Leather cutting mats are a must-have for any beginner in leather work or crafting. As the name implies, the leather cutting mat provides a stable, durable surface on which to cut your materials, and they protect your work surface from accidental cuts and scratches.
In this article, we will discuss everything from;
- what leather cutting mats are,
- the purposes they serve,
- the different types of leather cutting mats available on the market,
- tips on how to use your new mat safely and effectively, etc.
Let’s get into it!
What Is A Leather Cutting Mat?
A leather cutting mat is a specially designed mat that provides a safe surface to cut leather on.
The leather cutting mats are made of several layers and different materials, such as PVC or rubber, and have a self-healing property which means the cut marks disappear or can close up after being cut.
This is an important feature as it also prevents your cutting mat from having a lot of cut marks but more importantly, it also protects the surface beneath the cutting mat from being damaged.
Leather cutting mats come in a variety of sizes, so you can choose one that is appropriate for the project you are working on.
You can also find them in different thicknesses, which is important to consider if you will be using power tools to cut your leather.
The thicker the mat, the more protection it will offer to your work surface.
What Are The Purposes Of A Leather Cutting Mat?
The leather cutting mat is not just a cutting surface. A leather cutting mat serves many purposes, and here we are going to explain the major ones.
The leather cutting mat will:
1. Protects Your Leather Work Surface
One of the main benefits of the leather cutting mat is that it protects your leather work surface from accidental cuts, scratches, dyes, and glues, to mention a few.
Like most beginners, you would start your leather work journey on your coffee table, kitchen countertop, or floor, so you would need all the protection you can get to prevent any damage.
The leather cutting mat comes between your leather work surface and your cutting, stamping, and punching tools–so it acts as a buffer to prevent any accidental cuts.
2. Protects Sharp Cutting Tools
The leather cutting mat is made up of multiple layers of different materials, and one of those materials is PVC.
These multiple layers are soft enough to allow your leather cutting tools to sink in as you do your cuts. This way, your cutting tools do not get damaged and will stay sharp for a longer time.
On the other hand, if you were to cut your leather directly on a hard surface, such as your kitchen countertop, the cutting edge of your tools would get damaged quickly.
So by using a leather cutting mat, you are actually prolonging the life of your leather cutting tools.
3. Comes With Grid Line To Aid Measurements
Most, if not all, leather cutting mats come with grid lines. These grid lines help you with the accuracy of your cuts as you can use them to measure and line up your cuts.
Some leather cutting mats also have different angles printed on them, which is helpful if you need to make angled cuts.
If you are working on a large project that requires many cuts, then these grid lines will come in handy to help you stay organized and avoid any mistakes.
4. Gives You A Stable Surface To Work On
Another purpose of the leather cutting mat is to provide you with a stable surface to work on.
This is important because a stable surface is necessary for precise cuts, and the last thing you want is your leather workpiece moving around while you are trying to make a cut.
The stability that a leather cutting mat provides also allows you to use both hands when cutting, which is helpful when you need to make long or curved cuts.
Now that we have gone over the different purposes of a leather cutting mat let’s talk about the different sizes they come in.
Sizes Of Leather Cutting Mats
Leather cutting mats come in a variety of sizes, so you can choose one that is appropriate for the size of the leather work surface you’re trying to cover.
The most common size is 18″ x 24″, but you can also find them in 12″ x 18″, 24″ x 36″, and 36″ x 48″. The smallest size you can get is 12″ by 10″, while the largest size is 60″ by 80″.
If you are unsure of what size to get, I recommend looking at your leather work surfaces and how much of it you would want to cover or protect.
Price Of Leather Cutting Mats
The price of leather cutting mats can range anywhere from $10 to $200, depending on the size and quality.
The most common size, which is 18″ x 24″, usually costs around $30. If you want a larger size, such as 24″ x 36″, then you can expect to pay around $60.
Of course, the price also depends on the quality of the mat. If you want a mat that is thick and durable, then you will have to pay more for it.
However, if you are just starting out, then I would recommend getting a thinner and less expensive mat until you get a feel for leather work.
Things To Consider When Buying A Leather Cutting Mat
Now that you know the different purposes of a leather cutting mat and the different sizes and prices they come in, there are a few more things you should consider before buying one.
The color of the mat is important because you want to be able to see your workpiece and the cutting line clearly.
Leather cutting mats come in different colors. The most common colors include green, gray, clear, white, black, and brown.
The color of the leather cutting mat you choose is important because you want to choose a color that will be contrasting enough so you can clearly differentiate between the leather material you’re working on and the tools placed on them
While the color you choose for your leather cutting mats is based on individual preference, if you are unsure of what color to choose, then I recommend getting a green leather cutting mat as this is the most popular color, and it is easy to see the cutting line on.
The Measurement Scales
The measurement scales are the lines printed on the leather cutting mats, and they help you with the accuracy of your cuts.
The measurement scales on the leather cutting mat are usually in inches and centimeters. The best part is that they are diagonal guidelines, vertical, and horizontal measurement lines.
All you do is lay your leather on the mat, and you will have a precise cutting line or measurement to follow.
The measurement scales are important because they help you to make precise cuts. If you are working on a large project that requires many cuts, then these grid lines will come in handy to help you stay organized and avoid any mistakes.
When choosing a leather cutting mat, make sure to choose one with measurement scales that are clear and easy to read.
Leather cutting mats come in different thicknesses, and the thickness you choose should be based on how you plan to use the mat.
If you are going to be using it for light-duty tasks, such as cutting leather paper or fabric, then a thinner mat will suffice.
However, if you are going to be using it for heavier duty tasks, such as cutting thick leather or multiple layers of leather, stamping, etc, then you will need a thicker mat.
The thickness of the leather cutting mat is important because it will determine how durable and long-lasting the mat is.
