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Opinions Wanted Choosing the right Mat Cutter

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cherronLF

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Evening everyone! My name is Clark and I am an amateur framer who has been framing sports memorabilia for over a year now. The pandemic has not been ideal for most but has allowed me to venture into this industry and make some pretty impressive creations. Many of my friends have signed jerseys that they were looking to get framed and I have been able to provide that service for them.

However, I am currently in the market to buy a better mat cutter for the mattings I create for the jerseys. These are multi-opening mats and the Logan Artist Elite 450-1 has been very reliable. Unfortunately, the unit's guide bar is starting to warp as I feel it was not designed to last a long time. I have been looking at different forums for a reliable replacement that can last a long time and still produce to my standard. Fletcher and Esterly mat cutters have caught my eye but I would like to ask for some advice about which mat cutter would be best for my needs.

Thank you for your time and advice!

P.S. Here are some of my framed creations so far.

Johnny Bench.jpg
104429371_10104494013493126_3721793927896931754_o.jpg
OSU Gloves.jpeg
 

Ylva

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Hi Clark, welcome to the G!
Those frame jobs look very nice, great designs and I like the way you did your mats.
May I ask how you attached the jerseys?

I have never used Esterly. I now have a computerized mat cutter but also a C&H manual cutter which is still in great shape.
I think most framers either use the C&H or a Fletcher these days. Can’t go wrong with either of them.

I am not familiar with all the Logan cutters, but most of them are considered hobby models.
 

cherronLF

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Thank you for the reply and your advice. As for the jerseys, I always use stainless steel pins to avoid potential rust issues. Their pinned to acid-free mat and foam board.

Sports is my passion in life and I wanted to make sure I did everything the right way to ensure the memorabilia lasts.
 

Ylva

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Read up on how some of us do this. I have never used pins on jerseys to be honest and I would worry about the longevity of that. Both for rust (even with so called stainless steel) as well as how well it attaches and stays in place. Being a seamstress, those pins always slide and end up where you might not want them. They are good for temporary 'hold'

I either use a tagging gun, or I sew them (which I still prefer doing) I sometimes insert a form (cut out shape in shape of shirt) and either sew or tag that.
 

cherronLF

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Read up on how some of us do this. I have never used pins on jerseys to be honest and I would worry about the longevity of that. Both for rus (even with so called stainless steel) as well as how well it attaches and stays in place. Being a seamstress, those pins always slide and end up where you might not want them. They are good for temporary 'hold'

I either use a tagging gun, or I sew them (which I still prefer doing) I sometimes insert a form (cut out shape in shape of shirt) and either sew or tag that.
I appreciate the advice. Once I have confidence in avoiding taking Covid to my grandmother, I plan to ask her to teach me how to sew. The mat inserts I use now are good to help keep the pins in place but I'm always willing to learn how to frame in the more professional manner.
 
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cherronLF

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If you dont mind me asking, how many holes do you typically create to sew the jersey to the foam board?
 

Ylva

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It truly depends on the layout, there is no 'golden rule'. I usually tag it first (with tagging gun) and then enforce it with sewing where needed.

There are many on here who always use a form (foam board cut out in shape of jersey). I do sometimes, but don't care for that look. I don't mind seeing a jersey being a jersey, so not perfect and flat.

In general, I start by sewing the neck part first and then take it from there. Some customers want a more playful layout and that takes more stitching.
 

cherronLF

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I would agree. I also tend to lean towards a less rigid look just as long as there is no major crease that detracts from the jersey. It also depends on what kind of jersey it is as well. Some are custom jerseys with huge seams; which makes it difficult to position with an insert.
 
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cherronLF

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I would imagine it would. Typically pin in the neck area, sleeves, and the bottom of the jersey. Always try to put them in areas that know one can see in the final frame.
 

cherronLF

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I will. What kind of thread do you use and what kind of knot do you use to tie the ends?
 

Ylva

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If I want to color match it, I use whatever I can buy in the sewing aisle. It is usually nylon, or cotton or a combination of both. I double thread it (so use two threads in one go.
Similar to what a jersey is sewn with in the first place.
Knots is usually just a simple looping around itself and I tape the ends on the back for extra measure.

I stitch where the stitches are in the jersey, hence the color matching.
It truly depends on how I go about the project. Some jerseys behave better than others. Sometimes I can get away with only sewing through the back, sometimes I can't. Depends on the general lay out.
 

cherronLF

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Thank you for all your help! Ive got several jerseys to frame and I look forward to trying the thread attachment method. Biggest decision I have to make is which mat cutter to go with to fit my needs.
 
