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Topic: Which cutting machine do I want?  (Read 13827 times)
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Girl
« on: December 08, 2011 04:03:16 AM »

I have been doing my best to read up on the topic and have learned a lot, mostly from posts by lylacfey, but I have a few specific needs so I thought it best to ask advice before dropping my dollars.

I want a cutting machine. Nay, I need a cutting machine. I'm starting to lose feeling in the tip of my right index finger from holding scissors!

I have no experience with them, so I really don't know what I'm getting myself into. So part of what I'd like to know is what kind of upkeep expense I'm going to be looking at.

But the main thing I need to know is... which one do I get?? I've looked over this machine comparison chart, but it's a little overwhelming for someone who doesn't know what they're doing. I am a technology-friendly person so I don't doubt I'll be able to handle the machine once I narrow down the choices a bit more.

I definitely want something computer-aided. I am all about Photoshop so I want to be able to do my own designs. I don't know anything about software for cutting devices, so, while I don't doubt I can figure one out, advice on those would be nice too.

The main thing I'm worried about, though, is being able to cut around things I've printed out. For that, I need accuracy between the machine, my printer, and my measuring, I know. I'm just hoping that my expectations aren't unreasonable. I mean, I know it's possible (I've been watching videos on YouTube)... Maybe I just want confirmation that I'm not crazy. I dunno. I have kind of an old, cheap printer, so I may be willing to buy a better printer too, if that's advisable.

As an example, I would like the machine to be able to cut these pillow boxes for me, as well as the earrings, which are made of shrinky dink plastic:



Would that be too difficult to manage? Would I be pulling my hair out hoping things line up? Really, that's my main concern.

I'm not really sure how much I'm looking to spend, but I would be willing to put up more for a quality machine.

Thank you in advance for the advice. I'm really excited to get one of these!
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batimm
« Reply #1 on: December 08, 2011 12:01:20 PM »

I'm not sure how to cut out around and object that has already been printed but I do know the Cricut Imagine prints and cuts at the same time. I love the Imagine and how you can just print and have it cut out at the same time. I have never tried printing something and cutting out a different shape though. That's something I'm going to have to check out!
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wwrich
« Reply #2 on: December 08, 2011 02:34:53 PM »

I do some of what you are trying to accomplish with my Cricut. I have a template in PhotoShop that I use to create gift tags every Christmas.  I print different names and/or images on my tags each year.  I use different colors of card stock for different occasions.  I have the "base" Cricut machine (I think "Create").

I can pretty reliably get the text to appear on the right place in the right orientation on the tags.  There is, however, no reliable method of alignment, nor does it seem to be designed with that purpose in mind.  Fortunately, gift tags are pretty "forgiving" in that respect.  If the text ends up off center or crooked, it's not a big deal as long as it can still be read.  I would say I can get about 1/8 inch from the target most of the time (worse the first time I attempt to do it each year).

There are supposed to be a couple of different "hacks" available for the Cricut machine to allow you to cut your own shapes (as opposed to using the purchased cartridges).  I haven't ever felt the need to try this out, so can't speak on how well that works, but it seems like you would require that feature.

I am not confident in the Cricut's ability to reliably cut shrink plastic (at least not mine).  I have not ever tried it.  I sometimes have issues cutting regular card stock.  Some of those thicker card stocks, and those with a shiny or glittery surface are almost impossible to cut reliably.  They either pop off the mat part way through cutting and end up distorted, or don't get cut all the way through.  I know there is a "deep cut blade" available, and different pressure settings, and a brand new blade seems to cause fewer issues than one that has been used a couple of times. I haven't tried the different blade, nor adjusting the settings.  I usually end up with one ruined object before I remember to change to a new blade.

Good luck in your search, and let us know what you end up with.  I have been thinking I might want to "upgrade" my machine sometime.
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lylacfey
« Reply #3 on: December 09, 2011 02:54:38 AM »

That made my day you read my posts. Smiley A lot of my posts are outdated. In the last six months the cutting machine industry changed so drastically my head is still spinning. There are a lot of new and updated machines out.

