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Thursday, 19 January 2017

Cheap 'From China' Cutting dies- A review.

I've had a few people wonder how the cheap wafer thin dies I've been buying from China were going to perform, and I promised a review. So this is it, and I do warn you now that it is a long post, and VERY picture heavy, as I wanted to show the cut quality for you. I'll add sizes, set quantity and price I paid with each set.In each case, I've measured at the widest point(s). For starters, HERE is the link to the E-Bay page of dies currently on offer. There are many more besides the ones I have bought. The most I paid was £3.65, the cheapest 99p. And generally, they are free shipping too.



I'll start with one of the newest ones, a set of stitched stars. There are 8 pieces in the set, the largest being 4½", the smallest ¾" wide. They were £2.95.













All were cut in my Cuttlebug, and unless I say otherwise, were cut with the standard 'C' plate, die/card, 'B' plate recipe.
 Just used an average weight of cardstock too, not too thick or too thin.

All pictures will enlarge, so you can get a close look at the cuts.






In every case, I got a nice clean cut, no shimming required.


 The Happy Birthday Circle is next, and measures 3" across and cost £3.13.



It gave a nice clean cut to the outer circle, and seemed to have cut the sentiment as well.




It hadn't totally cut through the sentiment though, there were some ragged edges on the 'H' in Birthday. So I added a sheet of copy paper as a shim, and tried again.




This time it cut perfectly.












Next we have a pair of butterflies,the largest is 2"x1¾", the smallest 2" x1¼". The pair cost £1.44.









 Nice clean cuts on the outside edge, and all the bits popped out easily.




 Next up is the butterfly border. That measures 3¾" x 1½", and cost 99p.

 I little trick here you may or may not know. Using a tumble drier sheet between the die and cardstock helps to stop the diecut sticking inside the die, in much the same way as waxed paper will.
 This can be handy if you want to add colour to your die cut after, so don't want any wax residue on it.



Again, nice clean edges, and you can see the whole thing has come straight out of the die.



Another nice cut.


 Next up is a die for a small bow. this cost 99p, and the finished size of a folded bow is 2" x ½".
 It has a serrated edge to it, but doesn't pose any problems with the cut.





You also get some nice tiny heart confetti when you poke out the heart details on the bow!




This next Heart full of Hearts measures 3" and cost £1.75. It also gives you some nice small hearts.
 Nice clean cuts, and no pieces left behind.



The next die is a Winter/Christmas scene, measures 3¼" x 2¾" , and cost £1.80. I've used some more drier sheet on this one, and it all just popped straight out.



Again, no cutting problem, nice clean cuts.





This die is a frame with an oblong section and 3 small squares.
 It cost £3.09, and measures 4½" x 3¼".






 The frame has a stitched detail, and cut nice straight edges with no problem.





The next one cuts a circles background, and measures4" x 2¾", and cost £2.09.
 The cut was perfectly clean on all the circles, however, I did notice that the edge of the die left a slight indentation on the cardstock in places. Which would be fine if you are going to trim it down with a border, but if you wanted to use it on a larger sheet of cardstock, it would need some shims cutting to slightly smaller than the die, and replacing the 'B' plate to prevent this.



Next on to a large Holly die, which is 4¾" x 3¾", and cost £1.21.
 Again, cut easily with no problems.




Following this is the second new die this week, which is an Ivy wreath
This measures 2½" and cost £1.29.



Gave a lovely clean cut, which sort of surprised me. I'd expected some problems with this, but it was fine.



On white cardstock, so you can see the detail.











 Now we'll move on to the Stitched Squares set. There are 7 pieces in this set, ranging between 3"  for the largest, to ¾" for the smallest. Cost was £1.79.

First 4 cuts, and all cut cleanly.




The largest square, and you can see, cuts nice and clean, with clear 'stitching' detail.




Now the stitched circles, 8 pieces in this set, and cost was £2.39. The largest circle is 3½" diameter, the smallest ¾".

Looking at this, it crossed my mind that the bottom two would make an excellent snowman! 😀






Here are all the sizes, and every one cut with no issues.






