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If you’ve ever used a Sizzix machine, then you likely know how great it is at cutting and embossing paper and scrapbooking materials. But it’s fun to branch out and use other materials like leather, felt and even metal.
The Sizzix Big Shot as well as the Pro and Plus can cut thin metal up to a maximum thickness of 0.5mm or 25G. Steel rule dies, such as Sizzix Bigz, should be used when cutting metal. Only soft metals like aluminum and copper should be cut. Metals can also be embossed with embossing folders.
It’s fun to try new materials with your Sizzix but attempting to cut something that is too thick or strong can damage your die cutting machine. I explain in detail below how to cut and emboss metal with a Sizzix and what specific material and dies I recommend.
Can Sizzix Cut Metal?
Before attempting to cut anything and wreck a machine in the process I reached out to Sizzix directly. Below is the answer I received.
For cutting craft and thin metal like aluminium and thin copper we suggest using our Sizzix Bigz dies only.
As long as you can cut the metal sheets with a good pair of scissors then the dies will manage.Amy, Sizzix Customer Service
The next step was to find out what thickness of metal a pair of scissors can cut. Generally, scissors can cut soft metal up to 0.5mm thick or 25 gauge.
It’s important to remember that gauge works opposite to other measurements. Meaning the larger the number the smaller the size. So 32 gauge is smaller and thinner than 25 gauge.
All Sizzix machines that can use the Sizzix Bigz dies are able to cut metal. These include the Big Shot, Big Shot Express, Big Shot Pro, Big Shot Plus, and Big Shot Foldaway.
The Big Shot, Big Shot Express, and Big Shot Foldaway all have a 6 inch wide platform. So you can use any of the Bigz dies that are 6 inches in width or less. Your materials will need to be less than 6 inches in width to fit on the platform. You can read my complete review of the Big Shot for more information
The Big Shot Plus has a 9 inch wide platform. Material can be up to 9 inches wide and the machine can use all Bigz dies as well as Bigz Plus dies.
The Big Shot Pro has a 12 inch wide platform. This machine can handle materials up to 12 inches wide. It has, even more, dies available since it is compatible with Bigz dies, Bigz Plus dies, and Bigz Pro dies. For more information on the Big Shot Pro read my detailed review of this full sized manual die cutting machine.
What Types of Metal Can be Cut With Sizzix Machines?
Craft metal and other soft and thin metals can be cut with a Sizzix. This will include metal sheets marked as “craft metal” as well as copper and aluminum. Magnet foil and metallic foil can also be cut. I’ve also seen crafter use metal flashing from the hardware store, just make sure its a softer metal and non-galvanized.
If you want to try other soft metals such as brass, nickel, or some softer alloys, test if you can cut it with a pair of scissors first. This way you will know if your machine can handle it.
Aluminum soda cans and beer cans can also be cut with your machine. Typically soda and beer cans are 0.102 mm or less. This is much smaller than the 0.5mm.
If you decide to use an aluminum can you’ll first need to cut the top and the bottom off your can and cut open the cylinder. Then flatten out the can, a rolling pin can help do this. Be very careful when working with aluminum cans as the edges can be very sharp.
What Dies Are Needed to Cut Metal?
In order to cut metal using any of the Sizzix machines, you’ll need to use steel rule dies. Sizzix makes steel rule dies called Bigz. Other brands can be used with Sizzix but Sizzix doesn’t offer any recommendations of which brands are compatible.
Sizzix states “Here at Sizzix® we have a wide range of universal dies and die-cutting systems. However, we can’t advise on the use of competitor dies in our machines. If you wish to use other brands in any of the Sizzix systems we would advise checking on the manufacturer’s website for instructions.”
As long as the die is smaller than the width of the machines opening, 6 inches for the Big Shot. And the same thickness or thinner than the Sizzix Bigz dies. Many Sizzix users have had success with Spellbinders steel ruled dies, called Contour. Accuquilt is another manufacturer that makes high quality dies, these are thinner than the Bigz dies so a shim or adapter is required.
Using a Sizzix to Emboss Metal
When it comes to embossing metals, the possibilities are virtually endless with any of the Sizzix die cutting machines. Embossing folders can add amazing intricate designs that you can then further enhance with paints and ink.
Fortunately, Sizzix provides a bit more guidance on what types and thicknesses of metals can be embossed. The following gauges work best with Sizzix DecoEmboss dies:
- Copper and brass: 28G
- Alkemè and aluminum: 25G
- Nickel: 30G
- Alloy: It depends on what it is in the alloy. For example, if the alloy has a high percentage of nickel, then approximately 30G would work, but if it is high in aluminum, then 25G would work
Embossing metal can add some beautiful embellishments to your scrapbook pages or cards. You can also cut and emboss metal to make gorgeous intricate necklaces, pendants and earrings.
What Do You Need to Emboss Metal With a Sizzix Machine?
To emboss metal (and other materials) with any of the Sizzix machines you will need to use embossing folders. You can buy Sizzix brand folder or from other manufacturers.
You’ll need to build a sandwich just like you would for any other material. You’ll need 2 clear cutting plates, your embossing folder, material and a multi-purpose platform.
The thickness of your sandwich is very important as it will be responsible for applying enough pressure when the material is rolled through the Sizzix machine.
Once you’ve got your material in the embossing folder, you’ll simply line up the design and roll it through the machine. You now have yourself a unique embossed metal piece to be used for anything your heart desires.
PRO TIP: I recommend annealing your metal material (which is the process of heating metal up to soften it) beforehand. This will make it easier to emboss. You can use a heat gun to warm the metal just be careful of your fingers.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the thickest gauge of metal you can cut with a Sizzix machine?
Sizzix machines can cut and emboss metal up to 25G or 0.5mm, anything more than that and you run the risk of ruining your machine and/or not being able to get the job done. Remember with gauge the larger the number the smaller the size.
- Each order contains (3) 12 in. X 12 in. squares. Great for craft and home projects
- High Quality 26 gauge materials. Can be cut with snips and bendable
- All painted and galvanized squares are magnetic (copper, and stainless steel are not magnetic)
What are Sizzix Bigz dies?
Bigz are Sizzix’s line of steel rule dies. They feature sharp steel blades that are housed inside black plastic and foam. Unlike wafer-thin dies, Bigz can cut thicker materials and work much like a cookie cutter.
You can also purchase steel rule dies from other manufacturers. Just make sure they are compatible with your Sizzix machine before you buy them!
What is the difference between the ‘Big Kick’ and the ‘Big Shot’?
They are almost the exact same product down to the die sizes they use. The primary differences between a Big Kick and a Big Shot (outside of the name, of course) is the colors and the handle. The Big Kick uses a hinged handle whereas the Big Shot’s handle is attached to the machine itself.
Both machines are made by Sizzix who initially intended to release the Big Kick to big box store chains (like Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, Joanne’s, etc.) and the Big Shot to independent craft stores. However, the sales for the Big Shot have been way higher.
Sizzix decided to retire the Big Kicks and now only sell the Big Shot.
So… can Sizzix cut metal? Yes, Sizzix machines can cut and emboss metal up to 25G. However, if you want to cut thicker metal materials you’ll need to find another way to do it
Regardless, I highly recommend getting yourself a Sizzix machine if you’re into embossing (or debossing) and die cutting whether its metal, fabric, or cardstock.