Are you an avid crafter? Do you make quilts or clothing for fun or profit? If so, you should consider buying a self-healing cutting mat (SHCM).
SHCMs allow you to make precise cuts in a variety of materials. They also help to protect your work surface. But if you choose the right product and use it well, a good SHCM can last for years.
SHCMs come in many sizes and feature a variety of patterns to help you find the right cut. Which one is best? It all depends on your intended project.
Top Ten Self-Healing Cutting Mats
The Crafty World Deluxe Cutting mat is 3 mm thick, making it ideal for long-term and professional use. It is smaller than many other mats and functions well in limited workspaces.
Its multiple angle markings and measurements are especially useful for quilters, who are required to cut complex patterns.
The mat is attractive and comes in both green and blue colors.
This product is durable, and comes with a lifetime satisfaction guarantee.
- The presence of a lifetime guarantee ensures peace of mind.
- The mat is truly reversible, and has grid markings on both of its sides.
- Grid markings extend beyond declared measurements.
- Grid measurements are less than fully accurate
- Surface can be a bit too slippery for cutting some fabrics.
This SHCM from OFLA is 1.5 mm thick and perfect for hobbyists. It is available in 8 sizes.
The mat features an easy-to-read grid capable of measuring 1/8-, 1/4-, and 1/2-inch increments. This makes it ideal for projects that require cuts of various sizes.
The mat’s glare-free surface heals immediately from cuts made with a rotary knife.
If used properly, this mat can also drastically extend the life of your rotary blades.
- Wide selection of sizes allows you to select mat appropriate for your workspace.
- Easy-to-read grid minimizes eye strain.
- 1/8-, 1/4-, and 1/2-inch measurements are perfect for projects of all sizes.
- Not truly reversible: measuring grid appears on only one side.
- Mat has a strong chemical odor.
The ALVIN Professional SHCM is 3 mm thick, making it suitable for use with both rotary and straight-bladed knives.
The thicker surface of this mat results in more complete self-healing, leading to a more durable and long-lasting mat.
Unlike some other mats, the ALVIN is genuinely double-sided and contains gridlines on both its front and back surfaces.
With its non-stick surface, this mat is perfect for cutting paper, plastic, or fabric.
- A thick 3 mm surface allows users to employ straight-bladed knives.
- The ALVIN’s sides are differently colored, allowing the user to maximize visibility.
- A hole at the top of the mat makes it easy to hang for storage.
- The mat’s grids are slightly inaccurate, making it less than ideal for precision work.
- There is no size difference between 1- and 1/2-inch markings, which can cause mistakes.
This Dahle SHCM is 3.2 mm thick, making it one of the most durable professional mats available.
With its 5-layer PVC construction, the Dahle mat recovers from deeper cuts, and is suitable for materials requiring a firmer hand.
The Dahle includes metric and imperial measurements, a must when following instructions from different countries.
The presence of both 45- and 60-degree angle markings leads to greater versatility, and makes the Dahle perfect for technical work.
- The Dahle’s white grid and black background are easy to see.
- 2 mm of thickness make this mat perfect for cutting cardboard and plastic.
- Dahle mats have less of a smell than competing products.
- Grid printing is sometimes blurry.
- Although mat is 36 inches wide, grid markings only go to 34 inches.
Unlike many other mats, the Calibre Art Rotating SHCM is square in shape, and features a number of concentric angle lines. This makes it ideal for quilting projects.
The mat is made from an EN 71-3 Compliant compound, which limits chemical smell and increases durability.
The mat’s non-slip bottom is combined with a well-designed rotating mechanism for ease of use.
Its grid lines are precise, and can be counted on for reliable measurements.
- A square shape with multiple angle markings makes this mat perfect for complex work.
- High-quality materials render this mat non-toxic durable.
- The mat comes in three sizes, and will fit into most workspaces.
- The square shape will not work for everyone, as it makes it difficult to cut longer segments.
- The Calibre mat has a harder surface, and knives slide around on it easily.
This 1.5 mm thick SHCM from Fiscar’s features a separate but connected rotating base that is tailor-made for cutting complex quilting patterns.
Its 30-, 45- and 60-degree angle lines are suited to creating star and triangle shapes with ease.
By allowing you to move the mat itself rather than your fabric, this mat also leads to increased accuracy.
The mat’s attractive grey color contrasts well with materials used in sewing and quilting projects.
- The rotating base and concentric angle grid are perfect for design work.
- The mat’s small size makes it portable enough to bring to sewing and quilting groups.
- Its simplified design is a good fit for beginners.
- The rotating mechanism is a bit flimsy, and can easily come apart if you aren’t careful.
- Despite being designed for sewing and quilting, the mat is too slippery to be used with many fabrics.
This 3 mm rotating mat is suitable for cutting a wide range of patterns into a wide range of materials.
It features 15-, 30-, 45-, 60-, and 75-degree angle markings, making it perfect for complex patterns.
The mat is made of a non-toxic and eco-friendly material that won’t irritate the eyes.
The mat comes with a money-back guarantee.
- The ARTEZA can be safely rolled up for easy storage.
- The ARTEZA comes in 3 sizes, making it good for in-home and portable use.
- The mat’s non-toxic construction allows it to be safely used.
- The mat’s measurements are divided by 1/10-inch increments, which are useless for some
- The mat’s ink is difficult to see.
This 5-layer PVC mat protects your worktable and knives and is perfect for cutting larger pieces of material.
The WORKLION mat is genuinely double-sided, and features metric and imperial measurements.
A 3 mm thickness is perfect for both rotary and straight knives.
The mat is durable, and can be used even with tougher materials like leather and plastic.
- The mat stays flat after being folded for storage.
- Hard white inner layer cannot be cut through.
