Custom Framing Mats

Have you purchased any Ikea (or similar) frames only to have the provided mat be completely the wrong size for your art? You could go to an art or framing store and pay (heavily) for custom cut mats, or if you’ve got a few dollars and some time and patience you can do it yourself.

Back in my art school days, sick of trying (and failing) to cut mats with a straight edge, I broke down spent $50 of my poor ass college budget on a mat cutting kit. I then proceeded to cut all my art school project mats, as well as did a pretty handsome black market trade in cutting mats for my fellow students.

Mat Cutting Kit

Mat Cutting Kit

That (old battered) mat cutting kit still gets used several times a year, and has paid for itself many times over. If you are in need of several mats cut (doing a gallery wall any time soon?) If so, this may be the tool for you. Let me show you how it works.

A few weeks ago we purchased a beautiful print from a great local shop Town Moto. This vintage inspired motorcycle gear shop is one of El Granto’s favorite places. They have great gear & accessories as well as an in house design & print shop. They produce some beautiful motorcycle themed prints, and we brought a purdy new Moto print home. The print is gorgeous. Its printed on a lovely heavy paper, and its signed, stamped and numbered. A print like this needs to be presented in a way that equals its awesomeness. So I went frame hunting in the basement and found a great big Ikea Ribba frame previously used for an old highschool drawing. I ousted the drawing from its frame and stole the mat to use with the Moto print.

Reclaimed Mat

Reclaimed Mat

Problem is, the mat hole is MUCH too small for my print. The easiest thing to do here is flat mount the print, but that doesn’t look as nice.

Print much too big for the old mat

Print much too big for the old mat

So I got out my mat cutting kit and set to work.

You need to figure out how big you want the new mat hole to be, and you need to draw the location of the new hole on the back of the mat so you can cut it. There are several different ways to do this. We wanted our print centered, so we did a bit of math (minusing the size of the new cut hole from the overall size of the mat to figure out how far from each side the cut hole needed to be.) Measure twice, if not three times before you cut, its easy to go astray especially if you’re dealing with 16ths of an inch etc. If you’re having problems with this step, feel free to ask questions and I will try (as best I can!) to explain in greater detail.

New cut lines drawn on mat

New cut lines drawn on mat

Place the mat (still upside down) into the mat cutter, and align one of your lines to the straight edge of the cutter.

See how theres a line on the cutter? Match that up to your cut line. It will ensure that you start & stop the cut right where you need to

Your vertical cut line is aligned with the straight edge and see how there’s a line on the cutter? Match that up to your horizontal cut line. It will ensure that you start & stop the cut right where you need to

Now starting at the bottom of the mat, place your cutter onto the mat, matching up the starting line on the cutter with the corner of the intersecting cut line. Push the blade into the mat, while holding the straight edge steady, and push the cutter along the straight edge, stopping at the top line of your cut hole. The key to this step is using a steady hand and pressure. Proceed to do all four sides of the mat, and ta da! Beautifully cut mat.

Newly cut mat with larger hole for our print

Newly cut mat with larger hole for our print

Testing to see how our new mat fits. Its perfect!

Testing to see how our new mat fits. Its perfect!

We framed the print so you could still see the signature and the embossed stamp on the print

We framed the print so you could still see the signature and the embossed stamp on the print

Now insert your print, attach the back and hang your professional framed print on your wall.

Print framed

Print framed

The new print is hanging out on our back livingroom wall

The new print is hanging out on our back livingroom wall

*If my instructions are confusing, let me know. This may be a situation where its easier explained by a video tutorial*

SOURCE LIST:

Materials:

Print – Town Moto
Frame – Ikea
Mat – Art Store

Tools Used:

Mat Cutting Kit (we have the Logan one, you can pick up a basic mat cutting kit for about $50 at art stores)
Measuring tape or ruler
Hammer & Nail (to hang)
Old Butter Knife (my secret for prying up the tabs on the back of the frame)

Difficulty Level (on a scale of 1-5):

one out of five

Total Cost: $30

1 Response

  1. Excellent art work. I love motorcycles. I even have posters on my bedroom wall but its quite different if you make an effort of doing things on your own. Thanks for the ideas.

Leave a comment