Die-cutting Metal with a Big Shot

Die-cutting thin sheet metal is easy using a Sizzix Big Shot or Big Kick machine. I recently started playing with this technique, and I love it! Using the thicker Sizzix dies (not the thinner sizzlets or other brand thin dies) seems to work best for me – I got the thin dies to cut very thin metal – not much thicker than foil – while the thicker dies will cut slightly thicker metal.

metal tag with lace

metal tag with lace

Note: I wouldn’t try cutting a hard metal, like steel, and I’d stick with sheet that is pretty thin – 36 gauge copper worked well for me, as did very thin metal such as foil tape. Aluminum flashing also worked for me, but not as well as thinner sheet. I tried some *slightly* thicker brass, and it cut okay with the thick dies, but not sizzlets.

copper tab with paper label inside

copper tab with paper label inside

I made flowers {posted a week or so ago}, little tags, tabs, circles – all kinds of things. So fun.

metal tab with sharpie heart

metal tab with sharpie heart

A few tips about die cutting metal:

  • Use the thinnest metal that will work for your project.
  • Follow the instructions for your machine – I’ve only tried this using a sizzix die cutting machine – it might work on others, but I don’t know! I think most machines can’t take the thicker dies, unfortunately.
  • Sometimes you need to run it through the machine more than once, especially with thicker metal.
  • If your design didn’t quite get cut out all the way, you might be able to use scissors to finish it. Be careful though – maybe even wear protective gloves – the metal can have sharp edges.
  • Simpler designs work better than complex designs.
  • Metal can be tough on the cutting pads – so keep that in mind, and stock up on extra cutting pads when you see them on sale.
  • Check out my coloring metal posts for ideas about how to add color to your die cuts.
  • For a distressed look, sand or scratch up the metal a bit. You can use sand paper, steel wool, nail files, and other objects to mark and distress metal – it’s fun, so experiment!

Shopping:

I got my big shot at my local Jo Ann when it was on sale, and I’ve seen them at other craft stores and scrapbook supply stores. Dies are also usually available at craft and scrapbooking stores.

If you don’t have a local source, you can get a big shot machine online here or here {as always, thanks for your support if you use my links}. Both of those stores also carry lots of dies. You may also want extra cutting pads – metal that is thicker than foil is a little tough on the cutting pads, so I have a beat up set that I use for metal and a newer set that I use for paper.

Linking up here:


The Fun In Functional @ Practically Functional

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