Fletcher vs C&H

Julie-Tulie

MGF, Master Grumble Framer
Joined
Feb 15, 2005
Posts
797
Location
Western Wisconsin
I have a question for you all! Which do you think is a better mat cutter and why.
I am looking to buy a new 40" matcutter and I am wondering if you like the C&H M40 Pro Advantage or the Fletcher 40 better. I have been using a 60" Fletcher 2100 and have been having a lot of headaches with it...bowing, hooking, and it was suggested that it may because it is just too large for small and medium mats.
I have done all the adjustments with blade depth, "cheat Strips", 3 different blade types, and it has come down to this...getting a different cutter. I have never had more trouble in my 13 years of framing as I have with this cutter so PLEASE help!
 
Julie ;I am not currently useing any cutters but i have ised booth you have mentioned ( only the smaller sized one in C+H) I had much less problems keeping the Fletcher in tune. There in lies the key. The hooking problem was most often a tuneing problem or occasionally a technic probelem .But these things can occur with ANY cutter and tuneing should be done to ALL.

John Ranes can tell you anything you want to know and more about keeping a Fletcher ( or any other cutter for that matter.E,g, Take the Mat Cutting class and watch him set up all the cutters )in proper cutting order. and in the very rare occasion when there may be defect Fletcher has always been willing to stand by their products.

so while I found both to be great cutters I had less maintainace with the Fletcher.IMHO
BUDDY
 
I have used both and I absolutely hate the C&H. Ours is a 60" and it is pretty old... 15 years if I had to guess... but the problem is that the base is some sort of composite particle board sort of stuff, and it's starting to bow a little, and the bar has one knob in the middle that holds it, and it wobbles and is never really square... I don't know if the newer ones have a better set up, but this one is a mess. I also have a lot of experience with the Fletcher, and it is a far superior machine... aluminum base (no warping), and two knobs to square the bar. I have a set of production stops for both machines, and the set for the C&H is unusable, it doesn't hold steady and slides if you hit it too hard with the cutter head. The Fletcher stops are a lot more accurate and very stable, and they help a lot to minimize hooking, because I think a lot of hooking comes from uneven pressure when you first insert the blade into the mat, the stops allow a smoother insertion, since you don't have to worry about placement on the board... does that make any sense?
To make an already long story short, get some production stops for the Fletcher, and see if that helps with the hooking. It shouldn't have anything to do with the size of the machine vs. the size of the mat you're cutting.

As for the bowing? Is the mat moving under the bar? or is the actual cutter head moving to cause the bow?
 
I do like the two knobs on the Fletcher squaring bar...accurate and precise. My problem may be thet there seems to be some give in the bar that the head slides on...maybe my pressure isn't as "down" as it is "down and towards me". Have thought that if the whole thing was shorter, then there wouldn't be as much flexibility. I feel like I am cutting the same as I always have, but with the cutter being 60" instead of 40, it's not as forgiving for MY quirks. Will work with it tomorrow some more and see what happens.
What about the cutting heads...how do they compare to you all?
 
OH, and no, the mat isn't moving under the bar and I feel like the cutting head isn't tilting or loose...
 
Im having the same problem with my older C&H that I inherited with the shop. Wobbly head (I've adjusted it and adjusted it and adjusted it, still wobbles), tried changing blade depth ,changing blades (1200 and 1500), changed pressure on the bar, I hate the one-knob in the middle of the bar (it wobbles too), put it on a different table, everything I can think of. It still curves the cut. So, I'm using my little Logan table top cutter. No problems, until it comes time to cut a multi-opening large one. As soon as the budget allows, I will be getting another mat cutter, and thinking of the Fletcher, as I've used that one before and loved it. Will look for a "pre-owned" one. Any sellers out there? Anymore advice from anyone on "fixing" the C&H that I haven't tried yet? I'm ready to throw it out the window.
 
Julie, Val

I had an old C&H 40. too small, head loose, base getting "worn", did I fix it (parts available at United), NO I sold it. Got a C&H48Pro. Loved it. Love the single knob, preferred the "feel" of the cut to the Fletcher. Preferred the quietness of the C&H to the bearing noise of the Fletcher.

Sold the C&H last year. Got a Fletcher 2200 with an extended base. Wanted the big base for doing multi-openings. Still prefer the C&H, but the Fletcher is a good machine.

