What mat cutter to buy

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by tedharris, Jun 29, 2003.

  1. I have not cut my own mats in years. Had a friend with a frame shop
    that did it for me on a barter basis. Now he has retired and I need
    to get a mat cutter. From what I have seen the two choices are either
    Logan or Altos but I am totally ignorant on the subject. I can tell
    you that the Dexter type hand cutters never worked for me ... I can't
    cut a straight line to save my soul.

    I will not have high volume, perhaps 2-5 a week max. Mostly
    11x14/10x15 openings on a 16x20 board. Some 16x20 openings on larger
    boards but hardly ever anything larger than that.

    Any and all advice and experience appreciated.
  2. There is also the Keencut line. http://www.keencut.co.uk/
  3. I am using a Logan 655, a little expensive ($450 or so from Ebay and Dick Blick, 490 from B&H) but it works great.
  4. I have been using the Logan Simplex 301 for over 10 years now. For the size and volume you are talking about it should be fine. It doesn't have all the fancy features and large openings over 20x24 can get tricky but all in all it works great and for around $100.00 you cannot go wrong.
  5. I went through a very frustrating period with mats. Several local framers did sloppy work. In despairation, I bought a C&H cutter. I endured a learning curve with it. Yes, it was expensive. However, it is a wonderful machine. Is there a chance you could cut mats for other photographers in your area to help offset the cost?

    Two practical suggestions: 1) Change blades often, whatever cutter you use. Buy a pack of 100 to start. 2) Start with mats already cut to size. I have used Light Impressions presized board with good results. Yes, they cost more, but not having to cut them to size eliminates a whole set of errors.
  6. Gee, I feel out of the high end here. I use a Logan model 2000 for a whopping $23 at the local art supply place. The trick is two-fold. Use new blades. They're cheap; buy a bunch of extras. You need a way to hold the straightedge and not have it slip. Same problem with the Dexters. I'd suggest starting with a cork-backed stainless steel rule, and building a fixture to clamp everything together. Might just be a board, c-clamped to the workbench, or some fancy thing with a couple toggle clamps. Using a matt cutter and holding the straightedge by hand guarantees crooked and wavy cuts!
  7. I normally use a Logan 750 (Simplex+), which is fine for my purposes. It was about
    $225 from a high volume eBay seller who deals Logan, cheaper than any of the NY
    houses (contact me off line if you want more details). It works fine, and as long as you
    change the blades, is quite good on the corners.

    On the other hand, this is not a high-end machine. I have used a friends C&H, which
    a different world. Price however was also quite different.
  8. I used a Logen Somethingorother cutter for a while. Cost about $100 from Light Impressions. Maybe I'm a klutz but I just couldn't seem to get the hang of doing it without leaving noticeable cuts in at least one corner plus I always seemed to be on the verge of slitting the wrist of the hand that was holding the mat down. The C&H brand mentioned by a couple people here sounds intriguing. How much are they? Where do you buy them? Is there a web site?
  9. I bought a Fletcher from Light Impressions several years ago and managed to cut a perfect mat on my first attempt. I had avoided getting one for years because I'm not the artsy / craftsy type and usually have trouble with that sort of thing.. I don't think Light Impressions carries them anymore, but if you should run across one I can highly recommend them.
  10. Another vote for the Logan #750 Simplex Plus cutter. Moderately priced and it gets the job done. Yes, blades must be changed regularly, but this and other niceties of technique may apply to higher end equipment as well.

    Also keep in mind that the 701 straight cutting head used with the Simplex Plus will cut 3/16" foamboard, but not 1/4".
  11. Brian:
    C&H cutters run between $900 and $1600 depending on size.
  12. Thanks for all the input. Unfortunately, when it comes to cutting mats and straight lines I think I fall inot the klutz category like Brian. I am going to see what I can do in the 200 range. The Keencut and the C&H look great but I don't think my volume justifies one of them.


  13. I have used an Alto4501 for many years. I bought it mail order from a US Woodworking company via their catologue. Made perfect cuts, beautiful corners etc right from the first attempt. As mentioned by many others the secret is sharp blades. You can feel when they begin to drag, if you persist the board will break out but careful use of fine sandpaper can often repair the damage. You can resharpen the blades by just gently stroking them across an oilstone just enough to put a fine edge on the blade.
    I also have a set of the Alto Oval Templates, ideal for restored photos.

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