I’m the luckiest girl in the world! I was asked to review the Spellbinders Grand Calibur. I have been a HUGE fan of Spellbinders Nestabilities and the Wizard for a long time, so when the opportunity came to test drive the Grand Calibur and the Grand Nestabiltiies, I jumped at it.
The Grand Calibur is about the same size as the Big Shot. You can see a side by side comparison here:
You can see in this picture that the Big Shot and the Grand Calibur are the same length.
You can also see that they take up about the same “footprint” of desktop space. Both machines are bigger than the Cuttlebug.
The Grand Calibur has a cutting channel space about the same as the Cuttlebug, maybe slightly smaller. You can’t cut the Big Shot’s big 3d dies with this machine. If you’re someone who cuts a lot of specialty templates, the Big Shot is still your only option. However, the Grand Calibur will cut all the Cuttlebug dies and all the Sizzix thin dies. All of the embossing folders from every manufacturer will go through the Grand Calibur.
The Grand Calibur says it can cut paper up to 8 1/2 inches wide. I found that it only cuts 8 1/4 unless you alter the machine. When I tried to put a full sheet of letter paper into the machine, the edges were curled by the paper tray guide. If you pull the guide out of the machine, it will cut 8 1/2 without trimming or curling. This step is up to you. Removing the guide is simple, and you can always put it back in. I am a paper cheap sake and I usually pre-trim my paper to maximize the leftovers, so I left my machine unaltered.
I am a BIG fan of the bigger cutting size. The new Grand Nestabilities are fantastic for scrapbooking and home decor projects. I can see a lot of great 3d items coming out of the new larger dies. If you are a fan of mini scrapbooks, this machine is indispensable. Check out how many different dies I was able to cut at once time:
Let’s think about the future — how great will it be when Spellbinders creates full size Impressiblities?! Won’t it be awesome to emboss an entire sheet of paper at one time and in one pass! Check this out — because you don’t have to move the dies from one plate to another in order to emboss them, you can easily go from cutting to embossing in one step. You also will not need shims or other tricks to get smooth embossing.
To emboss, simply change the top plate and add the embossing pad (which comes with the machine).
As far as machine performance goes, I prefer the Grand Calibur. With my Big Shot, I got very uneven results for things that needed cutting and embossing. For instance, using the Big Shot small envelope template, I would get cut lines but not score lines. If I tried to get score lines, it would often cut through the paper. When I use Nestabilties with the Big Shot, I always end up with embossed lines, whether I want them or not.
With the Grand Calibur, I can cut the Nestabilities and get a shape, and then I can emboss and get a smooth raised edge with no difficulties.
The Grand Calibur will cut cardstock and fabric and many things in between. Here is a video by the incredibly talented Kimberly Crawford, demonstrating how easy it is to use the new Grand Calibur machine. She demonstrates with felt and the new “wood” cardstock (both cut like butter)!
Long and short of it: I really like the Grand Calibur and think it’s the best of the manual die cut machines on the market. I think it’s the best overall value and the most “well rounded” of the manual die cut machines. I’ve already put my order in for some additional Grand Nestabilities!
For some inspiration on what you can make with the Grand Calibur, I made my December Daily album this year with using the Grand Nestablities Scalloped Squares. I used the largest of the squares to cut 24 pages of cardstock. I also used the same die to cut several sheets of heavy duty acetate.
I used some Heidi Swapp and Tim Holtz letter masks to create a title and then airbrushed over it with a red Copic marker.
For the inside pages, I created mats using the Grand Nestability Squares. Again, I used the largest square, 6×6, to cut and emboss 24 sheets of cardstock. These are on every right hand page of the album. I intend to add a 5×5 digital collage or large square photo to each page daily during December. I love the edge detail that the square offers.
For the opposite/left hand pages, I used the left over cardstock scraps to create pockets and mats for journaling. Since the I’m using a die to do the cutting, all the pieces match up, making it easy to create pockets despite the shape of the page. I also added some baseball card pockets here and there, and some cut some regular Shapability tags, as embellishment and for journaling. You can see the other details for the inside pages below:
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I’m already working on another GRAND project :) Please leave your questions or comments below!