6 Essential Die Cutting Tools You Need for Scrapbooking and Paper Crafting

6 minute read

Die-cutting is a popular way to embellish scrapbook pages or paper crafts. But what are the best die cutting tools? Which craft dies should you buy, and how do they work together with the rest of your paper crafting supplies? 

This blog post will help you get started by giving an overview of die-cutting, different die cutting accessories, why it's helpful to have multiple crafting dies on hand at all times - plus a few tips and tricks! Whether you're a newbie or an experienced scrapbooker, we hope this blog post helps demystify the art of cutting dies!

Die cutting tools for scrapbook and paper crafts

Altenew Die Cutting Tools

What is die-cutting?

Have you ever wanted to make your own custom-shaped die-cuts but never felt confident enough in your die-cutting abilities? 

Die-cutting is a fun and easy way to add unique shapes and dimensions to scrapbook pages, paper crafts, handmade cards, invitations, or any other DIY project. With the right cutting accessories, you can easily cut out any shape imaginable with just a piece of cardstock and your machine! 

So, what is die cutting? Die cutting is a process that turns materials into customized die-cut shapes. When die-cutting, the wafer thin metal die is specially designed so it can be used to cut paper, cardstock, foam, board, felt, plastic, cork, chipboard, and other die-cut friendly materials. 

There are many die cutters in the market that come in different styles, shapes, and sizes to suit your needs. Let’s explore them, shall we? 

Die cutting machine for paper crafting

Mini Blossom Die Cutting Machine

What is a die-cutting machine, and how do you use it?

Whether you're a scrapbooker, paper crafter, or card maker, die-cutting is an essential technique that can be used in many different ways. 

Die cutting machines are a must-have for scrapbookers, card makers, and paper crafters. These small, portable devices can cut out shapes quickly to save time on your paper crafting projects - especially when creating multiple handmade pieces or producing large numbers of die-cuts with the same intricate design!

This all-around handy machine isn't just for cutting dies; it also has other features like embossing and debossing, making this fun crafting process easier!

Scrapbook page decorated with die cuts

Rounded Rectangles Die Set

There are two types of die cutting machines: manual and electronic.

Manual Die Cutting Machine

Electronic Die Cutting Machine

Portable and travel-friendly

Cuts, writes, scores, scans, embosses, etc.

Easy to use and beginner-friendly


No power source, computer software, or electricity needed

Needs a power source and an Internet connection

More budget-friendly

A bit pricey

More environment-friendly

Not very environment-friendly

You need a bit of arm strength since you have to manually turn the hand crank.

Cuts smoothly and precisely

Some manufacturers sell the die cutting plates separately.

You only need to push a button - no arm strength needed.

Some brands can only cut paper.

Some need accessories or tools that are exclusive to the brand

While the star of any room will always be your trusty cutter (we know we love ours!), there are some essential die cutting tools needed too. We’ll get to them in a little bit, so keep on reading!

Start your die cutting journey and make cutting easier with Altenew's die cutting tool!

Travel journal with die cuts

Holiday Tag Die Set

What can you make with a die cutting machine?

A die-cutting machine can do anything from cutting out simple shapes like hearts or flowers to intricate and ornate ones with fantastic precision and ease of use.

Have you ever wondered why this machine is a must for scrapbookers, paper crafters, and DIY crafters? With this machine, you can create cutouts quickly with precision and in bulk! With this amazing tool, you’ll never need scissors again when creating handmade projects or mass producing complex designs as it saves so much time. Compared to fussy cutting, where you manually cut out shapes and designs, your die-cut machine requires minimal work and effort, making the process less tedious.

DIY tags made with craft dies

Terrific Tags Die Set

If you’re a scrapbooker or paper crafter and wondering what can you make with a die-cutting machine or how to emboss with dies, we’ve got a few ideas right here!

  1. Page title
  2. Layered embellishments
  3. Creative backgrounds
  4. DIY bookmarks
  5. Gift tags
  6. Mixed media art
  7. Quick borders
  8. Special sentiments
  9. Embossed background or focal point

Learn more die-cutting techniques and ideas and find out what is die cutting!

What die cutting accessories do you need?

