Best Self-Healing Cutting Mats: Tamiya, Gundam, OLFA & Dahle

A hobby cutting mat with a hobby knife and pieces of wood.

Here’s the thing about self-healing cutting mats…

Some are amazing, last for years, and perform as promised.

Others, well, not so much. Some are so bad that you’d be better off just using a piece of scrap cardboard.

I mean, when you completely slice through the layers down into the surface of your heirloom dining room table with the first cut (VERY painful experience – I’d rather not talk about it), you know something is seriously wrong with the quality.

So here, I’ll spare you the pain I’ve endured and skip the junk.

The following hobby mats will not disappoint or leave you with a marred table that requires hours of painstaking repair.

In a hurry?

Without any hesitation, I’d say go for the Gundam A3.

  • Tough – Heavy-duty construction.
  • Versatile – Grid lines for straight cuts, angles, curves, you name it.
  • Smooth – Items won’t snag on or stick to the surface.
  • Big – Large enough for most hobby work.
  • Convenient – Metric and standard guide marks.
  • Long lasting – Holds up through hundreds of uses.

Self-Healing Cutting Mats

Product Name Size  Price Quality
Tamiya A3 Cutting Mat 12″ x 18″ Mid-range High
Tamiya A4 Cutting Mat 12″ x 9″ Mid-range High
Gundam A3 Model Builder’s Cutting Mat 12″ x 18″ Low High
Gundam A4 Model Builder’s Cutting Mat 12″ x 9″ Bargain Mid
OLFA Blue Cutting Mat 24″ x 36″ High Superior
OLFA Double-Sided, Self-Healing Rotary Mat 24″ x 18″ Mid-range High
Dahle Self-Healing Cutting Mat With 1/2” Grid 24″ x 36″ Bargain Mid
Dahle Blue Knife Mat 24″ x 18″ High Superior

Tamiya Cutting Mats

Tamiya is one of the best providers of self-healing cutting mats on the market.

These moderately-priced, high-quality mats are durable enough to last through just about any project.

If you’re looking for a practical solution that won’t let you down, Tamiya is the one!

Tamiya A3 Cutting Mat

Tamiya 74076 Cutting Mat A3 Size TAM74076

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This mat is nothing if not practical.

It’s excellent for chopping up tape, stickers, or plastic, and it’s large enough to spread across your entire work area.

The large size is ideal because you don’t need to move it around in order to continue working. 

As you’re shopping for a cutting mat, you may be wary of the effectiveness and durability of the product.

After all, nothing is invincible, and incisions tend to show after a while.

However, this model eliminates a lot of that concern and significantly prolongs the appearance of any cuts.

It’s constructed of both soft and hard materials, which gives it a competitive edge because your cuts will not be as noticeable.

You can do plenty of work with this mat, and your materials won’t stick to it.

It’s easy to use, clean, and store for next time. Plus, it’s the perfect size to construct models and won’t dull your cutting blade!

Pros:

  • Constructed with both hard and soft materials for durability. 
  • Materials won’t stick to the mat.
  • Large enough to accommodate many different modeling projects.

Cons:

  • Mat’s odor may be a bit off-putting.
  • Very narrow lines.

Tamiya A4 Cutting Mat

TAMIYA 74118-000 300074118 Cutting Mat DIN A4...

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Most people find this cutting mat by Tamiya to be perfectly suited for the work that they need to do.

This cutting mat is sturdy and will last you for the long run.

Although it’s not ideal for massive projects, it’s just right for smaller and moderate-sized ones.

The mat comes printed with a series of different curves, angles, and spheres so that you can make precise cuts to size. 

Like most Tamiya products, it’s built to last.

The fine cuts that you make in the mat will heal nicely almost immediately, so you can use the mat for multiple projects without worrying about replacing it.

If you do any kind of modeling or hobby work, this mat is a must!

Pros:

  • Printed with several different designs for aligning pieces and making accurate cuts.
  • Sturdy enough to hold up to heavy use.
  • Self-heals almost instantly.

Cons:

  • Might not be suitable for larger projects.
  • May smell like chemicals. 

Gundam Cutting Mats

Gundam makes high-quality mats at reasonable prices, so you can even purchase a few of them if your budget and needs allow.

