I’ve had my big rotary cutting mat for about three years now, and I’ve noticed that it was getting rather scarred, probably because I don’t change my blades often enough. There are certain spots that get more than their share of attention, too. For instance, right around the 36″ line. I think that is because when I am sitting comfortably at my worktable, that line is just about where my right hand is.
In any case, when I ran my hand across my mat, it was pretty rough and there were a few spots that were gouged, especially where I used my rotary pinking blade. I really should use that blade only on really old mats. My mat could use a good scrubbing, too, but that’s a different issue.
One day this little tool caught my eye. It said “Mat Smoother“, and it promised to get rid of all the nicks and burrs. It also said it would not damage the cutting grid. By that, I’m assuming it is referring to the printed grid. The Mat Smoother is a small plastic disk about 3” diameter with a something like a very fine sandpaper on the bottom. You’re supposed to rub the disk back and forth over your mat, following the lines rather than using small circles. You keep doing that until the mat feels smooth. I was confident it would make my mat smoother but I was a little concerned that, despite what it said, it would cause more wear to the lines that were already damaged.
The companion tool is the Lint Magnet. It is supposed to finish the job by picking up all the dust and lint. It really is a lot like a foam sponge, so you could probably use something else for the job. I also read recently that an ordinary brown gum eraser can be used on rotary cutting mats to remove those little fibers that get stuck in the mat. I still need to try that. I just couldn’t find one in my studio today.
This is what my mat looked like before. I’m not sure you can see how rough the surface had become.I spent less than five minutes going over my cutting mat with the Mat Smoother, and my fingers could already tell a very noticeable difference. I just kept going over the worst spots and did the touch test several times until I was satisfied. By the time I was done, it was pretty much satiny smooth again, even the areas that were damaged by the pinking blade. I couldn’t really tell if there was a difference in the printed lines. Maybe a little of the line was removed, but not a significant amount. If I had been really aggressive with the Mat Smoother, I probably could have removed more of the lines, but I was trying to be careful and I think it paid off.
So, on this mat, the Mat Smoother really did what it had promised. It might be something your mat needs too. You could probably skip the Lint Magnet, however, and just use a damp cloth.