Box mat


CGF, Certified Grumble Framer
Apr 25, 2005
san francisco
My shop does a few box mats a year. For us it is a time consuming and therefor expensive to the client mat treatment. I have a gallery that wants me to do a multiple piece deal for them that includes a box mat. I need a fast technique for doing a box mat to keep my labor costs down so I can meet the price that my client wants to pay.

How do you do your box mats?
Brian I have been in the frame game for 23 years and have never heard of a box mat.

Could you describe this a little further. Chances are that we just call it by a different name.
well if I have to describe it you probably can't help me but here ya go.

A box mat starts with a straight cut 4ply rag mat and a 4ply rag backing of the same color (or not if you want to mix it up a little). Then, just like a shadow box, you lift the top mat from the backing using strips of matboard. The effect is like looking into an open box in the middle of your mat. The time consuming part is getting it as seemless as possible (regardless of cost I can't reduce my quality). These particular mats are going to be 2" deep and the opening size is much smaller than the frame size. So I am going to have to be adding alot of filler in this as well.
I understand, I think

Let me ponder on it, but i do have some ideas.
Do you have a wizard?
Do you mean a 'quick box'? You notch the corners out and fold the 4 sides in to make a box?

Or a cove mat. A cove mat is made the same way but the notch becomes tedious.

It helps to understand geometry.

Maybe I'm calling them the wrong thing.

Now I'm confused.
If you have a wiz design a french stair mat with the step being equal to the depth of the box. Take the mat in to the path trace section and add a vgroove for the bottom folds. You will need to change some of the lines to reverse bevels so the joints will miter properly.

After folding the box and taping the side joints and the bottom joints for strength. Measure and cut a reverse bevel top mat. Laying the top mat face down. position the box on the mat and run a fillet of glue at the joint. Build up the sides with AFFC and back with a solid board.

I'm sure this is clear as mud. But once figured out it should only take abut 10 min to create.

The same thing can be done by hand but it would be tough to get everything the same size.
I just saw that you don't have a CMC. I would suggest taking the plunge.
Originally posted by briank:

The time consuming part is getting it as seemless as possible
We do a lot of these, and I was with you on the description until you got to the seamless part. When we cut the mats, top and bottom, there are no seams???

Guess we are not on the same page (or mat so to speak). ;) OK, now I'm confused!
could anyone post some photos of all this??? should really make alot of things much clearer!!!!!
When I do pastels, and float mats I do something similar, I think....

I cut the opening, and pinwheel fome core to the back of the mat. Then when I put the mat on top of the image the image is 1/4" away from the top mat.

If I were trying to make a quantity of 2" deep shadowboxes I think I would cut all the top mats, make 2" tall double walled fome core ( poly flute?) boxes the size of the frames, and go from there. I don't think I'd attach the boxes to the top mat, just have them ready to pop into the frames, like those cheap shadow frames that are available at the discount places.

Post pictures if you can as I am not sure I understand your dilemna.
Framemaker, Are you describing making a box out of matboard, then covering the mat box with the "real" top mat board?

So 2" larger on all sides, then making tab "A" and slot "B" on the end flanges, and scoring not cutting through the 2" outer edges would be the way I might go. But isn't FC cheaper than mat? for that reason I might use fc strips, less wasted materials, jsut not as "pretty" on the inside!
Cut mats. Cut 2" wide strips of same mat. Adhere stips with adhesive to gatorfoam or foamcore...
now pinwheel adhear to mats.

About 15-20 minutes.... laying the fabric seamless will take a few minutes longer....

I'll try to get to it today and post pics.
Start with mats and 2" wide strips of core... for demo, I just used core because I only had 5 minutes to play today...

I wrapped the edges and one end with 1/4" atg, you can do some micro dots for a more permanent job.

Next ATG the edge of the mats.

Start with lining up the first edge to the corner of the mat.

Then Pin-wheel the others off the first wall.

Adjust as needed untill it all lines up...
(Extra length to show detail)
Amazing, now I understand the method..

reading about it confused me, I need pictures.

thanks for that, as I always wondered how to make those. I'm going to try this on Monday.

You are a cleaver lad Baer.

When people said pinwheel, they lost me on that one, but now I see it.

have a wonderful day all!

Yes, Baer, if that is what you do in "only five minutes", my word....

Marion, I Looove your sig. line!!
GG, the camera was dieing or I would have taken more pictures as in the next 5 minutes I wrapped it in Dupone Silk with a verigated shuffle of tuck and roll across the lower weighted bottom. :D
OK Baer - revive your camera - a picture is worth a thousand misspelled words! What is a "verigated shuffle of tuck and roll"?????

Sounds very poetic!
Originally posted by Patrick Leeland:
Baer your great knowledge scares the poo out of me...
Well, I'm with you Patrick--he scares the poo out of me, as well. Baer, from your posts I know you are a really great guy, and intelligent doesn't even begin to describe your bulk of knowledge. But before your head won't go through the doorway, you intimitate the h@!! out of us "beginnies".
Yup thats what I was describing. Now look at the seem where the strips and the mat meet and tell me if you see any gaps (even the slightes sliver of a gap is unacceptable). Also how are you planning on filling those two inches of space between the mat and the backing?
I'm taking a guess here, and I'm sure Baer will be along tonight to clear things up, but... I think that Baer was planning to cover the whole thing in silk, allowing it to drape and fold naturally. Think of a proscenium stage with the curtains draped at the sides.

Of course, if this is the case then tiny gaps won't matter. I'm sure the whole thing can be made quite sturdy with a small line of glue here and there. I'd be tempted to put a few pins through the foamcore to hold it together nicely while the glue dries.

Add strength and stability to the whole thing by adding buttresses of foam board around the outside of the box. No need to fill the whole thing in with foam board.

I need a fast technique for doing a box mat to keep my labor costs down so I can meet the price that my client wants to pay.
Depending on how perfect it has to be, that may or may not be possible. How about looking at what you need to charge?
BrianK, how "full" do you need the empty spaces? Could you cut alternating score lines in a piece of fome and accordian it to make a light weight, structurally strong filler?

Nice pictures Baer! I was envisioning the opposite, a box supporting the outer edges with lots of dark empty space showing near the bevel. Thought maybe he was float mounting
If the ends of the walls of the box(which butt
against their nieghbors are cut with a bevel.
they can be snugged up with little or no gap.
The bevel faces away from the box. To speed things
up, the fill material can be added to the sides
before they are adhered to the back of the window.
The fill must be shorter than the side to allow
for the beveled end to get close enough.

Hugh, he wasn't having problems with the butt-joints of the walls, but the cap-joint of the mat to the walls....

What he didn't see was the thin line of whiting leaden PVA that I ran along that joint then wiped off the excess. leaving a seamless apearing joint.

But as FramerDave discribed, a Eucrushian drape is much nicer and draws ones eye down into the box. . . :D

Great call Dave