Guess I'm saying get a 48Pro instead of the 40. Get a bigger base, you'll use it. And sell the old machine and upgrade. An artist in the area will like the older machine, better than a Logan or handheld Alto anyday! And their money will lower the price of your new machine, consider it a rebate!
 
So, Bob, are you saying that you both the C&H AND the Fletcher in the 48", with the extended base on the Fletcher?
 
....and are you saying that my C&H Advantage Pro is just plain worn out? That maybe it isn't me missing something, or do I need to start replacing parts before I throw it out the window? And which parts do I start replacing? Julie, I don't mean to butt in here, but I think we both have the same questions/issues, I've been wanting to ask the same question here for awhile, felt like an idiot...."is it just me or....?" Now I know it wasn't just me....
 
Girls,

Your C&H cutter heads ride on the guide bar on a set of bronze bushings. These are adjustable using an allen wrench on 2 small screws located on the side of the cutter head. If you have taken up all the slack in the bushings and have adjusted the head as tight as it will go and you still have excessive movement in the cutter head, maybe you need to replace the bushings.

You may want to check the cutter bar, the silver round bar that the cutter head rides on, for wear and alignment. (Is it straight or has somebody bent it out of alignment?) Proper lubrication on a regular basis on your mat cutter will extend the life of the equipment by a bunch. The bushings react very favorably to a squirt of dry mat cutter lube once in awhile and you should clean all the paper/rag particles off your cutter and out of all the grooves and crevices on a regular basis. You probably both already know all of this but it doesn't hurt to be reminded occasionally.

Bushings can be ordered from UMS or M&M.

Framerguy
 
I have had a lot of the same problems with hooking and curves using the Fletcher cutter. One thing I found that really stopped the hooking was to carefully score the matboard where you first insert the blade before starting the cut. This way the blade doesn't have as far to travel when cutting through the mat and it seems to keep the mat from moving under the bar. As far as the curves go, I think it's a lot to do with technique and the way you pull back the cutting head. Maybe the machine needs to be fine tuned also. Can't speak to the C&H, never used one.
 
I've done the adjusting the head with those screws and can't tighten any more without stripping...still wobbles.I've been cutting mats for 25 years and I think I've got the technique down, but I guess it never hurts to look at that again, and I have. Keep my arm parallel to the bar, don't roll my hand, stand just right, walk this way, hold my mouth right, hold my breath, keep the pressure even with my fingers...cleaned, lubed, taken apart, put back together, checked the silver rod, mat doesn't move under the bar...still wobbles and curves. I think ordering parts is now in order. I really don't want to throw it out the window (windows are expensive!), or have to buy a new one (although that would be nice!) So I'll try that next. Website or 800#s for UMS or M&M? And you say United also has those parts? Will look there when I get to the shop.
Schnoubi, I will try scoring first also. Never thought of that.
 
I have the 48” 2200. It is very similar to the 2100. It is hard to believe there would be any bow to the head guide. With the steel glide bar and wide aluminum clamp the head rolls on, it should be pretty solid unless you are really putting a lot of side force as you cut.

I haven’t bought the stops yet but I have a hooking-like issue at the start of the cut. The blade seems to mash the fibers a bit at the start. I can straighten this out with my fingernail and the mat looks perfect.

The roller ball bearing design tells me this machine was built to last. The price of admission is high. They should give you the measuring stops with it given the price. A 60” cutter with all the toys is nearly 2 grand.
John
 
There is an allen screw on the left side of the sliding block on the 2100. If you slowly tighten while sliding the head back and forth until you meet slight resistance, then back off very slightly you will cure any head wobble.

Pat :D
 
Back of the United catalog has an exploded view of the C&H cutters. Does sound like the bushings are worn.

LIked the C&H 40, but preferred the 48Pro. Only real diff between the two that took learning was that the bar is bowed slightly on the Pro. Had to learn to push down on the Pro and things were great!

BTW the Fletcher has pegs that I didn't think I was use for setting the width of the cuts. Love using them now and they really help give consistency when cutting multi-openings.
 
