Multiple opening mats


Grumbler in Training
Oct 19, 2004
Does anyone have a step by step guide for doing multiple opening mats ? I need to do a mat with 2 openings...but would also like to know how to cut mats with various openings....need to know how to measure and how to actually cut the openings ex; how to set stops etd........Thanx for the help
Welcome to the Grumble Robb. Sounds like you need to call PPFA and order Vivian Kistlers book on cutting mats. It is THE basic tool you need.

When you go to cut that 22x28 30 opening mat... you will rapidly learn that there are no stops that work. They will never replace an acurate eye.

Good luck.
or a CMC (computer mat cutter)

Welcome to the Grumble!

Stops are used for production runs of matboards, many mats with the same openings in them, that is about the only time I use mine. I am sure there are other uses for stops also. On single openings they work fine, just takes time to adjust them and set them up, but you can't adjust them for multiple small openings in a large mat. It just doesn't work that way.

You are talking about 2 openings, wait till you have 22 openings and they are all different sizes!! And you have to cut them in double mats!!I would look for that book that Baer mentioned and read up on laying out multiple openings as it is really a long drawn out demonstration for the Grumble and you still may have more questions than not.

If you want to email me, I will help you off forum to lay out your 2 openings and get them cut in an orderly fashion. But you need to read up and do some practice mats because that day is coming when somebody will want to have 20 small openings cut in a double mat of their little children's photos and you need to prepare yourself for that event.

As much as I like Vivian, and I think ALL of her books need to be in all our libraries (by the way the DVDS are on sale at her website) the matcutting book shows multi opening mats, but doesn't give a step-by-step of doing them.

Robb, everyone will have their own method of doing things - and this is mine:

Once you have your design with measurements drawn out on your workorder or scrap paper (however you design) then proceed to draw it out on the back of the matboard.

I use my matcutter to draw out the outside lines. For instance, if you have any areas that have an outside of 3", then set your matcutter and draw that line on however many sides that have an opening that comes to that edge. Then you can measure in from those lines to create your openings and spaces between openings. If all goes as it should (and sometimes it really does!) then your measurements should come out correct on the opposite side of the board.

Another way to approach it is if I have any openings that need to be in the center of the board - I use a t-square to mark the center of the board and then measure out from that. For instance, if you have a 5x7 that needs to be dead center in the mat (and the board is too large to use your matcutter to mark it) measure out from your center lines 2 1/2 inches each direction for your 5" space and 3 1/2" out from the center lines for your 7" space.

In other words, you had to have drawn the design as you created it - just transfer this info to the back side of the mat JUST REMEMBER the back side of the mat will be opposite to the front when you cut it (mirror image) so be sure to place things where they need to be.

And of course, someone will say to just get a CMC and all your troubles will be over. But (in my opinion) you still need to know how to do it. Whatcha gonna do when the power goes out?

Welcome to The Grumble, and don't let these guys frighten you away.

If you don’t have a CMC but do have an account with DonMar, you can have their division, Sara Graphics, cut your MOMats for you.

Call Sara Graphics (800- 321-7272) and ask for Joyce. She will be able to tell you how to supply her with the dimensions you need and how much it’s gonna cost.

You will probably find that it's a lot cheaper in the long run than to try to struggle with it yourself.
Several years ago Wizard offered the Wizard Mat Designer software to framers who did not have a CMC. The software was free and is great in laying out multiple opening mats. The measurements can be used for cutting with a manual mat cutter.
I don't know if the software is still available but it would be worth a call to Wizard

Whatcha gonna do when the power goes out?
I use a battery back-up with my CMC. If any CMC owners don't use one now, go get one. If the power goes out when your cutting a fabric mat the cost of the ruened board would cover a cheap battery back-up.
Oh Paul, I agree with you completely - it's just that Robb asked how to lay out a multi-opening mat. I just think that when there is a specific "how-to" question, then that is the question that should be answered.

Of course, it goes without saying that a CMC is best for something like this (and, of course, that is why it cannot go without saying...)
I do it the same as Betty (good instructions by the way). After seven years we finally got a CMC, but it was after we built up our business. I could have used it earlier, but now is great.

