Cutting Your Own Matboard - Couple o' Questions

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by astrostu, Nov 19, 2007.

  1. astrostu

    astrostu Guest

    I recently was on a trip to Hawaii and got a lot of photos that I really like, and some at high enough resolution to print at 20"x30" or larger that I'd like to frame, or at least mount to hang up. But I have no desire to pay someone upwards of $50 to do it. Consequently, I think it's time (and my dad suggested) that I learn to cut my own mats. And I think it'd be a good skill to have as I continue with photography.

    So I have a few questions:

    (1) Where do you buy your matboard? I've located a few online sites that sell 32"x40" boards for $5-6 that seems pretty reasonable (10 tries for the same price as getting a pro to do it). They're redimat.com, framing4yourself.com, dickblick.com, and matcutter.com.

    (2) I plan on (for the time being) getting my prints at Costco, so $1.50 for an 8x12, $3 for a 12x18, and $10 for 20x30. Since I'm not spending a bundle on the prints, I don't think I care about getting high-quality archival-quality matboard. But, what's the difference between stuff like rag matboard, museum matboard, 3x board, 8 ply, etc.? Should I just go for something simple like the cheapest stuff?

    (3) What tools do I need? Obviously the board and the photos. But I assume I also need a mat cutter like the Logan 3000, a large ruler, pencil, and some sort of adhesive (3M PMA?)? Can anyone make some recommendations, ┬┐por favor?

    Thanks for any help!
     
  2. newrmdmike

    newrmdmike TPF Noob!

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    1. i buy from light impressions, i think just lightimpressions.com but i'm not sure.

    i buy them pre cut if i'm cutting my own windows. ex. i'm having a show with small prints, 8x12's say. so i buy 16x20 mat precut from them.

    but wait, i am going to waste lots of matboard getting the windows cut right etc . . . and with out a $1500 cutter its really a pain.

    so what do i do when i need 10 prints of the same size matted? i have them do it.

    you can do any size window in 1/8th inch increments.

    for 16x20, 2-ply back 4-ply front with a 7 7/8 x 11 7/8 window taped with acid free linen tape across which ever side i want (horizontal or vertical) it costs like $10 for the whol shabang. all you have to do is put on corners, dry mount or cold-mount or whatever you want and your set.

    but, if i'm just dry mounting 1 print and am not putting it behind glass (and therefore don't need a window mat on front to let the print breathe) then i just go to hobby lobby and buy a sheet, cut it to size using a straight edge, exacto, and one of those mat cutting mats . .. .er its a deal with a grid on it and that way your exacto doesn't go into the table, and your blade doesn't get ruined on the material under your board.
     
  3. newrmdmike

    newrmdmike TPF Noob!

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    but, i haven't gotten the mats in the mail yet . . . but should be in a day or two, so i'll let you know when i see them if they are perfect or not.
     
  4. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    1) I buy matboard from local art and hobby stores and dickblick.com

    2) Non-archival materials may contain chemicals, such as acids, that will cause deterioration over time. These chems can contaminate the prints and anything else they come into contact with. If you are putting in the time and effort to frame and mat the work, it might be worth spending a little more, and using archival materials. There are plenty of full service, pro quality labs that sell 8"x12" prints for $3, and archival matboard can be had for $15 for the big sheets. The extra cost is little considering the value of your time.

    3) I use a large metal ruler (bought at a hardware store for 1/4th what it costs at an art store), pencils, archival artists' tape, and a Logan 450 mat cutter. Bite the bullet and buy a more expensive (larger) mat cutter than you might need today, but will meet your future needs. It's a lot less expensive to buy one that's more than you need, than to buy what you need now and another one down the line.

    I don't know what you get with a $1500 mat cutter, but it better be robotic and do all the work itself. My Logan 450 cutter cost $199 with bevel and straight cutting heads. It can handle up to 42" cuts, and is a breeze to use. Not only has it paid itself off for my work, I've made extra money cutting mats for other folks. Recently I had a show of 20 prints; just the savings on those mats was more than the cutter cost me.
     
