Jun 13, 2007

BasicGrey Precision Cutting Mat - Must Have!!

"Fast is fine, but accuracy is everything!" The quote on the mat says it all.

Items of note -

1 - Fast AND accurate depends largely on the person behind the craft knife.

2 - This is not your mama's cutting mat

3 - Storage can be a challenge

4 - Lots and lots and lots of markings make for one happy cutter.

5 - I need two so I can build double page layouts.

All that said, this is a really great cutting mat that should find it's way into your Scrapping Essentials Pile.

If you haven't seen, held, fondled or otherwise had a face to face meeting with this mat, let me give you the low down. The mat is a 15"x15" self-healing mat with a sheet of metal sandwiched between the front and back. This gives the mat some extra weight, but it also keeps it from wandering around my work surface when I'm trying to do some delicate cuts. The accomanying ruler is 18" long, metal with a magnet strip down the back side. This gives the ruler a little bit of lift off the working surface. That can be cool, unless you're like me and can cut a curvey line even using a magnetic metal ruler. I had a couple of instances where I leaned the knife at just the wrong angle and it drifted off under the edge of the ruler.

As a cutting surface, the mat is excellent. The 1/8" markings around the edges made thin, precision cuts a breeze. Those magnet tie downs are great at tying down smaller pieces of cardstock that might try to head off on their own while you're cutting. The tie downs and ruler should not, however, be a substitute to paying attention to what you are doing with the craft knife! Those magents only hold the paper in place. The blade on your knife will happily wander all over the cutting mat (or at least veer off course) when you're trying for a precise cut. My not so spiffy retractable craft knife and I are not on the best of terms right now, but that's another review.

As a working surface, those little markings are great at getting items straight and lined up on the layout. The biggest downside to the mat? Well, the obvious...you can't use it as a cutting surface and a layout building surface at the same time. My solution to the delima was to use the mat as a work surface. My layout is stretched out on the coffee table beside me while I work on cutting, punching holes and anything where I'm concerned about my work surface. I do primarily double page layouts, so using the mat to build my layouts really wasn't feasible anyway.

For those of you that want to use it for building layouts I have two things to recommend -

- Pick up a package of the Magnetic Tack Refills. That will give you an extra 10 tie downs and more flexibility.

- Get all your cutting out of the way before you start building your layout

The only other downside I have to this mat is the size. It won't fit into any of my traditional storage areas. Since I'm using it almost constantly as a work surface, this is a fairly minor delima. The mat does have a hole in one corner (as does the ruler). My handy husband has offered to install a hook near my workspace to I can just hang the mat on the wall within easy reach. Storage delima resolved. Perhaps BG should include a cuphook in the packaging?

Much worse, in my book, the mat doesn't fit into my cropping bag! As I generally crop outside the home at least once a month, this is a bit of an issue. So, while it's going to be a staple in my home cropping space, it's not going to be doing any traveling. I would love to see BasicGrey follow up on this with a smaller "travel" size mat, maybe one marked for 8x8 layouts with a nice magnetic 12" ruler?

Now if I could just find a really great craft knife to go with it...

(NOTE - this review was originally posted on Create My Keepsake on 1/11/2007)

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