recommended die supplier?

I am going to try my hand at die cutting. I have access to a sheet metal shop that I can get a piece of stainless steel cut to fit my platen with no problem. I have a wide variety of stainless available to pick from 301 annealed to full hard. Do I need a softer steel or a hard steel. I have read that I should just barely touch the jacket, which makes sense. I would think a softer so it is a little easier on my die. I need to know what die manufactures you all recommend. I tried to contact Apple Die but got lost in phone transfers. I then called Key Die and they seemed nice. Those are the only 2 that I have tried to contact. From them all I need to provide is a file in vector format. I assume that Illustrator would be the program I need to use to do it. I am doing a simple A6 size with some scallops around the edge, nothing crazy. To be honest I have not opened up illustrator yet. I have only messed with InDesign. Do yall have any pointers for making the file? Are there any databases of greeting card file shapes already out there? I kinda want to do a shape like the one below from Paper Presentation. I will be printing on either 300 or 600 gsm lettra. Any help would be great.



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I had a good experience with B+P die cutting:

You can do it in InDesign. Just draw the shape you want cut using InDesign’s tools, same as illustrator, and make the stroke a spot color called “die” and output a PDF. No different than doing the same thing in illustrator.

Press should be set so die cuts the stock and does not contact the plate. If using stainless steel get hardest you can that sits flat. Makeready should be done under the plate. For die as above a PDF of the dieline is what your diemaker should be able to work with. You should indicate if PDF is print side as dies are normally made as reverse of the front.

i use MSRD for my dies. they are good, fast and, will ship to anywhere.
John is the owner, but if you call you will prob talk to Mike. Tell either one , Eric sent you.
They will take good care of you