Anyone involved in crafting or creative hobbies in general knows that their work surface can take a real beating. Craft knives, rotary cutters and Stanley knives can easily penetrate through your workpiece and straight into the table or desk below – leaving scars and gouges that are unsightly, havens for dirt and bacteria, and ruin the previously smooth surface that you are working on. Cutting mats are a budget-friendly option to protect your work and your desk/table, and self-healing cutting mats are some of the best types on the market. Here is everything you need to know about self-healing cutting mats.
How does the mat ‘heal’?
Self-healing mats for cutting do not retain marks or cuts when a blade has penetrated it. The mats are actually manufactured from multiple tiny pieces of material, which are pressed together to form your cutting surface. When the knife or blade penetrates, it is actually slipping in between the tiny pieces rather than cutting the mat. Then, when the blade is removed, the pieces are forced back together by their neighbours, reforming into one smooth and solid mat.
Why should you use a self-healing mat?
Along with protecting your working surface (the importance of this cannot be overestimated, particularly if you craft on a dining table or other shared-use surface), a self-healing mat is also good for your work. It does not take many cuts to leave an ordinary work surface disfigured and scarred; these grooves and etches can make it difficult/impossible to cut accurately in future – the blade can easily slip into the cuts and deviate from where you want it to go.
What kind of blades can you use with self-healing mats?
Any kind of craft blade or rotary cutter can be used with a self-healing mat – the important thing is to make sure it is as sharp as it can be. Duller blades result in slightly broader cuts than razor sharp ones, which could force the pieces of your mat to separate too far for smooth reforming.
What else should you look out for when buying a self-healing cutting mat?
For crafters and hobbyists a good all-round mat is the classic green model, with measurements and straight lines printed onto the surface. Additional features like anti-slip materials are worth looking out for – it’ll keep the mat relatively stable on your table or desk, and minimise any movement of your workpiece while cutting.
The size of the mat is probably the most important decision – make sure it is large enough for the kind of crafting or work that you do. Too small, and you will have to stop mid-cut to readjust the piece – it’s very difficult to get a straight, consistent cut doing this. Think, also, about where you will store your cutting mat when you are not using it – if you haven’t got enough room to store it away for easy and quick access, it will quickly become more of a hindrance to you than a help. Make sure not to buy a mat that is too large – they are extremely difficult to cut down to size.