Saturday, September 20, 2014

How Often Should A Cutting Mat Be Replaced?

A quality cutting mat should last for years, but it is inevitable that it will eventually need to be replaced. There is no firm rule governing how often crafters should replace cutting mats since it depends on the treatment and use the mats have received.

Most cutting mats sold today are self-healing or self-sealing, which means that cuts made into the mats will close up and leave a smooth surface for future cutting. Over time the most heavily used areas of the mat will begin to lose this healing property. The cuts will stay open, marring the surface of the mat and requiring the cutting tool to be used with more force. This is extremely dangerous. Rotary cutters in particular are as sharp as razor blades; when used with force an accidental slip can inflict a dangerously deep gash. If a mat has reached the point where the cuts are no longer healing, it should be replaced.

If a cutting mat becomes warped, it will also need to be replaced. A warped mat is usually the result of either unwitting or accidental mistreatment. Some users do not realize that the mat should always be stored flat; storing it on its edge will often cause warping. Heat will also warp a mat, so if it has been ironed on or had a hot mug of coffee spilled on it, it may warp. It is impossible to cut straight lines on a warped cutting mat, so a new mat is in order.

There are a few less common ways that a cutting mat can become damaged beyond repair. If it has been rolled, it may crack. Regularly exposing the mat to strong sunlight can cause the surface to break down. If used for general crafting, there may be a buildup of glue or other materials that ruins the surface. All of these conditions will require the mat to be replaced.

Cutting mats are a wonderful tool for the modern crafter, but the user should replace cutting mats whenever normal wear and tear or damage make them ineffective or even dangerous. A new cutting mat properly cared for will give years of safe and convenient service.


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