Glass vs Self Heal

What should you be using as a mat for your paper cut art?

Like many paper cutters I started on a self heal mat. I used the one my husband had on his desk, many of the starter kits come with self heal mats and I do believe these are probably the best option for new cutters.

Though now I mostly I cut on glass, after my brief stint on the self heal and feeling like I wasn’t really getting anywhere I grabbed the glass chopping board out of the kitchen, gave it a clean and had a go with that. Personally I found it a lot easier. I have yet to break a blade on the glass and I can certainly cope with the blades blunting slightly faster in favour of the beautiful curves it gives me. It wasn’t long before I traded up the kitchen chopping board for a huge A3 glass mat from Tonic Studios, a few months later I also picked up a bargain 13″x13″ x-cut glass mat.
However I do still have a little self heal mat, for when I want to use a swivel blade rather than a fixed one. I don’t use it that often but if I put the swivel blade on the glass mat it’s like dancing on ice, the blade goes everywhere but where I want it to.

Weighing up the pros and cons of both types seemed a good idea;

Pros and Cons

Self Heal


Good to learn on
Easily replaced
Up to A0 size
Better for straight lines


Blades dig into the mat
Slower to cut
Paper harder to move
Shorter lifespan



Paper easy to move
Better for curves
Longer lasting
More stable surface


Larger Outlay
Blades blunt faster
Blades may snap easier
Limited sizes
Can loose control easier

Cheaper Alternatives

There is no doubt that glass mats can get expensive and if you are looking to just have a go with one to see if you like it then it’s a large outlay. A smooth glass worktop saver is a cheap way to try out a glass cutting surface.


As you can see from the pros and cons there is possibly no right or wrong answer to the debate between self heal or glass as a cutting surface, while I enjoy better results from a glass and find they last longer than self heal so justify their cost there are many papercut artists out there that will swear by the self heal.

I would still recommend beginning with a self heal mat, even if it is to just get used to the actions involved in paper cutting.

While you can’t get the huge mats in glass like you can with self heal, it is probably rare that you would use anything larger than A3 anyway, unless you have the space and plan to cut large pieces.

If you are concerned about a glass mat being fragile, mine have held up to transportation and toddlers, I think they are robust enough to handle most things.

What do you find best and which quality makes that the cutting mat for you?