Craft Product Review: Grand Calibur Die-Cutting System by Spellbinders

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As much as I love my electronic die-cutter, there is a special place in my heart for a manual die-cutting machine. Sometimes you just want to cut out a little flower or something, and it hardly seems worth it to haul out the Cricut and fire it up.  So today I’m reviewing one of the newest manual die-cutters on the market, the Grand Calibur by Spellbinders!

Here’s the product description, as it appears on the Spellbinders website:

The Grand Caliburâ„¢ is the latest in Spellbinders’â„¢ line of innovative cutting machines. It is compatible with all Spellbinders die templates. The Grand Calibur accepts 8½ x 11” paper without trimming, as well as cuts or embosses up to 8⅛” wide with the turn of a handle.

With an integrated handle design, and weighing only 10 pounds, the Grand Calibur is portable and convenient to use anywhere. It has a stability base that keeps the machine in place during use.

Die cutting and embossing sandwiches are easy to stack with color coded plates.

Using the same two-pass process as the Wizard™, (cut on one pass, emboss on the other) the Grand Calibur allows so many more die templates on the larger plates. Perfect for Grand Nestabilities®!

Larger shapes offer endless possibilities for scrapbooking, school projects, mini albums and more!

Compatible with Sizzlets, Cuttlebug, and Quickuts dies, as well as Cuttlebug Embossing Folders and Fiskars Texture Plates.

If you are familiar with manual die-cutting systems, this one will be easy for you to adapt to. There is a base plate, a cutting plate, an embossing place and rubber embossing mat.

To use, you make a “sandwich” on your base plate. The “sandwich” is a plate, your die on top of your paper, and then a second plate. The plates squeezed together as you turn the handle and feed the “sandwich” through the rollers of the machine. The pressure pushes the die against the paper, causing it to cut cleanly.

Here it is, cutting Foamies.

What makes the Grand Calibur exciting is its SIZE! It has a wide mouth opening that will accommodate an 8.5 sheet of paper with out trimming. The plates, too, are extra long – 11¾ x 8¼”-that’s cool if you want to make borders for your 12″ scrapbooks!

So I set up the Spellbinders Grand Calibur (SGC from here on out) on my buffet table. I engaged the lever on the front that engages the suction- and MAN, that sucker stayed put!! I don’t know if it was because the top of the buffet is granite or what, but it really locked down. Compared to may smaller die-cut machine, this is a HUGE improvement. The last thing you want is to be cranking away and have the machine wobbling all over the place.

I fed the plates into the machine- and started to crank. The crank action was smooth and easy, and the crank handle felt substantial. The knob is larger than most manual die-cutting machines I’ve tried, and it felt ergonomical in the hand. Nice.

Now, I found the longer plates somewhat cumbersome to deal with- there are twice the size of what I’m used to. And and I had to remember to “cheat” the machine forward on the counter- because that long plate is eventually going to have to come out the back! I actually had to nudge the plates forward a bit with my hip so that I could crank the machine with my right hand and hold the handle with my left.

And on the topic of the built-in handle- LOVE it. Of course, as you are cranking away you instinctively want to stabilize the machine by holding it on top. Spellbinders was smart to make the handle part of the design. As an added bonus, if you want to take the SGC with you somewhere, it’s not super-heavy- only 10 pounds or so. However, I can’t get my feed tray to flip up or anything, so that sticks out and I’m afraid I might break it if I schlepped it around. Just sayin’.

I’m happy to say that it works marvelously with the Nestabilities and Grand Nestabilities dies (I reviewed them here), and I also used embossing folders with great success. The Cuttlebug dies will work in this machine, too:

But that leads me to my saddest revelation- the Grand Calibur will NOT cut Sizzix dies. (Insert long scream here.)  I think that this is a HUGE problem! I love all kinds of dies from all kinds of companies…and I’m sure most crafters are the same way. I love Spellbinders dies, and have used them in my Cuttlebug AND my Xyron Creatopia…and now that there are the Grand Nestabilities, I was hoping to move my little Cuttlebug to the side and let the Grand Calibur takes it’s place on my craft table. But if I can’t use the thicker dies, I’m conflicted….and stuck using two machines.

The bottom line is this: if you are completely brand-loyal to Spellbinders, this tool will not let you down. But if you have different dies from different companies, this may not be the machine to invest in. MSRP for the Grand Calibur is $129.99, but do a Google Shopping search- I’ve seen it for under $100.

Pros:

  • Great suction
  • Handle is very handy. (So to speak.)
  • Works perfectly with the Grand Nestabilities dies, which I LOVE.
  • Compatible with all brands of embossing folders
  • Compatible with Cuttlebug, Sizzlets, and Quickuts dies
  • Only 10 pounds

Cons:

  • Needs a larger space on the table to accommodate the longer cutting mat
  • Not compatible with Sizzix Dies.

