Last year, I took advantage of a terrific sale and finally got an 12″ by 12″ Olfa Rotating Self-Healing Rotary Mat. I hesitated, wondering if I would like it, but I am pleased with how much I really do like it.
I hesitated buying it because years ago I had an earlier version of a rotating cutting mat. It was mounted on a turn table with ball bearings. I never really liked that one. First, it was noisy. Yes, it rotated effortlessly, but always with the sound of a myriad of little metal ball bearings rattling on the metal track. Second, the square cutting mat was mounted on a round base, making the corners unsupported so they always flexed downward when I pressed down with my rotary cutter. Not nice.
The new design is genius. The top and bottom parts are the same square size, so the corners are supported. The bottom piece has a hole in the middle, and the top has a corresponding circle glued to the underside. That circle fits neatly into the hole allowing you to easily (and quietly) turn the entire top, along with anything you have positioned on top. The two surfaces that touch are both polished to reduce drag. (Be sure the shiny side of the base is facing up. The other side of the base is foam, and it grabs the table so the whole thing doesn’t slip.)
This rotating cutting mat is the perfect tool to use when you need to square up a stack of blocks. I like to cut the right side and top edge. Then I rotate the mat and cut the other two sides.
The only thing that would have been better during this round of squaring up my blocks is if I actually had a rotary ruler that was the same size as my block. Yes, I know I don’t make traditional quilts often, so why would I have a square ruler? Nevertheless, I have a 3-1/2″, 4″, 4-1/2″, 5″, 6″, 6-1/2″, and so on. Notice something missing? Yes! The 5-1/2″ square ruler that would have made the entire process a breeze! Ah, well. This will probably be the only time I ever need a 5-1/2″ ruler, so I decided the 6″ square would work just fine. I just had to shift the ruler and realign everything a second time on each square.