Self-healing cutting mat recommendations

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John Palmer
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Self-healing cutting mat recommendations

Postby John Palmer » Thu May 04, 2017 12:05 pm

I'm thinking of replacing my extremely ancient cutting mat and would appreciate a steer on what to buy.

I am keen to acquire a mat having the good self-healing qualities of the mat it is to replace. Plenty of mats currently offered seem to have a very thick and tough central lamination, and from what I have read I get the impression that this detracts from their self-healing qualities, causing scores and ridges to appear on the mat whenever a cutting blade pierces the thin outer lamination.

Some reviews I have read of the Humbrol mat suggest that it has particularly good self-healing properties. Can anyone confirm that such is the case, or recommend an alternative?

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David B
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Re: Self-healing cutting mat recommendations

Postby David B » Thu May 04, 2017 1:25 pm

I find those green ones last forever, but then I only cut on to them if I am scoring something like paper with a scalpel or roller cutter.

If I am cutting anything else, heavier duty cutting with a Stanley knife or chisel, I always work on a piece of wood. MDF is flat, works well and in the early days can easily be sanded or planed flat again. Once it gets beyond a certain point, I find another piece to work on and put the first bit in the woodburner.

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Russ Elliott
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Re: Self-healing cutting mat recommendations

Postby Russ Elliott » Fri May 05, 2017 3:02 pm

I've used the card back of A4 pads for general cutting. Not self-healing of course, but they last a sufficient time, and good for soldering on. When they get a bit used, I get a new one from the stash.

Philip Hall
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Re: Self-healing cutting mat recommendations

Postby Philip Hall » Fri May 05, 2017 3:58 pm

On my bench that I use exclusively for plastic and card work, plus assembly of mechanisms, I have an A2 size Edding mat CM30 which has been there for ten or more years. It is now getting a bit battered (paint, glue etc.) so it is probably time to turn it over! One advantage is that the markings are on both sides. I've just run a scalpel blade along the old surface and it seals again pretty well.

Philip
Last edited by Philip Hall on Fri May 05, 2017 7:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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grovenor-2685
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Re: Self-healing cutting mat recommendations

Postby grovenor-2685 » Fri May 05, 2017 5:13 pm

I've used the card back of A4 pads for general cutting

Not having any other use for A4 pads I use the card from MRJ envelopes, I've never run out despite the variable intervals of their arrival.
Regards

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Rod Cameron
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Re: Self-healing cutting mat recommendations

Postby Rod Cameron » Fri May 05, 2017 5:25 pm

Philip Hall wrote:On my bench that I use exclusively for plastic and card work, plus assembly of mechanisms, I have an A2 size Edding mat CM30 which has been there for ten or more years.


Edding mats don't seem to be available any more. Is anyone familiar with ANSIO and Olfa mats?
Rod

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John Bateson
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Re: Self-healing cutting mat recommendations

Postby John Bateson » Fri May 05, 2017 6:47 pm

Slaving away still on GCR stuff ...
Avoiding the soaps ...
http://www.greatcentralmodels.co.uk

John Palmer
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Re: Self-healing cutting mat recommendations

Postby John Palmer » Sun May 07, 2017 1:25 pm

Many thanks for your suggestions. I finally settled on a 5-ply A3 Ansio mat priced at £6.99, so not the end of the world if it doesn't fulfil expectations.

In the course of my researches I noticed that toughened glass cutting boards are now being offered. I decided to stick with a cutting mat made of material with which I am already familiar, but could see both pluses and minuses for a glass-based mat. Pro: no possibility of warping. Con: possibly quicker dulling of cutting blades. Would welcome an evaluation by anyone who has actually used such a mat.

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Flymo748
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Re: Self-healing cutting mat recommendations

Postby Flymo748 » Mon May 08, 2017 6:21 am

John Palmer wrote:In the course of my researches I noticed that toughened glass cutting boards are now being offered. I decided to stick with a cutting mat made of material with which I am already familiar, but could see both pluses and minuses for a glass-based mat. Pro: no possibility of warping. Con: possibly quicker dulling of cutting blades. Would welcome an evaluation by anyone who has actually used such a mat.


Hi John,

I've never used a glass based mat. However like DavidB I use something other than a self healing mat for cutting out brass frets and the like.