This is going to be a long post with a lot of info.

Are you using Illustrator? BossKut Gazelle works with Illustrator. The Graphtec Machines: Silhouette, CraftRobo & Wishblade all work with Illustrator. I am not 100% sure about the Silhouette Cameo if it works with Illustrator but since it's just a modified version of a different CraftRobo machine I am betting it does.

I think the Black Cat Cutters and Klik-n-Kut cutters have Illustrator support.

To Print & Cut you definitely want to look into the Graphtec cutters. Since your cutting boxes the I would look at the Cameo by Silhouette since it's 12x12.

BossKut Gazelle has also released 12x12 Print & Cut with the three point laser reading. The results are accurate. If you go for a BossKut Gazelle buy a new one. I can't reiterate this enough. The old models you will have to upgrade the Motherboard to get this feature. If you get a Gazelle super cheap the MotherBoard replacement is also cheap.

Klik n Kut Zing and Black Cat Cougar can also Print & Cut. I have heard mixed reviews on the accuracy. The best place to go for that kind of info would definitely be their forums. Try not to go to secondary forums for that kind of info because you might get a lot of "Will it works for me" Then you get the expensive machine in the mail and it does not work for you.

I can say with certainty that the Silhouette does have accurate Print & Cut. I have seen the results on the BossKut Gazelle. I have a Gazelle and will be updating my MotherBoard soon.

Now to the Cricut:

You can't cut your own shapes and images any more with any of the third party software. PC settled their lawsuits against those companies this Spring. Unless you have old software your out of luck. I am sorry.

Cricut does cut Shrink Plastic, Shiny & Glitter card stock. I cut all these materials. The secret is the blade. I use a 60 degree Roland Carbide blade to do these cuts. The Cricut machine is a Roland cutter. If you use the standard cutting blade with these materials then you have a ruined pile of expensive cardstock. I do think the smaller Cricuts do cut more accurately than the Expression version 1.

I do have an Imagine. I got one on Black Friday. My DH surprised me with it. I am madly in love with that machine. The Imagine won't be able to do what your looking for. It is a really good machine. That Cricut does cut accurately. It does not cut heavier materials.

I do think in time that Cricut will offer SVG support for their machines. I do think they will allow you to design your own items some day. I don't think they will ever allow support for Illustrator, Inkscape. etc... unless they get a licensing deal with those companies.

Hope that helps. Any questions don't be afraid to ask. I have recently upgraded all my cutters but I have worked with most of them or have least got to try them. Right now I have a Cricut Create, BossKut Gazelle & Cricut Imagine. I have a few cutters out in my garage shed for modding and repairs. My DH repairs cutters. The above three are what I use in my toolbox now.
« Last Edit: December 09, 2011 02:57:34 AM by lylacfey » THIS ROCKS   Logged

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Girl
« Reply #4 on: December 12, 2011 04:42:11 AM »

I'm glad you said the industry has changed, lylacfey, because I was already feeling a little bad for asking a question you've already answered in great detail a hundred times. Cheesy

Anyway, I've read over everything and spent hours upon hours looking at these machines and I think I'm getting... maybe closer to a decision. Based on what all three of you have said, I think I can safely eliminate any Cricuts as possibilites, at least.

For the record, I mostly use Photoshop CS5, but I would be willing to better familiarize myself with Illustrator. I figured I'd have to learn some kind of new software anyway, and Illustrator isn't that different from Photoshop.

So right now it looks like my options are BossKut Gazelle, Silhouette Cameo, Black Cat Cougar, KNK Zing, and maybe Pazzles Inspiration(?). The only CraftRobos I've been able to track down have been the "pro" versions, the Klic-N-Kut 13" Groove-e doesn't seem to be anywhere on the website, and all I've read about Graphtec's Wishblade is people saying they wish they had a Gazelle or KNK. Feel free to correct me if I've missed something.

