Mat Cutting


Introduction

In my cash-desparate youth I took a second part-time job cutting mats for an historical print collection. Over a year's worth of weekends and lunch breaks I managed to cut something like 5000 mats. All of it was done with a Dexter Mat Cutter and a T-square.

There really is no magic to cutting a good windowe mat with the Dexter Cutter. All it takes is some forethought and the use of a really first-rate mat board. The all-rag boards are best. They seem to cut like butter. The less resistance to the cut, the less strain, the more accurate the cut, and the longer the blade life.

Tools

Materials

1) wash hands 2) Procedure Tape the oversized cutting board to the table. The board should be perhaps 1/16" in from the edge of the table.

Start with smallest in a group, that way if you mess it up, you can cut a larger opening.

Decide on the front and back face first-look for flaws

Measure consistently. I like to work from the center-not all boards are the same. Since I've gotten into the habit of printing everything full-frame and the same size, I've cut some templates to make layout simpler.

3) The rhythm of mat cutting. Largely, good mat cutting depends on consistent work habits. Once you develop a rhythm, you'll make fewer and fewer mistakes. I developed a routine where I shift my weight from one side to the other at each step. This seems to make it easy to avoid accidentally moving the mat board between layout and cutting.

1) Place the t-square firmly against the edge of the table. Hold it down with your left hand. (shift your weight to left side)

2) Move mat board against edge of t-suare. Place right hand in center of board, shift weight to right side. Place left hand on mat board, outside the cutting area, and shift weight to left side.

3) Use right hand to insert mat cutter blade on line. (see photo and drawing)

4) Shift weight to right hand with mat cutter.

5) Slide t-square over to mat cutter, and hold squarely against table edge.

6) Shift weight to t-square.

7) Advance mat cutter with right hand while holding t-square in place.


A Mat-Cutting Bench Hook

Rather than taping the cutting surface down to a table, you might wish to build this "bench hook". The hook is particularly useful if the edge of your table isn't square enough to keep the t-square in place. It will also prevent damage to a varnished table caused by tape removal. The size shown suits my purposes. You may need something larger or smaller. To use the hook, tape a large sheet of mat board to the top. Then place it at the edge of the table with the 1X2 tight against the tabletop. From there proceed as before.


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Dale Austin mrwizard@umich.edu

All images and text copyright 1999 Dale Austin-All Rights Reserved
http://www-personal.umich.edu/~mrwizard

 


Dale Austin mrwizard@umich.edu
All images and text copyright 1977-2003 Dale Austin

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