The Right Way to Use the Cuttlebug

Today I’d like to share a tip on cutting thin intricate dies with the Cuttlebug WITHOUT using any shims (metal or chipboard), WITHOUT running it through the machine more than once!!  This tip is only for the Cuttlebug because it’s what I own.  So let’s get right into it!


If you don’t want to bother reading all the mumble jumbo, the tip is basically to cut up!  That is, you need to place the die cutting side (ridges) up.  If you don’t know what I mean, or you want more details, then read on.

So the die I’m using is this beautiful underwater scene die.  It is a thin die that I got from Ali Express, so it’s not of any brand I know of. This die also has some embossing/scoring elements, like the fish scales and eyes, the design on the jellyfish, seahorse, and seashell.  What makes this die so intricate are the jellyfish tentacles; they are very thin and close together.

Now before I get into how I cut this die with one pass and no (metal) shims, I want to point out that you can find many videos on YouTube showing you how to use the Cuttlebug, as well as tips on how to cut intricate die.  Some videos on how to use the Cuttlebug shows you the proper way to use it (cutting side up), and some do not.  And the tips for cutting intricate dies usually involve using a metal shim.  I will show you that a metal shim is not necessary, as long as you do it properly!

First I will show you the wrong way to do it:  wp-image-892760111
The bad sandwich is as follows, starting from bottom: A, C, Paper, Die with ridges down, and B.  (My C plate has no label on it.)

I ran it through once, and this is the result:wp-image-1391544807

Look at where the jellyfish tentacles should be; it’s not cut!  It is slightly impressed (hard to see in the pictures).  Perhaps it may cut if I did add a metal shim, but why waste money on buying a metal shim when I can cut it with one pass without it!  By the way, this picture is what it looks like after one pass.  I did a second pass and the tentacles showed up a little more, but it was not cut through.

Now let me show you the right way to use the Cuttlebug.  This works EVERYTIME, and I never have to pass it more than once.  By the way, passing a die more than once can cause the paper to shift slightly, so you may get “shadow” cutting, which is cutting again, but slightly off.  So here is the correct sandwich:wp-image-1125245494
The correct sandwich is as follows, starting from the bottom: A, C, Die with ridges up, paper, and B.  As you can see, my B plate is very well used!

And here is the result from running it through once:wp-image-1814417664

This is amazing!  One pass and no metal shims needed and everything is cut out, even the thin tentacles!


So this tip is really not a secret.  The Cuttlebug is designed to cut up and it’s also in the user manual to place the ridges up and paper over the ridges.  I’m not sure what is contained in the newer manuals, but I got my Cuttlebug from 2010, and using thin dies were just starting out at the time, which is why my C plate has no label.  But after so many years, the Cuttlebug still works great and cuts through my intricate dies easily with only one pass and no shims.  Anyway, I hope this tip helped those of you that have been having trouble with the intricate dies!

I’ve never tried other machines either, but I don’t see the need to because I’m happy with my Cuttlebug!  And last but not least, you can see the final die cut over my freshly made background with my new Tim Holtz Distress Oxide by Ranger.  I’ll be posting the final card on my Instagram account, so be sure to check it out!

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