  5. jstuedle

    jstuedle No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Spend as much or as little as you want on a mat cutter. Generally, the more spent, the less work and waste, and the bigger the mat that can be cut. I have a Logan simplex 750 and it's great. I mostly use Dick Blick for my board and my cutter came from there. Long straight edge is cheapest at Lowe's/Home Depot. The 3M mat tape is great if not a little expensive. If you go that way you will need a dispenser. Board comes in a thousand different types, finishes and color as I'm sure you know. I would start out with a variety and see what you like. Keep some small samples for reference. Even playing around with some of the specialized stuff, you will still save tons of money over buying precut custom mats. Enjoy!
     
  6. newrmdmike

    newrmdmike TPF Noob!

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    ok, light impressions mat's came in 2 days ago. . . bought 18 or so 16x20's with windows, and hinged (tape on the short side) and they are IMMACULATE, i mean perfect.

    at 10 bucks a pop for a 2 ply back and 4 ply front, cut to size and a window AND taped i don't see how you could do any better.

    ksmattfish, at $15 bucks a sheet your already over the price of light impressions complete mat set up. . . and one of those big sheets will only get 2 16x20's out of it.

    so a 20 piece show, thats

    $60 for 20-8x12's@$3,
    $300 20 big mat boards at $15
    $20 linen tape
    $380 total


    light impressions

    20 4-ply mats with windows cut, taped to 2-ply backs(all you need for 8x12's) PERFECTLY
    $200
    $ 60 for prints
    $260

    thats a $120 difference. not to mention having to buy the mat cutter, and do all the work
     
  7. newrmdmike

    newrmdmike TPF Noob!

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    and i don't have to drive anywhere, so less gas money, that saves me $10 bucks right off.

    and i don't scrap anything, have no burs, perfect windows EVERYTHING.

    considering how little time i have to cut mat, and the savings i say forget it when it comes to cutting my own.
     
  8. Helen B

    Helen B TPF Noob!

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    I also buy from the local Dick Blick and use a Logan 650 mat cutter. I wanted one that could cut 8-ply because I generally use 8-ply.

    Light Impressions (www.lightimpressionsdirect.com) is expensive, in my opinion. For example I pay $10 for a standard cut archival 100% rag 16x20 8-ply mat with a 2-ply backing board at Dick Blick (there is a discount scheme) but the equivalent at Light Impressions is $15.

    I use glazing from either the local glass supplier (Tru-Vue Museum glass) or the local plastics supplier (Tru-Vue Optium Museum acrylic). I think that the extra cost of the coated anti-reflective glazing is worth it (it's like a coated lens, but not such high quality). I don't recommend the textured 'non glare' finish.

    Best,
    Helen
     
  9. newrmdmike

    newrmdmike TPF Noob!

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    and i think there is a turning point though, where at certain sizes buying custom cut becomes more expensive, like the op was talking about, 20x30.
     
  10. Helen B

    Helen B TPF Noob!

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    I wonder if you are comparing like-for-like when you claim that LI pre-cut is cheaper. You can get a 32" x 40" sheet of 8-ply archival rag for $11 and 2-ply archival rag for $4.10. That is $15.10 for four 16x20 sets. The LI pre-cut equivalents are a little more than that each - that makes LI four times the price of DIY for a standard size.

    I tend to agree that pre-cut can be the best option in some circumstances if you want a standard size, but LI is not the cheapest source.

    Best,
    Helen
     
  11. newrmdmike

    newrmdmike TPF Noob!

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    i bought custom cut from LI, not pre cut, and it was $10 a unit/set. the difference prolly lies in the front mat, i chose 4 ply, not 8.

    and wait . .. isn't the $15.10 your talking about for 2 16x20 sets? not 4?

    one set of 2-ply back and 8 ply front.

    i'm looking in the catalog and the pre-cut hinged window mats on westminster board are $45 for 5 16x20 with an 11x14 window.(8ply back 2 ply front) thats $15 a set. and if you use 4 ply fronts its only $8.20 a set.

    how is LI 4 times more expensive? from what you just said its a ten cent difference . . . in LI's favor (but after shipping it will be a few bucks more.)

    the custom cuts are a couple dollars more than the pre-cuts . . . but still i don't see cutting your own as profitable, what am i missing here?

    oh, and LI is 10% off mat board right now.
     
  12. newrmdmike

    newrmdmike TPF Noob!

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    and 25 westminster 16x20's costs $2 each, $48 total. (2 ply)

    your 2 ply is $2.05 each, and you have to cut it yourself. . .

    wheres the savings?
     

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