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framah

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My basic rule of thumb for sewing things is to stitch about an inch apart along the top as that is the main load bearing area.
The other stitches around the piece are more for staying in place.

It also minimizes the drooping effect between stitches.
 

cherronLF

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My basic rule of thumb for sewing things is to stitch about an inch apart along the top as that is the main load bearing area.
The other stitches around the piece are more for staying in place.

It also minimizes the drooping effect between stitches.
So when you are sewing the jersey to the board, do you go all the way across from shoulder to shoulder?
 

wpfay

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Hi Clark.
Logan actually does make a professional grade mat cutter, their Platinum Edge series. They were originally designed and built by another company, and Logan acquired them when the original company got into financial straights.
1614021628584.png These come in a 40', a 48" and a 60" model.
Fletcher is probably the most well known of the manual mat cutters, and they come on the secondary market fairly often.
They will be occasionally listed here, and can also be found on Aim Equipment's web site, a company that specializes in selling used equipment and machinery.
 

cherronLF

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Hi Clark.
Logan actually does make a professional grade mat cutter, their Platinum Edge series. They were originally designed and built by another company, and Logan acquired them when the original company got into financial straights.
View attachment 37434 These come in a 40', a 48" and a 60" model.
Fletcher is probably the most well known of the manual mat cutters, and they come on the secondary market fairly often.
They will be occasionally listed here, and can also be found on Aim Equipment's web site, a company that specializes in selling used equipment and machinery.
Thank you for the information. I did see that Logan had the Platinum series and they do look very similar to the Fletcher brand cutters. Do you happen to know the advantages and disadvantages of each? Or have you used either unit?
 

Larry Peterson

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Thank you for the information. I did see that Logan had the Platinum series and they do look very similar to the Fletcher brand cutters. Do you happen to know the advantages and disadvantages of each? Or have you used either unit?
I have the 60" predecessor of the Platinum Edge, the Phaedra Chronomat. I have used it since 2004 and it has done a great job. I went to NY Expo in 2004 to by a bunch of stuff, a new mat cutter among them. I previously had one of Logan's amateur mat cutters and it was time to level up. I actually was looking to buy the Fletcher 2200 at the show but the newly introduced 2200 wasn't ready to be shipped yet and Phaedra had a heck of a show discount so I ended up with the Phaedra. Don't regret the decision.

When dealing with Professional level mat cutters you probably won't go wrong with whatever you choose. The Platinum series and the Fletcher's will do you well. Others have their favs and will probably weigh in also.
 
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wpfay

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The basic difference is the Fletcher uses a cassette blade holder, so the blade doesn't ride on the guide bar, but about 1/8" away from it which pretty much necessitates the use of stops when using the machine. If you are used to cutting by eye and pencil marks, it will be a little bit of a learning curve. The Platinum edge is a bit more old school in that the blade rides on the beveled edge of the guide bar. It is just barely touching the bar (adjustments in the head allow that) and you can cut by eye more easily, though production stops are available for the machine as well.
There are other design differences, like the head on the Fletcher riding on the bar on a set of bearings. The Logan machine is a snug fitting sliding block, just relying on lubrication rather than bearings. I have never looked at the Logan head to see, but a number of these style of mat cutters used adjustable nylon bushings for the wear surfaces.
You can probably look up the owners manual for each in the Resources section of the G to get a better idea of how they each work.
 

cherronLF

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I have the 60" predecessor of the Platinum Edge, the Phaedra Chronomat. I have used it since 2004 and it has done a great job. I went to NY Expo in 2004 to by a bunch of stuff, a new mat cutter among them. I previously had one of Logan's amateur mat cutters and it was time to level up. I actually was looking to buy the Fletcher 2200 at the show but the newly introduced 2200 wasn't ready to be shipped yet and Phaedra had a heck of a show discount so I ended up with the Phaedra. Don't regret the decision.

When dealing with Professional level mat cutters you probably won't go wrong with whatever you choose. The Platinum series and the Fletcher's will do you well. Others have their favs and will probably weigh in also.
Thank you for your reply. Very valuable advice as I look for a new mat cutter. Its a big decision to make and, like most, dont want to screw it up. Thanks again!
 