In my case, it's a square of Tufnol. Again, it only costs a few quid and seems to last for ever. Something like https://eileensemporium.com/index.php?option=com_hikashop&ctrl=product&task=show&cid=2416&name=tufnol-workblock-200mm-x-200mm&Itemid=189&category_pathway=1108

To my mind, something like a glass mat or piece of plate glass is too hard. The lack of a bit of give is not only bad for the knife edge, but also has a higher tendency to give rise to a "pingfsckit"moment as the newly liberated component heads for the further corners of the Carpet God's domain...

HTH
Flymo
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Will L
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Re: Self-healing cutting mat recommendations

Postby Will L » Mon May 08, 2017 9:19 am

We have a hardened glass worktop protector on our kitchen units. We try not to cut on this as it defiantly takes the edge of your knifes.

For Moddeling, rather than cooking, I use an off cut of veneered chip board for heavy cutting, soldering on and drilling to insert pins for making ad hoc jigs. It is battle scared and while being viewed from the off as disposable it has lasted may a long year. For lighter work I have a big green self healing mat which is also of some antiquity and shows some signs or war damage, but still self heals and I wouldn't be without it. I do have a small sheet peace of plate glass, but this is reserved for checking that chassis sit flat.

Moral? I think its worth finding a descent self healer.

John Palmer
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Re: Self-healing cutting mat recommendations

Postby John Palmer » Mon May 08, 2017 7:03 pm

Paul and Will, thanks for confirming my suspicions about glass being a sub-optimal cutting surface. I agree that a decent self-healing mat is a boon, and hope I've picked a winner in that respect.

I too tend to use wood offcuts for a variety of purposes, including soldering, although it would be nice to find a better sacrifical surface than wood for soldering, given its propensity to char and deposit the resulting detritus on the underside of the metal being soldered.

Use of Tufnol is a good idea for separation of small components from frets. Up to now I've tended to use melamine-face chipboard for this, which also has a little bit of 'give' in it to save the blade. Generally I try to ensure that a finger nail is bearing down on any small component being separated from a fret - I try to keep tribute to the Carpet God to a minimum.

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Jol Wilkinson
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Re: Self-healing cutting mat recommendations

Postby Jol Wilkinson » Mon May 08, 2017 9:05 pm

John,

I find a piece of Formica faced chipboard provides a good soldering and general work surface. Mine is about 15 years old and still giving good service.

Jol

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Flymo748
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Re: Self-healing cutting mat recommendations

Postby Flymo748 » Mon May 08, 2017 9:43 pm

John Palmer wrote:I too tend to use wood offcuts for a variety of purposes, including soldering, although it would be nice to find a better sacrifical surface than wood for soldering, given its propensity to char and deposit the resulting detritus on the underside of the metal being soldered.

Use of Tufnol is a good idea for separation of small components from frets. Up to now I've tended to use melamine-face chipboard for this, which also has a little bit of 'give' in it to save the blade. Generally I try to ensure that a finger nail is bearing down on any small component being separated from a fret - I try to keep tribute to the Carpet God to a minimum.


This is where the Tufnol can have a dual purpose. It's very heat resistant, so I do my soldering on it as well. And you avoid, as you say, the charred debris on the back of the parts.

Cheers
Flymo
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David B
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Re: Self-healing cutting mat recommendations

Postby David B » Tue May 09, 2017 7:27 am

For some years now, I have been using a 3" square black acrylic tile similar to these on Amazon and a ⅛" chisel to cut bits from frets. I smooth the tile off every so often with a wider (1") chisel to remove the inevitable edges to nicks but one tile has so far been in use for about 5 years. It is getting a couple of dips in it now so I will soon have to turn it over or get a new one. The black is very useful as it contrasts with brass and nickel silver.

The tile I have originally came with a cutting tool which was useless. However, the tile has been invaluable. It has been cut down from a larger sheet which bears the name Optix by Plaskolite.

junctionmad
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Re: Self-healing cutting mat recommendations

Postby junctionmad » Wed May 10, 2017 12:05 pm

I have the Humbrol A3 mat , good self healing properties

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Hardwicke
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Re: Self-healing cutting mat recommendations

Postby Hardwicke » Sun May 14, 2017 11:23 pm

OK it was a few years now, but I was told that flooring lino was as good as any cutting mat. Even if it doesn't self heal, off cuts are usually free if you know someone/ somewhere. Never buy cutting mats from model railway exhibitions. They are always more expensive than art or general tool suppliers.
Builder of Forge Mill Sidings, Kirkcliffe Coking Plant, Swanage and Heaby. Still trying to "Keep the Balance".

