Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Rotating Cutting Board

This is the story of my only purchase at the Craft And Quilt Fair. I've been wondering about getting a rotating cutting board for a while, mainly for ease of cutting tricky shapes, but also for squaring up blocks. Over the last couple of weeks I've tried to research them and had difficulty finding much information, so this post might be useful to someone else one day.

I've seen the circular board which is available, but I was particularly interested in square boards. The round shape limits the size of square that you can fit on it. I found two brands of square rotating boards available in Australia; Olfa and Fiskars. My regular cutting board is an Olfa, and I've been very happy with its performance over the last 20-odd years. When I discovered that Olfa make a rotating board with metric markings, which is 30cm square, I decided that was the one I wanted to buy. However I was not so happy when it came to trying to find someone who stocked the metric board!

Several retailers note on their website the availability of the Olfa 30cm board, but I only found one who had it listed for sale. I sent them an email to ask if they had one in stock, but am still waiting for an answer nearly 2 weeks later! Not great customer service. However, I did get an answer in a roundabout way, because when I looked at their website again, they had removed the listing for the 30cm board. I guess that means they didn't have it in stock. Amazingly enough they have also removed their email address from their "Contact Us" page, so I guess they don't want pesky potential customers bothering them!

At the show, I found a couple of stands selling the Olfa 12" rotating board, but neither of them stock the metric version. And both of them priced the inch version much higher than the people I mentioned above (who didn't actually want to sell me one though).

So I decided that if I had to have inch markings, I'd buy the Fiskars one which is less than half the price of the Olfa. But was it good value? More on that later...

Firstly, how do they rotate? That was something I had tried unsuccessfully to find out, so here's the answer:
Both the Olfa and the Fiskars work this way. They are in two parts. The base (the black part) has a round hole in it. The top section (white in this case) has a circular piece glued to the back,
which fits into the hole in the base. The two surfaces that touch are smooth, and the movement is quite easy.

Today I tried out the board. It was fun using it to cut out some triangles. In this case I was using a regular ruler and a paper template - if you were using a plastic template it would be even easier, as you wouldn't need to move the template the way I needed to move my little ruler. Just cut, then spin...
and cut,
and spin, and cut.
All done! Much easier than either moving the fabric and losing the position of my template, or tying my arms in knots trying to cut the shape without moving the fabric or template! So I can see myself using the rotating board for lots of jobs.

However, I was a little unimpressed with one aspect of the Fiskars "self-healing" board:
That damage was visible after only about 20 minutes of cutting. It seems the cutting surface is extremely shallow. In a couple of places, the cutting surface has lifted, and here a tiny piece has actually broken off, leaving a scar which is not going to "self heal". Compare that with the worst damage on my Olfa board after over 20 years of use:
OK, that extreme close-up looks a mess, but even in this deep(ish) cut, I still have cutting surface. And because the board is solid material, I can just turn it over and probably get another 20 years wear out of it.

I don't know how thick the "self-healing" layer on the Olfa rotating board is. I didn't think to look at that at the show. But if you are thinking of buying a rotating board, I'd suggest you look at that aspect.

Added Later: The cutting surface of the Olfa board doesn't look any thicker than the Fiskars one. I think the secret is to only use these thin rotating boards for straight cuts - don't twist the cutter to go round corners, or you damage the surface!


  1. How dissapointing. If I were you, I would contact Fiskars. There must be some sort of guarantee on the board. They are a good brand in garden items, I find it hard to believe that would be considered normal wear.

    Dee (from Dewdrops & Dragonflies)

  2. Thanks for your post about this. I'm also shopping for a rotating cutting board, and was weighing the options between the Fiskars and the Olfa. I'm going with the Olfa, which was my first inclination anyway.