How to use a mat cutter

Apparently a mat cutter is one of those things you don’t think you need ’til you have one, like an ad-free music subscription (so long Pandora ads!) or bath sheets instead of bath towels (they’re so big!…you’ll never go back). Yeah, it’s one of those things.

I held off on getting one for forever because it seemed… Intimidating? Time consuming? Instead we opted for wrapped canvases or frames that already had/didn’t need mats. But then I got one for my birthday and I feel like it’s gonna up my frame game big time. The best part is, it’s definitely not as intimidating or time consuming as I thought. And that’s saying something because I needed to cut a BIG mat.

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So first off, there are a couple types you can get- one that has a “mouth” that you clamp your mat into to hold it steady while you cut, and one that you just use as a guide rail to cut along. I opted for the second type because it is smaller and actually allows you to cut bigger mats because your mat doesn’t have to fit into a mouth.

Here’s the one I have.

How to use a mat cutter - evanandkatelyn.com

It comes with an angled cutter for the inside of the mat, a rolling cutter for the outside of the mat (if you need to cut it down to size), and a long ruler/rail that the angled cutter fits into.

Most mat cutters come with some sample mat boards, and I definitely recommend doing a few test cuts on the samples before cutting your actual board. I got my board at Michaels but I hear sometimes your local art shops will have cheaper prices.

Before you do any cuts on your board, you’ll want to measure out where your opening will be. You’ll mark the opening on the back of the board and all your cutting will be done on the back as well. 

How to use a mat cutter - evanandkatelyn.com

Place the mat on a cutting mat and, place the long ruler/rail on top. One side has a ruler, the other has a rail that the cutter clicks into. Align the rail side with your cut line. Then, using your thumb push the blade down through the mat. While holding it down, push the cutter forward along the rail.

How to use a mat cutter - evanandkatelyn.com

It was really pretty easy. Reading the instructions + doing my test cut  took longer than actually cutting my mat. The main thing is make sure your movements are slow and controlled so that you don’t cut too far past your measured marks.

My mat was so big that I even had to do the long cuts in two runs: meaning I had to cut halfway down the length of my line, lift my cutter, realign everything, and cut the rest of my line. And even with that I consider it a quick and easy project (and you totally can’t tell that I cut the long parts in two runs!)

How to use a mat cutter - evanandkatelyn.com

In the end the actual measuring and cutting took me 5-10 minutes, and that was my first time. The first time of many I think! We have so much art around the house that I’ll have to resist matting ALL THE THINGS. For now, I’ll just admire my first one.

How to use a mat cutter - evanandkatelyn.com

Let me know if anyone has any questions!

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2 Responses to How to use a mat cutter

  1. Laine September 28, 2016 at 5:51 pm #

    How did I not even know this existed? I always cut mine with just an razor blade a ruler – dangerous AND easy to mess up. I clicked the link and it can even bevel the edge?! Perfection. Just in time for my art wall I want to make…

  2. Katelyn Sheline September 28, 2016 at 7:13 pm #

    I didn’t know either til a few years ago! And ever since I’ve been simultaneously wanting one + convincing myself I don’t need it haha. But yeah it bevels the edge, it’s so nice!

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