Mat Cutting

Posted On June 2, 2010

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Have you ever wanted to cut your own mats for art work?  I know I have.  Since learning how,  it has saved me money and time.    It doesn’t have to be the top of the line either.  Mine cost less than $100.   

The other supplies needed are mat board, an image and acid free tape.   The mat board doesn’t have to be acid free but I know this is preferred when preserving artwork.  Look for the board that has a pure white core, mat boards that have yellow or brownish cores are not acid free.  Also, acid free boards are slightly more expensive.  Whenever I buy mat board I usually buy the large sheets (it’s cheaper that way). 

Next, pick the size mat.  I have an image that is 4 x 6 and I decided on a mat of 8 x 10.  Rule of thumb is about 2” around the image (of course we are all artists and the mat can be what ever you want it to be).  First measure the image, mine is 4 x 6 and then take off between ¼ and ½ inch so the image will be completely covered.  I took off ½” for easy math.  Take the size of the mat (in this case 8 x 10) and subtract your image size (in this case 3.5 x 5.5).  For each side you get 4.5.  Divide this by 2 because you have 2 sides in each direction and you get 2.25.  This is the number you set your mat cutter at.  See photo for how to set up your equation.

Now set the mat cutter.    You can see that it is set at 2.25.  Next, take the piece of mat and slide it in upside down and draw a line on each side of the board. This needs to be done for guides. After the lines are drawn on each side, double check the work (measure twice, cut once).   If the image is slightly larger than the lines, the measurements are correct and now it is time to cut the mat. 

For my mat cutter you place the blade handle lined up with your first line (see the little line on the bevel cutter and how it is lined up with my pencil line on the back of the mat). I recommend the bevel cutter, this will give a traditional diagonal mat cut.  Then I push on the silver indent, which pushes the blade into the mat and slide the cutter forward until it hits my next line.  Do this to each side of the mat and remove the mat from the cutter.  Sometimes the cuts don’t go all the way through. If this happens just take a blade and slide it in and cut the notch.

Once the hole is cut, line up the image. I do this upside down and at the edge of the table because the image has to be taped to the mat.  This has to be done by feel so the image does not move around.  While looking at the image take two pieces of tape and put one on each side of the top of the image, place the tape vertically.  Then flip the mat over and add two pieces of tape that lay horizontally over the two vertical pieces. This creates the hinge.

Flip it over and you are done!

If you have any questions just leave a comment and I will respond.



One Response to “Mat Cutting”

  1. ruth

    Great article Heidi!

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