dal-t
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Re: Self-healing cutting mat recommendations

Postby dal-t » Mon May 15, 2017 8:03 am

There seems a danger the main benefit of self-healing mats might be lost with all this talk of 'lino' (is it really still made?), tiles and off-cuts of Formica. Self-healing was developed precisely to avoid the problem posed by other surfaces that mark or score from the blade, that is deflection of a new straight cut by an old scar. As for non-scarring (hard) surfaces, although they might seem to suit for a simple 'chopping' stroke, I personally still prefer to use a mat for all except the heaviest-duty (most brutal?) occasions, because I find the ability to cut into the mat surface helps to maintain the proper slicing action of the blade, and I'm confident I'm not damaging the blade at the end of the stroke (my account with Swann-Morton is extreme enough as it is). I also find when making the straight cuts for which they are designed the slight 'draw' of the self-healing surface helps me keep the blade tight against the guiding edge - but that's probably just compensating for a deficiency of my technique, which always tends to wander from a straight line.

On the best brand of mats, I used Eddings for very many years, and probably would still have them if I hadn't also used them as a general work-surface, so that they gradually got covered with blobs of paint and cement. My replacements all came from art suppliers, and look identical to the Eddings, but most are anonymous (the last batch just said 'Artist's'). However the Humbrol/Airfix A4 and A3 mats are well spoken of, and are used by many of the plastic modellers I exchange ideas with. If I were still in the UK I probably would have acquired a couple by now, if only for the printed propeller templates (can never find my prop jigs when I need them - story of my modelling life).
David L-T

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David B
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Re: Self-healing cutting mat recommendations

Postby David B » Mon May 15, 2017 8:35 am

The term 'self-healing' is inaccurate. These mats, once cut, do not 'heal'. As with other materials, too many cuts in the same vicinity lead to bits being cut out and hollows forming and larger blades like Stanley knives leave holes. I find them too soft for cutting parts from frets which often distort.

There are advantages: they do not blunten blades as rapidly as many other surfaces do; they tend not to form ridges around the cuts; they are to nice work on. That's about it as far as I can see.

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Hardwicke
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Re: Self-healing cutting mat recommendations

Postby Hardwicke » Mon May 15, 2017 2:14 pm

Lino is now pvc flooring or vinyl flooring.
Builder of Forge Mill Sidings, Kirkcliffe Coking Plant, Swanage and Heaby. Still trying to "Keep the Balance".

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martinm
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Re: Self-healing cutting mat recommendations

Postby martinm » Tue May 16, 2017 6:07 pm

hardwicke said 'Lino is now pvc flooring or vinyl flooring.'

Not at all, that's a common misunderstanding. Lino is still alive, especially in the high end flooring market.
Here's a quote from a leading manufacturer at http://www.armstrong.com/flooring/products/linoleum
Linoleum is the granddaddy of flooring types. When vinyl sheet flooring came on the scene, many people thought vinyl was the “new” linoleum, but they are very different products.

I think that this discussion has highlighted the fact that different materials have different properties and different uses as cutting surfaces and some are too expensive to paint and solder on. :D

regards,

martin

John Palmer
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Re: Self-healing cutting mat recommendations

Postby John Palmer » Wed May 17, 2017 10:29 am

This thread has generated some interesting and informative further contributions since I announced the decision I'd made - thanks to all concerned. Just to give an idea of the variety of mat designs, here's a shot of my three, including the new Ansio mat.
Mat comparison.JPG
It is quite true that 'self healing' is something of a misnomer, but there is a major difference in the extent to which some mats 'close their wounds' better than others and fail to raise a ridge on either side of the cut that can deflect the blade on a subsequent cutting operation. This became a major issue with the very tough middle mat in the picture and was what prompted purchase of a replacement. That's not to say that the replaced mat is now totally redundant, because I foresee plenty of occasions when I shall need to use it when hacking my way through tough material in a way that do serious damage to the surface of its replacement.

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Hardwicke
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Re: Self-healing cutting mat recommendations

Postby Hardwicke » Wed May 17, 2017 2:43 pm

martinm wrote:
hardwicke said 'Lino is now pvc flooring or vinyl flooring.'

Not at all, that's a common misunderstanding. Lino is still alive, especially in the high end flooring market.

regards,

martin


I was generalising and apologise if I mislead anyone. Yes they are different.
Builder of Forge Mill Sidings, Kirkcliffe Coking Plant, Swanage and Heaby. Still trying to "Keep the Balance".


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