Cutting mats are necessary for projects requiring the use of a utility knife or a rotary cutter in order to protect the work surface from becoming damaged. Several factors should be considered when selecting the right cutting mat and how to properly care for and maintain them.
Cutting Mat Buying Guide: How to Select and Maintain Cutting Mats
Cutting mats are available with hard surfaces that allow the cutting blade to more effectively slide over the surface without making a cut in the mat itself. Self-healing mats have a softer surface that closes after being cut with a blade.
Selecting a Cutting Mat: In addition to choosing a hard or self-healing surface, there are other considerations when choosing a cutting mat such as size, thickness, types of tools to be used, textures, and measurements.
The size of the cutting mat should be large enough to cover the work area and to easily hold the materials being cut. Choose the largest size possible based on work area and storage restrictions.
Thickness is an important consideration when selecting a cutting mat. Basic hobby or craft mats are typically 2 mm and only work with rotary cutters. To accommodate both rotary and straight edge cutting tools, it is best to choose a mat that is 3 mm or greater in thickness.
Smoother textures give a more accurate cut but the materials being cut may slide out of place and may produce glare on the work surface. Too much texture may affect accuracy in cutting.
Cutting boards should have markings denoting measurements that are visible on all sides of the cutting mat. Lines that extend all the way across the surface are most accurate and easy to use.
Maintaining a Cutting Mat: Cutting mats wear out over time based on many factors. Increase the longevity of the mat and reduce wear and tear with proper care. Keep cutting tools sharp and in good condition and use a gentle pressure when cutting. Store flat when not in use and clean with water and a mild detergent. Taking care of your cutting mat will extend its lifetime.