I think I want embossing, based on this video (which features the Pazzles Inspiration). The machine comparison chart says that Silhouette Cameo and CraftRobo don't do embossing, so, unless they're better with precision than the other machines, I'm going to eliminate them as options. I also like the idea of being able to cut felt, and the machine comparison chart says that these machines won't cut shrink plastic either.

My main concern is precision, especially on Graphix shrink plastic, and especially when it comes to printing and cutting. I noticed a lot of the demo videos I see have people cutting out big, fairly simple shapes, but I did find this Silhouette SD review that shows the kind of precision I'm hoping for, and this BossKut Gazelle demo looked pretty good. Are there any machines that I'm considering that wouldn't allow for that kind of detail?

How am I doing so far? I've got a bunch of messy notes in front of me.
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lylacfey
« Reply #5 on: December 12, 2011 05:30:25 AM »

I don't know if Klic-N-Kut is still making the Groove-e since they came out with the Zing. I forgot to mention in my post about the KNK Zing that it only work with Make the Cut software. I just recently found that out. I don't know if it will work with Illustrator.

BossKut, Pazzles, Cougar & Zing will all emboss. You won't get the kind of embossing you would from a manual die cutter. It's more the kind of embossing you would find in Peragamo art.

Silhouette SD does have a third party embossing tool. The makers of Silhouette are pretty cool about you putting in third party jigs in your machine. It won't void your warranty.

I have been electronic die cutting going on six years now. I started with the Wishblade. I really loved that machine. I did upgrade to a heavier cutter. I had the Wishblade went to a Cricut. This was when the Cricut first came out.  I then bought the Expressions and then bought a BossKut Gazelle.

I can say nine time out of ten most Wishblade/CraftRobo/Silhouette users do upgrade to a heavier duty machine. One of the reasons was those machines only cut at standard paper sizes. Die cutting fans wanted 12x12 machines for larger projects. The other big reason why for the upgrade the Graphtec machines can not handle heavier material. For the most part Graphtec users do keep their machines after upgrading for Print & Cut. Now, that's all changed since most of these companies are adding Print & Cut to their software.

Anybody reading this if you just work with light materials like cardstock, vinyl, magnet sheets the Graphtec machines are perfect. The Silhouette Cameo can cut chipboard. I need to throw that in there since chipboard is important to a lot of paper crafters.

If wanting to cut balsa wood, felt, foam, acetate, shrinky dinks you need a heavy duty cutter. The Graphtec machines won't cut through that material. Their grams per pressure is under half of the other machines on the market.

Felt is tricky in any electronic die cutter. You need to have the art felt that is stiff like a board. None of these machines can cut nappy material like craft felt. The fibers get caught in the housing. Art felt cuts like a dream.

Intricate cutting- Hands down the Graphtec machines have the best intricacy. I can say I am not impressed with the new Cameo for cutting. I think it's because of that new blade holder. Also some of the machines had problems. That is common when the newer machines are released. Silhouette is fixing that problem. I love the smaller machines for intricate cutting.

BossKut Gazelle is next for intricate cutting. I am not a simple shape cutter with my designs. I have flourishes, laces, doilies, etc... I want intricate. Gazelle does a beautiful job. I have no complaints.

I love the Black Cat Cougar for intricate cutting too. I have seen the results and they are beautiful.

KNK also has great reviews for intricate cutting but I have never seen really good examples. I have heard mixed reviews about the Zing. Which is shocking since KNK has such a loyal legion of users. I don't know if it's people being too picky or what.

Print & Cut Intricacy- The Graphtec machines can Print & Cut intricate shapes. I have done it many times. I never cut a simple basic P&C shape with the Graphtec machine. I thought it was a hassle, lol.  I can print the design and cut it out with scissors faster than waiting for the machine to cut.

BossKut Gazelle for intricate printing- I am not sure. I have seen some offset but I think that is user error. It's dot on for simple shapes and simple curves. Why I think it's user error because the users are not tracing their designs correctly. That is quite common.

Black Cat Cougar- I have seen the simple shapes and they P&C fine but never seen an intricate one done.