They’re all easy to use and comprised of multiple layers so that you don’t need to worry about accidentally scratching or cutting any surfaces underneath them.

Gundam A3 Model Builder’s Cutting Mat

Gundam Model Builder's Cutting Mat 12'x18'(A3)

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If precision is the name of the game for you, this is the perfect mat for your needs.

It’s easy to make minute measurements on the surface using the angle guide and easy measuring system.

One side is printed in inches, and the other has a metric measuring grid, so no matter what your project calls for, you’re covered.

It’s made out of five different layers of material so that you won’t be cutting through any other surfaces unintentionally. 

This mat is also incredibly durable, and it will self-heal right away, even if you’re cutting through thin materials with sharper tools.

Also, this model comes with a full money-back guarantee if you aren’t completely satisfied.

It’s worth the price, even if you’re a novice hobbyist looking to give modeling a try.

Pros:

  • Comes with a full money-back guarantee.
  • Easy measuring system so that you can make precise cuts.
  • Five layers of material so that you won’t cut through it.

Cons:

  • Can have some trouble standing up to rotary cutters.
  • May stop self-healing after a certain amount of time.

Gundam A4 Model Builder’s Cutting Mat

Gundam Model Builder's Cutting Mat 12'x9'(A4)

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This Gundam option is an excellent mat for sewing and crafts, and unlike other kinds of mats, there’s no chemical smell to deal with.

At 12 x 9 inches, it’s a bit on the smaller side, so it may not be appropriate for more considerable work, but it will stand up to many different cuts.

It’ has five layers of thick PVC material printed with a measuring grid in both metric and standard so that you can make precise cuts to your work.

This mat also doesn’t slip around. Once you set it down, it’s there for the long run.

It’s also double-sided, so if you wear out one part, you can simply flip it and start again.

Of course, another selling point is that the quality is impressive considering the more affordable price.

Pros:

  • Double-sided, so you don’t have to worry about wearing it out.
  • Five-layer mat is very high-quality for the price.
  • Printed measurements for precise work.

Cons:

  • Oven bake clay can stick to the mat.
  • On the smaller side and not ideal for larger projects.

OLFA Cutting Mats

OLFA is a legacy name in self-healing cutting mats.

Craftspeople and hobbyists celebrate their products for being practical, easy to use, and long-lasting.

If you want to get your hands on a top-notch mat, OLFA is a frontrunner.

Any one of the following three mats showcases the high standard that makes OLFA popular. 

OLFA Blue Cutting Mat

OLFA RM-MG NBL Cutting Mat, 24x36, blue

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This cutting mat is double-sided and marked with grid lines so that you can make precise cuts.

It self-heals almost instantly, leaving you with a smooth surface to work on.

You don’t have to worry about your projects, especially sewing work, getting stuck in any nicks or scratches.

It’s best to use rotating blades with this mat, as it can have a problem self-healing with fixed-blade knives. 

It also doesn’t have a chemical smell, like many other different kinds of self-healing mats do.

Most people find it perfectly suitable for both large and small-scale projects. 

Pros:

  • Does not have a chemical smell.
  • Smooth surface that heals almost immediately.
  • Comes with tiny grid lines so that you can work on a miniature and macro scale.

Cons:

  • Fixed blade could damage the surface of this mat.
  • Lower part of the mat is not as smooth as the upper part.

OLFA Double-Sized, Self-Healing Rotary Mat

OLFA 9881 RM-SG 18-Inch x 24-Inch Self-Healing...

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This large, green mat is suitable for both larger and smaller-scale projects, and since it weighs one pound, you won’t have to worry about it slipping around while you are working.

It’s double-sided, with one side marked with yellow lines for easy cutting and the other a simple green canvas for more freestyle work. 

The cut lines disappear almost right away. The self-healing function is so impressive that you may find yourself wondering if the blade went into the mat at all.

If you care for it properly, you should be able to use this mat for a long time. 

Pros: 

  • Larger surface so that you can work on either big or small projects.
  • Superb self-healing ability.
  • Double-sided to work with a measuring grid or freestyle.

Cons:

  • May have an unpleasant smell.
  • Might not work as well with a fixed blade.

Dahle Cutting Mats

The Dahle brand is specifically interested in providing users with cutting mats that will protect their surfaces.

