A manual die cutting and embossing machine can be a great supplement to a digital die cutting machine since not all digital machines emboss. A manual die cut machine can be great for scrapbooking and making homemade cards.
Learn the basics about manual die cutters in my article Getting Started with Manual Die Cutting.
Use this side by side comparison guide to compare the best manual die cutting machines.
Manual Die Cutting Machine Guide
Overview and Features
The Cricut Cuttlebug is a popular machine that can cut and emboss up to 6 inches wide. It folds up to save space and the bottom suctions to whatever surface it's on, providing more stability. Different spacer plates make the machine compatible with most leading folders and dies.
The Evolution Advanced die cut machine is one of the cleverest machines on the market. It can cut and emboss up to 6 inches wide and use dies and folders from many different manufacturers. The machine comes with a dial setting to set the pressure of the rollers, eliminating the need for shims and confusing sandwiches. The crank handle can also be removed and swapped out for a motor. The sides have built in storage and fold up when not in use. When the sides are open, the base suctions to the table, providing support when cutting.
The Sizzix Big Shot is an award winning machine that can cut and emboss up to 6 inches wide. It does not fold up but has an extended multipurpose platform, which allows for more working space. The Big Shot contains solid core steel rollers and gears and has a unibody cast roller housing. Works with dies and folders from other manufacturers.
The Spellbinders Grand Calibur can cut, emboss, and stencil. It has a large 8.5 x 12 cutting mat, so it can fit full-size pieces of paper. It suctions to its surface for greater stability. It also works with dies and folders from other manufacturers.
The Spellbinders Platinum comes in two sizes. The larger machine that can cut up to 8.5 inches wide, and the smaller machine cuts up to 6 inches wide. The machines have a solid steel core making them very durable. The machines are able to cut up to 8 layers using the steel rule dies. Although the Platinum machines are big and heavy, the sides fold up saving some space.
The Fiskars Fuse Creativity system is discontinued but is still a fairly popular model that is worth a mention. It has a large 12" wide opening, and can not only cut and emboss but also letterpress, which is a process of making inked impressions.
The Vagabond machine is a neat machine that folds up into the shape of a suitcase, making it more portable. It can cut and emboss up to 6 inches wide, and it is motorized. Because it has a strong motor, one must be careful not to get the machine jammed by inserting sandwiches that are too thick.
The Big Shot Pro is a rugged machine that has a 13-inch wide opening. It works with every Sizzix and Ellison design ever made and almost every die on the market. The extended platforms make it great for cutting large pieces of fabric. It comes with a 3-year limited warranty.