Framing and Mat Cutting

The thing that’s been holding up the finishing of the gallery wall is that I needed mats for some of the pictures and they needed to be custom cut.

The brown paper space holders are still in place.
The brown paper space holders are still in place.

Custom cut mats are expensive so the next best thing was for me to find a piece of mat board in a color that would work for the remainder of the items. I had to ask the person behind the counter at Michael’s if they had any other mat board in stock other than what was out and she found a piece of taupe (Michael’s moniker) which I would call mushroom. It’s actually very close to the Benjamin Moore paint color “Sparrow”.  Mat board comes in 20 inch by 30 in sheets for about $16 and they won’t cut it down and sell a half sheet, for instance. So armed with my inconveniently large piece of mat board I set up a mat cutting station on the kitchen island.

Matt cutting station on the well-lit kitchen island.
Matt cutting station on the well-lit kitchen island.

I do have a secret weapon when it comes to mat board cutting which I bought in college and have kept for decades.  Oddly I knew exactly where it was and although the box was rather torn up my Dexter Mat Cutter was still in perfect condition.

The Dexter mat cutter.
The Dexter mat cutter.

The Dexter is designed to cut the interior bevel in a mat. I put in a new blade with is key to a clean cut.

The blade can be set at any angle -- the greater the angle the more difficult the cut.
The blade can be set at any angle — the greater the angle the more difficult the cut.

Lightly mark with an erasable writing instrument (pencil or chalk) on the front of the mat guidelines that match the desired opening.

I mark the mat board lightly with pencil.
I mark the mat board lightly with pencil.

With the blade tilted in the mat cutter (it can also be used straight for cutting the outside edges) line the mat cutter up in one corner and cut along the line.  It helps to push the flat edge of the cutter along a straight edge.

Be sure the bevel is going in the right direction along all the sides.
Be sure the bevel is going in the right direction along all the sides.

It’s important to turn the mat as you cut it so the bevels are all going the same way.

The beveled inner edge of the mat.
The beveled inner edge of the mat.

Because this mat board has a black underside the bevel is black instead of the more usual white.

The underside of the mat board is black, the top is taupe. It could be used either way.
The underside of the mat board is black, the top is taupe. It could be used either way.

Two more finished.

Vintage photos of Paris that came in the mail as a postcard for an art exhibit.
Vintage photos of Paris that came in the mail as a postcard for an art exhibit.

My vintage Paris photos.

What are you hanging?

Advertisements

Author: Jo

Welcome to The Glade, where the second generation of renovations has just begun and the mania about our home, music and other passions fill our days and nights. We’re Charlie and Jo in the music world; Mary Jo and Charles to family; and JoJo and Charlie to each other. We are renovating a midcentury house in a Victorian historic district where we want to live there the rest of our lives. It's a 1946 house located in Maryland. We were married in this house. Thus far (pre-blog) we refinished cabinets, added a window seat (still working on the cushion), rearranged a wall in the guest house due to sink/vanity replacement, planted a vegetable garden, and other quick and not-so-quick fixes. So this latest zeal for construction is the result of my having lived here since 1997 and feeling a need to ready the house for the next chapter and beyond.

8 thoughts on “Framing and Mat Cutting”

  1. Is is hard to do it well? I have been wanting to buy a mat cutter, but I’m afraid that my mats will not turn out as well as a professionally cut one. However, I find so many frames in the trash, and it seems silly to pay for a custom mat, when I can make one myself.

    1. I don’t know what a modern mat cutter looks like or how it works but this 40-year-old Dexter works a charm as long as the blade is sharp. Jo

  2. Jo – this takes me down memory lane. I am a professional framer and have a couple of Dexter mat cutters. And when I have a project that requires a mat larger than 50″ I pull it out and use it. I’ve cut 6′ mats with that thing. You did great with that little cutter – and yes a new blade is mandatory. Black core mat is harder to cut than standard or archival mat, so a double plus for you! A couple of clamps and a flat straight edge will give a professional result – if you have good eye-hand coordination.

  3. I have the exact same Dexter from college! It has cut many, many mats in its day, and it’s still going strong. They’re easy to use, Jessica … you can’t go wrong!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s