March 20, 2015

Dear Debbie....

I have a new question for Dear Debbie today:

Carol writes: Dear Debbie, I have a question about dies, especially the really detailed ones.  I’ve seen all sorts of ideas for getting those pesky little pieces out of the die and paper you are cutting, but what have you found the best way to cut with them (recently I heard of someone including a folded dryer sheet in the cutting “sandwich”) so that they cut evenly and all the way through the paper as well as removing all the tiny paper pieces?  I have everything from the Bigz to Edgelits to Thinlits.  The Sizzix Sizzlits Large Paper Doily and Large Delicate Doilies are particularly bothersome both in cutting and getting the doilies off the die and I notice they aren’t even sold through SU now.  The Framelits aren’t so detailed thus I don’t seem to have problems with them.  Any tips and hints would be appreciated!

Hi Carol, thanks so much for your question. I will list the answers to each type of die separately.

Let's start with "Embosslits" dies such as this one:

Because these dies cut and emboss at the same time, the paper pieces sometimes become lodged and are hard to remove or pop out. What I do with these is use a piece of wax paper between the die and the paper you use in your die.  Another tip that I will mention about these dies is to always lay them so that the hinge is away from the handle of your Big Shot and sitting vertical (up and down) on your cutting plate. This protects all of the pressure on the hinge.

Now let's move on to the "Thinlits" dies such as these, which always include intricate cuts:

You are correct about the dryer sheets Carol. The dryer sheets work wonders on getting all the die "guts" out. This is the sandwich I use in my Big Shot. First I cut the cardstock with the die like this:
  • Big Shot Platform Tab 1 or Magnetic Platform
  • Cutting Pad
  • Cardstock
  • Die
  • Cutting Pad
  • Shim to help the die cut all the way through. A "shim" is a piece of the cardboard that comes in the packaging of the designer paper packs. I cut my "shim" at a size of 5-1/2" x 4-1/4". A "shim" can also be in the form of a piece of cardstock or multiple pieces of cardstock.
Once your die shape is cut, leave the cardstock in the die and pass through the Big Shot a 2nd time to remove all the "guts" like so:
  • Big Shot Platform Tab 1 or Magnetic Platform
  • Cutting Pad
  • 4 dryer sheets stacked on top of each other and then folded in half (8 layers)
  • Die with cardstock inside
  • Cutting Pad
Once you run this through your Big Shot, the whole cardstock piece will be stuck to the dryer sheet. Pick up one end and pull. All the little pieces remain in the dryer sheet. It's just like magic!

Our third type is the "Edgelits" dies which are made to cut nice, fancy edges to cardstock pieces:

Unless intricate, these can be cut as is without any additional help but if you use something like the very top die, I again use wax paper and I'm sure the dryer sheets would work just as well.

And finally, the 4th type of die the "Sizzlits" dies which we currently do not offer in our current catalog, but some of you still have the ones that are now retired:

From my experience, these required a few adjustments. With my dies, I ended up adding a piece of wax paper between the die and the cardstock layer. Once my sandwich was all ready to go in my Big Shot Machine, I also added a cardboard "shim" over the die sitting on top of the cutting pad. This gave the cut a little bit of added pressure. You may need to poke some of the little pieces out with a Paper Piercer but they always did cut clean for me using this method.

  •  A "Shim" is a hand-made layer that you use to add additional pressure on your die to cut cleaner. This can be a piece of cardstock or thin cardboard. You may need to add more than one layer but start with one and work your way up.
  • Always remember, as I tell all of my customers, no Big Shot Machine is the same so you need to experiment with yours. Use pieces of scrap cardstock to try different methods until you find the right one.
  • Once I had mine figured out, I used a black Permanent Marker and noted right on the die what I used. For example "use shim & wax paper".
  •  NEVER try to run a sandwich through your Big Shot Machine that is too tight. This will ruin your machine. If you are struggling to turn the handle and push the sandwich through, it is too tight and you should not continue.
Thank you Carol for your question and I hope I answered easily enough to understand. If anyone else has questions for me, please feel free to leave them in the comment section or email me at:
Thanks for stopping by to visit me today!


  1. Debbie, could you do a Q&A on how to keep the cutter pads from curling up after some usage? Once they start warping like this it is difficult to keep dies, thinlets, etc. in place on the magnetic platform. What do you do to keep them flat? Thanks.

    1. Thanks for your question! I will add this to my list. Coming soon!


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