- Double-sided with gridlines on both sides.
- Grid measurements are unreliable, and sometimes skip numbers.
- Product is slightly smaller than described.
This 3-ply SHCM is 3 mm thick for durability. It has a tough core layer that will protect your table from even the firmest cuts.
The DAFA Professional mat is truly double-sided, with one side containing imperial measurements and the other metric.
This mat is curl and warp resistant, which makes it less susceptible to the effects of heat.
DAFA Professional mats come in four sizes, each tailored to fit your workspace.
- This mat is well made, and can withstand the firmer cuts necessary for tougher materials.
- A super tough core layer offers security when cutting on expensive tables.
- Metric and imperial measurements allow you to follow international directions.
- Like some other mats, this one has a fairly strong smell.
- Mat lacks 1/4-, 1/2-, and 3/4-inch markings, making it more difficult to use.
This US Art Supply mat features genuine 5-ply construction, making it tough enough for materials like leather.
It includes both 1/2- and 1/8-inch grid marks, allowing the user to access the most common measurements.
45- and 60-degree angle guides are a bonus for cutting more difficult shapes.
The mat comes in pink and blue versions, both of which contrast well with standard fabric colors.
- The mat is safe to use with glue guns if attended.
- A 5-ply construction makes this mat more durable than most.
- Availability of pink color makes this mat unique.
- Size does not match description, lacking an inch in both length and width.
- Grid measurements are not perfect, and sometimes unreliable.
Why Use a Self-Healing-Cutting Mat
Protection of Workspace: When used properly, a good SHCM will keep your worktable from acquiring gouges and scrapes. By keeping your knife from ever making contact with the surface underneath, SHCMs protect your valuable investments.
Protection of Knives: By providing a soft and yielding surface for your knife-blade, a good SHCM will also keep your expensive blades from quickly going dull.
Durability: Unlike substitute materials such as cardboard or newspaper, SHCMs are designed to recover quickly and easily from cuts made by your knife. When used properly, in fact, a decent SHCM can last years.
Accuracy: Whether you are crafting, sewing, or quilting, accuracy is a must. With their accurate gridlines and angle markings, reliable SHCMs ensure that you get the accuracy you need for even the most demanding projects.
Simplicity: By incorporating both grid measurements and angle markings into a an easy to read cutting surface, SHCMs eliminate the need for rulers, protractors, and pencils.
Features to Consider When Choosing a Self-Healing Cutting Mat
Thickness: SHCMs come in two thicknesses. 3 mm mats are “professional quality” and can be used with either straight or rotary knives. 1.5 mm mats are considered “hobby quality” and can be used with rotary knives only.
Gridlines: Gridlines allow you to make precise measurements and produce straight cuts. In general, gridlines with finer increments are preferable, and markings should be large and easy to read. Be careful, as many lower quality models feature inaccurate measurements.
Angle Guides: If you are looking to cut complex patterns such as stars or triangles, multiple angle guides are a must. The best models have four or five angle markings, typically at 15-degree increments.
Fixed or Rotary: Many SHCMs are fixed, and are intended to remain stationary as you move your materials around on top of them. As these mats tend to be larger, they are better for those interested in making clothing. Other SHCMs are made to rotate on a fixed base, so that you can keep your fabric in place while moving the mat. These mats are preferred by quilters, as they allow complex patterns to be cut with ease.
How to Maintain Your Self-Healing Cutting Mat
Use Appropriate Knives: Your SHCM will last longest if used with sharp, professional quality blades. In addition, make sure that you use only the type of knife compatible with your mat.
Proper Cutting Technique: When cutting into fabrics and other materials, make sure that you hold your knife at an angle as close as possible to 90-degrees. Failure to do so will lead to cuts that cannot heal. Use a firm hand, but do not apply pressure over and above that needed to cut your materials.
Avoid Heat and Sunlight: Cutting mats will quickly become warped if left in direct sunlight. Never apply an iron or a glue gun to your mat, which will cause heat scores.
Cleaning: Mats require periodic cleaning, which is best accomplished by using a simple mixture of soap and water. Do not use solvent cleaners under any circumstances, as they can easily damage the mat’s ability to self-heal.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do SHCMs Work?
SHCMs are made from thousands of independent pieces of material that have been combined into a single solid surface. When you cut into the mat, your blade simply separates these independent pieces, which are in turn designed to close up after your knife is removed.
How should I store my mat?
Since SHCMs can bend or warp very easily, it is crucial that you not roll your mat. Instead, store it on a flat surface, keeping it out of direct sunlight and away from extremes of heat and cold.
How do I get rid of the chemical smell?
New SHCMs frequently have a slight chemical smell that some find unpleasant. To reduce this smell, simply fill a bathtub with cold water. Then, add 1/4 cup of vinegar for every gallon of water. Allow the mat to soak for at least a half hour and rinse off.
Should I get a fixed or rotary mat?
Since fixed mats tend to be larger, they are ideal for cutting long pieces of material for clothing. Since rotary mats are smaller but can be quickly repositioned, they are idea for cutting the small and intricate patterns involved in quilting.
What size is right for me?
You should be careful to choose a size that is appropriate for your workspace and intended projects. If you have a smaller table and intend to quilt, you are better off getting a smaller mat. If you have a large workspace and are cutting clothing patterns, a large mat is superior.
Whether you are hobbyist or a professional, a self-healing cutting mat will help take your sewing or quilting projects to the next level. Finding the right model can be daunting, but it helps to know what you are looking for.
Most importantly, you need to figure out whether you will be using rotary or straight knives. You also need to figure out whether you will be quilting or making clothing.
Now is the time to add an SHCM to your workspace. If you have any comments or questions left unaddressed by this article, please write them below.
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