BossKut Gazelle you will need to use their software Funtime III to Print & Cut. The same thing with Silhouette you will need to use the old Silhouette software or Silhouette studio. You can use other software with these machines just to cut.

One other thing to throw out when purchasing these machines is space. Gazelle is small. Cougar is huge. You will need a dedicated spot with the Cougar. KNK Zing is small like the Gazelle. Noise the Gazelle & KNK machines tend to be noisy. I don't know the noise level on the Zing. I heard the Cougar is pretty quiet. Silhouette and Wishblade are loud too.

Any other questions don't be afraid to ask.
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Organize your life around your dreams and watch them come true.
Girl
« Reply #6 on: December 12, 2011 06:59:29 AM »

The intricacy of the Graphtec machines looked great in reviews, but if they aren't able to cut shrink plastic then that's a bummer for me, since I work with shrink plastic a lot. The video review I linked to that showed the detail work a Silhouette SD can do was really nice looking, bah.

But you say you cut laces with the BossKut Gazelle? I'll have to keep looking and see if I can find better examples of intricate cutting for the heavier machines... How do you feel about the Pazzles Inspiration? You haven't said much on that one.

I have plenty of space and don't mind noise; just as long as it cuts small shapes out of shrink plastic I'm happy. I love making little jewelry out of shrink plastic! And I cut a lot of card stock, but that's standard anyway...

I found a few people asking whether or not the Gazelle would work with Illustrator; most went unanswered, but the reviewer here says that it does.
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lylacfey
« Reply #7 on: December 13, 2011 01:43:38 AM »

I don't have any examples in my photo gallery of lace and doily cuts. I am terrible at keeping those things updated.

Judy Stark's blog has some good examples. Here's an engrave doily she made: http://judy-stark.blogspot.com/2010/12/holiday-journal.html That is a good example of what the embossing mat can do.

On the front page of her bog she has a reindeer posted with tiny antlers. They are done in a flourish style.

Judy has pinecones and a "wreath" in this post: http://judy-stark.blogspot.com/2011/11/give-thanks-fall-layout-by-judy-stark.html

I have cut this butterfly so many times. It always comes out perfect: http://bosskutforum.com/blog/?p=866. You will have to scroll down a tiny bit to see it.

This blog post was guest written by Jules. I have known her a long time. She is one of the most knowledgeable people in the die cut industry. She has a Pazzles & Gazelle plus the other billion cutters on the market right now. She has a really good review of the Pazzles vs Gazelle: http://underacherrytree.blogspot.com/2011/03/boss-kut-gazelle.html

I haven't mentioned the Pazzles because I am not impressed with them. I had a Pazzles and had nothing but trouble with it. I don't want to jade anybody reading this thread because I had problems with the Pazzles and I am ticked about it. I hate when I read die cut review posts and it's full of rants and not facts. I don't want to do that to anyone. I know some people love the Pazzles and are very loyal. I know there is no Illustrator support for this machine. I felt like it was very proprietary. I do not think it's an accurate cutter. I have seen other people say the same thing. I know some of my friends sold their Pazzles and went to Cricut's, Gazelles, KNK and Black Cat.

Gazelle definitely does work with Illustrator. In the member version of the forum there are instructions to set up Illustrator to work with the Gazelle. A few of the Gazelle girls over at that board use Illustrator. I actually took that tutorial and tweaked it to get Inkscape to work with my Gazelle.

Have you seen the Wishblade Yahoo Group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Wishblade/. The top die cutting queens are over in that group. I learned so much in that group. It's just not a group for info about the Wishblade. Several of the top posters have several die cutters and even test the cutters before they come on the market.
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Organize your life around your dreams and watch them come true.
Girl
« Reply #8 on: December 13, 2011 05:56:25 AM »

Alright... I think I'm to the point where I basically just need to pick one and go for it. You provided some awesome examples (I spent so much time today looking, but there's a ton of stuff to sift through so I really appreciate the links), and I found this great video that also shows a lot of intricate work on the Gazelle.