A Merry Christmas die next, and this one is a good size, 4" x3", cost was £1.49.



My first cut with this was not a successful one, it only cut the outer edge.



So I used the thin metal shim from Cheery Lynn underneath it for the next attempt, as the inner part of the die had barely made an impression, so I thought it would need more than a paper/card shim.


That method cut it out fine, and when all the bits were popped out, and it was removed from the die, it was perfect.



So, a simple fix for that one.



Last but one now- congratulations if you've stayed with it this far!- a set of stitched curvy lines.



4 in the set, they are approximately 6" long,and cost £2.69.




Again, all cut fine, and the stitched detail is nice and clear too. Of course, you have the option to use the non-stitched edge, if you wanted.

I thought these would be really useful for making snowy/hillside masks, instead of tearing, and getting ragged edges.


OK, so now we are on to the last die, and I've deliberately left this one till last, as I had trouble when I first tried it.

This snowflake background is the largest die by far, at 5¼" square. The cost was £3.65. At first with my cuts it was cutting around the outside edge, but not in the centre.
Now, to be honest, I think this says more about the uneven pressure from the 'Bugs rollers than the die, as it's not the first time I have had problems with the very centre of the machine.
 Anyway, the first cut.
 As you can see, it cuts into the cardstock, but not all the way through, apart from the edges. I also tried it with copy paper, and the result was the same.

I tried a number of different shimming options, but none was more successful than the others. I was just about to give up on it, when I thought I'd have one last try, this time adding the shim BELOW the die/paper/'B' plate, instead of on top of the 'B' plate. I cut 4 sheets of copy paper to 5¼" square, then used a little low tack tape to hold them together.


And success! I had just one spot, on one arm of a snowflake that I needed to cut through, but otherwise it turned out fine.

So, I've stored that shim in with the die, so I don't have to try and remember how it works next time!
 Just had to edit here, as I forgot to say that I still needed to turn this die 3 times and rerun it through, but it did eventually get the cut.










So, overall, I have got to say that for me, these dies have performed just as well as those that are way more expensive. Those Stitched Circles, for instance. Mine were £2.39, most Name Brands are in the £20 region. So yes, I'll be buying more when I see some I like.😀😀

Final pic- my 'Bug cutting plates!
As you can see, well used, and marked! So, if you're new to this, don't worry when your plates start to get marked. Although I will add this advice here:
  1. Try and keep one plate for the top, which will get marked,and one for the bottom, which doesn't. As you can see, I failed there. Although I do have a brand new spare pair I got cheap.
  2. Alternate the side you use of your top plate, to help minimise warping. They will warp, this just helps to keep flattening them.
  3. Don't panic when you hear cracking sounds! It's (usually) just the die cutting into the top plate, or the warped plate flattening a little. 
  4. Take your time when getting to know your machine, and what it's capabilities are. Not every machine will accept the same sandwiches- I've seen people use sandwiches in their 'Bug that mine would never accept. If you need to experiment with shims, take one plate out of the sandwich, and shim with cardstock till you get a good cut. Then see if you can swap out some cardstock for a 'B' plate. You will eventually get to know what your machine will and won't accept.
  5.  If your sandwich does not go in fairly easily, and the handle turn also fairly easily, then stop. DO NOT try to force something through. Strip down your sandwich and try something else. Better scrap cardstock with poor cuts, than a broken machine.





18 comments:

misteejay said...

They certainly seem to be worth the money Shaz.
Toni xx

dutchess said...

Hi Shaz...you really have had a great time buying and cutting your dies....did you buy them all from one site?.....they are so inexpensive...shows just what profit some firms must be making!.....xxxx

Joan said...

Thanks for the nod, I've just been online and ordered stitched stars and oblongs, sure its worth the wait for delivery to save that kind of cash.

Helen said...

what a great review, and what a lot of beautiful dies you have! thanks for taking the time to do this.

Bugga in OK said...

