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The best embossing machines in August 2023

May 15, 2024May 15, 2024

Scrapbook and make cards with the best embossing machines.

The best embossing machines offer an easy way to create interesting and unique cards and labels as well as personalised gifts from a variety of materials. While traditionally these have been fully manual machines you can now get digital devices too. These can even compress designs onto leather for professional-looking craft makes and presents.

Much like owning one of the best Cricut machines or the best vinyl cutters, investing in a good embossing machine is a fantastic way to step up your crafting game. And luckily, I've got some pretty affordable recommendations for you, including the best die cutting and embossing machines for all budgets. I've curated this list based on consumer reviews as well as our own expertise.

My list below contains the best embossing machines on the market today, and I've included both electronic and manual options based on your preference. With the former, you just need to touch a button, making everything quick and (almost) hands-free. With the latter, all it takes is the turn of a handle to achieve even compression across your chosen material. If you're not quite sure what it is you're looking for, scroll down for our advice on how to choose an embossing machine.

Our expert review:

The Gemini II is the newest digital embossing machine around at the moment and is the larger, more advanced version of the very popular Gemini embossing machine. Aside from being larger and a little bulkier, around the size of a small printer, the Gemini II has some great features behind its boxy design.

There's a new 9 inch optical sensor for improved accuracy and precision; this will measure and adjust to any sized cutting plate placed inside the Gemini II's workspace shelf, the motor starts automatically. The goal of Gemini II is to make the embossing and die-cutting process even easier.

It should be noted, the Gemini II is around the same price as a Cricut Explore 3, but where the Cricut can be used to design projects on an app the Gemini II relies on die cuts. Which you prefer could simply depend on what you're used to and how you'll use the machine.

This is a powerful die-cutting machine too, and using multimedia dies you'll be able to cut through eight layers of fabric at once. If you're a quilter, this is a great addition to your workflow. It has a maximum cutting depth of 2mm and can cut up to 800 gsm card stock (with mixed media dies).

There's not a lot to call between the Gemini II and the Sizzix Big Shot Switch Plus (below), except the Gemini II more automated, a little more powerful and runs quieter. If price is an issue then the Sizzix is cheaper, but if you're using a die-cutter a lot then the Gemini II is a little more advanced.

Our expert review:

The Sizzix Big Shot Switch Plus is the newest die cutting and embossing machines from the Sizzix brand, one of the best around, and it's finally caught with the likes of Cricut and Silhouette. Kind of. While this latest machine is an all-digital device it doesn't use an app to create its embossing but remains faithful to the metal cutters you may be used to from the traditional manual machines.

The Sizzix Big Shot Switch Plus uses the same metal die cut process, so you place pre-sized templates into the machine with your material and it uses pressure to stencil, emboss or cut the designs. Being digital, however, this can be done at the press of a button and the machine judges the pressure and feeds the material through. It's a great machine, especially if this is the embossing process you're used to (and now comes in a swish gloss black finish too).

The only real downside is the cost, as you can buy a Cricut Joy or older model Cricut Explore for around the same price. But those craft machines can be complex and not for everyone, if you're already in the Sizzix style of die cutting, then the Sizzix Big Shot Switch Plus is an excellent option.

Our expert review:

We'll start with the best embossing machine on the market today: the Bira Craft Die Cutting & Embossing Machine. Why do we like it so much? Well for starters, it has an adjustable gear system to adjust the height of the platform for a range of projects.

Furthermore, it combines a 9-inch slot opening with a portable, fold-away cutting surface. That means that not only is it large enough for full-sized A4 tasks, it's also a portable choice. Plus there's even space underneath the cutting surface to store the handle when you're travelling. There are three modes to choose from, which can be controlled with the dial at the top. Alongside a 3D emboss and 2D letterpress emboss setting, there's also a die cutting mode.

Our expert review:

Don't want the hassle of cranking a handle manually? Then here's our pick as the best electronic embossing machine: the Gemini GEM-M-GLO.

It has three buttons on the top: On, Start, and Reverse. In use, this machine is quick and even, and it's perfect for those who want to be more hands-free, or who may struggle to turn a lever.

With this set, you get a lot for your money, including a magnetic shim, plastic shim, rubber embossing mat, metal cutting platform, and two clear cutting platforms. It also includes an ornate lase 3D folder and a multimedia die set.

Our expert review:

New to embossing? Then our top recommendation is the Sizzix Big Shot Manual Die-Cutting Machine.

