Wednesday 10 October 2007

Mounting and Finishing Photographs - Part 3 (Mount Cutting)

Mount cutting

First I need to calculate the size of the window I will cut in the mat, a useful aid for this is Mat Works! - which is a great little free program for sizing mounts. In fact it's so good I even paid for it!

MatMaster System 860B - my weapon of choice

As I have all my boards cut to size, cutting the mount it is simply a matter of cutting the window for each image in the board, and I frequently break this process down into marking out & cutting - so that I mark up a batch of boards then cut them all which saves changing from pencil to cutter each time. Breaking the processes out into steps and performing each step on an entire batch is quicker and more accurate than cutting the mat to size, then cutting the window for each one individually and having to resetting the mount cutter and tools each time.

Learning to cut mounts

I taught myself to use a mount cutter following the manual. I went through a lot of mount board at first, though its one of those things that once you've got the hang of you can't see how you ever managed to have difficulty with it in the first place.

For cutting a single mount it is just a page of instructions and not too difficult. Though I would think a course would get you up to speed a lot quicker and would take you through the whole process of matting a print. I learnt a lot of things the hard way..making sure everything is exactly aligned, keeping your work area scrupulously clean, etc,etc,

How to cut a mat (pdf)
How to cut a mat (video)

Mount cutting tips
  • Always make sure your work area and hands are completely clean, any dust will transfer onto the boards and leave mucky fingerprints.
  • It's always a good idea to mark out your window in pencil first, then offer it up to your image to make sure you have the right sizes..measure twice, cut once.
  • Only work on the back of the mountboard.
  • When using non-textured white faced board it is easy to accidentally mark up the front face, then cut the mitre, by mistake. Either make sure the bar-code is visible on the side you are marking or lightly scribble on the back with pencil to stop this happening.

Other posts in this series (Mounting and Finishing Photographs)
Part 1 - Introduction
Part 2 - Preparation
Part 3 - Mount Cutting
Part 4 - Final Assembly
Part 5 - Framing
Part 6 - Equipment
Part 7 - Conclusion


Beau A.C. Harbin said...

Great series of articles. Thanks so much for the information.

Chris Shepherd said...

Thanks Beau - glad you found it useful

Chet said...

Hi Chris,
Many thanks for your helpful tutorial on matting. But I do have one sticky point. I know how to cut both the outside and inside matts. And, I know how to cut the bottom layer foamboard. But what I do have trouble with is centering the photo on the foam board in preparation for taping. It's the centering that I have difficulty with....there's got to be an easier way.
hope to hear from you.

Chris Shepherd said...

Hi Chet,

That is where Matworks comes in. It shows you where to draw the lines on the backingboard to position the picture exactly.

I draw 2 lines and position the paper. Then I place the mount over to check the alignment by eye. Sometimes it needs to be a few millimetres away from the lines but once I have established that I remove the mount and tape to the back board (using the lines to make everything parallel).

Like everything in this process, you get it wrong the first few times but eventually it comes easier.