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Published on December 11th, 2012 | by Cut@Home


Helpful Tips For Cutting Intricate Dies!

With dies getting more and more detailed, there has been an increase in inquiries wanting to know helpful tips for cutting intricate dies such as Spellbinders, Quickutz and Sizzix wafer thin dies.

One of the biggest complaints being that the more intricate the die, the more the paper wants to stick inside the die and NOBODY wants to spend a half hour picking the paper out of the die! Go figure! None of us have time for that! We have got WAY to many cards to make, presents to wrap, cookies to bake (and so on) to spend our precious time picking out stuck paper!!!! GRRRR!

Is this how you feel? I thought so! So, I am going to share with ALL of you some very helpful tips for preventing stuck paper and for getting those intricate dies to cut all the way through.

A common example of an intricate die that requires wax paper and patience is S4-339-Spellbinders 2012 Holiday Tree, but the results are stunning!


1. Wax paper-Yep, that is right, plain ol’ wax paper from your kitchen! If I have nothing else to say to you, it is this very important, although simple advise. Use a piece of wax paper between the die and the paper or cardstock you are cutting. This will help release the paper from the die as well as keep the cutting edge clean and sharp. Works like a charm!

2. The more intricate the die, the more important even pressure is to get a clean cut.  If your die does not cut all the way through the first time, you will want to turn it on a different angle and run through your machine again. For example- place your die at 10:00 for the first pass, then at 2:00 for the second pass. You may also want to run the die through your machine several times in order to make sure the die cuts all the way through.

3. Make sure your cutting pads are newer as old, scratched up and warped plates may not cut intricate dies as well due to rougher, bowed surfaces not allowing enough even pressure to cut evenly.

4. Try a shim of 1-2 pieces of cardstock under the die if it is not quite cutting through all the way. It may need a lift.

5. NEVER FORCE ANYTHING through your machine! This is most important for use with any type of die. Die cutting machines have so much pressure while cutting that they can break if you force a to- tight sandwich formula through.

This video should help!

I hope this information will be helpful for you when using intricate dies for cards and layouts!

Thanks and Happy Scrappin’!


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About the Author

I love Scrapbooking, Rubber Stamping, and Card Making Ideas and Projects,which is why I started! I enjoy offering the Best products,ideas, & videos for Spellbinders,Sizzix,Provo Craft,Quickutz,Graphic 45,DCWV,Hero Arts,Making Memories and much more!

  • Eva Sands

    Thanks, Marcie, for the wonderful, simple tip. I had given up using some of my dies. Good old wax paper to the rescue. I’ll pass this tip along to my fellow stampers and mention you and Cut At Home as the source.

  • Yes, simple wax paper is key to removing paper from those stubborn dies! I also use it with foil, but I like to tape the die in place when using it with foil, as the wax paper tends to make the die slide around on the foil which is not helpful! Wax paper and scotch tape with foil!

  • jimba601

    thank you so much for these helpful hints. I am very new to papercrafting and I recently received my Spellbinders wonderful wings butterfly dies. I was very eager to run them through my bigshot, but much to my dissapointment the die did not completely cut through my cardstock AND I had the very small pieces to pick out of the die. Now that I have your helpful tips, I will try my dies again. Thanks for sharing

  • Great! I hope that these tips will enable you to use your Wonderful Wings as it is a beautiful die set!

  • Thank-you so much for this wonderful tip! It works great!! My Eiffel Tower was so easy to remove.

  • Great! I’m so glad that these tips helped!

  • Chris

    Hi, we must have real crappy wax paper in Australia… lol… Didn’t work for me!!!… But, I found rubbing the dies with a bar of soap before use works like a Treat!!! Just remember to brush off any soap with an old tooth brush and Bobs your auntie… Yippee!!

  • Bar of soap is a great tip to know about! I will have to try that myself to see how it works! Thanks for sharing your tip!

  • janel

    i used the waxed paper technique on that very same die last year, and my cards turned out beautiful. however this year i am having a problem with another intricate die (called frostyville frame). it is a beautil die, and i have had good luck with other dies from this company. i have tried the waxed paper, repositioning the die, running it through more than once, used paper shims, used new plates. i like to get an early start on my christmas cards. HELP!!!

  • Unfortunately, I am not familiar with the Frostyville Frame so I don’t know if I will be much help, but if it is a wafer thin die and you have tried all the tips for cutting, and it still will not cut, you may have a defective die. You should first contact the retailer where you purchased the die, then follow their instructions. You may end up contacting the manufacturer if that is what is suggested.

  • Linda

    Wow – I have owned this Christmas tree die cut for four months and have been so frustrated!! I even called Spellbinders, who were very nice, but no help. I have a Cuttlebug (really about to go to Sizzix Big Shot) and I used wax paper, 1 piece of card stock between Plate A and B, then wax paper taped to die, plate C and ran through first time with tree top pointing at 10:00, put through machine again with tree top pointing to 2:00 and bingo!!! I have been cutting out beautiful trees. Thanks so much for the tip –

  • I am so glad you are finally able to get the full benefit of your 2012 Holiday Tree die finally and that we were able to help! It really is so beautiful, but a little tricky to cut out. Totally worth it once you get the hang of it though!