A standard die-cutting machine usually requires cutting plates, mats, die-cutting platforms, metal shim, and, of course, wafer thin metal craft dies.

Scrapbook page title made with alphabet die-cuts

Fine Alphabet Die Set

These die cutting tools help give you the best results on your scrapbook pages and paper crafts. Precise die-cutting requires high quality cutters and accessories for increased accuracy. All of these tools help your machine cut shapes out of your chosen materials - whether it’s paper, cardstock, fabric, felt, chipboard, etc.

6 Die Cutting Accessories You Need Right Now!

Die cutting is a technique that can be done to embellish the your scrapbook pages and decorate DIY paper crafts. This technique is used for a variety of purposes, but there are some basic cutting accessories that you need to get the best results from your die cutting.

Die cutting plates from Altenew

Mini Blossom Die Cutting Plates

Die Cutting Plates

Imagine these die accessories as the bread slices in a sandwich. Die cutting plates are made of clear acrylic. These plates are used to “sandwich” the dies and cardstock paper in between. You feed these plates into your machine and they work together to make sure your design gets cut exactly as desired. Some manufacturers use a mat or a pad instead of acrylic plates. There are usually two of them, the clean plate and the rough plate. The latter is the one placed at the bottom so the die cuts into it.

Metal shim for die cutting

Mini Blossom Die Cutting Metal Shim

Metal Shim or Metal Adapter Plate

This useful die cutting tool is an additional plate that can help with cutting more complex and intricate designs. Although wafer thin metal dies are usually sharp enough to cut through regular paper, thicker cardstock, felt, fabric, or cork need more pressure. That’s where a metal shim comes in handy. This tool is usually placed between the platform and the rough cutting plate. Some manufacturers have a plastic shim or magnetic shim instead of a metal one.

Crafting dies from Altenew

Altenew Crafting Dies

Craft Dies

It goes without saying that you need these die accessories to create die-cuts. A die is made of wafer thin metal and usually has two sides, one of them is the cutting side. It is thin and lightweight. Craft dies come in a variety of sizes, shapes, patterns, and designs. The pressure of the die against the paper as it passes through the machine is what cuts out the desired shape.

Embossing Mat

If you’re wondering how to emboss with dies, this is the answer! Most die-cutting machines come with an embossing mat that you can use right away. With this mat, you can create a raised pattern or design on your cardstock paper. It serves as a “buffer” so that the die’s design or shape will get embossed onto the paper instead of the shape getting cut out.

Adhesives for die cutting

Sticky Essentials Foam Tape, Masking Paper, & Adhesive Sheets Bundle

Double Adhesive Sheet or Foam Tape

Although die-cuts are designed to add instant dimension, using a foam tape gives it that extra height! A double adhesive tape is another handy die cutting tool. It could be hard to put adhesives on to intricate, delicate, and tiny die-cuts. Using a double adhesive tape can make this process hassle-free.

Scrapbook page with butterfly die cuts

Mix & Match Mariposa Die Set

Purple Tape

If you’re a paper crafter, you’ve probably heard of or seen the magical “purple tape.” This special adhesive was created by a company called Therm-O-Web. It’s a low tack, easy-to-remove tape that is used to keep a die in place. Although the cutting plates do a pretty good job of holding the die in place as it goes through the machine, it’s still better to use purple tape there. A washi tape might work, but purple tape has been tried and tested by seasoned scrapbookers and paper crafters over the years. This is one of the most useful die accessories that you can invest in.

Handmade card with faux letterpress design

Modern Birthday Faux Letterpress Debossing Folder

Die cutting is a great technique to decorate and embellish your scrapbook page or and other paper crafting projects. Here, we’ve discussed the cutting accessories needed for precise, intricate, and beautiful die-cuts on any of your scrapbooking projects.

If you’re looking to try out this crafty hobby then we highly recommend investing in these die cutting tools now! You can start with simple techniques like using shapes or word dies, as well as more advanced ones such as making 3D flowers from beautiful, colored cardstock. Have fun experimenting with different styles of dies -- there are so many options available! -- to make sure that every single one of your handmade creations is unique.

Ready to try die-cutting? Choose from our collection of die sets!

Your Ultimate Guide to Paper Crafting

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