Shaz - Thank you so much for this very comprehensive post. What a lot of trouble you went to, to post all the pictures, and your tips and recipes for getting good cuts! You are one of my very favorite people on SCS and I always love what you have to say. I haven't ordered any of these dies yet, but have a couple of similar sets that I got from Gina Marie that I like a lot. When I need more dies, I will certainly order some of these.

Annette (Bugga in OK)

Elizabeth said...

Hi Shaz, thank you for a very comprehensive review. I will be checking out your link tomorrow and making a shopping list - the prices are so reasonable. I have 3 die-cutting machines to test them out on, including a Cuttlebug. I did hear a tip for dealing with warped plates ... dip them into hot water to soften the plastic then put a weight on them to help flatten them. Haven't tried this out yet but will try it out on an old plate first. If it works then I'll let you know. Hugs, Elizabeth xx

My name is Cindy said...

Very helpful - it would seem to me that there is no more performance issues than some of the named brands - and there are some lovely dies there. Going to check out that link now!! Cindy x

cuilliesocks said...

Hi Shaz, what a very useful review of the dies, sounds like you have got yourself a fabulous bargain there.
I have uber trouble with Spellbinding and some of Sue Wilson dies not cutting, I just give up on them, life is too short, Kate x

Heidi Stamps said...

Good review. They are very inexpensive too!

okienurse said...

I can't seem to get this thing to let me post! Third time and I will be out of here. Great post and review. I love the ones I got in from Wish the other day. Easy to use and easy to store. Thanks for sharing.

RosA said...

Hi Shaz, Great info! As you know, I've already bought some CCDs, in two batches. One lot came fairly quickly and the other lot (from different seller) took twice as long. Doesn't matter, as the price is right! I haven't bought as many as you, but I have been perfectly happy with the way they cut. Thanks for mentioning the snowflake square, as that's the next one on my hit list :)

Shaz in Oz.CalligraphyCards said...

great review Shaz interesting to read your thoughts I have about third of these.
Agree on shimming points at end too,
Shaz in Oz.x

{Shaz in Oz – Calligraphy Cards}

Mrs.D said...

Very late commenting, but yes these dies from China are just the same dies the companies get made in China and the manufacturers doing some extra and sell on. The Happy Birthday circle, I have identified as a memory Box die costing £10 in Uk and I paid £1.38 for it from China.
So thanks for sharing
Chris

Christine Alexander said...

Awesome review, I live in Vancouver Canada and know many of the companies have stuff made in China, now we can buy direct without the huge mark ups. There is always the worry about quality control there, but in my experience spending big bucks is no guarantee.

Deborah said...

Hi Shaz. What a great blog! I've heard of craft teams going to China to buy crafting items such as dies and embellishments, but had no idea they were that cheap! I think I will have to check this out, as I often spend £25 and just a couple of items in the basket!! Thanks for the tumble dry sheet tip, I do use waxed paper and sometimes greaseproof does the job too! Will check in again again soon. Happy Crafting! ����✂✏����

Sherri Thacker said...

WOW! Thanks for an awesome review of these dies. I am going to check these out. Anything to save money and dies are so expensive here in the US!!

Anne Crofts said...

I have been buying these Chinese dies since last October, when I first noticed them and they have all cut perfectly. I now have about 60 of them, along with hundreds of the much more expensive branded ones. I guess the extra costs of the branded ones is taken up with paying designers and allowing for costs of selling to vendors, such as Oysterstamps etc, who then have their markup.

As for plates, a couple years ago I came across a post from someone who swapped out their perspex plates for the self-healing green cutting mats, so I tried them and haven't used anything else since. When they get bendy, just put into hot water and, voila, back to being flat again. The only ones which are stiff enough to work are the WEST design ones. I used them in my Cuttlebug and now use them in my Spellbinders Platinum machine. Couldn't be doing with buying those perspex ones all the time. They last for months and cost very little. I bought mine from sbs_consumables on ebay.

Shoshi said...

A great review, Shaz. I shall save this for future reference. I haven't got a lot of dies because they are so expensive, and I've also got an electronic cutting machine, but knowing that you can get really cheap dies that actually work, is great info!

Shoshi xx

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