Do you have a Grand Calibur? Love it or lukewarm? I’d love to hear from YOU!

Disclosure

If you are contemplating purchasing this item, I’d appreciate it if you’d consider using my affiliate links:

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About Jenny

Chief Craft Test Dummy, Craft Evangelist, Founder, Editor, bottle-washer, trouble-maker, and creative whirlwind.

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34 Responses to “Craft Product Review: Grand Calibur Die-Cutting System by Spellbinders”

  1. Kathy Says:

    So enjoy my Grand Calibur I have made beautiful things. Its easy to handle. The bigger plates are not a problem. As far as the white guide plate in the front it is easy to just push in when your done.
    Well worth the money, I always get the Hobby Lobby coupon for 40% off on my dies. Love Spellbinders!!

  2. Janine Says:

    I’ve had my mine one week and LOVE it. I love how I can cut multiple dies at one time and emboss them without having to change the plates!

  3. Heidi Blankenship Says:

    Absolutely LOVE mine!! Very easy to use, nice and smooth. Can cut multiple dies at one time. Makes creating your projects fast, easy & fun. Love it!!!

  4. Deb Says:

    LOOOOOVE mine!!!! Yes, the suction lever is really strong, much stronger than my Cuttlebug (bye bye, bug!). And I love cutting all of the dies for my entire project in one pass because of the large plates. And don’t get me started about the Grand die templates – heavenly!! Two thumbs up!!!

  5. Noel Says:

    Thanks for the review…this was discussed on a Ustream show last night and the consensus was if you have sizzix dies your better off buying the grand daddy of the sizzix machines, the big shot pro. The opening is aprox. 12 x 12 and will do everything….the largest spellbinders and the largest sizzix dies as well…one machine for all.
    Have you done a test on this machine yet?
    Thanks for this review.

  6. Lelsey Ratcliff Says:

    I am in love with mine….and the dies are a real size can make shaped cards and brill scrapbook layouts. My fave die machine!

  7. Vicki B Says:

    I just got mine and used it yesterday for the first time. I did find out that I need to purchase one more item (retailing at $5.99) in order to run embossing folders through it. I’m happy to do that. I have the Cuttlebug and love it. I am going to love this machine too. One of the main reasons I decided to purchase was because you can run the 5″ x 7″ embossing folders through sideways. I wanted to do that so I could leave the “back” hanging out because it made it awfully thick to run it through the Cuttlebug with the back of the card wrapped around the back of the embossing folder.

  8. Renee' Says:

    I’ve been toying with the idea of asking my husband for one for Christmas. Your review was helpful. Thanks.

  9. Jenny Says:

    Renee- thank you for your comment. Knowing that my review was helpful makes me so glad… It’s why I do what I do! : )

  10. Tina Van Eick Says:

    Love it!!! I knew it would not cut the thicker dies but bought it anyways. I’ll keep my Wizard to cut the Sizzix. Yes, I’m Spellbinder’s all the way!!!

  11. Karen Says:

    I love it! BTW, the white front feed tray pushes in so it is out of the way during transportation or idle time.

  12. Linda Grindstaff Says:

    I am in the process of trying to decide what kind of embossing machine to buy. I’ve been embossing by hand, and it is not only too slow, but is also hurting my wrists. I have thought of the Wizard, and then I saw the Grand Caliber and with its wider medium capacity, it may be the right one. Presently, I use brass stencils of various small to medium sizes and hope whichever machine I buy will take them. I use brass and copper foil and also hope to be able to feed this medium through the machine. So far, I’m making embellishments for wooden ovals that are painted, and then either foil or cardstock embossing is glued down onto them after they are painted making a nice refrigerator magnet or wall hanging. If anyone has suggestions as to which machine I may enjoy starting the machine embossing with, I’ll appreciate your input. Thanks, Linda

  13. Raven Says:

    I was thisclose to buying a grand caliber machine. I have been thinking and thinking about it. Luckily my LSS is cosed for the oliday and so hat has provided me with the time to do some research. Thank you so very much for your honest review of the GC. I have made my final decision and I am going to forgo this purchase. I think I may troll the web and see if I can find a big shot pro that will not require the surrender of y only child in it’s purchase. I LOVE my sizzix dies, and I have to much of a collection to be stuck with a machine I can not use on them. Thanks again!

  14. Jenny Says:

    I do like the machine, but you are right… most of us have a large Sizzix collection and need a machine that will use those dies, too. Personally, I still use my Cuttlebug the most. OR, if you are into the Xyron adhesives, the Creatopia has a drop-in die cutting unit that will accept Sizzix dies, too.

