Category Archives: Crafting

Kinkajou Bottle Cutter

Kinkajou Bottle Cutter

The Kinkajou Bottle Cutter is an easy way to cut round bottles such as wine and beer bottles for using as glasses, crafts and other household containers.

Ease of Use, Performance:  5/5
Look & Feel:  5/5
Features:  4/5
How much I enjoy:  5/5

Recommendation:  5/5 Stars

The world has gone recycle crazy and with that comes the reduce reuse and recycle proverb which makes sense when it can help the environment. Reusing items and repurposing them comes in handy not only in saving the resources of our planet but in saving money.

Being able to take that old soda or wine bottle that may or may not go into new bottles and using it directly around your home can not only save a little money but it can be fun. Many bottle cutters for crafting are those clunky contraptions that seem to work by chance and only after careful instruction and lots of practice.

The Kinkajou Bottle Cutter is a unique bottle cutter that is hand held and uses two sets of rollers to keep round bottles square to the cutting wheel. The Kinkajou cutter is a neat looking device with a simple design unlike many of the other bottle cutters that seem very clunky.

Kinkajou Bottle Cutter
Kinkajou Bottle Cutter

I have to be honest and say that I have not used any other bottle cutters so I can’t directly compare the Kinkajou to those others but the Kinkajou does work well. I have been cutting dozens of bottles and have a good assortment of well-cut ones to use for many projects.

The Kinkajou Bottle Cutter has two knurled knobs on the threaded rods that position the rollers at the correct distance to securely hold your bottle. The flip levers on top tighten down the rods while the cutting wheel lever drops the cutting wheel onto the bottle for cutting.

The four rollers on each half of the Kinkajou ensure the bottle rolls evenly but it also takes a little practice to get the hang of clean scoring lines on the glass bottles. The Kinkajou does a great job on round bottles that are flat but do not really work on ones that are not flat on the cutting surface.

To cut the necks or bottles that are not round you’re going to need to visit some other device or method as the Kinkajou design just makes flat surface cutting. I have been very busy cutting many bottles and as you can see one project has stuck out in this review.

Some Bottles After Cutting
Some Bottles After Cutting

My wife and I are avid home gardeners and have many attempts at a wide variety of gardening projects and the hydroponic bottles are just the latest. The bottles are cut with the tops and bottoms being left long but cutting the necks off the bottles for a specific soda bottle is necessary due to the height of the neck section of the bottle.

Cutting consistent lines works well with the Kinkajou and the bottle cutter does an easy job of making a neat score line that meets when you get around the bottle. While cutting you simply watch the line as it comes around the bottle and adjust pressure on the kinkajou as you near the beginning of your score to ensure they meet.

This may mean a slightly wavy line but the finished results will be a smooth break when you separate the bottle which is done with the silicone bands. Once the score line is done you take the two bands and place them a quarter inch on each side of the line and run cold then hot water over the line to crack the glass right on the score line.

The hot and cold water shrinks and expands the glass while the bands keep the water near the score line so the bottle only breaks at the score line. I used the Kinkajou Bottle Cutter on several bottles without the bands and got some terrible cracks and bad breaks so the silicone bands help a lot.

Hydroponics Using Cut Bottles
Hydroponics Using Cut Bottles

The standard kit from Bottle Cutting Inc. comes with some sand paper but these are easy to pick up at hardware stores when the kits run out. Sand the edges as much as you want for nice smooth edges or simply to get the sharp edges off and your craft project is ready for your imagination to finish it off.

Bottle Cutting Inc. sells kits with extra sandpaper as well as sets of wine glass bottoms and light fixtures to use cut bottles as lights and drink ware. You can also buy extra cutting wheels and a different type of silicone band for separating the bottles where you want them to.

The hydroponics gardens I am creating using these are filled with clay pellets and blown glass cubes with parsley, lettuce and other smaller sized plants. I am going to try my luck at keeping these growing all year round so I can have fresh herbs throughout the winter.

While my hydroponics experiment still needs time to see if I cqan grow my household herbs I have been using cut bottles are our house and at work as small tools and pen holders as well as numerous other containers. There are all sorts of projects you can use cut bottles for and the internet is also a great place to find out more.

