Cricut Cuttlebug Review: The Best Die Cutter For Kids

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Sometimes there’s nothing better than turning our backs on our fancy electronic cutting machines and busting out the brilliant Cricut Cuttlebug instead.

This little guy is one of the best personal die cutting and embossing machines on the market — no wonder its got such a huge fan base.

cricut vs cuttlebug

Sure, you’re not going to be creating intricate vinyl t-shirt decals with it, but the Cricut Cuttlebug will serve you well if you love smaller crafts like cardmaking and scrapbooking.

Plus, it’s so easy to use that we see it as the best die cutter for kids and absolute beginners.

This Cricut Cuttlebug review will give you the low down on absolutely everything you need to know about this hand-crank machine: both good and bad.

Also find out how it fares in the battle of Cuttlebug vs Sizzix, and what on earth Cuttlebug embossing folders are for.

Let’s take it away…

Cricut Cuttlebug Specs

What’s in the Box?

  • Cricut Cuttlebug die cutter and embosser
  • 1 x A plate (spacer)
  • 2 x B plates (cutting pads)
  • Instruction booklet
  • 1 x 5″ x 7″ simple flower embossing folder

The two B plates are placed on either side of your die or embossing folder as a kind of Cuttlebug sandwich. The A plate

Please note that there’s no C plate included with the Cuttlebug so you’ll need to buy this separately if you want to work with dies and embossing folders by brands other than Cricut.

Cutting Dimensions

The maximum width you can cut and emboss with the Cuttlebug is 6 inches, but most dies and embossing folders tend to cut off around the 5.8 inches mark (and some at only 5 inches).

In terms of length, 7 inches seems to be the most common but you do have the option to buy the Cuttlebug Adapter C Mat which can take folders and dies up to 13 inches in length.

What Can You Make with it?

The Cricut Cuttlebug is a die cutter and embossing machine that’s best suited to scrapbookers and cardmakers.

Primarily, you’ll be using it to cut and emboss paper and other thin materials. The machine can actually handle a wide variety of materials, provided they’re less than 0.125″ thick. Examples include:

  • Paper
  • Tissue paper
  • Felt
  • Foam
  • Chipboard
  • Foils
  • Acetate
  • Cardstock
  • Some fabrics

If you buy the Adapter Plate C, you’ll be able to use dies and embossing folders from other brands as well, not just from Cricut.

This really opens up the playing field for creative design with the Cuttlebug.

How it Works

One of the major benefits of the Cricut Cuttlebug is how incredibly easy it is to use.

We can’t count the number of people who’ve told us that they’ve bought one for their technophobic grandmother, or their 6-year old child. Seriously — anyone can use it!

Firstly, you need to take your A plate and lay it down on the Cuttlebug as the first layer. Then, take your die and make sure it’s foam side up, then place your chosen material on top of it. Sandwich the die and material together using your B plates and place this sandwich on top of the A plate.

You can then roll the plates through the machine by using the hand crank until it comes out on the other side. VoilĂ !

For embossing, again place your A plate down on the machine. Take your embossing folder, open it up and place your desired material in the middle of it before creating a sandwich with your B plates. Again, crank it through the machine using the handle.

If you prefer to learn with a video tutorial, here’s an excellent one from Scrapbook.TV. Please note that they’re using an old version of the Cricut Cuttlebug, but the process is exactly the same for the latest version of the machine that we’re discussing here.

Cuttlebug Embossing Folders and Dies

If you’re wondering what on earth we mean when we talk about Cuttlebug embossing folders and dies, then wonder no more.

These accessories are simply designs you can buy to create the embossing and cutting patterns you want to create.

Embossing folders are for — you guessed it — embossing, and dies are for cutting.

You can buy these accessories in a huge number of different designs — everything from alphabet fonts to character images to repetitive patterns.

The Cricut Cuttlebug actually comes with a bonus embossing folder to get you started, but it’s of a pretty standard flower pattern. There are plenty more interesting and exciting ones on offer!

Here are a few of our favorites:

Cuttlebug vs Sizzix

Crafters often want to know what the differences are between the Cricut Cuttlebug and the Sizzix Big Shot.

The truth is that there aren’t a whole lot of differences.

Both are personal die cutters and embossing machines that are very popular in their particular niche. Both are great machines that produce excellent quality cuts and embossing.

There are a couple of minor differences, however.

Cuttlebug vs Big Shot

  • The Cuttlebug is smaller and more compact than the Big Shot although both have the same maximum cutting dimensions
  • The Cuttlebug is marginally cheaper than the Big Shot
  • The Cuttlebug is green in color while the Big Shot is a sleeker gray and white

Cricut vs Cuttlebug

Another common question we get is, which is the best: Cricut vs Cuttlebug?

The answer is that’s the wrong question to ask — the Cuttlebug is a Cricut machine!

When people ask us that, we assume that they’re asking for the differences between the Cuttlebug and some of Cricut’s more advanced, electronic cutting machines — like the Explore Air 2, Expression 2 and the Mini for instance.

All of these machines are wildly different and will be suited to different crafts and users.

Here’s a table outlining the major differences between the latest version of the machines so you can see which one is best for you.

If you want to find out more, check out our in-depth Cricut Machine Comparison Guide which compares every Cricut machine available today.