Best Leather Cutting Mats
There are a lot of brands that do a better job of producing leather cutting mats than others.
The most popular brands are ZERRO, Cricut, and Fiskars. These companies have a good reputation for making high-quality products that last long.
If you want the best of the best, then I would recommend getting a leather cutting mat from one of these brands.
When choosing a leather cutting mat, make sure to read the reviews and do your research to ensure that you are getting a high-quality product.
You can check out my review of the Best Self Healing Cutting Mats For Leather
How To Care And Maintain A Leather Cutting Mat
Leather cutting mats are an essential tool for anyone who works with leather. They are durable, long-lasting, and they provide a smooth surface to work on.
To ensure your mat lasts a long time, it is important to care for and maintain it properly. Here are a few tips on how to do so;
- Always use a sharp knife or blade when cutting on the mat. This will help to avoid any nicks or cuts on the mat.
- Wipe off glue and dye stains immediately.
- Store the mat in a dry place.
- Do not fold the mat, as this will damage it.
Leather Cutting Mat Alternatives
If you don’t want to spend money on leather cutting mats now, there are a few alternatives you can use.
Cardboard can be used as a temporary leather cutting mat. However, it is not as durable as a real leather cutting mat and will need to be replaced more often.
Plywood is another alternative to leather cutting mats. It is more durable than cardboard but not as durable as a real leather cutting mat.
Glass Cutting Board
A glass cutting board can be used in place of a leather cutting mat. It is smooth, hard, and provides a good surface to work on.
That just about wraps it on leather cutting mats. I hope this article has helped you to understand everything you need to know about them.
If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below, and I will be happy to help.
FAQs About Leather Cutting Mats
Q: What is the difference between a cutting mat and a self-healing cutting mat?
A: A regular cutting mat is made of hard materials that will easily show cut marks after using them. Self-healing cutting mats, on the other hand, are made of a softer layered material that “heals” itself after being cut. Meaning once you can on self-healing mats, the cut marks disappear.
Q: Do I need a cutting mat for my leather projects?
A: It is not necessary, but it is highly recommended. A good quality cutting mat will protect your work surface and prolong the life of your knives and other tools.
Q: What are the best self-healing cutting mats for leather?
A: The three most popular brands are ZERRO, Cricut, and Fiskars. These companies have a good reputation for making high-quality products that last long. If you want the best of the best, then I would recommend getting a leather cutting mat from Fiskars.
Q: Is cutting mat heat resistant?
A: Some mats are, and some aren’t. If you’re planning on using a heat tool or iron on your cutting mat, make sure to check the manufacturer’s specifications to see if it can withstand high temperatures. This is because even though cutting mats are heat resistant to a large extent, they can warp or weaken with prolonged or extended exposure to heat.
Q: How long does a cutting mat last?
A: It depends on how often you use it and how well you take care of it. If you use it frequently, then you can expect it to last around a year or two. But if you treat it well and only use it occasionally, then it can last much longer. I’ve had mine for over five years, and it’s still going strong.
Q: Can I use a Stanley knife on a cutting mat?
A: Yes, you can. In fact, you can use any type of knife on a cutting mat. Just make sure to use a sharp knife to make your cuts smooth and avoid damaging the mat.
Q: What is the best way to store my cutting mat?
A: The best way to store your cutting mat is by laying it flat in a dry place. Do not fold it as this will damage the mat. If you need to, you can roll it up, but make sure to unroll it and lay it flat as soon as possible to avoid creases or bends.
Q: How do I clean my cutting mat?
A: The best way to clean your cutting mat is with a damp cloth and mild soap. Avoid using harsh chemicals or scrubbing too hard, as this can damage the mat. If you need to, you can use a lint roller to remove any debris from the surface.
Q: When should I change my self-healing cutting mat?
A: If you notice that the mat is no longer healing properly or is starting to show signs of wear and tear, then it’s time to change it. Self-healing cutting mats have an average lifespan of around 12 to 18 months, so if you use yours frequently, then you may need to replace them more often.
Q: What size cutting mat should I buy?
A: It all depends on the size of your project. If you’re working on a small project, then you can get away with a smaller mat. But if you’re working on something big, then you’ll need a bigger mat to accommodate it. I would recommend getting the biggest one you can afford so that you have more space to work with and don’t have to worry about running out of space.
Q: What is a self-healing cutting mat made of?
A: Self-healing cutting mats are made of a durable vinyl material that is designed to heal itself after being cut. The material is soft enough to avoid damaging your knives and other tools, but tough enough to withstand repeated use.
Q: Why are cutting mat green?
A: The green color is used because it provides a good contrast against the materials you’re cutting, making it easier to see your cuts. Plus, it’s a color that is easy on the eyes and won’t cause as much strain when you’re working on projects for long periods of time.
Q: Can you use both sides of a cutting mat?
A: Yes, you can use both sides of a cutting mat. In fact, it’s recommended that you do so to extend the life of your mat. Just make sure to clean both sides before using them to avoid any cross-contamination.
Q: Are all cutting mats self-healing?
A: No, not all cutting mats are self-healing. There are some that are made of a harder material, such as plastic, that will need to be replaced after extended use.
Q: Are self-healing cutting mats anti-static?
A: Yes, self-healing cutting mats are anti-static. This means that they won’t attract dust or other particles, which can make your work area messy and difficult to work in.
Q: Do self-healing cutting mats come in different colors?
A: Yes, self-healing cutting mats come in different colors. The most popular colors are green and black, but you can also find them in blue, red, and other colors.
Q: How do I know if my mat is self-healing?
A: If your mat is self-healing, you’ll notice that the cuts close up quickly and leave no marks or residue behind. If your mat is not self-healing, you’ll notice that the cuts stay open.