DIY Die Cutter

Written by delialah falcon
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DIY Die Cutter
Make your own die cutters out of aluminium cans. (Aluminium cans on end image by Jeffrey Studio from

Die cutters are used to create large quantities of the same shape. They are used in many crafting projects and can cut through a variety of different materials, such as paper, cardstock and plastic. Die cutters can be pricey. It is cost-effective and fairly easy to create your own out of a metal can.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Empty metal food cans
  • Soap
  • Dry cloth
  • Heavy leather work gloves
  • Saw
  • Marker
  • Vice grip
  • Drill
  • Grinder attachment for drill
  • 2 wooden blocks
  • Industrial strength glue
  • Materials to be cut with die
  • Utility knife (optional)

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  1. 1

    Remove the label from the food can. Clean the can in hot, soapy water. Dry it thoroughly with a cloth.

  2. 2

    Put on gloves. Slice open the food can with a saw. Bend the can open until it can lie completely flat on the work surface.

  3. 3

    Trace the desired design onto the can with a marker. Bend the can into the desired pattern, following the traced lines. Place the can into the vice grip.

  4. 4

    Attach the grinder to the drill and turn the drill on. Let it run for a few seconds to get the blade spinning well. Slowly cut along the edges to sharpen. Apply gentle pressure. Keep moving the grinder along the can and refrain from grinding in one spot for too long, which can result in the can becoming overheated and too soft. Continue grinding until you have completely sharpened along the edges, retaining the shape from the traced line. Shut off the drill and adjust the can in the vice as necessary while you work.

  5. 5

    Lay a block of wood on the work surface. Remove the sharpened can from the vice and carefully lay it upside down on the work surface. Apply a small dab of glue to the backside of the can. Turn the can over and carefully place it on top of the wood block. Apply pressure to the can until it adheres to the wood.

  6. 6

    Set the wood and newly formed die aside. Place the other block of wood on the work surface. Place the stack of materials that you are cutting onto the wood block.

  7. 7

    Position the block of wood with the metal die upside down on top of the stack of materials. Push down on the block with your hands and lean into it with the weight of your body. Apply even pressure all along the wood block.

  8. 8

    Lift up the wood and check to see if all the materials were cut. Sharpen the die as needed if any dull edges exist along the stack of materials. Repeat the previous steps and glue another can on top of the first can if it did not penetrate through the entire stack of materials.

Tips and warnings

  • If just an edge or two of the materials are not entirely cut through in some spots, consider trimming off any excess with a utility knife rather than sharpening the die.
  • Use extreme caution when working with sharp dies. Always protect your hands with heavy gloves.

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