Jim Miller

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Wally's information is spot-on. The Platinum Edge/Chronomat cutters have a very good reputation as professional grade machines. I've never used one, but framing friends speak highly of them.
 

cherronLF

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Wally's information is spot-on. The Platinum Edge/Chronomat cutters have a very good reputation as professional grade machines. I've never used one, but framing friends speak highly of them.
Doing some research now as they are less expensive compared to the Fletchers.
 

Jim Miller

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Professional grade mat cutters are usually durable and rebuildable, so maybe you can find a good used one and save some cash.
 
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cherronLF

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Professional grade mat cutters are usually durable and rebuildable, so maybe you can find a good used one and save some cash.
Hoping so. As much as I would love to have a CMC, I know it doesnt make sense right now.
 

artfolio

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Any of the machines mentioned above will do well but whatever machine you settle on you will need to waste a fair bit of matboard getting to know its individual quirks and the correct depth settings for the blade, when to change the blade.... etc. Squaring up and adjusting the bearings on the slider also need checking occasionally so spend a bit of quality time with the manual.
 

cherronLF

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Any of the machines mentioned above will do well but whatever machine you settle on you will need to waste a fair bit of matboard getting to know its individual quirks and the correct depth settings for the blade, when to change the blade.... etc. Squaring up and adjusting the bearings on the slider also need checking occasionally so spend a bit of quality time with the manual.
Absolutely. Need to make sure I can produce the same, if not better, quality when I was using the Logan 450-1.
 

cherronLF

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UPDATE: Decided to pull the trigger on the Logan Platinum 85 Pro Mat Cutter. Did some preliminary research and found that the way the bevel cutter works is much different from the Logan 450-1 I started with. It states to start the blade tip 3/16'' in front of the line then finish 3/16'' behind the line; rather than on the line. It seems the unit is trying to mimic professionals who cut using this technique.

So I must ask, do you professionals cut in this method? If so, what is the benefit? My guess is to ensure the corners are properly cut but Im concerned about overcuts.
 

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That is SOP when cutting from the back of the mat. It is a short learning curve and will become automatic after a while. This would be true of any machine you change to.

The entry and exit points vary with the thickness of the board, and 3/16" is about right for 4-ply thickness boards. Practice. Hint, don't just plunge the blade, then start the cut. Begin the cut as you are plunging the blade.

If you are real concerned about overcuts, you can deliberately undercut by 1/16" less (so start and finish the cut only 1/8" over) or so and finish the cut by sliding a double edged razor blade between the bevel and the fall out.
 
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cherronLF

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That is SOP when cutting from the back of the mat. It is a short learning curve and will become automatic after a while. This would be true of any machine you change to.

The entry and exit points vary with the thickness of the board, and 3/16" is about right for 4-ply thickness boards. Practice. Hint, don't just plunge the blade, then start the cut. Begin the cut as you are plunging the blade.

If you are real concerned about overcuts, you can deliberately undercut by 1/16" less (so start and finish the cut only 1/8" over) or so and finish the cut by sliding a double edged razor blade between the bevel and the fall out.
Thank you for your reply and advice. I also read how Logan suggests to help novices like myself better use the cutter to get the look I need.
 

artfolio

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You are on the right track. A matcutter is a tool which is very dependent on the skill of the operator and the only way to develop that skill is practice. You also need to train your fingers to recognise the feel of a blade which needs changing. ( On the plunge you start to feel a slight crunch instead of a clean slice into the card. )

Does yours have production stops? If it does mastering them is really worthwhile as it will save you loads of time and also give you smoother cuts because you don't have to start slowly, speed up then slow down again as the end of the cut approaches. You can also use the stops on multiple openings and reduce the risk of a disaster.
 

cherronLF

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You are on the right track. A matcutter is a tool which is very dependent on the skill of the operator and the only way to develop that skill is practice. You also need to train your fingers to recognise the feel of a blade which needs changing. ( On the plunge you start to feel a slight crunch instead of a clean slice into the card. )

Does yours have production stops? If it does mastering them is really worthwhile as it will save you loads of time and also give you smoother cuts because you don't have to start slowly, speed up then slow down again as the end of the cut approaches. You can also use the stops on multiple openings and reduce the risk of a disaster.
Thank you for the advice. Yes, this mat cutter will have production stops and I plan to better use them compared to not using the ones that came with the Logan 450-1. My only trouble will be cutting the multi-openings of the larger mat with the left guide. Will have to remove that guide to make a fair amount of those cuts based on how I have to position the mat.
 
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