Cutting Mat Board is Easy with the Right System

If cutting mat board with a handheld mat cutter is just taking too much time, a cutting system is your answer.

Each system has different features and benefits or limitations. But, for the most part the process is the same. Most of them, if not all of them, come with a DVD or a link to a video to a video to show you how to set them up and how to use them.

So, I won't go into full detail of how to use a system, but if you haven't purchased one yet, below is a basic overview of how to do it and and here is a short video I made on how easy cutting mat board is with one of these systems.

Cutting mat board down to size

From a full sheet of mat board cut yourself an 11 x 14" mat.

(If you'd like to see diagrams of how to get the most mats out of one mat board check out cutting mat board efficiently)

Much like the example we used for the handheld mat cutter we will cut an opening for an 8.5 x 11" document.

The nice thing about some mat cutting systems is that they come with a fence and an "arm" that serves as a straight edge and holds the mat in place. This makes measuring and drawing cut lines very simple.

Measuring cut lines

Set your fence to 1 3/4", place your mat horizontally into the system, lower the arm onto the mat and draw a cut line on the left, turn the board around and cut the opposing line on the right.

Now set the fence to 1 1/2", place your mat vertically into the system, lower the arm and draw both vertical lines, creating a rectangle that represents the opening or window of your mat.

On the beveled cutter there is an indicator to line up the cutter with the lines drawn on your mat board so you know where to start and stop your cuts.

Beveled Mat Cutter

To make your first cut, simply line the mat board cutter up with the top horizontal line drawn on your matboard.

Press down on the cutter pull it slowly toward you until the indicator meets the lower horizontal line on your mat board.

That is where you stop the cut.

Flip the mat board around and repeat this process for the opposing cut.

Reset your fence to 1 3/4" and make the final two cuts. Once you make the fourth and final cut the center of the map board should fall out cleanly.

Successful Mat Cutting

Tip: just like the handheld cutter you should slightly over cut each line so the center falls away freely from the mat board. If you don't completely cut through each line the center will end up hanging from one of the corners.

If this happens to you don't try and pull it away from corner, more times than not you'll just tear it. Take a razor blade and carefully and slowly cut the corner away following the bevel you just cut into the mat.

Lefties: the bevel is angled from outside to inside of the mat which means, as a left-hander, you'll have a difficult time trying to pull the mat cutter toward you. The simple solution is to turn the system around and push the mat cutter away from you instead.

Cutting mat board can't get any easier than that. Well, unless you decide to pay for pre-cut mat board of course. But you're too handy and too smart for that!!

Get yourself a system or a hand held cutter and start cutting mat boards yourself!!

Click here to learn the trick to cutting double mats.

I started with this

I upgraded to this 

I currently use this

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Updated November 18, 2022