Artists and photographers alike will want to frame their work on occasion and for a variety of reasons. The mount board provides the protection needed to preserve the artwork and photographs put in the frame, however to get the professionally framed look (the appearance part) there’s more to the process of mount cutting.
At The Picture Gallery, we have a computerised mount cutter (CMC) which gives us precision control over the cutting process, guaranteeing quality cuts each time. This level of accuracy can’t be achieved with traditional mount cutters, but that’s not to say that you can’t get decent results without getting professional cut mount boards. Nor are you likely going to want to invest in a quality CMC as they are in all likelihood going to be too high an investment for the amount of times you’ll be cutting mount boards.
For beginner artists or amateur photographers who prefer the DIY approach to picture framing, we’ll give you some pointers to steer you in the right direction to get decent cuts with a manual mount board cutter.
4 Handy pointers for using a manual mount cutter
1) Consistency with bevel cutting
Professional quality picture mounts will always have a 45-degree bevel cut. To get this, a professional mount cutting kit is needed. Photographers and other artists who regularly frame their artwork will tend to invest in decent mount cutting kit. However, even the best kits on the market have a learning curve to them. Most beginners to mount cutting will go through quite a few mount boards before mastering cutting. One wrong cut, such as pushing too heavy or losing motion control will slice your mount board into pieces, leaving it only good for the bin.
For best results, invest in a decent mount cutting kit that lets you get 45-degree bevel cuts.
2) Sharp blades are a prerequisite
Picture mount boards are really thick. A normal knife won’t cut it. It needs to be as sharp as a new Stanley blade. Whilst using a Stanley can be used, it’s best not used for the final cut. Only to trim the mount board down to the size you need before applying a bevel cut using a professional mount cutter.
It should be pointed out that replacement blades are often cheaper to buy than mount board, so don’t be afraid to replace the blade to ensure a clean and crisp cut.
3) Precision control for the final cut
Any manual mount cutter will require precision control on the user’s part. Pressure needs added to the handle but at the same time, it’s best to use a slip board or slip sheet under the mount board to give you stability during the cut. Without a good grip on the mount board, it’s all too easy to lose control. When that happens, the blade can run too far and ruin the mount board.
All you need is some scrap mount board to use as a slip sheet.
4) The blade depth must be set accurately
How far the blade goes into the mount board matters, a slip sheet should be used for stability and that slip sheet will also help you get the blade depth set accurately. It will need altered depending on the thickness of your mount board. Whatever the thickness depth is, only an eighth of the bevel cutting blade should be showing. In practice, when you cut with a slip sheet in place, the blade depth is set right when it only scores the slip board. Not when it slices through it. If when you make a cut, the slip board is cut through - even if it’s only half way through the board - the blade depth is too high so it should be lowered. Usually this is done by turning the blade adjustment screw either clockwise or counter-clockwise depending on the model of mount cutter you’re using.
An alternative that may cost less…
Mount boards and the equipment needed to get quality cuts each time will require an investment, both in monetary terms and in the time it takes to learn how to work with the mount cutting kit you invest in.
For those who only require framing on occasion, it may make more financial sense to have a framer with a computerised mount cutter take care of the cutting process for you. With The Picture Gallery, when you order multiple mount boards of the same size and colour, it’s less work for us which translates into less costs allowing us to pass those savings onto our customers.
For more information, refer to our picture mount page here: http://www.picturegalleryuk.com/picture-mounts
For manual cutting, use the pointers above and you should be able to cut your learning curve shorter and get professionally cut mount boards that add perceived value to your artwork or photographs when you give your framed work a professional finish with bevel cuts and no ragged edges to the face-side of your mount boards.