 
Best For...Cardmakers and ScrapbookersHigh-tech craftersCrafters that <3 cartridgesSmall cutting crafts
Stand-Out FeatureManual, easy to useBluetooth enabled and automatic cut settingsLCD touchscreen with stylusSmall yet electronic
SoftwareNoneCricut Design SpaceCricut Craft RoomCricut Craft Room
Does it Require Cartridges?NoNo YesYes
Maximum Cut Dimensions6" x 13" (with Plate C)11.5" x 23.5"11.5" x 23.5"8.5" x 12"

Cricut Cuttlebug Review

Now let’s get down to it. Is the Cricut Cuttlebug all it’s cracked up to be?

As long-time users of this personal die cutter, we’ve compiled a list of everything we love about the machine, and the things that could be improved.

The Positives

Clean Cuts and Well Defined Embossing

One of the most important questions to ask before you buy any product is: how well does it do its job?

We’re happy to say that with the Cricut Cuttlebug, it does its job excellently.

Cuts are always clean and accurate and embossing always well defined without cutting through the material (except for tissue paper!).

Cardmakers and scrapbookers time and time again cite the Cuttlebug as their favorite machine to carry out their craft, and it’s easy to see why. It’s reliable, accurate and gets the job done.

Simple.

Super Easy to Use

There’s practically no learning curve with the Cricut Cuttlebug.

You’re not going to be sat at a desk for hours attempting to get to grips with complex software or minutely precise cutting settings with this die cutter.

You’ll be able to use the Cuttlebug straight out of the box and will be able to master it quickly, no matter what age or experience level you’re at.

No wonder people think it’s so good for kids and beginner crafters!

It’s also very quick to use too. Once you’ve compiled your sandwich of die, material and plates, all you need to do is feed it through the machine and — voilĂ ! All done.

Great for Kids

We always think the Cuttlebug is the best die cutter on the market for children — and definitely superior to the Sizzix Big Shot in this sense.

Not only is it super easy to use, but it doesn’t require any electricity and there are no particularly sharp edges to scratch yourself on.

It’s a lightweight yet stable machine with a handle that turns easily — even for the smallest of arm muscles!

Plus, the cute garden green design will appeal to kids (and they’ll love carrying it around by its handle too!).

It’s Durable

We’ve been using our Cricut Cuttlebug for years — admittedly not for heavy use — and have seen barely any wear and tear in the machine.

Even though it’s small and doesn’t weigh much, it’s certainly sturdy enough to handle most standard cutting and embossing jobs.

One thing we would recommend is to ensure that you never try to feed the machine with material thicker than 0.125″ as this could jam the contraption and potentially break off the handle.

After lots of cutting and embossing, it’s natural to see scratches start to appear on your B plates. We’d recommend alternating between the two sides of the plates to get as much use from them as possible, and replacing them when they get too scratched up.

>>> Buy replacement B plates for the Cuttlebug

Other Things We Love

  • It’s very cheap — much more so than other Cricut products and the Sizzix Big Shot!
  • It’s small and compact, and folds up easily
  • Built-in pop-up handle for easy portability

The Negatives

It Doesn’t Come with a C Plate

The one complaint we regularly hear with the Cricut Cuttlebug is that the C plate is no longer included when you buy the latest version of the machine.

The C plate is only necessary for when you are using die cuts and embossing folders from brands other than Cricut. It works as a sort of adapter.

You don’t have to have it, but you will need to buy it separately if you do want it.

>>> Buy Adapter Plate C

Suction is Hit and Miss

Cricut say that the Cuttlebug has suction capabilities on the bottom of the machine to make sure it adheres to hard surfaces and is stable when you’re feeding your sandwich through the machine.

We didn’t actually realize that there was meant to be suction on the machine until we did some research for this article, and other users have said the same — so it would seem this feature is a little hit and miss.

Regardless, we find the machine sturdy enough to be stable without the suction capabilities.

Small and Restrictive

If you’re buying the Cricut Cuttlebug and expecting it to simply be a smaller version of more advanced machines like the the Explore Air 2, you’re going to be disappointed.

The Cuttlebug is great at small, simple cuts and embossing. But it can’t do anything beyond that.

There’s no software, so no opportunity to design, and the cutting dimensions are only really big enough for very small scale creations.

Cardmakers love it, but signage makers and t-shirt designers aren’t likely to get much out of it all.

We love the Cuttlebug — but make sure your expectations with the machine are realistic.

Overall Verdict

We highly recommend the Cricut Cuttlebug for kids, crafting beginners and, of course, cardmakers and scrapbookers.

This is a fun, easy to use and durable machine that will look great in any craft room.

It may not have the capabilities of more advanced machines but it’s simple, cheap and gets the job done.

You can’t say fairer than that!

Where to Buy the Cricut Cuttlebug

The Cuttlebug is available in the classic green color scheme, and a few other colors too.

You can buy direct from Cricut:


Cuttlebug® Machine – $69.99

from: Cricut


Black Cricut Cuttlebug™ – $69.99

from: Cricut

And, of course, you can buy on Amazon too.

cuttlebug vs big shot

cricut cuttlebug


Now that’s everything you need to know about the Cricut Cuttlebug!

What’s your favorite die cutter?“


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