Mat Cutting – Eric Budworth

LoganMattcutterFor those members interested in cutting their own open window mats for mounting prints they will first need to purchase a suitable mat cutter. these are available from : – Marks & Co. North Plympton .8376 3766, & Premier Art Supplies, Gilles Street, 8212 5922.

Select a mat board and colour to suit your own particular taste (Not the Judges). It’s common to select a colour which appears in the image being mounted but personally for competition prints I usually stick with black as I re-use quite a few of my mounts.


I run the mat cutter along a flat piece of aluminium.  I find a steal ruler is not thick enough to prevent the cutter from riding up and deviating from the intended direction of cut.  There is an inscribed white line on the side of the mat cutter which shows where the cut will start or end.  I usually place a scrap of cardboard underneath to prevent damage to the table top.

Aligning1stcutWhen cutting a window out of the board consideration of the required size must be taken into account. The amount of support for the print edges has to be decided. I allow about 6 mm. all around the edge, so for example if the the print to be mounted is A4 (297mm X 210mm) and the image is edge to edge cut out a window about 285mm X 198mm (111/4″ X 73/4″). If the image is not edge to edge you will have to measure the actual image width and length and then allow 6mm all around.

Tips for marking the desired cut lines onto the mounting board.

Draw the desired cutting lines by finding the centre of the matt cutting board. You do this with diagonal lines from opposite corners, marking an X in the centre.  You can measure and mark half the desired width and breadth from this point.  The final rectangle can be drawn with a set square and a ruler.  Keeping the ruler parallel to the edge move it up or down to the mark you have made and inscribe a line.  Centre


After positioning the print on the mount board apply a piece of good quality masking tape about 75mm long to the top edge of the photo and with half the tape width on the mount and half on the back of the photo. Do not attach tape all around the print. (Buckling of the print may result)

OpeningrearcoverThe next step is to use a piece of cardboard to attach to the back of the print to give it some rigidity and keep the print flat. Cut a piece of cardboard slightly larger than the photo say 12-25mm all around. check to ensure your image is straight in the cut out and then apply masking tape all around the edge of the cardboard as before with half the tape on the cardboard and half on the mount board.

Titlelabel(removable)You may wish to add a label to the back of the print.  Provide enough information for entering the print into competition (Name, category, which way to hang the print) and returning it to you afterwards.  In our competition we also add a couple of small buttons of  velcro “hooks” in the upper corners to assist in hanging the print.


Lastly I have been in the habit of adding a paper cover over the outside of the print to prevent damage to the print surface during handling.  Job finished !

RemovingrearcoverIf one requires to re-use the mount, the following idea may help. Using a Stanley knife or similar cut through the masking tape where it overlaps the mount board and cardboard do not use heavy pressure, just enough to cut the masking tape. Do this on THREE edges ONLY, then the cardboard can be opened using the fourth edge of the masking tape as a hinge and leaving half of the masking tape on the mount and half on the backing cardboard. Using the same technique cut through the 75mm long piece of masking tape holding the print in position also leaving the masking tape on the back of the mount board. When fitting another print in place, apply the next strip of tape on top of the first piece. After closing the hinged back you only need to apply 3 short pieces of tape,  One to each side of the card board over the original piece of masking tape. When re-using the mount again it’s very easy to remove the short pieces of tape as their attached to the previous layer of tape and this will not damage the mount board.


This advice is only for mounting competition prints if members need to mount prints in frames for many years then archival mount board and tape should be considered.

I hope this is not too long James but it’s not the sort of info that allows too much condensing. If members have any questions they can always contact me.

Regards      Eric.

An alternative to cutting your own mats – buy them

Crazy RoyLast year I purchased a number of mats cut to my specifications at a very cheep rate from Crazy Roy at 1255 South Road St Marys.  Roy uses a laser cutter and can cut to your specifications, including double mats and panoramas.  His prices were cheaper than the mats I had bought as discards from other picture framers. When presenting your work it is worth having a good mat.  It is worth having a look at Crazy Roy’s