way except for making friendships with them through online correspondence at their online forum. This is one of those products that I would sell because I believe in the product so much.

  • 12. Maggie  |  November 30, 2009 at 11:47 pm

    Thanks Vicki..the information on both on the Pazzles was so good that I left both comments up. Your dissertation was good both times. I didn’t consider the Pazzles initially because of price, i have to say.

    I wasn’t interested at the time in doing all the other things.

    With my Cricut, I do not buy cartridges either, but use a computer software program called “SCAL” or “sure cuts a lot” which enables cutting of my own files, or ones I purchase, for much less than cartridges. I LOVE IT! Would love to play with a Pazzles as well some time. Thanks for piping in!

  • 13. Linda Lynch  |  September 4, 2010 at 7:07 am

    Thank you so much for the comparisons on the machines. I have a Big Shot and love it, but the dies get very expensive. I have been thinking about a cricut or slice, but now am anxious to check out the pazzles Inspiration. I have been trying to get the Big Shot to use the nestibilities and it has been a challenge. I need to get their mat.

    Again, thank you for all of your research and sharing.

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Magnanimity (derived from the Latin roots magn- great, and anima, soul) is the virtue of being great of mind and heart. It encompasses, usually, a refusal to be petty, a willingness to face danger, and actions for noble purposes. Its antithesis is pusillanimity. Both terms were coined by Aristotle, who called magnanimity "the crowning virtue."

Noah Webster's 1828 Dictionary of the American Language defines Magnanimity as such:

MAGNANIM'ITY, n. [L. magnanimitas; magnus, great, and animus, mind.] Greatness of mind; that elevation or dignity of soul, which encounters danger and trouble with tranquillity and firmness, which raises the possessor above revenge, and makes him delight in acts of benevolence, which makes him disdain injustice and meanness, and prompts him to sacrifice personal ease, interest and safety for the accomplishment of useful and noble objects.[1] (Source: Wikipedia)



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Please know that I am not posting as an expert, but as a fellow traveler. I recommend that you research and double check things on your own before taking any advice or instruction from this site.  Information is given in good faith for the time period in which it was written. I am also an affiliate of the Sure Cuts A Lot software, for Cricut, which means you don't need Cricut cartridges to cut any font or .jpg on your computer.  I get some pocket change for introducing you if you choose to buy it by clicking on my site.  And we all know I need more cardstock, so I do appreciate it.  I sometimes review other products for a fee, but I am not required to give a positive review, and post honestly as to my experience.  I hope you find this useful.

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