Review of Gemini Die Cutter/Embosser
This review of the Gemini Die Cutter/Embosser covers tips for cutting thin dies made by various companies. The Gemini is a must-have electronic machine for cutting very intricate dies in a single pass! You can get this amazing machine from Amazon for a great price. This is the full size version. There is also a Gemini Jr available for those who need a smaller, more portable size. But I prefer the larger size of the Gemini, as it can cut a lot of dies in a single pass, up to 9″ wide and 12.5″ long!
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Unboxing the Gemini
Right out of the box, this machine is ready to go. It needs a space of 14″ wide, 8″ deep and 6.5″ tall for storage. When in use, it needs some room in front and in back of the machine for the cutting plates to move in and out. So plan on a stable working surface area of 14″ wide by 34″ deep. The machine itself weighs 14.6 pounds. You should be able to move it easily for storage unless that weight is too much for you. I like the hand grips on the sides of the machine that make it easy to lift.
In the box you will find the Gemini Die Cutter & Embosser, an assortment of plates, some metal dies, an embossing folder, User Guide, and power cord.
The Gemini ships with a nice assortment of plates. These plates all measure 9″ wide by 12.5″ long. The opening for the sandwiched plates measures just under 5/8″ (19/32″) high by 9″ wide. Included are two clear cutting plates. One of these goes on the bottom of the sandwich, and one goes on the top. Also included are a metal cutting plate, a magnetic shim, a plastic shim, and a rubber embossing mat. Suggestions for which plates and shims to use are included in the User Guide.
Gemini User Guide
The User Guide is a nicely illustrated, six page set of instructions. Instructions in French, Spanish, German, and Dutch are also included. Operating the Gemini is simple. Use a single power button on the back of the machine, and three buttons on top of the machine. The User Guide provides simple explanations of the functions of these buttons. Operation of the machine is automatic. As you insert the sandwich, the machine starts automatically, grabbing the sandwich, pulling it through, and stopping when the cutting is complete.
In addition to the Operation instructions, there are sections covering several types of metal dies and embossing folders, including the following:
Cutting Thin Metal Dies
Cutting Very Intricate Dies
Deep Multi Media Dies
Embossing with Crafter’s Companion Dies
Embossing with 2D Folders
3D Embossing Folders
Cut & Emboss Folders
The Gemini is a very powerful cutting machine which has much more pressure than its competitors. It was designed to exert enough pressure necessary for cutting very intricate dies that other die cutting machines do not handle well. Since not all thin dies are made with equal thickness, the pressure may need to be adjusted. The Gemini pressure can be increased or decreased using different combinations of plates and shims.
Buttons on the Machine
The button on the left is the power button. The center button is a Pause/Resume button. Use this button to stop the forward motion of the platforms. Press this button again to resume feeding the sandwich into the machine. The button on the right reverses the platforms out of the machine. The machine will automatically stop if the stack of platforms is too thick. After a few seconds, it will automatically back the stack out. If you have paused using the center button, you can use the reverse function to back the platforms out of the machine
Getting Started with Cutting Dies
The Gemini is shipped with a number of dies. The particular dies included may be different, depending on where the machine was purchased. HSN markets machines with a unique combination of dies, not available elsewhere. Machines purchased elsewhere will include a different variety of dies and embossing folders. It is good to do some practice cuts with the dies that came with your machine. Start with the sandwich suggestions in the User Guide for the type of dies you are using. Please note that dies with intricate detail require a different sandwich than those that are simple shapes.
Tip: Plan an uninterrupted time to become familiar with how the Gemini handles each of the different types of dies in your collection. Take notes! It will help to put a sticky note on your machine with a description of the sandwich that works for each of your most used die types.
Cutting Very Intricate Dies
There is a recommended Sandwich for use with very Intricate dies in the User Guide. Please be aware that as your clear cutting plate is used, it will warp. The sandwich may change if you are using a warped clear plate. The clear cutting plates must be positioned on top and bottom of the sandwich. The inner stack may differ, depending on what you are cutting. When using a die with very intricate inner detail, be sure to use the metal plate under the paper and die, with the cutting edges of the die facing toward the metal plate. It helps hold the die in place if you include the magnetic shim under the metal plate.