  15. Edna Burgess Says:

    Very interesting about not taking the sizzix. Didn’t know that, but can always keep the old cuttlebug just for those dies. Liked all the comments also. Sounds like most love theirs. Edna

  16. Jega Says:

    I am waiting for mine. I just bought my first sizzix die. Oh well, I’ll keep the cuttlbug for that one or give it away with my Cuttlebug. LOL

  17. Sue Says:

    Have the Grand Caliber; just purchased it. Love how it works, but feel my Cuttlebug is a better machine simply because my Cuttlebug will handle the thicker dies. I was so disappointed to learn that my Grand will not accommodate my ProvoCraft dies, of which I have many.

  18. Gail Dietrich Says:

    I have the orginal sizzix machince and have dies for that. What do I need and how do I run them thru my spellbinder grand calibur machine.

    Thanks

  19. Jenny Says:

    Gail, as I mentioned in my review, Spellbinders Grand Calibur will NOT CUT the Bigz or “regular” Sizzix dies. It’s the one HUGE drawback of the machine. :-(

  20. Linda Says:

    Linda here, and I came out here a while ago when I first got my Grand Caliber. Now, I’ve had it for quite a while, and have begun to work with the craft foils.

    One tip I received from Spellbiners is to use the 38 to 40gauge foils instead of the 36 gauge because the thinner foil is what machine has been tested on successfully. The other part of the tip is about how the foil and sometimes even cardstock will stick in the dies after cutting and embossing. Advice was to cut pieces of waxed paper and put it in-between the die and the medium in the sandwich. The waxed paper will keep the medium whether foil or paper from sticking down into the dies. I ruined some foil trying to get it out of the dies and then wrote to Spellbinders’ for a solution. People there are always helpful and fast in getting back to you. So, use the waxed paper in the sandwich like this:

    Bottom Gray Plate
    Dies
    Waxed Paper Layer
    Media
    Cutting Plate

    Not sure if more waxed paper is necessary as you run media and dies back through machine to emboss, but might be since the cutting will probably cut through all the waxed paper. I have not done this yet as I ran out of foil and have some thinner foil coming soon and will give it a whirl.
    I hope this also helps with static electricity because the plates and embossing mat becomes very electric after just one pass through machine.

    If anyone has any further advice about static electricity, please reply and thanks much!

  21. Sharon Says:

    I got a Grand Calibur for my birthday with some dies – really pleased, I haven’t got any other dies so I can start building up with the dies that are compatable, the only embossing plates I do have though are the Fiskars Texture Plates (blue quite thick the ones you hand emboss with), I heard that you are meant to be able to use them with the Grand Calibur, I third but it was quite difficult to roll through, I used the base plate A, Fiskars plate, light weight card, tan mat then the Raspberry plate. Could an one advise if this is correct or any tips. Many thanks

  22. barb williams Says:

    My husband ordered the SGC as a present for me, last night. I wanted it mainly for cutting shaped cards. I had decided to give my Cuttlebug to a friend after Christmas. However, I didn’t realise, until reading your review, that the SGC doesn’t cut sizzix dies and I have quite a few of them. So sorry Lily I’ll be hanging onto my dear old Cuttlebug. Glad I hadn’t mentioned it to her.

    Your review has been VERY helpful, thanks Jenny

  23. Elizabeth Atkinson Says:

    Had spellbinder Grand calibre for 3 years for home hobby use. It does not work at the moment as the two plastic paltes that hold it together have shattered and do not appear to be up to the job. Has anyone else had this problem

  24. Jenny Says:

    Elizabeth- If you are having mechanical issues with your machine, you should contact Spellbinders. I had a broken mechanism on mine and I shipped it back & they repaired it for me no charge.

  25. jeremy Says:

    I,m new to the world of scrapbooking/card making and wonder would the Grand Calibur be suitable for a beginner?.

  26. Jenny Says:

    Jeremy- yes, a beginner can use the Grand Calibur. The Cuttlebug is also a great choice for novice crafters and it has a smaller footprint, smaller pricetag, and will accommodate all die types- it’s the one I suggest as an entry-level machine. Best, enny

  27. frances daden Says:

    do you know a place in australia that repairs the grand calibra if so could you email me the address

    thanks
    fran

  28. Jenny Says:

    Frances- I am not aware of ANY place that repairs Grand Caliburs other than Spellbinders. Mine broke a gear internally, so I contacted them and they told be to ship it back (which I paid the shipping cost.) But they repaired it for free and sent it back to me! So I’d go to their website and contact customer service. Good Luck!

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