CGF, Certified Grumble Framer
Dec 3, 2004
I have read and re-read the recent article in Picture Framing Magazine that outlines a method to create double and/or triple matted multiple openings. Has anyone tried this method? It involves using the fallout as a guide for your second and third cuts. Is there a trick to using this method? Does anyone have an easy way to do double/triple matting with multiple openings? I know a CMC would be beneficial, but I am using a manual cutter for the time being. Any ideas welcome and appreciated.
Jason -
The only way that I have done double or triple mats is to cut the top mat first. Save the fallout & reinsert it into the top mat. Make the outside dimensions of your bottom mat about 1/4" smaller and then ATG it to the back of the top mat. Then re-adjust your stops and cut the bottom mat. This way you get nice, even borders around your openings. Hope this helps.
I don't get PFM anymore so I don't know which method they were trying to explain but I do multiple openings in multiple mats in reverse, using the scratch marks from each opening as a reference mark to lay out my cuts on the adjacent mats. I measure out from the marks made by the cutter blade the required distance and make the cuts in each subsequent matboard using these marks to measure off of for each succeeding matboard.

The only exception to this is when I incorporate oval cuts in all the mats along with rectangular cuts. In this case I cut each mat to the same size, make all of the oval cuts first on my oval cutter, then cut a little bit off of each back mat and reassemble them lining up the oval cuts with each other. Then I proceed with the rectangular cuts as above using the top mat as my guide mat and cutting from the back mat forward.

(Man, that sounds really complicated but it works alot easier than it sounds. Maybe it's time to consider a CMC for my shop.)

Jason I cut the inner mat first and then set my mat cutter to 1/4" smaller and cut the outer one. Then I put the two together. I think there is old school and new school. Is this how you cut them too?
I always use the same method Mike referred to when using my manual cutter. I skimmed over the PFM article you are referring to and soon realized that "this 'young' horse didn't need a new trick"!! Not when my first one works just fine!

Have you been using a method prior to this, or just beginning with multiple mats?

If you are just setting out, I strongly recommend taking a manual mat cutting class at the WCAF Trade Show in Las Vegas this January. I learned via a class - John Ranes II was my instructor, in fact. It was a hands-on class and I really perfected my skills. But then, I learn best with that method (and he's a top notch instructor which ALWAYS helps).

Let's see......Iowa vs. Las Vegas in January.......hmmmmmm!!!
I started a thread on this last year when I was trying to figure out this method. The thread is at;f=1;t=006817#000008

After some playing around, I figured out that the article wasn't as clear as it needed to be so I did an example, took some pictures, tried to explain it a little further and posted it to the thread above. It (I
think) seems to explain it a little better.
Prior to getting our CMC, when we had to cut, for example a double mat, with multiple mat openings:

- LIGHTLY attach the two mats together

- lay out and cut bottom mat first (with top mat attached)

- remove bottom mat

- use the cut marks left on the top mat as a guide to lay out (e.g. 1/8" larger all way around) the opening for the top mat

- cut top mat and re-attach bottom

There are probably better ways, but this always worked perfectly well.

Good luck.
Yeah, that's what I was referring to. I think that was the original question, how to cut multiple openings in multiple mats. Most of the replies have been for single openings.

Maybe I am mis-reading the question.

Back in the Olden Days, BW, I used to cut the undermat so I could check the openings one final time [anal? why, yes!] Then I would lay the bottom mat on top of the top mat and trace the openings on to the back of the top mat. Then I would use a clear ruler that is made by C-Thru that has a grid of 1/4" marks. It is easy to look through it to make an accurate 1/4" larger opening line and make sure that it is parallel to the openings on the undermat. It made it easy to cut. But with the Wizard... aaaaah!!! Heaven!!!
I use this technique all the time as I'm selling double matted nine opening family portraits (and the associated photography and printing) every week. I've got two waiting for me to work on today!

The link that Larry referenced above is what made it all clear to me. The pictures that Larry posted made all the difference. With this technique it actually takes less time to cut the undermat than it does the top mat and everything is self aligning when you go to attach them together. I no longer try to discourage customers from double mats on multiple openings since I learned this technique.

Now if I just could find a way to do the layouts and calculate all the margins. With pencil and paper I spend far more time doing the layout than I do actually cutting the mats!

An amazingly useful trick for making consistent markings to your tracelines or cutlines is to avoid using a ruler for this, because for each mark you make you have to be sure you reference the proper ruler marking and adust the ruler's position carefully. Instead, use the ruler once, to mark your desired reveal size onto a small piece of paper, such as a post-it note, from the edge inward. You now have a "jig" for making each mark exactly where you want it without all the potential errors that come with constantly re-referencing the ruler.
This saves a lot of time and gives more consistent results.
I use a fletcher 2100, with a table extension which makes it nice for those hard to reach cuts. I believe 18 or 19 inches, but their is times when I have to pull out that dreaded hand mat cutter. I agree with Jason start with the top mat, for multi openings it helpfull to # them on both sides of the cut then apply second mat 1/4 inch smaller w/ATG tape then repeat. sometimes it helpfull when drawing diagram use a piece of typing paper to scetch on, ao that you can see threw it to draw you diagram in reverse. that way when after you cut the mat and flip it over your openings aren't on the wrong side. Hope I make sense. Learn by making many mistakes!! the best school of Knots!
Before CMC, I used a Quilters' Wonder Wheel for multiple openings in double mats. It's a brass disc, 1/2" in diameter with a hole in the center.

Cut the openings in the top mat and place it face down on the back of the second mat. Insert pencil point in the hole in the wheel and run it around the opening. It works equally well for rectangles or odd shapes. You get a perfect 1/4" every time - no measuring involved.