I am a huge scrapbooker and card maker. When I first started out, I would have to go to a scrapbook supply store and buy the die cuts I needed for the pages I was working on. It started to get costly and I couldn't always find what I was looking for.
One year I received this Sizzix Die Cutting Machine for Christmas. I was so excited! Now I make all my die cuts at home. It has really helped make my pages and cards pop!
The Sizzix machine is very easy to use. It comes with the main machine and a cutting pad. You have to buy the templates separate in order to start cutting. All you have to do in order to create a shape is put the color of paper you want the cut out to be on the cutting pad, place the template over the paper, slide the pad under the pressing unit, pull the lever down, and you've got your shape!
The templates you use come in many different styles, sizes, and thicknesses. There are some called Sizzlets too, but you need a special converter block in order to use those with this machine. There are also Sizzix Embossing plates you can use, but they need the converter block as well.
The templates are simply blocks with rubber on the bottom and an outline of the design it cuts. When you press the block with the handle, small embedded blades are pressed into the paper, cutting the shape out cleanly. Depending on the size of the template you are using, you sometimes have to press half of the block and then the other to get a good cut.
I have never had any problems with this machine in the few years I have been using it. The cutting pad does get marks in it from the blades, but the pad is thick and will last a long time. I know mine came from Michael's Arts and Crafts, but last I knew they were phasing them out. I know you can still buy these units online for sure, and at some craft stores.