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Using a handheld mat cutter

From: Matting, Framing, and Hanging Your Photographs

Video: Using a handheld mat cutter

The next step is to take the mat cutter, and we're working here with a Dexter handheld mat cutter. They're pretty reasonably priced, and it's one of the most affordable ways to cut a good-quality mat. And the retail on these is around $30, and it's a very ergonomic handle that you can grip comfortably, and it holds the blade at a consistent angle, so we can make a beveled cut for the window of the mat. Blade depth positioning is real important. You do that by loosening this, and you can slide the blade up and down, and I will always verify blade depth by holding the blade against the edge of the matboard.

Using a handheld mat cutter

The next step is to take the mat cutter, and we're working here with a Dexter handheld mat cutter. They're pretty reasonably priced, and it's one of the most affordable ways to cut a good-quality mat. And the retail on these is around $30, and it's a very ergonomic handle that you can grip comfortably, and it holds the blade at a consistent angle, so we can make a beveled cut for the window of the mat. Blade depth positioning is real important. You do that by loosening this, and you can slide the blade up and down, and I will always verify blade depth by holding the blade against the edge of the matboard.

You want it to just penetrate the board, and you can test this by drawing the blade through the part of the mat you're going to discard. So I just pulled it through there real quickly. We want to make sure we came through on the other side, and we did. We have got a nice clean cut through. So now I'm going to position my matboard and get my heavy straight edge again, and I'm going to use the thicker side of the straight edge when I use the mat cutter. Notice also that on the mat cutter, if you look at it in alignment, the blade is slightly recessed from the side of the cutter that's going to be in contact with the straight edge.

I need to allow for that in the positioning of the straight edge, so that I cut precisely on the line, and it's actually just a hair over an 1/8 of an inch. The reason why I don't actually make my marks at that point is I really want to cut away the graphite line so it falls away when I'm finished with my cut. That way you don't have any graphite coming into contact with the work of art underneath it and possibly rubbing off. So I'm positioning my straight edge, I'm holding it firmly. I'm starting to cut slightly above the crossing line to allow for the bevel and allow a little bit of space for me to draw the blade into the board, and then I'll just pull it towards myself in one smooth motion, and slightly overlap the finish line.

Then I'll set the cutter aside, lift it just a little bit and determine that I cut it cleanly and then rotate it. Also notice I have got a piece of matboard underneath as a backing surface, so I don't cut the table I'm on. That's really important, if you go and slap this down on the dining table and cut a mat, the wife is not going to be real happy. Okay, we're going to take this, we're going to make another cut just like the other. The drawing it in at the start is very important too, because if you try to force the blade in at the beginning of the cut, you can end up with a little wiggle.

And in this case, I didn't start quite far enough over the overlap, and so I'm going to go back and carefully re-cut just that first section there, rotate it. Also, in every case here, I'm being careful to keep my cuts all parallel. The reason why I do this is as you use a backing board for multiple cuts, it scars the backing board just a little bit, and if there are all sorts of different angles, those previous cuts can actually grab the blade and cause a little wiggle.

So ideally you want to always be over an area of the backing board that you have not cut on before, and all the cuts are parallel. I need this last leg, and you can see in this one corner it's still slightly attached, that happens sometimes when the cuts are not of the exact proper length.

I'll carefully hold the center in position and turn it over. Once again go back to my X-Acto knife, it's very sharp, bring it in very carefully at the angle of the bevel, and you can cut that free neatly. Set aside our fallout, lay down our artwork, lay the mat over, and you can see that we cut it very neatly with that wonderful 1/8-inch border all around. The next step we're going to go to is assembling the mat where we put together the backing board and the mat and then we will mount the artwork within the mat.

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This video is part of

Image for Matting, Framing, and Hanging Your Photographs
Matting, Framing, and Hanging Your Photographs

38 video lessons · 7502 viewers

Konrad Eek
Author

 
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  1. 5m 59s
    1. Welcome
      1m 46s
    2. Using this course
      1m 19s
    3. Understanding why we frame
      2m 54s
  2. 25m 31s
    1. Visiting a professional framing studio
      6m 22s
    2. Working with a framer's vocabulary
      4m 16s
    3. Conversing with a framer
      14m 53s
  3. 50m 36s
    1. Selecting a mat
      5m 13s
    2. Deciding on the window size
      9m 27s
    3. Understanding standard vs. custom mats
      1m 46s
    4. Using a handheld mat cutter
      4m 11s
    5. Using a production mat cutter
      8m 37s
    6. Assembling the mat
      2m 5s
    7. Mounting art in a mat
      3m 25s
    8. Mounting the art with photo corners
      4m 51s
    9. Mounting the art with repositionable mounting adhesive (RPMA)
      6m 52s
    10. Exploring troubleshooting techniques
      4m 9s
  4. 32m 11s
    1. Selecting a frame
      5m 15s
    2. Understanding the kinds of glazing
      4m 14s
    3. Cutting glass
      7m 15s
    4. Scoring acrylic
      3m 52s
    5. Sawing acrylic
      4m 42s
    6. Keeping the glass clean
      6m 53s
  5. 46m 10s
    1. Assembling an easel back frame
      6m 21s
    2. Assembling a metal frame
      8m 33s
    3. Using a V-nailer to assemble a chopped frame
      7m 49s
    4. Putting the frame, glazing, mat, and art together
      12m 4s
    5. Using a band clamp for assembly
      6m 10s
    6. Reviewing alternative hanging devices
      5m 13s
  6. 13m 21s
    1. Prepping the show
      2m 26s
    2. Using a wall as a canvas
      6m 46s
    3. Hanging the show
      4m 9s
  7. 36m 2s
    1. Introduction to hanging tools
      8m 2s
    2. Using lasers for precision
      3m 18s
    3. Hanging on plaster and lath
      6m 42s
    4. Hanging on either drywall or panelling
      6m 56s
    5. Hanging on brick, stone, or steel
      7m 35s
    6. Lighting your work
      3m 29s
  8. 54s
    1. Goodbye
      54s

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