I replaced my largest cutting mat recently, the one that sits atop my drafting table.
I use a drafting table for cutting because it’s the perfect size and it’s height adjustable. I picked it up for $15 at a garage sale in the early 2000s because engineers were moving to computer-aided design (CAD for short), and it seems drafting tables became obsolete. There were lots of them on garage sales.
I bought my cutting mat when I got the table, roughly 20 years ago. It has held up all of this time. I extended its life by rotating and flipping it and I never left it in a hot car. Finally its surface was so worn that I couldn’t cut accurately.
I bought a replacement at 24″ x 36, and it was no small feat to find one without lines on at least one side. I detest the lines on a mat because they’re unnecessary and confusing. (That’s a blog post for another day.)
But I finally found one with lines on only one side, and BONUS, the blank side was gray. Gray is the truest neutral because it doesn’t alter your perception of a color. My design wall is also gray for this reason.
The new mat was lovely. Cutting felt so easy! The rotary cutter sliced to perfection and my whole world was in order.
But then came my fatal error.
I use an older vintage-style iron from Black & Decker called The Classic. I thrifted it for $3 and it’s wonderful but it gets very hot. And I mean VERY HOT, including the base of the iron that rests against the board when it’s upright. When I’m working on my ironing board, pinning a border or whatnot, I set the iron out of the way, sometimes onto my cutting table.
You can see where this is going, can’t you? On day 2 of owning my brand new cutting mat, I put the hot iron, sitting up, on the cutting table, on the cutting mat, and the heat from the iron promptly warped it to all kinds of wavy.
I thought maybe I could live with it and I tried for a few days. But cutting was difficult and often inaccurate. Those warpy bumps have a mind of their own.
Eventually I gave in and bought yet another new cutting mat. And they were out of the ones with the gray back side. This one sports green which is fine, but it’s not as lovely in blog photos as the gray. So there you have it.
Second-hand iron: $3
New cutting mat #1: $74.89
New cutting mat #2: $74.89
Lesson of “don’t sit hot iron on mat”: Priceless