The Hunt for a Cutting Mat

Measuring Cutting Mats
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Last year, we moved our family of 5 and our rottweiler 3 times in less than 6 months. Why would any rational person do such a thing, you can check out last week’s post to get the back story.

Anyhow, somewhere in the 3 moves, my Fiskars 24″ x 36″ cutting mat got lost. I used my little portable Omnigrid cutting mat/pressing surface, but it was ridiculous. The main thing I’ve been sewing lately are curtains. Vicky has 11 windows just on the ground floor. My previous house had 5 in total. I had to replace my big mat.

Chance to try something else

I figured it was a great excuse to try something new. I already have some Omnigrid rulers I love because of their dotted 1/4″ lines.

omnigrid mat labelI got the Omnigrid mat home and realized that there were no 1/4″ dotted lines on the mat. Yeah, totally my bad. I was so busy trying to figure out the pricing I missed that obvious detail. I hunted through their website and none of their mats have 1/4 dotted lines. I figured it wasn’t a deal breaker because I do have the dotted lines on the rulers.

Then I took the plastic off and was hit by a strong chemical smell. Their website says you can reduce the smell by soaking it in your bathtub with a water vinegar mixture. Maybe if it were summer and I had access to my kid’s wading pool (my favorite way to soak my mats to extend their life), but this mat was a bit bulky for my tub.

Okay, what about the warranty? There is no mention of a warranty on their sticker. (Fiskars has theirs right one the label.) I went to the Omnigrid website and I couldn’t find their warranty information there either. I’ve sent them an email asking for clarification but haven’t received a reply yet. I know I’ve read about quilters contacting Omnigrid directly and getting replacements for products. So I’m curious to what their official policy is. I’ll update this when I find out.

No obvious warranty. Strike Three, the mat went back.

Back to Fiskars

I tried to branch out, but looks like it was back to Fiskars for me. I really like their Lifetime Warranty. I had a 10 year old rotary cutter stop locking and Fiskars replaced it. I just filled out an online form and sent a picture. It was processed quickly and they shipped my new rotary cutter to me free of charge. (If you have a Fiskars product that you need to make a claim for, here’s the direct US link.)

Trying to Save Space

My sewing studio is more a sewing hall. I’m used to having more room but I’m set up on a folding table for now. So I started eyeballing Fiskars folding mats. They are more expensive then their flat counterparts, but I really liked the idea of being able to store it in a smaller space.

New cracked Fiskars folding mat So this time, I grabbed a large Fiskars Self Healing Folding mat. It certainly was less bulky carrying it out of the store and getting it home. But when I opened it, I was dismayed to find a huge crack running up the plastic that folds on the back.

Back to the store I went for an exchange. This time I checked the mat for cracks before I bought it. There were 3 mats in stock and all of them had small, but definite cracks starting. I decided I didn’t want to mess with it and returned my cracked mat. If you want a folding mat, be sure to look at the material along the folding lines for cracks before putting it in your cart. Hopefully it was just a freak occurrence at my local store.

Back to start

I was done, I just needed a big mat so I could get back to work. At this point, I was feeling a little awkward with all the returns I was making. My old Fiskars had served me well. I decided to just go back to it.

I was pretty sure I’d eventually track down my naughty lost mat, so it hurt my frugal little heart to buy a duplicate. But I reasoned I could use both on the cutting table I will build once I can work on my attic studio.

Wal-Mart vs. Joann pricingI headed off to JoAnn and the $65.99 mat was only $31.67 with the coupon. A couple of days later I was at my local Wal-Mart and meandered over to check out their mats. (I have such a hard time leaving things alone.) Same size mat, only $29.97 and no coupons needed. So I bought it so I could compare. (Just an FYI, the mat’s retail price is listed as $57.99 on Fiskars website on the date of this posting.)

What’s the Deal?

So with my coupon, I only paid a few extra bucks for my mat from Joann. But I got to thinking, were the mats actually the same? Maybe Wal-Mart had a lower quality mat to be able to offer such a cheaper price. As you might have guess from the receipt above, I went ahead and bought Wal-Mart’s Fiskars mat so I could compare. (LOL, yet another return in my future, the things I do for curiosity’s sake)

Wal-Mart Fiskars vs. Joann Fiskars

Close up of Fiskars cutting mat stickerI labeled the two mats so I wouldn’t get them mixed up while I was comparing. Their stickers are identical. You can see a close up of one in the picture. I went number by number and everything matched.