The one that put me over the edge WAS the 30 opening mat... I did it manually and it looked good... it took a few hours to layout and cut, but at least I knew how to do it.

In other words, even if you had a CMC you need to know how to do things manually. There's nothing like working from the ground up.
When I have multi-openings with the openings different sizes, I'll spend a few minutes cutting out templates from matbd scraps, using the measurements asked for (3x5, 4x6, 2.5x3, etc), then, with the t-square (remember, layout will be backwards), find your center, as Betty suggested, and work out. Trace around your templates and cut.

I don't have a CMC either.....hadda learn the "old-fashioned way"!.... ;)
Originally posted by LeighAnn:
There's nothing like working from the ground up.
Absolutely, I started with a straight edge and a Stanley knife, got Reasonably adept, then progressed to a hand held mat-cutter, a straight edge with a channel with a sliding angled blade cutter - 'Olfa' if I remember rightly.

ALL openings, even single ones, had to be plotted first, multiple openings were no different, after the math!

With a professional matcutter, with stops, for mutiple apertures of the same size and on the same level, you only have to plot the spaces betweeen, the stops can be set for the rest.

So, two openings with, say, one inch apart, two parrallel lines each half an inch left and right of centre.

[ 05-23-2006, 08:31 PM: Message edited by: RoboFramer ]
When I used to cut multiple opening double mats on my tabletop cutter, I would attach the top and bottom mats together before I cut them. Then I would draw out and cut the bottom mat would leave a slipsheet cut in the back of the top mat that I could use as a guide to cut the top mat.
I would still use the measuring guide on my matcutter for as many lines as it would reach and my cutting bar for drawing straight lines.
My cheater method was to design the multiple openings on the bottom mat and a single opening on the top mat that went around all the openings in the bottom mat...I liked the design 'cause it made it less stripey.
Hope this helps.
The mirror image can be confusing. Think right, left, upside down and backwards. Then when all seems to look wrong tip it and reverse it all.

I'm glad I have a CMC.
If you go to the top of the page and do a search for cutting mats, I think you will find some more info. Good luck.
I learned to layout/cut the top mat 1st, then attache the bot one , mark that & cut......but a short time ago there was a thread ,on this subject, & someone said she did it the opposit--cut the bot 1st-after lightly attaching the mats together-(has the benefit of allowing checking the finished openings on the art B4 you mess up another mat!!), then pull them apart & use the cut/score marks on the top mat to mark it's cuts---cut it & rejoin them....the part I dont like about this method is that mats are cut seperately instead of together as I learned ... both work well ... just have to get used to which ever method & both have +'s & -"s

That's the method that I have used for many years. If you cut your undermat a little undersized and attach it to your top mat there isn't any way that the score marks will screw you up.

I cut the bottom mat attached to the top mat and using the top mat edges as common reference for cutting as is usual. Then, if I want to show a quarter inch of undermat around each opening, I take a 1/4" guide that I made and carefully line it up on each score mark on the back of the top mat and mark my cut lines to the outside of the score marks. I guess you could mess up the cutting in several ways if you aren't careful but I don't have any trouble getting acceptable cuts with very little extra effort other than being very careful to line up your cut lines exactly the same way on each cut.

Hope this helps.

Dumb question incoming: I just had to do six of the above multi-opening pieces. I could have had it done on a supplier's CMC, but...I figured by the time I wrote down what I wanted in detail, I was spending almost as much time as if I did the cutting.

Was this a silly assumption? How do you tell the CMCr what you want without lots of time involved in the telling?
Outgoing answer probably not very clear.

You can tell the cmc to space all of the mats 1 1/2 inches apart or just part of them, verticle or horizantal. You can fan them etc., too much to explain. I'm still learning. There are times when I think I could do it by the old methods faster but I prefer the cmc. You can change the layout quickly, print out a plan or two.

MM go for it and get one. You only set it up one time and then cut as many as you want. I did a triple mat under one picture for 9 openings and an identical mat but with only double mats on all openings. All I had to do was cancel the 3rd mat on the one opening, while I cut the second mat, then I saved it again in origianal form.