48" or 60" Mat Cutter?


PFG, Picture Framing God
Nov 21, 2005
Carson City, Nevada
We've made the decision to buy a brand-new mat cutter, since our dinosaur was ruined in our little "flood"in March. We decided on the 60" with the squaring arm, stops and all. Now I'm wondering, is the 60" really much more advantageous than the 48"? I've read here about problems with warpage (?) on the 60", but I don't understand that. Not that much difference in price to sway my decision, just wondering about the advantages/disadvantages of the 60", besides the obvious.

My first mat cutter in my first shop years ago was a 60" and I loved it. We rarely did many mats over 48", but when we did, it was a blessing. I find we do more oversize mats now than in years past. Have I just answered my own question?

I already ordered the 60" today, but it has to go through some paperwork first, and if I change my mind, late tomorrow (Thursday) would be in enough time to do so. I didn't think about it until just now, and my head wheels just started working on it.

And before you go there, a CMC's out of the question...for now! Lack of space being the biggest problem, and although I know there are decent lease programs available, I'm ju$t not ready to go there yet. Trust me, it would be Sooo Nice!!! Limitations at present. A new "old-fashioned" mat cutter will have to do for now.

Thanks, Grumblers. Bring it on!
NO question. Buy the 60". My dad always taught me to buy the most versatile tool you can afford. I bless my 60" glass and cardboard cutter at least once a month. And of course when you HAVE the bigger tool, you will be more inclined to sell designs that require it. Just make sure the support is firm and level to begin with. Same as you would do with a 48"er.
Val, you did answer your own question. ;)

My shop is tiny, and I got the 60"- I worked in a shop once that only had a 48", and we did oversize stuff, but it was a pain.

The 60" gives me one less thing to worry about when I am designing oversize stuff.
I know you said no to a CMC but I strongly feel that you should re-evaluate your opinion on this. If I was starting from scratch a CMC would be the first piece of equipment I would get.
If its a Fletcher get the lifting clamps. I can only imagine that such a long cutting bar would get heavy lifting after a while!
Yup, you made the right choice, Val. I have always regretted not buying a 60" cutter many years ago. Trouble is I am so anal about keeping my equipment clean and calibrated that my present 48" will outlast me!!

I haven't had to cut an oversized mat since I moved back to Florida. And last week I had to cut 2 of them! One was a 27x58 and was very flimsy to handle because of its width. It took me twice as long to line up the cut on each long side as one normally would take and I was wishing for a few extra inches with each oversized cut I made.

Look at it this way, that extra foot doesn't eat anything extra (except a little bit of extra space on your work table) and the extra length is there if/when you need it.

What FrameMakers said.

You know you will buy a CMC sometime down the road anyway, right??

And it is better for arms, wrists, fingers and back.

Although you have new hips...
your other body parts will thank you!
Originally posted by FrameMakers:
If I was starting from scratch a CMC would be the first piece of equipment I would get.

Sigh...me too! But there isn't a wall big enough in the place to fit a CMC on! And no room to add a wall somewhere. That's the problem. And I'm not starting from scratch, I inherited (purchased) a shop that was built before CMC's were invented, with no forethought of one. I've been drooling about a CMC for years, just can't fit it in this place!
Otherwise, I'd've done it first thing. But thanks for the encouragement!

If/when I ever move from this bulding, the next one would absolutely have a wall to suit, and a CMC would happen. right off. No question.

I will ditto the others' suggestions to reconsider a CMC. If you are doing more than $150K per year, it will probably pay for itself in a matter of months. And it will still be the most useful tool in the shop when you're doing $500K.

No wall space? They are free-standing. Put it in the bathroom, or better yet, out front in the gallery, for all the world to see. People love to watch automatic machines work, so you might attract a crowd if you put it in view of a window.

Depending on your financial situation, it might be better to borrow the money and buy it outright, or maybe to take advantage of a lease program offered by your bank or the CMC supplier.

Wizard is by far the biggest, but IMHO the best value on the market is the Fletcher/Valiani MatPro 150. For $13,000 it is an excellent machine. If I were buying a CMC today, that would be the one. However, my F6100 is still humming like new.

And if you are still unwilling to take the CMC plunge, buy the 60" manual cutter. When you get around to the CMC, you will still find the 60" cutter useful for trimming things.

Warping? Maybe that's a problem with the machines that have plywood/particle board bases, but only if the base gets wet or is bolted to a warped table top. The Fletcher cutters are on a very sturdy, extruded aluminum base -- no warping going on there.
Ha, yes Paul, but even my new hips would thank me! It's going to be interesting to see how my other body parts will keep up with my new hips!

Uh-oh...that sounded a little weird, didn't it? Blush, there I go, blurting right out before I think again. Oh well. Chuckle. Husband will keep you posted! ;)

Bob, yes, it's a Fletcher 2200, I've never heard of "lifting clamps", I'll look into that today. We used this 60" model, except the 2100, at M's, and I really liked it, but it had no lifting clamps. I don't think?? Explain please?
Jim, sigh again. The bathroom's down the hall and belongs to the building I lease from...and still not big enough! The gallery space already has our work stations right in the middle, and still no wall space in there. The only wall big enough has a huge window smack dab in the middle of it..it used to be a print shop and that window is the biggest waste of space I've ever seen...it's in an interior wall! We hang stained glass in it now, so it's good for something, I guess.

Believe me, I've tried to figure every angle I can to squeeze one in, just isn't gonna happen in that space. You don't need to sell me on the advantages, I know them, and it drives me crazy that it won't work in this space.

Someday it might be worth it, down the road, to consider a move just for that reason. Well, not just for that reason, but would certainly be a huge part of the scenario. But moving is costly, and my rent is reasonable now (outrageous anywhere else in town!)

For now, a brand-new 60" mat cutter with all the bells and whistles will be wonderful! We're using a little student-type table top Logan now, since the old big one got wet and went belly-up, and the poor little thing just doesn't cut it for a "real" frame shop. (Sorry, Little Logan, we love you though.)
Jim's idea (making the CMC very visible) is the best marketing / advertising advice I heard in a long time!

I bet that somebody working on a CMC in the shop window will attract more people and business than the best display!!

PS: An employee (female obviously, or a Scot..) in a short skirt using the CMC in a window....will create traffic jams. So maybe it is not a great idea... ;)
If your buying a manual cutter buy the 60". Why limit yourself on the size of mats you cut?

We have a 60" fletcher that we've used since 1998 when we opened. We finally got a Wizard this past January. Since then I have only used that Fletcher 2 times (and they were both in January). Now my manual Fletcher is in the back room.

Geeze Paul, that had to be your old cornea talking there! And your new blonde/buxom one didn't slap it? Go Girl!

Having our work area in the middle of the gallery was, at first, a necessity (again, lack of space!) but has turned out to be a big advantage, since folks can see what we do and how much work is really involved, and we often hear "I had no idea so much work goes into framing just a picture!", especially when I'm working on a shadow box. Helps to justify the cost of framing, and I can work and chat and see what's going on all over the shop from there. Plus, when I'm working, I'm surrounded by beautiful art (gallery) instead of being claustrophobic and stuck back in the dark. The old work area was a 1-person set-up, and was smaller than the bathroom! (And the bathroom's really small!) I really like it. I can breathe!!

Hey Val,
Not to be a nosey %^#$@, but I was reading your post and curious, as I haven't been a grumbler for very long, what happened to your hips? I only ask because my hips have been bothering me for months, for the first time ever, and i am thinking it may have to do with standing all day on concrete for 8 years?
What your problem job related or is your story more complicated?

Does this make me the Resident Hypochondriac..?