Matting and Framing Crash Course

Further Reading

Readers' Comments

April 2, 2001: Adam Nixon (

Liked your framing page. I used to cut my mattes by hand for about fifteen years with just a Stanley knife and a steel rule (getting the 45° bevelled edge is tricky, especially with the plastic ruler I had at first, but with practice it can be done almost perfectly by hand), I watched my dad do one once and committed the method to memory, but about six years ago I eventually bought myself a proper cutter, similar to yours, but it has a support deck with an adjustable stop so that you can preset the whole jig for multiple mattes to be cut the same size, Just slide 'em in up to the stop and whip down with the cutter. Cost about a hundred quid sterling at a time when I could ill afford it, but made life a lot easier, and it's one of the most satisfying gadgets I own.

I prefer to make my mattes at least twice as wide as yours, in the belief that a frame twice as big makes the picture look twice as valuable. Three times as big, three times as valuable, and so on. Try it. You should see the monster that's hanging in front of me now - it's 4 and a half feet square, one of a pair of frames I made to house two fineart prints I bought in the NY Museum Of Modern Art gift shop one holiday. I couldn't find any commercially availabe frames anywhere near big enough for how I envisaged the frames should be, so I just had go down to the timber yard, buy the raw wood and make 'em myself. Matte board wasn't big enough either, so I had to tesselate them with some very precise mitred cutting. And this was years before I bought the abovementioned matte cutter. Glass area is so huge I had to use plexiglass - regular framing glass is too brittle at that size and impossible to transit without smashing. They're incredibly heavy. Sometimes they fall off the wall in the middle of the night. Frightens the neighbours.