Opinions Wanted Basic Wall-Mount Cutter

Bonzo

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I'm new here, so forgive me if I'm asking an idiotic question, but I have a rather odd situation and I could use some advice from people with more equipment and technique familiarity than I have.

I need to come up with a basic wall-mounted mat cutter, and I don't have a lot of wall space in which to mount it; that's the chief difficulty. My wife and I have a small darkroom (about 11' by 12') in our home, and we have no other studio space for mounting and matting our finished prints, so I've begun to rearrange things in such a way as to free up some wall space for a mat cutter; the ceilings are just under 8' high, and I have about 4' of free wall space right now; I could extend that to 5' if I get very creative (there's a door swing in the way). I have only about 18" of free floor space in front of this area before I start making the walkway between the wall and the central work island too small for comfort, so that's an issue as well.

We don't do high production - maybe a dozen or so finished prints per month at most - so we don't need anything elaborate, but because of the space concerns and because neither of us is comfortable bending over a table for very long, working a smaller mat cutter, I need to get something up on the wall. We also need to cut foam board for backers, so that's a concern.

I don't have a budget set for this, yet, because I don't know what options are available. I know some of the more well-known models of wall-mounted cutters would be very expensive for us - almost prohibitive, given our low production volume - but if that's what we have to do in order to work comfortably, then that's what we have to do.

Any input would be welcome, regarding suggested models, ways to adapt cutters to wall-mounting, or anything else that might help us solve the space problem. Thanks in advance.
 

wpfay

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The only manual mat cutter I have seen that is specifically designed to be wall mounted is the Speed-Mat by Esterly http://www.speed-mat.com/ . The rest are designed to be used horizontally on a work bench. I suppose some kind of wall mount support could be fashioned, but I have personally never seen one.
There are some used Speed-Mat machines listed at AIM Enterprises, inc. Buying Selling New and Used Machinery Equipment https://aimequipmentcompany.com/, and on sites like eBay and Craigslist. If you aren't going to be matting items larger than 32" X 40" one of their smaller machines might work in your space.

I will be interested in some of the other answers to your conundrum.

Welcome to the G and good luck with your search.
 

Larry Peterson

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I would just mount a regular 40" or 48" mat cutter to the wall vertically. I would mount it on a base so the bottom of the mat cutter is about 8-15", whatever is comfortable for you, from the wall and the top flush with the wall.
 

framah

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What if you expounded on Larry's idea and hinge it to the wall and add foldable legs so when you need it, you swing it down and let it stand on those foldable legs. When done, fold it back up and out of the way.
It would need to be attached to a subframe to make it stay flat as any bowing will screw with the cut in the mat.
 

Bonzo

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Wow...you guys are on the ball with your reply speed! šŸ˜®

The only manual mat cutter I have seen that is specifically designed to be wall mounted is the Speed-Mat by Esterly http://www.speed-mat.com/ . The rest are designed to be used horizontally on a work bench. I suppose some kind of wall mount support could be fashioned, but I have personally never seen one.
There are some used Speed-Mat machines listed at AIM Enterprises, inc. Buying Selling New and Used Machinery Equipment https://aimequipmentcompany.com/, and on sites like eBay and Craigslist. If you aren't going to be matting items larger than 32" X 40" one of their smaller machines might work in your space.

I will be interested in some of the other answers to your conundrum.

Welcome to the G and good luck with your search.

The Esterly is the only one I knew of, off the top of my head. I won't be matting anything even close to 32" x 40"; most of our prints are smaller, so the largest mats we've ever cut were in the 24" by 30" range. Technically, I have the capability to print an image that's 36" x 48" or so, by itself, but I have zero interest in producing anything that size...so the smaller machine would certainly work for us. I actually contacted Speed-Mat to see what a new 32" x 40" would cost (just for comparison) but I haven't heard back from them yet.

I would just mount a regular 40" or 48" mat cutter to the wall vertically. I would mount it on a base so the bottom of the mat cutter is about 8-15", whatever is comfortable for you, from the wall and the top flush with the wall.
What if you expounded on Larry's idea and hinge it to the wall and add foldable legs so when you need it, you swing it down and let it stand on those foldable legs. When done, fold it back up and out of the way.
It would need to be attached to a subframe to make it stay flat as any bowing will screw with the cut in the mat.

I wasn't sure if a regular cutter would still be usable in that orientation, or if I would be causing as many problem as I might be solving by trying to use it in an unintended way; I have very limited experience with the process, so the equipment is still unknown to me.

I can certainly construct something along the suggested lines, if that would work. I'm building all of the cabinets for my darkroom, anyway, and my day job is CAD/CAM design for a cabinetry shop...so I have access to pretty much any woodworking tool that might be needed, including a rather large CNC panel router. If I need metal fabrication, there's an excellent custom shop about a quarter of a mile away, so I can make use of them as well. I could come up with some legs, or a tilting wall panel, or whatever is needed; I had already planned on building a shallow (~12"d.) cabinet against the wall under the cutter for storage of matting materials, so the 8" to 15" tilt-out from the wall would be perfect.
 