Aha!! Maybe that's what I'm not doing...pushing down hard enough on the bar. I tend to be a lightweight there. My table was built for a tall guy, I'm only 5'3" and have to tip-toe when cutting. Making plans for a new table soon.Will try that today too. But I'll order the bushings anyway. Thanks everyone. Will keep ya posted on that one!
 
Well, I'm wondering the same thing, Val. But I think its not the pushing down, but also the possibilith that I may be pulling the head slightly toward me and not realizing it. Have been making adjustments all morning, and it seems to be helping...putting a backing sheet under my mat, of course, but also all the way down the 60" cutter...that seems to help. And also putting a mat strip extending out from the back of the used strip...are you with me? It seems to help. And making sure there is downward pressure AS WELL AS a bit of back pressure on the head. I also have tried putting one foot behind my neck while crossing my eyes...I'll have to get back to you on that one! ;) It is hard to get a good steady glide going that way!
 
Originally posted by Julie-Tulie:
Well, I'm wondering the same thing, Val. But I think its not the pushing down, but also the possibilith that I may be pulling the head slightly toward me and not realizing it. Have been making adjustments all morning, and it seems to be helping...putting a backing sheet under my mat, of course, but also all the way down the 60" cutter...that seems to help. And also putting a mat strip extending out from the back of the used strip...are you with me? It seems to help. And making sure there is downward pressure AS WELL AS a bit of back pressure on the head. I also have tried putting one foot behind my neck while crossing my eyes...I'll have to get back to you on that one! ;) It is hard to get a good steady glide going that way!
Which side of the mouth are you holding your tongue while pulling the cutting head? ;)
 
Isn't That about right? And it is friday afternoon and the planets are in perfect alignment...my tongue's hanging out, my foot is over my head, crossed eyes, and just when I think I've got it...the phone rings and its some salesman trying to sell me a satalite dish....!
 
Julie,

Forget the mat cutter, tell the guy you can get a satellite dish for free (you saw it on a little plastic sign stuck in the center median at lunch time) and see what he says.

Come Monday, we'll start in on the one thing that I believe both of you are missing out on ................. (are ya ready for this??) .......................... the "look"!! That's right, the matcutter ......... "look"!

It sounds like you have all the choreography down pat, the stance, the arm draw, the balance, the hip move, the elbow swing, and the followup release and breathe move, that's all sounding pretty good. (I can't vouch for the legbehindtheneck or the myeyesarecrossedandIcan'tseethematanymore routines.) But I haven't heard either one of you mention a word about the "look". And that worries me.

Heck I have seen some purty danged good framers crumble and go to pieces when the pressure was on them and the mat had to be cut "now with NO mistakes and perfectly straight window sides and corners". Why? 'Cause they didn't have the "look", that's why.

It takes alot of practice in front of a mirror but inside of a week or maybe a couple of months you will be cutting with the best of them, and you too will have the "look". Just try to hold out over the weekend and don't think about anything having to do with matcutting or what may be wrong with your routine. It will only make your weekend miserable. If you are tempted, please email me and I will try to counsel you and bring you down to a level of control that will get you through to Monday.

I can't stress the urgency of not letting this take over your life, girls!!! You have to fight it with all that you have in you. Monday isn't that far away and you simply have to hang on till then!!

(Oh, I hope I'm not too late to help them.)

OK, see ya <strike>bright and early</strike> maybe later on Monday evening.

Framerguy
 
I never tried a Fletcher but if I wanted to replace my C&H, I'd probably try one 'cause I hate it.
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May I recommend a Wizard? ;) :D
 
Originally posted by Val:
I'm ready to throw it out the window.
Can I tell you how close our C&H came to becoming a new lawn ornament? I was messing with it today to try to fix the wobble in the head, and it is a little better, but I always get a bit of an angle on the cut. And I absolutely cannot cut a nice v-groove on the C&H because of this angle... it really burns me
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This isn't even to mention the monstrosity of a circle cutter that we have from C&H... medieval and just as useless.
 
