How to Cut and Fit Your Own Picture Mounts

Changing the mounts that are inside your picture frames are a quick way to alter their appearance without reframing your photos. It’s handy for when you’ve changed the colour scheme of a room or even for photographers trying their hand at framing portfolio pieces.

All you need are some really sharp cutting tools, a straight-edged ruler - preferably a sturdy builders’ ruler that’s long enough to mark and cut your mount boards in one pass - and a pencil for marking your cutting lines.

While it is possible to cut mount board with a Stanley knife, you’ll get more precise and smooth cuts by using a professional-grade mount cutter.

The two most essential parts of cutting picture mounts are to 1) Cut in one pass and 2) get your measurements exactly right because if you get it wrong and the picture window is too short, the mount board becomes scrap.

If you’ve never used a mount cutter before, control is essential. It takes some practice so try using it with any type of thick card first before cutting the mount board. As mount cutters are designed to do precision cuts in one pass, you’ll notice they cut fast. Faster than you’re likely prepared for on your first cut with these. Using scrap bits of mount board helps give you better control as it will slow the cut down.

Another tool that’s handy to have is a cutting mat, and the best type to use is what’s called self-healing cutting mats, despite the fact that they don’t heal. The material used on the top coat of these are rubber so that when a knife cuts into it, it compresses back together. The cuts are still there, but they aren’t noticeable.

The other thing that helps, although isn’t required, is grid lines on your mat. These help you to get a straight cut, but if you use a builder’s ruler or a long and thick metal ruler, you’ll still get the straight lines. Grid lines just make it easier to perform straight cuts, and you could also get away with cutting without marking your measurements on the back of your mount board.

Tips and tricks

  1. When you’re making your cuts on the mount board, either with a Stanley blade along a straight edge or with a mount cutter, make the cut slightly inward from the line where you mark your measurements, because there needs to be enough card there for the picture to be attached to. If you cut precisely on the line, what you’ll find is that when you put the picture inside the picture window, there won’t be enough card to attach the edges of the picture to the card.
  2. Check the quality of your mount card to see which side you want to be the front. Sometimes, when you’re working with mount card, scuff marks can get onto it. If that is the case, make sure the marked side is the back side, so the front shows the clean side of the card.
  3. If you’re using a mount cutter or a rotary cutter and need to control the speed of the cut a little better, use some scrap card so that when you’re cutting into the thicker material, the speed of the cut is slowed down, giving you more control.

If cutting your own picture mounts isn’t for you, or if you’re wanting a professional finish, then think about ordering your picture mounts online and leave it to the experts. We use a Gunnar computerized mount cutting machine for 100% accuracy. Ordering picture mounts online is very easy at The Picture Gallery with our interactive mount design software. Your picture mounts will be cut to size according to your specifications in a variety of colours and shipped within 2-3 days.

For all your picture mount requirements head over to our design studio at  

Picture mounts cut to size