Larry Peterson

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Mat cutters can bow so make sure it has good structural support.
 

Ylva

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I am not sure if I would mount it to a wall.
I would go with a basic Fletcher or C+H mat cutter, 48", which would fit on any table or bench, but could be stored wherever when not used.

You mention not being high production; cut the mats you need, stow away the mat cutter until needed again.
you could use it anywhere, work bench, kitchen table, outside.
 

Bonzo

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I am not sure if I would mount it to a wall.
I would go with a basic Fletcher or C+H mat cutter, 48", which would fit on any table or bench, but could be stored wherever when not used.

You mention not being high production; cut the mats you need, stow away the mat cutter until needed again.
you could use it anywhere, work bench, kitchen table, outside.

Two issues that I should probably clarify:

1) We work upright as much as possible; we both have back injuries that make bending over a table or bench very uncomfortable in short order.

2) We can't precut anything. Neither of us prints to a standard size, so there's no telling what we'll need next, or how many of them.

I could probably find space to store and set up a larger cutter in another room, but I would still be bending over to work with it - that's what I do with my tiny little cutter, now, and it's painful - and we would really like to keep everything photo-related in one room (even though it's a tiny room).
 

Ylva

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That makes sense. I guess I just can't envision cutting a mat on the wall. Just the nightmare of keeping it straight and secure and such.
I haven't cut mats by hand for a long time, but I do like my C+H cutter as a back up.

Would a higher work table be good, to help with the back problems? Just thinking out loud
 

Bonzo

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That makes sense. I guess I just can't envision cutting a mat on the wall. Just the nightmare of keeping it straight and secure and such.
I haven't cut mats by hand for a long time, but I do like my C+H cutter as a back up.

Would a higher work table be good, to help with the back problems? Just thinking out loud

That's kind of why I was having trouble figuring out how to mount a regular cutter to the wall; I figured there would be a flatness or a falling-all-over-the-place issue, but that may just be my inexperience showing. If we're printing photos I can tell you exactly what to do, but when it comes to putting them on mat boards...ehh.... šŸ˜

Higher work tables do help; I purposely located the surface of the enlarger station at 42" from the floor (not counting easel height) just so we wouldn't have to bend over as far when using a grain focuser. The sink area and the paper/press area are also taller than the normal 36"h. cabinets (which are too short for almost everyone, but that's another argument), but we're basically out of space in that room unless we start making using of the walls. If we set up the matting area somewhere else, there's going to be a lot of in/out between the darkroom and wherever we work, and - as well as being inconvenient - it's just a dust/pet-hair nightmare waiting to happen. The more times you open the door, the more time you spend wiping down and vacuuming everything in the room; dust is the absolute bane of printing from negatives, so we try to keep the door shut as much as possible. We also have extremely good lighting in the darkroom, so it's easy to work in there. So, from that perspective, the walls really are a great place to work, if I can just figure out the best way to make use of them.
 

wpfay

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Possible challenges to a vertical wall mounted mat cutter.
Unless you get one with production stops, you will be either bending over and/or standing on tip toes to clearly see the entry and exit points of the cuts.
Production stops generally rely on a fixed rail at the exit end of the cut which would also serve to support the mat board if the cutter is mounted vertically. This would be a good thing, but would also probably mean bending over at the end of every cut.

A possible solution would be to mount the cutter horizontally on the wall with the cutter bar at a comfortable height (all this on some kind of a sloped support). The mat guide would provide support to the mat when loading. There would be a bit of a challenge sizing the mats and backings with the mat cutter.

Another option, depending on space available, would be to build one of your cabinets at a height that you could comfortably work on the mat cutter in its default horizontal position. I built all of my benches considerably taller than standard cabinetry so I wouldn't have to bend over, and that there would be plenty of room underneath for storage of flat goods. The mat cutter could also be hinged to the side of the cabinet and swung up into position when needed, allowing for open workspace when out of the way. This might be a bit problematic if you have a squaring arm attached. Edit: I see you addressed this while I was typing.

Hope this helps. I have a bit of cabinet making in my background and am still trying to design the perfect work bench. Latest concept involves a number of smaller benches (40" X 60") on casters that can be locked together to make a larger bench when needed.
 

Bonzo

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Possible challenges to a vertical wall mounted mat cutter...

Production stops are kind of a must-have for us; although we don't know the finished sizes beforehand, once we do finish an image we usually make anywhere between one and two dozen finished prints...so when we mat them, we have somewhere between one and two dozen of a unique size to cut, all at once. Setting up a miniature production line makes it go much faster. Whatever we come up with needs to be easy to operate...mostly because I don't want to spend a ton of money setting up an awkward system.

40" by 60" workbenches are HUGE, in our world...and we build some pretty big stuff here. We have one or two that are similarly-sized, but we don't use them often; if you need multiples that you can stack together, you must have some very large projects!
 
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