I wrote an email to Fiskars to ask about the mats. The representative who replied assured me that Wal-Mart and Joann mats were the same.

And to cover my bases, I also called Fiskars to verify that the 24 x 36″ mat on their website is the same mat you get at Joann or Wal-Mart. I did the second check because the only identifying number I could find on Fiskars websites was their own special item number (183720-1001) and there was no sticker in their product picture. That Fiskars representative said the same thing. Fiskars doesn’t make different models for different stores.

Physical Inspection

Measuring cutting matsSince I already had the mats, I went ahead and did a mechanical comparison. On each mat I took 8 measurements, 2 on each side at the same inch marker. Both mats averaged out to 0.063″ thick. (And if you were wondering, the Omnigrid mat averaged out to .067″ thick.)
I stacked the mats and slid one down so I could see how the numbers lined up with one another. Everything lined up. Oh . . . and I sniffed the mats. Both had slight manufacturing odor but nothing over powering like the Omnigrid fresh out of its plastic.

What I Learned

Tip #1: If you’re in the market for a Fiskars cutting mat, go for the best price because they are the same mat, regardless of the store you buy them from. So, if you have some time, you can wait for a great coupon and use your big box craft store, but if you’re in a rush, you might just want to hit Wal-Mart.

Tip #2: If you’re an online shopper, don’t forget to check the Amazon price on Fiskars 24×36 Cutting Mat because depending on its mood, it might beat everyone else, even with great coupons. (If you click the affiliate link, you’ll go right to the mat and if you happen to buy it, I will get a small commission at no additional cost to you.)

Seriously, when I wrote this post, Amazon’s price was the same as Wal-Mart. Not even a week later it is showing up $5 cheaper. Prices can fluctuate on Amazon.

Tip #3: If you’re buying from a physical store, check the store’s online price before you go. While I was researching, I thought I’d made a mistake when I was figuring out prices. It turned out that my local Joann was $8 more expensive then their online price. Thankfully, Joann has a price-match pledge and will honor the cheaper price if you show it to them.

Comparing the store's price to what it says online

orange dotted lines with nosy quilter logo in the middle

While I wouldn’t consider this post a product review, I hope some of the things I discovered on my little hunt for a new mat will be helpful for others about to buy one. (Oh, and my old mat did turn up) 

I learned some interesting things about different prices for the same product. And I learned that I’m not a good impulse buyer and will likely wind up making numerous trips back to the store when I try. 

P.S. I returned the Wal-Mart mat because I’d already made 2 mat returns to Joann.
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10 thoughts on “The Hunt for a Cutting Mat

  1. Thank you! That was not only informative but gave me a few laughs as well as I could see you lugging these big mats back and forth! I have a large Olfa mat that I bought several years ago online from JoAnn’s. I can’t remember the cost but I thought it was a good deal at the time. It’s beginning to show it’s age and whenever I can I cut at an angle now and only use the lines (it does not have the dots only tick marks at the edges between the inches) when I need to do so. I do all my measuring with rulers so the dots don’t matter too much to me. I have a smaller (18 by 24) Fiscar’s mat too and that one is still in good shape. I’ll keep your post in mind as I will have to replace the large one soon. Thank you for sharing this experience!

    1. Hi Ceil, I did get lucky and was able to use one of them as an umbrella while lugging it into the house. I miss having a garage. As for your next mat, I did a search for Olfa’s warranty policy. (I really am a huge fan of Fiskars great warranty.) There is nothing easily found on their website and most of the Facebook posts I could pull up said they don’t. I did find one lady who wrote that they told her there are no warranties but then went ahead and sent her a replacement.

  2. Great info….I got a non branded mat Tuesday Morning for $29.99. It is big 36×54 (?). It doesn’t smell. It is white-ish. Only has one inch lines. Seems very thick. I needed it to protect my table. So far so good. I will see how it lasts.

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