Cutting mats, particularly self-healing, are necessary for any workshop, craft room, or kitchen. These protect surfaces from marks and damage caused by using craft knives, rotary cutters, and other sharp cutting tools during scale modeling, crafting, manufacturing, or food preparation.
A cutting mat provides cost-effective safety and long-lasting durability for your table, side, or crafting workbench, whether you’re a hardworking chef, a budding hobbyist, or a professional crafter. Also, picking an excellent cutting mat is as important as selecting the right glue for building models. Learn about its benefits and more in this article!
What’s a Cutting Mat and Why Do You Need One?
Understanding what a cutting mat is and why to use it is the best way for a beginning hobbyist or non-industrialist to understand what type of crafting mat will satisfy your specific needs. A cutting mat is self-explanatory, and it’s used to protect surfaces when using marking or cutting tools that may leave marks or cause significant damage to soft surfaces like wood-topped crafting benches, wood tables, and glass drawing tables.
What’s the Purpose of a Cutting Mat?
As previously stated, self-healing cutting mats are perfect for avid hobbyists who frequently use cutting tools at home. They do, however, have a wide range of other applications. They are frequently used on the premises of packaging companies or printing and graphics firms.
Among the most significant benefits of using a cutting mat is that it protects surfaces from damage and prevents inaccurate cutting. If you cut on a regular mat, grooves will form in which the blade will fall the next minute the mat is used. This would result in inaccuracies in the cuts.
However, with a self-healing mat, those grooves close up, allowing you to cut precisely over and over again.
Cutting Mats: How Do They Work?
So, how exactly does a cutting mat work? Is there any magic involved? No, the truth is that these self-healing mats have an elastic surface and are made up of individual small fragments tightly pressed together to create the solid surface on which you cut.
The blade will pass between these small pieces no matter what cutting mat type you use. Rather than cutting through the pieces, this method separates them. When a cut is made, the memory retaining properties of the surface close it back up.
Selecting the Best Cutting Mat for Your Needs
When searching for the best cutting mat for your needs, make sure first to measure the space where you intend to store and use your cutting mat. You’ll want to start making the most of the available space.
After you’ve determined the size of your area, it’s time to think about what cutting mat will work best for you. For example, your cutting mats should be at least 3mm thick; anything less is deemed unsuitable for industrial or heavy-duty use, and more resistant, thicker 5mm cutting mats offer the best protection for large applications and fabricating environments.
Cheaper cutting mats may be quite reflective, causing discomfort while working, particularly for long periods. They may have a very rough textured surface, which may cause tearing of materials while cutting or tramlining (where blades drop into textured channels and don’t cut where intended).
Can Self-healing Cutting Mats Be Used With Any Blade?
Although cutting mats can be used with various blades, including craft knives and rotary cutters, the blade should be sharp to avoid cutting through the mat. Because dull blades cannot make a thin or precise cut, the groove produced might not be able to close completely. It’s also necessary to cut on the self-healing mat at a 90-degree angle to avoid cutting the mat’s material instead of separating its tiny pieces, leaving a permanent groove on its surface.
Are Cutting Mats Resistant to Heat?
Cutting mats aren’t heat-resistant in general. While you can run off using very low heat in a pinch, it is normally recommended that heat not be applied to a cutting mat because it will melt or warp it.
How Should a Cutting Mat Be Stored?
Some people prefer to roll them up, which will damage the mat! The best way of storing them is flat (you can keep yours on your worktable most of the time), or you can store the mats upright if they’re fully supported and will not bend and be warped.
Can a Self-Healing Cutting Mat Be Repaired?
If the cutting mat is no longer ‘healing,’ it has most likely become brittle and dry. To help hydrate it, place it flat in a sink of chilly water for 30 minutes. If your mat is too large for a sink, soak it in a bathtub, but be careful not to warp it.
Is It Possible to Repair a Warped Cutting Mat?
If the mat is warped, it’s more difficult to repair than soaking in a cool bath! Follow the above fix, but use warm, soapy water to warm up the cutting mat before drying it off, placing it on a flat worktable, and covering it with as many heavily loaded books as possible. You should leave it in position for at least 24 hours!
How to Look After Your Self-Healing Cutting Mat
You should take care of your mat to extend its life. Here are five pointers to get you started:
- When using the mat, ensure to rotate it, so you’re not cutting in the same spot over and over.
- Try not to place too much pressure when cutting! If you must press down hard on your fabric to cut it, the blade is blunt and will damage your mat. Instead, change your blade!
- Take care of your mat. You can ‘hydrate’ them by soaking them in warm soapy water!
- The sharpness of the blade has a significant impact on the longevity of your cutting mat! Change them as frequently as you can!
- Keep your mat away from heat sources and as flat as possible to avoid damage!
When Should a Cutting Mat Be Replaced?
When it’s time to replace your mat, you’ll notice that the cut lines are not ‘closing up’ anymore despite soaking it as suggested above! Another sign that your mat needs to be replaced is if your blades are becoming blunter faster or if your fabric is becoming damaged while cutting it.