I highly recommend the Kinkajou Bottle Cutter form Bottle Cutting Inc. for an easy to use cutter for round glass bottles that does not require all kinds of practice to get the hang of.

Kinkajou @ Bottle Cutting Website

Kinkajou @ Amazon

Pros
Easy to use
Simple instructions

Cons
Only cuts round and smooth bottles

Spellbinders Grand Calibur Die Cutting & Embossing Machine

Spellbinders Grand Calibur Die Cutting & Embossing Machine

The Spellbinders Grand Calibur Die Cutting machine is a great die cutting and embossing machine that uses the thinner Spellbinders Nestabilities dies and many others.

Ease of Use, Performance:  3/5
Look & Feel:  5/5
Features:  3/5
How much I enjoy:  5/5

Recommendation: 4/5 Stars

The Spellbinders Grand Calibur is a die cutting and embossing machine that can use the Spellbinders Nestabilities and other thin dies to cut paper. The die cutting machine can also emboss paper using embossing folders and embossing plates like the Fiskars Texture plates.

Spellbinders sells a wide variety of dies and the Grand Calibur can cut using the Spellbinders Shapeabilities, Nestabilities and other thin dies. You can also use other company’s dies like the Sizzix Sizzlets, Quickutz and Cuttlebug dies as long as you use the correct sandwich.

You can emboss using the Grand Calibur and M-Bossabilities, Impressabilities and Grand Impressabilities as well as other companies embossing tools like Fiskars Texture Plates. The Grand Calibur comes with three plates and a tan embossing pad to use with the dies and using the correct plates and pad is the key.

Spellbinders Grand Calibur
Spellbinders Grand Calibur

When cutting you need to use a bottom plate to hold your materials as they go through the machine and a top plate to cut against while your die and material gets sandwiched in between. Inside the machine the steel rollers press the die into the material and cuts it or embosses it depending on the sandwich.

You can use the same dies to emboss or cut as by just using the thinner embossing plate and embossing pad to lessen the thickness of the sandwich. This makes for a great way to use the dies for multiple projects which means less cost for the more expense part of the die cutting system.

The die cutting machine itself only costs about $100 while the dies can run from $10 to $25 for most of the thin dies but you can find dies for less when buying used or on sale. The dies can really begin to add up in price when trying to get a good variety but I have found several for really good prices on clearance and at thrift stores.

Grand Calibur
Grand Calibur

The Grand Calibur has an 8.5 inch wide opening to fit letter sized paper without having to cut it down but for 12 inch wide scrapbooking paper you will have to cut it. The machine does have a large suction cup pad to secure it down to smooth surfaces right under the feed slot and a top handle.

I had no problem securing it down to my table and other work surfaces and the suction cup does keep the machine tight to the table. The top carry handle is also a handy place to hold the machine while cranking but I found it was not really necessary as the suction pad does hold it down tight.

Spellbinders Dies
Spellbinders Dies

I received my Grand Calibur and after careful reading about proper use did several projects but when trying to emboss some material the plates holding the rollers broke. In putting a bit too much pressure on the rollers the screw holes where the plates secure the sides stripped out.

I found out that Spellbinders had a problem with a third party vendor who made the two plates inside the machine that holds the rollers. Spellbinders sent me the new parts and the machine is working good as new, I am very impressed with Spellbinders customer support.

Grand Calibur Die Cutter
Grand Calibur Die Cutter

I have heard others who have had the same and similar problems like the machines handle breaking and customer support sends the new handle or repairs the machine quickly. After emailing customer support I also mentioned my problems on Twitter and the company responded about receiving the defective parts.

The Grand Calibur works well and customer support was quick to respond to my problems so I really do not have any complaints but rather commend them on their quick response. Spellbinders has a wide variety of dies and embossing products but you can also use a huge assortment of other dies and embossing templates from others as well.

Cutting and Embossing
Cutting and Embossing

I have made a wide variety of projects using the Grand Calibur and really enjoy the handy and compact size as well as ease of use of the die cutting machine. While the Grand Calibur does not use the thicker steel cut dies sold by Sizzix it can use the thinner ones like the Sizzix Framelits.

If you’re looking for a paper and thin material die cutting and embossing machine the Spellbinders Grand Calibur is a perfect one for scrapbooking and much more. I highly recommend the Spellbinders Grand Calibur as an excellent die cutting and embossing machine that is very portable.