Although different from the suggested sandwich in the User Guide, it is also helpful to use the magnetic shim under the metal plate, smooth side towards the metal plate. The metal plate should snap to the magnetic plate, and the metal die(s) should be held in their positions on the metal plate.
Place your paper or other medium on top of the metal plate. Place the die, cutting side down toward the metal plate. Then place the cutting plate over that. On the bottom of the stack, you will need another clear cutting plate. This sandwich may or may not require the addition of the plastic shim. Try it without the plastic shim first. If the cut was not quite clean, add the plastic shim under the magnetic shim. If the addition of the plastic shim makes the sandwich too thick to pass through the machine, use a couple of sheets of 110# card stock folded in half, instead. You may also need to send an intricate die through the machine two or three times in order to cut through all of the tiny detail.
Cutting with Thin Metal Dies
Your machine came with some thin metal dies that do not include intricate detail. It is important that you do NOT use the metal plate with these open shaped dies. The use of the metal plate with these may cause them to warp.
If you are using a thin metal die to cut around a stamped image, it is OK to flip the recommended sandwich so that the die blades are face down over the stamped image. This allows you to carefully line up the die over the edges of the stamped design. You may need to use some tape to hold the die in place. Under the stamped image, place the cutting plate. Add the plastic shim over the top of the die, and a cutting plate on top of the sandwich. If this is not thick enough, you can add the magnetic shim or 110# cardstock shims between the plastic shim and cutting plate. I do not like to place the magnetic shim directly on the die, as the die may put unwanted cuts or indentations in the magnetic shim.
Alternative for Cutting around Stamped Images
If you do not want to use tape to hold down your die, there is an alternative to try. From bottom to top, make a sandwich as follows:
Clear plate on bottom,
3 or 4 pieces of 110# cardstock next,
followed by the Cuttlebug Magnetic Cutting Plate,
paper with a stamped image facing up
Die with cutting blade down,
Clear Cutting plate on top.
Magnetic Cutting Plates
The magnetic shim that ships with the Gemini is not suitable as a cutting surface. However, the Cuttlebug Magnetic Cutting Plates are thicker, and designed to be cutting plates. These are not destroyed when a die is cut with its blade down on them. They are not stiff, so they can be bent back into shape if the high pressure of the Gemini causes a bit of a curve. This alternative will work, and eliminate the need for taping down stamped paper or non-intricate dies. I do not recommend using this alternative with very intricate dies.
Deep Multi Media Dies
The dies made by some companies come with deeper cutting edges than the traditional thin metal dies. The standard sandwiches may be too thick to fit through the Gemini with these dies. Do not use the metal plate if the die is not intricate. However, if the die is intricate, follow the sandwich suggestions for cutting very intricate dies. You will not likely be able to use the plastic shim, as it may make the sandwich too thick. I use about 4 layers of 110# cardstock in place of the plastic shim for these deeper multi media dies. The thickness of the media you are cutting will determine how many shims you need to use.
Tip: After sending your deep intricate dies through 2 or three times, and you still have some areas of a die that did not cut through, use a scrap of paper over that particular uncut area. Send it through the machine again.
When using any die cutting machine, you will find that you will need to replace the cutting plates from time to time. The cutting plates warp. The dies leave a mark on the cutting plate with each pass, and the plates become very scarred with much use. Because the Gemini exerts much more pressure and force against its plates, warped plates will need to be replaced more frequently than plates on other machines. To reduce warping of all plates and shims, it is recommended that you rotate or flip them after each use. This allows each of the four corners to be exposed to like amounts of pressure. Warped plates may still work for some cuts, but severely warped plates may not feed through the machine. Portions of intricate dies may not cut well if the plates are warped.
Purchase Extra sets of Cutting Plates
You are going to need extra cutting plates. This may happen sooner, rather than later. Purchase a number of cutting plates before you need them. You don’t want to be working on a special project, and get stuck because your cutting plates are too warped to be used. Some people have posted ways to remove some of the warping on plates. These techniques may work. But you will eventually need to replace your warped plates. Having extras on hand will save you frustration.
Tip: I try to keep three good sets of plates on hand at all times. When one gets damaged, I order a replacement while I still have a couple of good ones. Since working with my Gemini, I realized after only a couple of weeks of use, that I needed to order more. I ordered 4 extra cutting plates for both the Gemini and Gemini Jr. I know I will be needing them.
