Well this is an easy question to answer after reading this you will be an expert just like me.
when you buy the zipemate machine you will receive a thick mat which you use the wafer thin dies on these being the zipecuts, quickutz, wishblade, bosscuts and embossing dies. Place the die face up on the mat and then position your paper place the cutting mat (you will also receive 2 of these with your machine they are a clear perspex) and roll through. I alway roll them through a couple of times to make certain they cut properly. Please note that i do have issues with cutting some of the zipecuts placing paper under the die can sometimes help with this issue and have not as yet used the wishblade or bosscuts so cannot comment on them. If you have problems cutting on this machine turn the die around and it fixes the problem straight away I am of course talking about quickutz dies they are the ones i like most.
When using the quickutz or zipecuts embossing dies you need to use the embossing mat which is also supplied with the machine ZEF12. To use the brass embossing stencils you also need the black mat which is supplied with the machine. Cannot tell you how to use this as i have none of the brass ones to try with.
With this large mat you can also cut the sizzlits dies place the same as the wafer thin dies and place the sizzlits cutting mat on top of the paper. Please note you do not need to use the cutting mat. Also if you cut the mat into the size of the sizzlit you will get more wear out of it.
Sizzix dies can be cut using this machine with the sizzix mat which is not supplied with the machine but available to buy. Place the die face up the paper on top and again use the perspex cutting mat over the top and roll through. I have cut 3 lollipop alphabet dies with 3 layers of paper on them with this machine with ease.
accucut wood dies the thinner ones which are called slimline can be used with the sizzix mat but the thicker accucut dies need to go through with the thinner mat made just for accucut dies (not supplied with machine) but also available to buy.
when using for the first time don't be afraid of the cracking and creaking that is quite normal
thanks for listening to me ramble