  • Linda

    I have been home for 8 weeks with asthma and trying to restrain from buying all the cool things I see on your you tube sights- but just purchased a teal big shot and already own a cuttlebug which I have had for a couple of years. Your sight and neat projects using the Big Shot obviously made me feel better (?) My question is, will all of my cuttlebug dies, embossing folders and everything except for the plates work on my new machine? Thanks for your help – have to get well or my husband is going to hide computer from me. Linda

  • I am so sorry that you have not been well, and we surely don’t want your hubby to hide the computer from you, so you will be pleased to know that all of the dies and embossing folders you have used in your Cuttlebug will indeed work with the Big Shot! Of course, the plates are different, but I think you will find that the Big Shot is just a bit sturdier and with the opening being slightly wider, you will find that some dies and folders will actually be easier to use. Get well soon, but have fun creating in the meantime!

  • Rose Ferguson

    I have a beautiful snowflake by Impression Obsession that will not cut properly. We have tried it in the Big Shot, Sizzex, Cuttle Bug, in fact I broke my Sizzex by adding too many shims but it will not cut thru. Has anyone tried the E-Embosser on this die and what were the results? I used a metal shim as well. Any ideas would be helpful. Rose

  • Unfortunately we do not carry Obsession dies and are not familiar with their use in various machines, but if it is not cutting properly, I suggest you call the manufacturer directly for help as it may be a defective die.

  • Tina Daling

    I have a similar tree die cut that wouldn’t work with my Cuttlebug. I tried all I could think of. I do use the wax paper but I still wasn’t getting an even cut. Finally I tried cutting a shim about the same size as the tree which I put under the tree – that along with the wax paper worked perfectly. I do run it through twice.

  • Thanks for your tip Tina! Sometimes a shim will do wonders! I’m glad you were able to get your die to work in your Cuttlebug. We have discovered that even though the CB is a wonderful little machine, it doesn’t have quite the pressure that some of its competitors have to cut some dies, but for the most part it is a great machine.

  • Helen

    Thank you so much for the hint of wax paper to stop paper/card sticking in dies!! Ended my disappointment at a new Christmas tree filigree die that is so frustrating… after only the first time of using! I can now play with it, and swap & change the cutouts from it…it looks amazing! 🙂

  • I’m so glad that the wax paper tip helped you to have fun with your new die instead of it causing you frustration. The more intricate dies do need a little more TLC, but are well worth the end result!

  • kjs

    Wax paper has saved me from a Christmas card-making meltdown! 🙂 So grateful for this advice – I can’t tell you! Thank you, thank you!

  • Oh good! We are so glad we could help! One less meltdown over the holidays is always a good thing. 🙂 Merry Christmas!

  • Ellen

    Thank you Thank you Thank you- I was getting so frustrated with my Big Shot. I bought it from a friend and was beginning to think that maybe the machine was defective. I am going to try your hints now and see if I get better results (and I will also purchase some new cutting pads as well).

  • I’m glad that we were able to help, as you have a great machine in the Big Shot. It is one we recommend for most of our customers interested in a manual die cutting machine. For more information on how to use various products in your Big Shot, we have several How To videos with the Big Shot that you may find helpful on our YouTube channel.

  • Leezel

    Anyone have a tip how to have a clean cut? You know, without those thingies on the edges. I don’t have problem cutting even intricate dies, with or without wax paper, the outcome has a lot of paper fibers I have to manually take in all the intricate parts!

    And I have to do a lot 🙁 Floral flourish and bell rose by heartfelt creations/spellbinders.


  • Unfortunately, we don’t have a tip that will eliminate those “thingies” on the edges, but there is an upcoming solution to the fibers you have to take out of the intricate dies. The Tool n One from Spellbinders is now available for pre-order on our site and is expected to release around the middle of this month! It is fabulous!

  • Scarlettlady

    Hi to everyone ..just another tip for very intricate dies…I have a filigree heart die that despite shims, grease proof etc just would not cut…but I heard about another way…just get a very fine water spray bottle and lightly spritz your card stock and then Diecut….hey presto even my most stubborn dies have to give in! Your die cut is a little damp but soon dry when you leave them flat….apparently it softens the fibres making it easier to cut… .hope this helps

  • Thank you for the tip! We appreciate your comments and are thrilled that we have learned something new to share with our viewers. I’m sure everyone who has tried to cut intricate dies will appreciate the tip!

  • Helen

    I tried the greaseproof paper but found baking paper better – the cut comes away very well, though you may have to run the whole thing back and forth a couple of times to make sure all is cut. But then the cut card comes out beautifully. (My B plates are somewhat curved now, so I don’t get the best pressure all the time 🙂 )

  • Thanks for the tip! We love to have input from our viewers, because the best tips are the tried and true ones. Cutting plates will warp over time, and will work for a long time with basic shapes, but it is best to have a pair of newer plates on hand for more intricate dies when those old faves just don’t “cut it”.

  • Annette

    Dear Carrie,
    Have you tried the new Cut-tidy sheets/wallets by tattered lace on create and craft.
    Works like wax paper only much much better. Also creates a completely clean way of working and speeds up the whole process. It’s almost like magic.

  • Annette

    Sorry forgot to mention. No more poking out bits. The die cutter and work piece come out completely clean. Happy cutting.

  • vanessa

    I love Cut tidy pockets sold by Tattered Lace. It is a pocket which you put your card or paper into and your die cutter on top. Cut tidy does not cut through the pocket but does cut the paper inside , which means your bits are not all over the place but in the pocket . Your metal die stays completely clean every time . You never have to poke bits out of your cutter again. Its Magic!

  • Annette

    Sorry, too excited by these cut tidies. Just discovered 2 things.
    Firstly it is easier to use without the magnetic strip. If you need the magnetic strip you must increase the shimming pressure. Unfortunately this reduces the life of the cut tidy but you can still keep using it even after the cut tidy cuts through.
    Secondly. If you are careful you can use also it to cut intricate patterns in icing sheets of the right thickness for the die cutter. Fantastic.

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