Grand Calibur @ Spellbinders

Grand Calibur @ Amazon

Pros
Great die cutting and embossing machine
Uses a wide variety of thin dies
Steel rollers
Smaller size, very portable

Cons
Some internal parts are plastic
Does not work with steel rule dies

Scor-Pal Ultimate Package Review

Scor-Pal Ultimate Package Review

The Scor-Pal is a handy crafting tool that makes creating scores on paper and other materials simple and easy while the Ultimate Package contains everything you need for a great start to crafting with scoring.

Ease of Use, Performance:  5/5
Look & Feel:  5/5
Features:  4/5
How much I enjoy:  5/5

Recommendation:  5/5 Stars

Scor-Pal is a handy crafting tool that helps to score paper and other materials with the score grooves along a ruled board with a fence to easily align your material. The Scor-Pal can be part of a package deal called the Scor-Pal Ultimate that includes the Scor-Pal board, the Scor-Mat, Scor-Envi Template, two rolls of Scor-Tape, the Scor-Tote and the Score, Fold, Create Project Book.

The Scor-Pal has a twelve inch wide working surface and has grooves along the board for scoring while the top and sides have measurements in either inches or centimeters. The beginning and end of the board has grooves every eighth of an inch while most of the board has grooves every quarter inch.

Scor-Pal
Scor-Pal

There are groves at particular measurements and indicators to help create specific projects both with the Scor-Envi Template and without it. The Scor-Envi is a handy tool for creating envelopes and has the sizes for both rectangular and square envelopes that the Scor-Pal can make.

You can also use the Scor-Pal with the Scor-Mat in place on the board for cutting and working on projects on either side of the mat. One side has measurements for cutting materials while the other side is perfect for working and even hot glue gun work with rosettes.

scor-pal ultimate package
Scor-Pal Ultimate Package

The Scor-Pal does work well and you can use the project book Score, Fold Create to get a start on creating but the Scor-Pal website has numerous other projects. Using the Scor-Pal is easy and the triangular Scor-Envi Template really helps creating envelopes so at a minimum buying both should be enough to handle many crafting situations.

The Ultimate Package does give you enough tools to do a good job and I especially liked the double sided tape which came with the set. I was extremely pleased with the double sided tape that came with the set as it was easy to peel the backing off and was very easy to use in the projects I worked on.

scor-pal & scor-mat
Scor-Pal & Scor-Mat

I worked with regular paper and some more expensive scrapbooking paper as well as plastic and even metal with some decent results. I did like the regular aluminum flashing I used to make a couple gift boxes and the copper also made nice looking boxes with that extra flash.

Working metal in the Scor-Pal is a little different than using paper as you need to be careful to keep the tool straight because it is easier to slip out of the groove. You should also be careful of edges as you can cut yourself but other than that using metal worked well and made for some excellent projects.

scor-pal projects
Scor-Pal Projects

The Scor-Pal is easy to use and makes a great addition to any crafters tool while the Ultimate Package is the best way to stock up on all the Scor-Pal tools you need. I highly recommend the Scor-Pal Ultimate Package as a great scoring board and kit for the crafter.

scor-pal scoring tool
Scor-Pal Scoring Tool

Scor-Pal Website

Pros
Easy to use for variety of projects
Sturdy construction
New triangle template works great for envelopes
Scor-Tape works well and is easy to use

Cons
None

Sizzix Big Shot Pro Die Cutting and Embossing Machine Review

Sizzix Big Shot Pro Die Cutting and Embossing Machine Review

The Sizzix Big Shot Pro is a professional quality die cutting and embossing machine that uses a wide variety of dies to cut and emboss materials from paper to leather and even sheet metal.

Ease of Use, Performance:  5/5
Look & Feel:  5/5
Features:  4/5
How much I enjoy:  5/5

Recommendation:  5/5 Stars

The Sizzix Big Shot Pro is a die cutting and embossing machine that uses just about any die cutting dies from companies like Spellbinders, Accucut and Fiskars. The Big Shot Pro is a quality machine built with steel rollers and a metal body with only plastic used for the interior tray and adapters.

