Die Cutsu ts
Back when I started scrapbooking, my local store had a diecutting machine for customers to use. We’d dutifully crank our cardstock through with a thick padded die, the result being a cut image of a frame, oval, car, duckie or other simple shape.
A few years later, personal die-cutting machines entered the homes of crafters and I admit: I was late to the party. I lived in a small apartment, with an even smaller craft space, and I couldn’t fathom where I would put a machine let alone the dies, plates and shims. Plus, how many oval shapes could I really need, anyway?
Fast forward, and die cutting has become a solid part of paper crafting. We’ve moved well beyond those basic shapes and big machines. Today’s crafter has a wide assortment of options for both dies and machinery—there’s something to suit every budget, space and design preference. Suddenly I could take advantage of the small tabletop machines and the huge variety of beautiful designs. I couldn’t resist any longer!
Now that die cutting has become such a key part of card making, we’re also experimenting with different die-cutting techniques. Once cut, these versatile paper images can be glittered, embossed, stacked, layered, cut apart and used in a lot of different ways, giving you the most for your crafting investment.
Machines come with cutting plates. Generally, two of the plates are clear plastic cutting plates that will sandwich your die and the cardstock. With use, they’ll become cloudy and scratched from the die blades. Be sure to rotate them occasionally, using both sides and alternating which one is on top. You can also clean them now and then with dishwashing soap and water—especially important if you use low-tack tape to secure your dies to the plate. I use an old toothbrush to scrub in the etched lines, to remove all paper and tape residue.
Replace your cutting pads when both sides become worn and are no longer cutting properly.
Cutting dies are a tool, just like stamps and stencils, and will last a long time with proper care.
When you are done cutting a shape, be sure to remove all paper bits from the die before using it again (Photo 1). A paper piercer or other sharp tool will do the trick. Store your die in the original packaging or on a magnetic sheet.