So I think I'm going to go with the Gazelle. It just seems to have the most information available about it (other than the Silhouette, which doesn't have enough pressure for my purposes even though it seems awesome) and, frankly, it's pink...

Does it matter if I buy it from BossKut.com or Scrap-mart.com? I think I will also be buying an embossing mat, embossing tool, and a set of deep cut blades. Does that sound about right? Do I have the approval of a pro or do you have any further advice? I haven't decided yet if I'm going to purchase it before or after Christmas... Mostly because having it now now now isn't an option. Bummer.

I signed up for the Wishblade Yahoo Group! I think it's going to take me a while to get used to die cutting, since I'm diving straight in without having done it before (other than those ancient presses they keep in teachers' lounges), so it'll be nice to have a wealth of veterans around.

Thanks so much! Any furhter advice you have, feel free to lay it on me; I don't mind long reads. I will be sure to post a review of my Gazelle after I've played with it for a bit.
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lylacfey
« Reply #9 on: December 14, 2011 01:27:34 AM »

I haven't seen that Gingerbread houe video. I am definitely going to watch it.

Wishblade is Pink. Gazelle is Pink. Silhouette is an off white. Xyron doesn't make the Wishblade any more. The only Graphtec machine you can buy in the US is the Silhouette. You can find Craft Robo's from some dealers.

No, it doesn't matter if you buy the machine from BossKut or ScrapMart. The ScrapMart owner works closely with BossKut. I bought my Gazelle from ScrapMart. I can give the company a good rating. The owner was at CHA when I ordered my Gazelle. I really thought I was going to have to wait until she got back. She sent my Gazelle that day and then went to Terri at the Gazelle booth and told her she sent it so I could get in the forum. I hardly could believe it. I was impressed. I went with ScrapMart since they had the cheapest price at the time.

When you order your Gazelle make sure you join the Gazelle forum. You can join the Visitor's forum until you get your Gazelle: http://www.bosskutforum.com/

My best advice is turn off all the chatter when learning the Gazelle. All the higher end machines have a learning curve. It's like learning a Grand Piano. You can't just set down and plug this machine in and start cutting. You will be so frustrated and want to throw the machine out the window. I can say that with all the the high end cutters. Watch all the learning videos on Gazelle's site after you buy the machine. Don't ever be afraid to ask questions because the simplest thing can set you back. Everyone on the forum is very patient. You can always ask me too.

I think with all the embossing items you have all the tools. Other tools I use with all my die cutters are:

Spatula- You can use the Cricut spatula, Making Memories Slice, Metal Paint Spatula or Cake spatula. I can't stress how important that spatula is when removing cuts from your mat. I have a Making Memories Slice spatula.

Dental Pick- To remove all those fiddly pieces when your removing items for the mat. This is especially important if your making lace type files or doilies.

Gift Card- To scrap the bits and pieces off your mat.

Repositionable Glue- To make your mats sticky again. I have one Gazelle mat and she is still going strong. You can use quilter's spray to make your mats sticky again. Watered Down Aleene's Tack It Over & Over, Zig Way Glue Pen (The large one) or Repositionable Glue Stick. Right now I love my Glue Stick.

MicroTip scissors- No matter what you die cut you will have files that can skip nodes. Doesn't matter what machine you have. The Micro Tip scissors help you cut off all those fiddly parts that got stuck. The scissors are needed when working with foam and other heavier materials.

Anybody following this thread all the above tools are a must no matter what cutter you choose from the Cricut to the Cougar.

The Gazelle comes with a dongle. You have to use that dongle if you use Funtime. You will want a place to store that dongle safely. Some of the girls just leave theirs in a hub. I am using MTC right now so I don't have Funtime installed. I love my Gazelle but that dongle makes me grumpy, lol.
« Last Edit: December 14, 2011 01:30:13 AM by lylacfey » THIS ROCKS   Logged

My Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/97658832@N05/

My Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/gelyafey/

Organize your life around your dreams and watch them come true.
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