Mat Cutter for a Beginner

Discussion in 'Presentation & Marketing' started by cbphoto, Dec 25, 2009.

  1. cbphoto

    cbphoto Member

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    I've never cut my own mats, and want to try it. Will I be wasting my time with a handheld Logan and guide? What are the limitations, and how hard is it to cut straight?
     
  2. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    Will you be wasting your time? No, but it will take a lot of expensive practice. If you're in the US consider getting a Logan 301 from a Michael's with one of their 50% coupons.
    Cutting straight is not so difficult, but cutting straight, parallel to the edge and getting every angle square can be a challenge with just a straightedge and a handheld cutter.
    The 301 doesn't completely solve all those problems, but it gets you really close. If you use pre-cut boards, or can work carefully with an accurate T-square to cut down full sheets, the 301 will do everything else pretty well.

    If you are near southeast Vermont, VCP will be doing a matting workshop early in '10.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 25, 2009
  3. Dennis Vandal

    Dennis Vandal Member

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    I second bdial's sentiments exactly. When I worked at a photo school, students used to struggle endlessly (and expensively) with Dexter cutters. The tears and frustrations were horrible. When it came time for me to get into it, I got a bit of advice from the manager of a photography store who told me to watch carefully for the Michael's ads ordinarily found in Sunday newspapers. They alternate between 40 and 50 percent off. When they went to 50 percent, I cut it right out and walked into their store first thing Monday morning and grabbed a Logan Compact 301-S. It was worth every penny and I look forward to many years of no-hassle mat and mount board cutting. While you're at it, get a little box of 100 blades. Change them often! Don't be cheap!!
     
  4. DanielStone

    DanielStone Member

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    consider me the 3rd to 2nd Bdial's comment :smile:. I'm looking out for a logan cutter for my b-day(present to self), since getting mattes cut is an expensive task :mad:!!!!

    and definitely change the blades often, I like to change them every other matt, or when they aren't cutting smoothly, or if I have to pull excessively. Some mattes are really dense, others, such as the rag matts, are much easier to cut, almost "fluffy", so they cut easily, but tear even easier! and when you're paying $20/full sheet of matte board. I made the mistake(3x IIRC) of trying to skimp on blades(the cheap ones at that too), and screwed up 2 full sheets. Definitely WON'T buy cheap blades again!

    michael's rocks though. great stuff, especially with the coupons :smile:. I used the school's matte cutters(big logans, bolted to the counter's by the finishing rooms)

    -Dan
     
  5. cbphoto

    cbphoto Member

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    301 it is! I was looking at that as well, but wanted to know if it was necessary to get the whole shebang.

    One more question: I can save a little bit and get a new-old-stock 301-M. Anyone know the difference between the M and the S?
     
  6. jgjbowen

    jgjbowen Member

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    My bride does some painting, so i graciously ;-) said yes when she wanted to purchase a Logan 650. After the drymount press the best $$ we ever spent on framing!
     
  7. chriscrawfordphoto

    chriscrawfordphoto Member

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    If you can afford it, the Logan 750 is a much nicer and easier to use setup. I think its about $300 but that pays for itself fast when you consider what frame shops charge to cut mats. I have the 700SGM, which is an older model of the 750. It handles fullsize 32x40 sheets, built in t-square and ruler, and the cutter rides on a rail, making it impossible to make an unstraight cut. It doesn't take much practice to get good mats with it.
     
  8. cbphoto

    cbphoto Member

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    If I never needed to cut full-size sheets, would the actual window cutting be significantly better on the 750 vs the 301? I don't think I can spend that much anyway. Still have to buy paper and film!
     
  9. Dennis Vandal

    Dennis Vandal Member

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    I don't know the difference between the 301-M and the S but I will tell you one thing. Both, I'm certain, come with a very nice little instruction booklet that you should read carefully for best (and most economical) results. Mine also came with a lovely instructional video that comes in handy if you go rather long periods between mat cutting sessions. Make sure you get it! Good luck!
     
  10. dpurdy

    dpurdy Member

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    I have used that 301 for many years and have never been able to overcome the tendency to have a little curve to the line at the beginning. I finally tossed the logan cutter and use it with a dexter instead. I use the logan 301 to hold the board in place and I use the track for a straight edge for the dexter. Much better for me.
     
  11. Jon Shiu

    Jon Shiu Subscriber

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    The newer 301's have a tighter tolerance/bushings than the old ones, eliminating side movement on the rail. Nevertheless, you can eliminate the curve on the older ones by holding the cutter tight against the rail when plunging the blade in, stopping any sideways motion, and keeping some sideways pressure towards the rail when cutting.