It won't work with embossing folders wider than 6 inches, but with a carry handle and manual design, this machine is perfect for beginners and those who are new to embossing. Because Sizzix has a wide range of compatible dies and platforms, you can even expand your collection as you advance.

This starter kit is built to last, too. It has a steel core roller system to evenly emboss and die cut every task, and comes with a platform, cutting pads, and a thin die adaptor. Our one complaint is that it won't fold away for easier storage, but this does mean that the cutting platform is stronger.

Our expert review:

The Gemini Foil Press Machine can be used on its own but it comes into its own as a complimentary machine to the excellent range of Gemini die-cutters and embossing machines found on my list. This won't emboss or die-cut but is, specifically, a foil stamping machine to create elegant finishes on cards and invitations (it also works on many material types from paper to fabric, leather and wood).

The machine has safety in mind, so there are easy to follow instructions in the manual and a mix of temperature controls to make use of, ensuring you can get crafting straight away. The silicone finger grips ensure your safe, while the machine comes with a cooling mat and tweezers for easy use.

While it's designed to be used with the Gemini range of die-cut machines you can use it with other brands, such as Sizzix, so long as they are no thicker than 2mm.

Our expert review:

If you're mainly interested in embossing your homemade cards, then check out the Gemini Midi Manual Die Cutting & Embossing Machine. It has a 6 x 9-inch cutting platform, so it's the perfect size for cards. It works on felt, cardstock, foil, glitter paper, and other materials, and comes with a plastic shim and cutting folder. Note, though, that you'll have to buy additional folders for embossing.

While it's perfectly sized for card making, you can also use the Gemini Midi for smaller embossing tasks, making it a perfect machine for scrapbooking or adding finishing touches to larger projects. At under 3kg, it's also very lightweight.

Our expert review:

If you're going to be embossing at scale, you need the Sizzix Big Shot Pro. With an opening of 13 inches, it can be used for large tasks and die cutting in bulk. You can cut up to A3 size paper and use dies of up to 12 inches, which are made especially for this machine.

Its roller is industrial strength and the design is entirely made of metal, but you'll still have to do the rolling yourself with the manual handle. Underneath the cutting pads there's also plenty of storage space for extra dies and crafting materials.

The professional standard dies are suitable for cutting more than just paper and cardstock. You can also use this embossing machine for materials, making it perfect for quilting or fashion projects.

Our expert review:

The Rayher Punching and Embossing Machine is a German-made manual embossing machine and as such is robust and reliable, but this is no Sizzix Big Shot and you may find it lacking if you're keen to do more intricate embossing (it lacks a magnetic plate for accessories, for example).

However, for a compact and function manual embossing machine this Rayher is excellent and takes up little space, making it perfect to take to a friend's house or on your travels. It has has a smooth action for a small manual machine and is very easy to use, if limited in what it can do. If you're only punching and embossing small projects, this is a good option.

Our expert review:

The Gemini Mini Crafter's Companion is the smallest embossing machine in our lineup, making it a great addition to our list of the best embossing machines. From simple embellishments to stick to cards, to mini labels to complete a perfectly wrapped present, it's great for those little tasks that don't require a large machine, such as scrapbooking.

At only 1kg in weight, the Gemini Mini Crafter's Companion is also the most portable design we tried. It's got a platform of 3 x 6 inches, so your crafting will be quick and you'll be able to turn the dial evenly and smoothly. Use this in addition to your main embossing machine, or pair it with a Cricut machine to add to your list of crafting capabilities.

Want to do some embossing on your travels? Then you'll want something that's nice and compact, and the Sizzix Big Shot Foldaway is just the ticket and deserving of a rightful place in our list of the best embossing machines.

When closed and packed away, this embossing machine is just 15.8 x 26.6 x 20.3cm. Even the handle folds away in front of the machine, so it's perfectly portable and also well sized for those who want a neat and tidy crafting space when it's not in use.

As with any hinged cutting surface, it may be less sturdy than a model that won't fold away, but it's a price worth paying if you love to craft on the go. You also get in-built storage that can keep dies and tools out of the way when you're not crafting. Be warned, though: at just 6 inches, this machine is best suited to A5 tasks, so don't expect to do any full-size A4 tasks.

The machines above will emboss materials out of the box, but if you're looking for a more modern approach then craft machines from Cricut, Brother and Silhouette offer tools that can be used to emboss and deboss many materials. The advantage of these devices is you can create your own projects in the machine's apps, they can handle large designs, and they are all-digital, meaning less hassle for you.

Cricut Joy is the brand's smallest and cheapest craft machine but it's more than capable of handling most projects you'll want to do. The advantage of the Cricut Joy is it can fit into a bag and be taken on your travels or a good option if you're short of space at home.

