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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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