    Jon
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 26, 2009
  12. david James lee

    david James lee Member

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    i cut my mats with a logan 450 and always get perfect windows. the secret i think, is changing the blade often and using good quality cotton mats.
    easy to use and highily recommended. ( one other tip: use the metric scale )
     
  13. George Collier

    George Collier Member

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    Another thing to avoid the beginning curve in the cut, in addition to John's suggestion - adjust the blade so it just barely penetrates the board. The cut into the backing piece (which you should use) should be just visible. This means if you change boards, you have to check the depth for the thickness of the board. I turn the cutting tool upside down and place a scrap of board on it with the tip of the blade on the other side, and adjust the depth so I can just see it coming up on the other side.
    Also, the Logan phone support folks (yes, they will actually talk to you) said that the backing piece should be as wide as the border of the matte (running under the guide) and should run out to the other edge of the board (the Logan wooden board the thing is mounted to) itself. I also put magazines outside the board to keep the matte board from dropping down off the edge of this board.
    I have been using a 301 (without the square angle guide - I don't trust them, I measure all edges from inside out) for 25 years, and once I started doing these things, all was well.
     
  14. cbphoto

    cbphoto Member

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    Thanks for the advice, everyone. I just ordered a 301s and 100 blades.
     
  15. lorirfrommontana

    lorirfrommontana Member

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    You will be happy with your purchase. I really like my 301.
    Lori
     
  16. Curt

    Curt Subscriber

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    I've used the Dexter and mastered it, it will give you pain if the blade is dull like most tools. It must have a clean sharp blade to be effective and work smoothly.
     
  17. lightwisps

    lightwisps Subscriber

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    We spend thousands of dollars on our cameras, lenses and darkroom equipment. We make are prints with care and want to show them off. The final presentation depends on the quality of the matting, mounting, and of course the framing.

    This is especially important if you are aiming at marketing your art. My wife and I own a middle to high end art gallery and the first thing we look at with new artists is how they present their art and how well it looks front to back or top to bottom, depending on what it is. It is kind of like "plating" at a restaurant. A diner just kinds of plops it on the plate, while a fine restaurant takes great pride in their presentation. It does make a difference.

    If I may suggest, keep printing and save some bucks to buy good equipment. Used can be just fine if it has not been abused.

    Best of luck,

    Don
     
  18. dancqu

    dancqu Member

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    An Alternative -- Altos

    Has Altos been mentioned? Start at under
    $100. Of more sound mechanical design
    IMO. Search Google for, Altos Mat .
    Many sources. Ebay too. Dan
     
  19. Denis R

    Denis R Member

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    how much does the dexter 301 cost?
     
  20. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    At least three different manufacturers are mentioned in the thead so far. The Dexter is a handheld cutter meant to be used against a straightedge, and the border spacing is dependant on where the straightedge is placed.

    The Logan 301 has a fence in addition to a fixed straightedge which allows the border to be mechanically set. The cutter has clips that hold it to the straightedge. The 301 is around 100 USD.

    Because of the fixed guides, the Logan is less demanding on the skills of the operator in holding and positioning a straightedge.

    The low-end Alto cutter and guide are similar to the Logan, except that it only does fixed increments for the mat borders, which I found quite limiting. Also the cutter body is plastic.

    Both Logan and Alto have other models that add features and cost.

    The Dexter;
    http://www.dickblick.com/products/d...02-0000-1016&gclid=CPjuvd6M-Z4CFR9M5Qodkxbh9g

    The Logan 301;
    http://www.logangraphic.com/products/boardmounted/compact.shtml

    Altos;
    http://www.altosezmat.com/products/4501_Cutter/4501_cutter.htm
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 28, 2009
  21. jolefler

    jolefler Member

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    Just to throw this out...

    You can build a mat cutter; I did. Here's a snapshot before I turned the lights on. The jig and both the 90 and 45 degree cutters are aluminum angle.

    It works well....I don't send anything out to be matted anymore.

    Jo
     

    Attached Files:

  22. dancqu

    dancqu Member

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    The Logan 700 S

    The 700 S? Has anyone experience with
    or opinions of the 700 S? Looks like a sturdy
    scaled down version of some of their other
    medium duty cutters.

    I've no need for very large capacity. I like
    it's solid look + production features. They
    do say it is "specifically" designed for
    photographers. $135 +/-. Dan
     
  23. cbphoto

    cbphoto Member

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    I'd be curious to know why it is more expensive than the larger 301s. 16x20 max seems pretty limiting.
     
  24. dancqu

    dancqu Member

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    Heavier Duty + Additional Features

    Medium duty according to Logan and with additional
    features. The 700 S is one of three in the Simplex series.
    Compare at Logan's site. Very well depicted there. Dan
     
  25. WarEaglemtn

    WarEaglemtn Member

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    http://www.thegrumble.com/showthread.php?t=43700



    http://www.skylinepictures.com/Mat_Board_Glass_Cutting_Equipment.htm

    Take a look at the above. The first is from a listing on The Grumble, a framing site. The second is a business that specializes in framing supplies - USED.

    Get a good Fletcher, C&H, Keenkut or Phaedra Chronomat or similar from the start and work with good equipment. There is no comparison with the good quality gear and Logan low end stuff.

    The difference is like the old monorail Calumet cameras and a Linhof.

    You get what you pay for and the pleasure of using good equipment means it is easier to use, more repeatable and will last.