Any piece of art looks better when it’s matted and framed. Buying precut mats or having specially cut mats done at a frame shop can be expensive. For a small initial investment in equipment, you can start cutting your own mats and saving lots of money, plus you can get as creative as you want with mat colors, sizes and decoration.
To cut great mats every time, the easiest way is to purchase a mat cutter. I own a Logan Compact Classic Mat Cutter. It will cut mats up to 32 inches. If you routinely need larger mats cut, you may want to invest in a larger mat cutter – they come in sizes to cut up to 60+ inches.
The pictures frames I am cutting mats for are 16X20 and I want a 3 inch mat on each side.
Because mats come in a standard 40×32 inch size I was able to get four mats from one $7 mat board! Plus the center you cut out can be used for smaller sized frames on future projects.
You will need:
- mat board
- mat cutter
- straight cut mat blade
- bevel cut mat blade
- straight edge ruler
First you will need to mark and cut your mat board to the frame size – in this case 16×20 – using the straight mat cutter. Always cut on the back of your mat board – face down. This eliminates the chance that you will get finger prints or other mat crud on the front of your mat.
Once you have your boards cut to 16×20, set the fence on your mat cutter to the correct depth. I set mine to 3.25 inches since I wanted at least a 3 inch mat and the extra ¼ inch gives me some wiggle room when centering the picture.
Next, mark the back of the board where you will cut. I measured 3.25 inches since this is where I had set my fence.
Connect the marks so you have a rectangle marked off where you will cut. You will NOT use these lines as your actually cut line, but you WILL use them to line up where the corners will be.
For each cut line up the mark on the back of the blade with the line you drew on the back of your mat.
Push the blade along the cutter rail until that mark meets the line on the other corner. Repositioning your mat for each side, continue around all four sides. The center section should drop out of the when you are finished.
You will now have a perfectly cut beveled edge mat.
Finally, position your artwork, face down, on the back of the mat and align using the marks you made to cut your mat. Tape your artwork on the top edge only securely to the mat. The reason you only tape on the top edge rather than all four corners is to allow for the different papers to expand and contract with temperature and humidity. If you were to tape all four corners, you could get buckles and wrinkles in your artwork. Taping just the top allows the artwork to hang and size freely.
Now your artwork in ready to be placed in the frame of your choice!
You can purchase the Logan Compact Classic Mat Cutter with bevel and straight cut blades for about $75 on Amazon. Mat board in the 32×40 inch size can be purchase at most craft stores for less than $10. When yo compare that to one precut mat costing $10+ dollars you will easily save money in the long run.