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Product Review: Spellbinders Grand Calibur

by Susanna on November 8, 2010

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:

[flickrset id="72157625319326574" thumbnail="square" overlay="true" size="medium"]

I’m already working on another GRAND project :)  Please leave your questions or comments below!

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{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Lynn Mercurio November 8, 2010 at 2:57 pm

Fantastic review Susanna. I can’t wait to get this little workhorse into my craft room!!!


Jennie Harper November 8, 2010 at 3:22 pm

Oh WOW!!! Love seeing this in action and definitely need this :o) Wonderful review Susanna!!


Joanna Mackintosh November 8, 2010 at 4:32 pm

Great review, I am still looking into requesting one of these for xmas this year. I have the Wizard at the moment and do love that, I’d obviously keep that for putting the Sizzix Bigz etc. through :)

The biggest issue I have is that it’s US Letter size where all our paper/card is A4 and therefore not totally compatible. It’s not too big a deal though really.


Susanna November 9, 2010 at 11:45 am

Joanna, the Grand Caliber was MADE FOR YOU! Because A4 is slightly narrower than our letter size paper, you won’t have to trim the paper at all. I don’t think the small difference in length will be an issue either, although you might have 1/4 inch hanging off the end.


Lindsay Amrhein November 8, 2010 at 5:13 pm

This review was very helpful in my decision to purchase this machine! I love your album, so pretty! Thanks for sharing this!


Elina Blanco November 8, 2010 at 9:41 pm

I had already ordered mine but it is on back-order. After reading your review, I can’t wait to get it!


sunghee November 10, 2010 at 3:06 pm

woah~! I didn’t know the grand calibur was that big. Thank you so much for including the comparison photos! And the mini book is so awesome! I wanna make one, too!


Karen November 14, 2010 at 11:47 pm

Is there a large enough mat to emboss a 5″x7″ embossing folder? From the FAQ’s on the Spellbinders website it tells you to buy a separate non-Grand Calibur mat that I don’t think is as large as 5″x7″. Have you tried to emboss a 5″x7″ embossing folder?


Susanna November 15, 2010 at 5:15 pm

Yes and no – I don’t have a 5×7 embossing folder, but I have embossed other folders! You’ll need the Spellbinders Cutting Mat For Use With Sizzix W025. It’s larger than 5×7, so you should be able to use it without any problems!


Karen November 15, 2010 at 7:33 pm

Thanks for the link. I checked it out and the listing has conflicting info on the dimensions. In one spot it says the size is larger than 5×7 but in another spot it says 5-7/8”x5-7/8”. I’ve checked on and after enlarging the picture I saw that the size is listed as 5-7/8”x5-7/8”. The Spellbinders website does not list a size that I could find but in the picture it sure looks square. I have emailed Spellbinders on this over a week ago and have yet to receive a reply. They need to get on the ball if they want to sell this. I’m really interested in the Grand Calibur but only if I can emboss 5×7 folders and the Sizzix texture plates also.


Tiffany February 24, 2011 at 4:01 pm

You mentioned that you can use it with fabric…have you tried it with anything besides felt? I would like to use it with satin or a fabric similar to that. Do you think it will work with the Grand Calibur? Thanks for your input!


Susanna February 24, 2011 at 6:59 pm

Tiffany, I haven’t tried to cut fabric with my Grand Caliber yet. I imagine thin fabric would work out just fine.


Christine March 29, 2011 at 6:39 am

Can you emboss with the Grand Calibur?


Susanna March 29, 2011 at 8:13 am

Yes! Spellbinders sells an entire line of embossing plates that work beautifully. If you want to run your existing non-Spellbinder’s embossing folders, you’ll have to order a special plate from the company directly.


joan swenson October 23, 2011 at 1:48 pm


What is the measurement of the opening of the Grand Calibur. I want to cut nestabilities grand which my Cuttlebug with an opening of 5 3/4″ won’t do.



Eileen November 6, 2011 at 2:25 pm

I have asked Santa for the Grand Calibur this year. I found your reveiw very helpful, however I have a question – will I be able to use my brass embossing stencils with this machine.



Susanna November 7, 2011 at 10:22 am

Eileen, I don’t have brass stencils, but I do think they would work just fine. I found this online:

Start with the A Base Plate on the bottom. Place the brass stencil then the media to emboss on top of it, desired side facing down. Cover it with Tan Embossing Pad. To avoid lines from the outside edge of the stencil, cut a Tan Embossing Pad slightly smaller than the stencil. Place the B Embossing Plate on top and insert into the front of the Grand Calibur. Turn the handle and the sandwich exits at the back of the machine.


Eileen November 9, 2011 at 6:54 pm

Thank you for the info. Will let you know if it works for me!



Darlene Castor September 28, 2012 at 12:18 pm

I have the Big Shot, but wanted to ask Santa for the Grand Caliber…I’m wondering if I can use the dies I already bought? Is there anything that will go through the Big Shot that can’t be used on the Grand Caliber?


Shannon March 24, 2013 at 4:59 pm

Hi I’m thinking of purchasing a grand calibur but I seen a couple of reviews that the handle breaks. Has this happened to you.


NANCY B. October 17, 2013 at 11:42 pm

I bought a set of Anna Griffin’s new dies but haven’t been able to run two of them thru my grand caliber. They are suppose to be compatible with my machine but I am afraid of trying to force them thru for fear of breaking my machine. I know there are some people out there who have successfully found the right solution but no one has said how to do this. I am using the same sandwich as I would use with my regular spellbinder dies. Her dies are rather large and intricate. Is there anyone out there who has found the right solution??????


Susanna October 25, 2013 at 10:20 am

Sandwich is Base Plate – A Plate / die with cardstock / White cutting plate – C Plate

If this is too thick, can I ask what cardstock you’re using? Try running the die through with American Crafts Cardstock (cuts like butter) and see what happens. I could be that your cardstock is too thick for the die. Please post what happens. Also, I know that Spellbinders has released a new cutting plate made to work with their more intricate dies. It maybe the solution to your problem.


Edwin Bernardo December 10, 2013 at 12:20 pm

How can I use sizzix texture plate with spellbinder grand calibur? I am a new crafter….I bought a bunch of stuff without researching…and so I’m stuck with spellbinder grand calibur and sizzix texture plate….please help


Susanna February 11, 2014 at 10:27 am

Here’s the link to Spellbinders for a link of what works and what doesn’t in their machine. Good luck!


Bea Morgan January 25, 2014 at 1:23 pm

Just bought my machine,looking forward to using it. Will let everyone know how it goes!!!!


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