Originally posted by JohnR:
......I haven’t bought the stops yet but I have a hooking-like issue at the start of the cut. The blade seems to mash the fibers a bit at the start. I can straighten this out with my fingernail and the mat looks perfect....
This is NOT a "hook" JohnR, but rather a "pinch" caused by the back end of the blade pushing into the mat as you plunge the pivot assembly into the material. Using stops is one way of eliminating this glitch as well as improving on consistency. :D

John
 
"I also have tried putting one foot behind my neck while crossing my eyes...I'll have to get back to you on that one!" Ow, Julie! I'm afraid that one's out of the question for me right now, as I'm having to use a cane to get around. But please let me know if it works!
Framerguy, please post a picture of "The Look". Trust me, I've given it every Look I can conjure up and the verbage to go with it. Mean Look? Pleading Look? I'mTheBossThat'sWhy Look? #1&*^You Look? Politesmile Look? I'mAboutToThrowYouOutTheWindow Look? BigGrinButIDon'tMeanIt Look? WHAT LOOK? I'm getting desperate here, please post a picture, please??
Phoneguy, I've tried the tongue on either side. Still wobbles. (Mat cutter, not my tongue) (well, maybe...uh never mind)
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Patience, dear Val, focus on your happy place for now and clear your mind of all thoughts relating to the MC word.

Soon you will be entering a higher level of awareness and you must have your mind prepared for the adventure.
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Soon, grasshopper, .............. very soon.

FGII
 
Okay, being somewhat nerdy, I performed a test. I wanted to see how much side deflection on the mat clamp bar I'd get by putting a lateral force on it (I have the 48" cutter). So, at the center of the bar, I put 25 lbs of lateral force and measured less than 1mm of deflection. .7mm in fact. I would estimate a 60” would give about 1mm deflection and a 40” about .6mm.

Unless you have a really bad technique going, you shouldn't be putting anywhere near 25 lbs of lateral force on the bar. As long as other parts aren't worn and the head is adjusted, I don't see bar deflection as being an issue with the Fletchers that cause bowing. I once had a $200 40" cutter that had a bowing problem do to lateral bar movement.

John Ranes II, I'll make sure the stops are on my shopping list. I'm about to order more equipment now that the first batch is paid off. Also, on your tape included with the cutter, there were no funny dances, yoga, crossed eyes or any twister game moves demonstrated to assist in perfect cuts. Will this be provided on new tapes?


John
 
Originally posted by framinzfun:
---- but I always get a bit of an angle on the cut. And I absolutely cannot cut a nice v-groove on the C&H because of this angle... it really burns me
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sounds like you need to realign the bar. This is sooooo easy with the C&H. Just loosen the 4 screws that hold the bar to the adjusting knob. get your v-groove stops out, slide the bar up against the cutter bar and tighten thsoe screws.

Obviously more steps involved, but every month after taking the bar off to get the dust out from inside the cutter head I would realign the bars.

This isn't even to mention the monstrosity of a circle cutter that we have from C&H... medieval and just as useless.
Isn't it medieval looking! Like the iron maiden or the rack! Customers take double takes at it and try to figure out how to use it. Adds a real mystique to the shop! That, the chopper and the v-nailer give the space an old world craft look that a CMC can't match! (OK maybe not the v-nailer, but the vise table with the rails ....) ;)
 
I used to have an old C&H oval cutter. I sold it to a photographer who restores old cars. I figured he would be able to keep it working and repair it if neccessary himself. I have a Fletcher oval cutter now. I think it looks like a Klingon bird of prey.
 
This has been fun!
There is definently a bit of play in the bar on this 60 mat cutter...probably not as bad on a 40 or 48 because they're shorter. So far all the mats I cut yesterday...19 to be exact, touned out great with my NEW technique...now if I can just figure how to get the drool stains off the mats! ;)
And I WILL work on "THE LOOK"! The "LOOK" I usually have and am pretty good with, I use on my 18 year old daughter and 20 year old son...not the right look for the customers...or IS it...! :eek:
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Today I will concentrate on my Happy Place. Today I will concentrate on my Happy Place. Today I will....OH LOOK - A BIRD!!...Oh...Today I will concentrate on my Happy Place I will cut any mats I have to with my Logan. I will not look at my
&%#$!!C&HADVANTAGE48!!!...oh...Today I will concentrate on my Happy Place. I will wear blue as a calming color and I will breathe out the bad karma and breathe in the good and I will concentrate on my Happy Place. hooooo-haaaaa-hoooo-haaaa (oooh, that made me dizzy...I got a freebie! far-out man!) Today I will.....
Love...Whippersnapper-er-Grasshopper
 
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