Hence, all of their products are thick and sturdy. Invest in one of these mats, and you will enjoy a superior-quality product for years to come. 

Dahle Self-Healing Cutting Mat With ½” Grid

Dahle Vantage 10670 Self-Healing Cutting Mat,...

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This durable self-healing mat helps you to keep your surfaces scratch-free and comes with a printed grid so that you can make precise cuts with ease.

It’s easy to use, stays in one place, and sports five layers of a special plastic that allows cuts to vanish into the mat, almost as if you never even made them at all. 

You can use the mat’s built-in scale lines to make all sorts of different kinds of cuts.

This product is also incredibly versatile, useful for sewing projects, model making, or cropping pictures.

It’s well padded, so you never have to worry about your blade slipping through. The surface is also exceptionally smooth, so you are able to work away with ease.  

You have your choice of three styles: black, blue, and transparent.

Pros:

  • Five layers of plastic so you won’t scratch your surfaces.
  • Comes with a printed grid and scale lines.
  • Suitable for all different types of projects.

Cons:

  • Only one side has grid lines.
  • Material is a bit harder than other mats.

Dahle Blue Knife Mat

Dahle 45 x 60cm Knife Mat - Blue

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This model is another superstar product from Dahle.

This triple-layer mat self-heals almost immediately and comes printed with guidelines so that you can get your project done right the first time.

It also comes with a two-year warranty, which is very rare and means that they totally stand behind their products.

It’s suitable for both professional and novice crafters and designed to be as functional and precise as possible.

If you are serious about picking up a good mat that won’t let you down, this one is phenomenal.  

Pros:

  • Comes with a two-year warranty.
  • Printed guidelines for precision work.
  • Ideal for both novice and professional crafters.

Cons:

  • More expensive than other mats.
  • Guidelines may be too limiting.

Cutting Mat Buyer’s Guide

Although everyone’s needs are different, there are still a few things that you should look for in a self-healing cutting mat. 

The first feature is the surface finish.

Since you’ll be staring at the mat for extended periods and moving your project over it, it’s vital to choose one that will not harm your work or your eyes.

Most people prefer a mat with a non-glare, smooth surface that won’t snag their projects. 

You also have the option of buying a mat that’s either soft or hard.

When it comes down to it, the rigidity of your surface is a personal preference, but you should also think about what you’re using it for.

For example, if you’re going to be making a lot of deeper cuts, you might want a more rigid mat that has several layers to it. 

Finally, think about the size and scope of your projects. Are you working on miniature projects or large replicas? Or, will you be doing a wide range of designs?

Consider all these points when choosing the size of your mat. When in doubt, always go for a mat more considerable than you think you will realistically need.

Related Questions:

As you search for the perfect self-healing mat, some questions may come up.

Hopefully, the following answers to some popular inquiries will help guide you toward finding the ideal product for you.

How Do Cutting Mats Self-Heal?

Instead of being made out of one piece of material, self-healing mats are made out of many tiny pieces that are pushed together.

When the mat itself is “healing,” it’s merely fusing the parts back together, so it doesn’t look like you even made any cuts. 

Since the tiny pieces need to be thoroughly and cleanly severed to fuse together, it’s essential to use a sharp blade in conjunction with your self-healing mat. 

Do Cutting Mats Wear Out?

Cutting mats can wear out over time, especially if you are going over the same surface multiple times.

To make the most out of your mat, always use a sharp knife when cutting, and don’t expose it to very hot or cold weather, which could cause the tiny pieces to unstick. 

Even with the best care, cutting mats will wear out, and you’ll eventually need to replace them.

You can tell if your mat is on its last legs by looking for any holes or tears in the product where the pieces themselves didn’t fuse back together.

At that point, you may need to replace it. 

Quick Review

Tamiya, Gundam, Olfa, and Dahle are all trusted brands that you can count on for quality craftsmanship and durability.

While you really can’t go wrong with any of the mats found here, if you just can’t decide, let me make it easy. 

Gundam A3 Model Builder’s Cutting Mat. Period.

Excellent price, terrific thickness and durability, and guide marks for virtually any cut or piece alignment you’ll ever need.

If you’re just going to get one and want it to last for years, get this one. You won’t regret it (or need to refinish your dining room table any time soon).

Last update on 2021-09-26 at 19:18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API