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Get the Right Tools for the Job
Beveled cutting tool: Whether you're cutting by hand, or using a more professional-level cutting tool, it should be appropriate for the job at hand. Bigger mats need bigger tools, smaller mats can be cut with smaller tools.
Cutting mat: You will need something to cut on, because the depth of the blade will be more than the thickness of your mat board. You can use thick cardboard, but we recommend a more sturdy solution like a cutting mat that can be used over and over, as well as with many other art-related applications.
Guide rule or straight edge ruler: Accurate measurements are everything for good matting, as is straight, precise cuts. A straight edge, a T square ruler, or a ruler made just for matting, are all good measuring tools for framing work.
Pencil: Make your marks, measure twice, and make you marks again! A good, sharp pencil is an invaluable tool for great DIY framing!
Measure Once, Twice, Thrice
Outside Dimension: When you are measuring mat board to fit inside a frame, the outside dimension should match the inside dimension of the frame for a secure fit.
Inside Dimension: The interior dimension of the mat board can be anything you want it to be. The artwork will determine the measurement needs for the inside cut of the mat. Note that you should measure the inside dimension with a 1/8-inch overlap. This utilizes the mat as a structural element to hold the artwork in place.
Sharp, Sharper, Sharpest
Never, ever, ever underestimate the importance of a sharp blade for cutting your mats. In fact, your blade should be what we like to call "scary sharp": It will dull very quickly through the cutting process, so make sure that each important framing job starts with a sharper than sharp cutting tool!
Practice Makes Perfect
It might be a cliche, but we all know the truth: Practice does indeed make perfect! With that thought in mind, when you are first starting out, practice your mat board cutting techniques on old or recycled mat board. Then, once you get the hang of it, try it out on the nice, new, pretty mat board. This will ensure that you get the feel for the technique without wasting your better materials!
Want more detailed instructions? Check out our more technical, but very thorough, tutorial on how to cut mat boards! Happy Framing, ArtSuppliers!
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