The Cricut Joy can cut and draw from designs created on the new Cricut mobile app, and with the right attachment you can emboss all sorts of materials, including foils. You'll need the Cricut Joy foil transfer kit and or the Cricut Debossing tip for embossing. You can find these in our best Cricut accessories guide.

The advantage of the Cricut Joy is you can do more than simply embossing all in one machine, so it's ultimately good value for money. It's also an incredibly easy craft machine to use and is a nice size; but it can also handle projects up to 20 feet long. It's worth noting the small machine size means it's restricted to four inch wide materials.

Our expert review:

The Brother ScanNCut range of craft machines are powerful and adaptable cutting machines that differ from the likes of Cricut because they have a built-in scanner and onboard CPU (complete with LCD touchscreen) for designing. It also connects to a tablet or laptop.

A Brother ScanNCut can do pretty much anything, including cutting, drawing, etching, engraving and more. If you buy or have a Brother ScanNCut machine and want to emboss then you'll need to buy the new Brother Embossing Accessory Set that comes with the new tip attachment, mat, metal sheet and 50 embossing designs.

Brother has a number of ScanNCut models that range in size and power, from the high-spec SDX2200 model to the smaller and cheaper SDX900 device. Choosing the right model is important, for example the SDX2200D is expensive but comes with every attachment and more pre-designed projects. The SDX1200 model is a good overall machine.

Our expert review:

The Silhouette Portrait 3 is the smaller of the brand's two main digital craft machines, which makes it a nice entry machine for anyone who likes the idea of these devices but needs more than Cricut Joy offers but not quite as complex as Cricut Maker or the Silhouette Cameo 4.

As with the other two digital craft machines here, the Silhouette Portrait 3 can do more than embossing, and is capable of replicating illustrations, cutting many material type from card to fabrics, and you can design from scratch in the app. If you want to emboss you'll need to buy the Silhouette Embossing Tool separately, but it's not too expensive (around $8 / £10). Note this is the 'Curio' tool, and you may need to also buy an adapter for newer Silhouette machines like the Portrait 3.

You can do some embossing out of the box, but only on card and paper and you'll need to track down some good tutorials as it involves some fiddling. It's why the Portrait 3 is a good machine overall but requires a little more effort to just emboss.

Our expert review:

The xTool M1 is for crafters who really want it all; this machine offers blade and laser cutting in one box, meaning you can pretty much do everything from cutting to engraving. (It can't emboss as such, but it can engrave all materials from card to metal and even food!).

In my xTool M1 review I found this to be an easy and flexible machine that can go from blade cutting to laser engraving in the same project; I created a leather bag using this machine, engraving a pattern into the material. The only downside is you will need to buy the Riser unit and Air Assist kit to really make it work properly, otherwise it is liable to scorch some materials.

This is expensive, however, so if you're really only interested in creating beautifully embossed cards and other paper crafts then one of the more traditional options at the top of my list is advised. But if you're keen to really get creative with your crafts, the xTool M1 is a great machine.

Embossing is the process of creating raised images, text and designs on paper and other materials. An embossing machine makes this easy to do, by using a combination of rollers and cutting plates to push your design through the card or paper and create a raised version with precise outlines.

The best embossing machine for you will ultimately depend on what you plan on using it for. When it comes to materials, most embossing machines predominantly work with paper and cardstock, so if you want a machine that can emboss leather or wood, you may need to get something a little more heavy-duty.

Another thing to consider is size. Most embossing machines have a six-inch opening, so they're best suited to A5 tasks like making cards and scrapbooking. If you want to work with larger dimensions, size up to the Sizzix Big Shot Pro or the Gemini GEM-M-GLO.

The best embossing machine you can buy today is the Bira Craft Die Cutting & Embossing Machine. It's lovely and portable; it offers in-built height adjustment; and it's very easy to use. There are three modes to choose from: 3D emboss, 2D letterpress emboss and die cutting mode. You can work on items up to A4 in size, and there's even storage space for the handle when you're not on the move.

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Millie is a regular freelancer for Creative Bloq, and an expert in craft and design. In her day job Millie is Real Homes' Small Appliances and Cooking Editor, where she is constantly on the hunt for the latest (and best) kitchen appliances, and reviewing these products hands-on. She was previously at TopTenReviews as a Staff Writer. As a baking enthusiast, Millie’s job at Real Homes is the perfect excuse to cook up an endless supply of snacks. When she’s not in the kitchen though, she loves knitting and exploring London's top food markets.