DIY Framing: How To: Cut a Mat

DIY Framing: How To: Cut a Mat

Micki Howl
Sep 16, 2010

I recently had my first experience with purchasing custom mats and frames. I had several pieces of art, and I spent a good amount of time and thought picking out the color and style. However, I was completely taken aback when they told me my first print alone would be $130… and that was at 40% off! …

… I quickly packed up the remaining items that were, until recently, tucked away in my closet. I decided to look into cutting the mats myself in order to save a significant amount of cash, and get my bare walls covered up. Here's how I did it:

1. Mat(s)
2. Mat Cutter: some sites will suggest a razor blade but I'm a beginner and found that a "mat cutter" was the easiest to use.
3. Mat Cutting Board: I recommend using this self-healing cutting mat.

Supplies can be purchased at almost any arts and crafts store.

1. Decide what size border you want. Generally, 2-3 inches is a good start for 8 x 10 and up.
2. Mark the cuts with a ruler and pencil on the back of your mat. Make sure the lines intersect!
3. Keep the ruler pressing against the pencil lines with your mat cutter, held firmly, cut along the lines. The pros suggest "pulling" the knife towards you, or "pushing" it away when cutting.
4. If you want a beveled look, make sure the bevel of the knife is slanted out away from your cut (about 45 degrees).
5. Corners may be a bit tricky at first and may need to be touched up from the front to free the mat.

Additional Tips
1. Sacrifice one piece of mat you have purchased and practice the bevel cut a few times.
2. Don't overshoot the corners when cutting
3. Adding a second mat will really dress up your art; the window you cut should be a quarter of an inch smaller on all sides.

It takes a little practice but it's worth it in the end!

Image: Etsy

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