Optional Smaller Plates
Many people prefer to use the smaller plates and shims for the Gemini Jr. with their full size Gemini machine. There are some advantages for using these plates. First, the Jr. plates take only 8 seconds rather the 13 seconds to pass completely through the Gemini. Secondly, the smaller plates tend to warp less than the larger Gemini plates. Thirdly, these smaller plates serve as backups when your other plates need to be replaced. If using the Gemini Jr plates, you need to place them into the Gemini along the longer edge. The Gemini will not grab the shorter edge of these plates. If you do not need the larger cutting area of the Gemini plates, the Gemini Jr. plates are excellent options.
Tip: Using smaller plates means that you need less table surface space of only 26″ deep.
Alternative Shim Solutions
Keep in mind that you can use chipboard, paper, and card stock as shims. If what you are using is not working, you can always use a substitute combination of plates and/or shims. Write down your special combination so that you won’t have to figure it out again. Also, if you are using alternative shims, you still need to use the clear cutting plates on the top and bottom of your sandwich.
Tip: I keep a sticky note on my machine where I write down my favorite sandwich stacks for my favorite die types.
The Gemini is the best die cutting machine I have tried for use with very intricate thin metal dies. Getting excellent cutting results with this type of die in other machines requires more muscle strength than I have for cranking the very tight stack through them. Since the Gemini is electronic, I don’t have to worry about cranking tight sandwiches. Gemini also boasts more cutting pressure to handle those dies more efficiently. Therefore, I reserve intricate thin metal dies for use with my Gemini.
No Steel Rule Dies
You cannot use steel rule dies with the Gemini. The opening is not high enough for dies such as theregular Sizzix, Accucut, Big Shot, or Go dies to fit. The Gemini opening measures only 14 mm. The opening is also not high enough for use with the flower shaping molds by Heartfelt Creations. Also, any die that is wider than 9 inches will not fit in the Gemini. You will need to use your other machines for these dies and flower shaping molds.
Third Party Cutting Plates
Tip: I do not recommend using most cutting plates for your other die cutting machines with the Gemini. I may try testing some if the need arises, and report on the results. They were not made for the extra cutting pressure exerted by the Gemini, so they might warp. This would make them unusable in your other machines. I reserve my other cutting plates for my other machines, so that they will work when I need them for projects that I cannot do with my Gemini. The one exception right now, is the Cuttlebug Magnetic cutting plates. I will use those with non-intricate dies to eliminate the need for taping dies or paper for precision cuts.
Intricate Dies from other Companies
Intricate dies that I have used successfully from other companies with the Gemini are:
Tim Holtz Sizzix thin metal dies
You will need the Spellbinders Tool in One or a similar brush with your intricate dies. The roller brush tip helps remove the cut materials from the dies. Place the cut pieces with the die on a foam pad, and brush the back side of the die. Use the pointed tip of this tool to poke through the holes on the back side of the die to release the cut pieces from the die. You can purchase additional accessories for this tool such as the embossing tips and brayer tip, if you do not already have those tools.
The other very necessary tool when cutting intricate dies is a trash can. You can avoid a lot of vacuuming by removing your intricate dies from the cut projects over a trash can.
Tip: Tap the die gently against the edge of your desk or table to loosen tiny pieces trapped in the die. Do this over the trash can!
Gemini cuts with greater pressure than any other die cutting machine.
Fewer passes are needed with this machine, as compared with thin dies used on other machines.
The machine is simple to use, as it is motor driven. This is great for those with limited mobility in hands, arms, or shoulders.
The maximum die width for use in the Gemini is 9″.
The 12.5″ cutter plate length allows you to cut many dies at the same time.
Gemini can use thin metal dies and embossing folders from many different companies.
You can use dies to cut around your stamped images by reversing the recommended plate order.
The Gemini automatically rejects a stack of plates that is too thick to cut.
Cutting plates do not last long. So purchase extras! If you place dies, blade side towards the metal cutting plate, you will need extras of those as well.
Gemini is NOT compatible with plastic or wooden steel rule dies. They are too thick to pass through this machine.
Gemini cannot be used with Flower shaping molds. The molds are too thick to feed into the machine.
Be careful with the way you stack the plates and shims, as it is easy to ruin them. Cutting blades with material to be cut, must have a clear or metal cutting plate next in the stack!
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