What can I use instead of a cutting mat?
Instead of a cutting mat, you can use homemade mats or substitutes made from glass, fabric, and wood. Avoid using materials that can damage your blade, like cardboard. You do not need to use a cutting mat, but it makes crafting easier and protects your tools and work surface.
Imagine, finding a cutting mat alternative so you don’t have to run to the store. Your craft budget is low, but you’re resourceful enough to find a substitute around the house.
You just need to know what you can use instead of a cutting mat.
Luckily for you, I’ll show you some easy alternatives to a cutting mat. I’ll show you what you should look for in a cutting mat and if you even need one in the first place. You’ll be able to get back to crafting in no time.
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What should I look for in a cutting mat?
When choosing a cutting mat, look for a material that protects your blade, your surface, and your material. As a bonus, a mat that helps you measure and cut straight is the most beneficial.
Cutting mats are made to protect your craft surface and your rotary blade. They also help you keep your material from slipping while you work. The best mats even have guidelines to help you measure.
Cutting mats come in self-healing and reversible options. Self-healing mats are the best when using a rotary blade because they won’t dull the blade.
Self-healing mats don’t leave behind grooves when they’re cut. They are designed to separate and bounce back. You won’t have to worry about accidentally getting your blade stuck and cutting in the wrong place when you cut into the mat.
The main differences in cutting mats are materials and features. Choosing the right one for the job will depend on how long you need to use your mat, where you will use it, and what kind of blade you are using.
What can I use instead of a cutting mat?
You can make your own cutting mat or find other suitable materials instead. Your work area and blade will guide you to the right mat. Whether working on a desk or a crafting table you can cover your mat with glass, fabric, or get creative with 3d printing materials.
One thing you don’t want to do is dull your blade. Avoid using cardboard or go without surface protection.
Before you decide on your cutting mat substitute, let’s go over the type of mats available to buy and how to use them. Knowing what kind of mat you need makes it easy to choose what kind of mat to make yourself.
1. Cutting machine mats
Cutting machine mats are made to be durable and flexible enough to fit inside a Cricut machine or silhouette cutter. Each type of cutting machine has a particular mat that fits inside. The main goal of the mat is to hold your material in place as the machine cuts your design.
Cricut machine mats have to be versatile because they cut into paper, cardstock, fabric, and vinyl. The variety of materials is why cutting machine mats are usually sticky grip or card mats. On the other hand, silhouette cutters look similar to printers and are also loaded with a mat.
Both cutting machine mats are thin enough to fit along with the material. All mats need to have a strong track so it holds the paper in place without ripping it as the machine cuts. In some cases, you may be able to use a Cricut machine mat as a substitute in a silhouette machine.
The alternative for a cutting machine mat is:
In each case be careful, so you don’t void the warranty on your machine.
2. Fabric/sewing cutting mats (for use with rotary blades)
When cutting fabric you’ll need to use a rotary blade. Most rotary blades are small and can be resharpened.
The main need for a mat is to hold on to your material and protect your cutting surface. Rotary cutting mats are made to be self-healing, folding, and rotating. These mats are most popular with quilters who need a smooth straight cut.
The alternative for a rotary cutting mat is:
- Laminate or vinyl material you can rotate and fold on a flat surface.
- A smooth polycarbonate mat
3. Glass cutting mats
Glass cutting mats are popular because they are smooth. Glass doesn’t dull as a blade is moved across it. However, glass mats are slippery, so using them depends on the type of material you are cutting.
The alternative for a glass cutting mat is:
- A glass work desk or glass computer mat.
- Thick plastic or polycarbonate for a non-glass surface.
Cutting Mat Alternatives
If you’re not using a machine you may want your entire work area to be a safe place to cut. Here’s a quick list of some easy alternative materials to use instead of a cutting mat.
Glass is a smooth surface that works for most cutting needs and can cover large surfaces. Use tempered glass, a desk protector, or a desk pad made from glass or polycarbonate to help protect your blade.
If you choose to cover an entire desk with glass look into tempered glass crafting tables. They are adjustable and could work as a good cutting station.
Using plywood or cardboard as a cutting mat is risky because it may dull your blade. However if wood is the material for you, try using wood cutting boards.
Wood cutting boards are sturdy and cheaper than cutting mats in craft stores. If you choose a bamboo option, it may also last you a while because they are self-healing. Though these options may not have a large enough surface. You may be better off choosing a wood table as your craft space if you’re looking to cover an entire table .
3d printing material
Printing your own material is an underutilized option for creating a cutting mat. You can customize your cutting mat and add gridlines and measurements. The only problem is having access to a 3d printer. Print different mats for all your cutting needs if you have the opportunity.
Think of what you’ll be cutting and try materials made out of silicone, plastic, resin, and even PVC. For example, use laminate materials for a smooth surface to work against slip.
DIY options (because crafting is what we do) are available with the use of PETG sheets, shelf liners, and spray adhesives. Choose to cut your own material to size, so you never have to worry about having enough.
Remember, you can cover your entire table with one material and get a small cutting mat to save money and protect your blade for special projects. Whatever you do, choose a material you know will last a while. Something you have to toss immediately after each use will only cost you more in the long run.
Do I need a cutting mat?
You need a cutting mat to protect your craft blade and the working surface. A cutting mat will also provide measurements and grid lines to aid your project. Overall, a cutting mat makes crafting easier and protects your craft area and tools.
You won’t always need a cutting mat. After searching for the perfect cutting mat, or using dozens, you may be to the point where you no longer want to use a cutting mat. Here are the pros and cons of both:
- A cutting mat will protect your blade
- Is easy to apply and use right away
- Can be moved to another location fairly easily
- May last longer than DIY options
- Easier to clean than homemade materials
- They are made with grid lines and measurements helping you cut precisely every time
- Can be pricey
- A self-healing mat will only cover a small space
- You can’t use fixed blade cutters on some cutting mats
- They do dull after time, some rather quickly
- Many of them can’t be used on both sides
- Can warp if not stored properly or if your craft room is too hot
- The cheaper the mat the more likely it is that you will get inaccurate measurements and a stiff board that dulls and warps quickly
So, is a cutting mat necessary? The answer is yes. If you are using a rotary cutter or a knife you need to protect both your work surface and your knife. However, the good news is you can create a homemade option or use a substitute.
Summary: What can I use instead of a cutting mat?
Instead of choosing a cutting mat, use those craft skills for a DIY option. Cutting mats can get pricey depending on what you use them for, so seek out different materials to save some cash.
Get creative and use silicone, resin, plastic, laminate, glass, or wood. The truth is you can find one material to cover your entire work area and use smaller mats for different projects.
The choice depends on if you’re using a cutting machine or rotary blade. In fact, depending on your choice you may want to risk not using a mat at all. As long as you know what kind of mat you need for your project you can find an alternative to last a long time.