The Big Shot Pro works as a die cutting and embossing machine with its roller system and layers of plastic adapters called sandwiches. Simply put the dies or embossing folders press into your material at the correct height due to the proper sandwich so your material is cut or embossed.

steel rollers and gears
Steel Rollers and Gears

The Big Shot Pro is a larger machine at about 24.5 by 15 inches and about 7.5 inches tall with the handle sticking out another 5 inches if attached. The extended adapter tray is about 27 inches long so if you are looking for a carry case you need to take into account the adapter tray you have and the handle being attached or not.

The sandwiches consist of layers of plastic to bring the dies to the correct thickness so the material you use is cut but you can use dies and embossing dies from other companies. Most of the die cutting machines use a base and cutting pad that is expendable when using dies which is a pretty inexpensive part of die cutting.

The cutting pad is what the dies cut against much like a cutting board in the kitchen so that the rest of the sandwich does not get damaged. Sizzix sells accessories like the cutting pads as well as adapter pads in a package so that you can use any of the Sizzix dies as well as dies from other companies.

Extended Tray and Adapter Set
Extended Tray and Adapter Set

The Big Shot Pro is available in two packages with a standard size of about 14.5 by 12.25 inches while the extended set is about 26 by 12.25 inches. The extended pad is nice as the tray and pads are long in case you want to use longer dies and does save you money if you buy that set instead of buying the tray and pads separately.

If you are purchasing a Big Shot Pro I seriously would just buy the Extended Accessory set as you can always just use the tray and pad without the larger cutting pads. Purchasing some extras like smaller cutting pads and using them on the larger tray and adapter works well.

Dies come in specific thicknesses like the steel rule dies from Sizzix that have a thin steel blade that is embedded in a wood or plastic base. Thinner dies like the wafer dies use pressure against the rounded die to cut while the steel rule dies use a sharp edge to cut.

embossing and other dies
Embossing and Other Dies

For most of the thicker steel rule dies you will use the metal tray, adapter pad and the two clear cutting pads to cut materials. When using the Framelits or Nestabilities wafer dies you can cut most materials but for things like metal and leather some of the thin dies may not cut these.

The Big Shot Pro can use the thinner wafer dies but you will need to buy additional adapter pads to make up for the thinner dies. The Big Shot Pro Accessory set for using the wafer thin dies costs about $60 and is a great buy as well as a required set to cut and emboss with the wafer thin dies and more.

Sizzix as well as brick and mortar stores like Hobby Lobby sell the 8.72 by 6.125 inch cutting pads that are a great size for most of the smaller dies. I have used this size cutting pad on the extended adapter and do not have to move the adapter much when cutting.

Sizzix Die Cutting and Embossing
Sizzix Die Cutting and Embossing

I have been using the Big Shot Pro for about a month and have tried cutting a wide variety of materials which the machine has had no problems cutting. Papers of all kinds, cork, leather up to about 1/8th of an inch and sheet metals like aluminum brass and copper all cut without problems.

I tried cutting some galvanized sheet metal that is 28 gauge or .0149 but it only embossed the metal using a Bigz die so thick metals above about .01 will probably not cut. I have had no problems cutting thinner metals like aluminum and copper as well as a wider variety of other materials.

I even cut through 2 inch thick foam to make a puzzle out of foam that would be great for kids in the tub or playing in the pool. I am going to try some other things like using expandable sponges for some kids toys and some other ideas I have that may or may not work out.

Some Practice Projects
Some Practice Projects

While I have not made very many useful scrapbooking or crafting objects I have started to find out all the various things you can do with the Big Shot Pro. Creating cards and a variety of paper objects like small boxes and cartons for gifts is a start while scrapbooking embellishments is another common thing.

You can come up with all kinds of projects and there are also plenty of websites that will help with things to do with your Big Shot Pro. Whether its scrapbooking and simple crafts like making cards for family or for business use like creating boxes for sale items the Big Shot Pro is the perfect die cutting machine.

I highly recommend the Big Shot Pro for a high quality die cutting machine that has plenty of dies available form both Sizzix and several other companies.

Big Shot Pro Standard Accessories

Big Shot Pro Extended Accessories

Big Shot Pro @ Amazon

Pros
Solid quality and construction
Easy to use
Can use other companies dies

Cons
Dies and machines can be expensive