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Exploring the Differences Between Mat Cutters

Mat cutters are available in a wide range of prices and styles. They can reduce matboard and foamboard, cut a beveled window, reduce glass, cut a V-Groove, and produce a window in double thick 8-ply. Anyway, some of them can. The question is: What do you want your mat cutter to do? And perhaps, just as importantly: What are you willing to spend?

The learning curve does get progressively easier the more you invest. But you don’t have to empty your bank account to find a comfort zone. In fact, good mat cutting becomes a manageable proposition with the purchase of a mat cutter in the $75 to $450 price range. When you pay more you get increased durability, greater ease-of-use, added reliability and greater precision.

Logan Platinum Edge Mat Cutters, Modesl C850 and C860

viewer (4)Built entirely of aluminum for the highest level of durability, the Platinum Edge Mat Cutters incorporate ball bearings, allowing the cutting heads to glide with a minimum of resistance, reducing hand strain and preventing wobble and slop due to wear. The micro-adjustable magnetic stops provide extra precision in starting and stopping each cut to insure flawless corners. And the quick change magnetic blade cartridge makes blade changes a snap.

WHAT THIS MAT CUTTER DOES

Built entirely of aluminum for the highest level of durability, the Platinum Edge Mat Cutters incorporate ball bearings, allowing the cutting heads to glide with a minimum of resistance, reducing hand strain and preventing wobble and slop due to wear. The micro-adjustable magnetic stops provide extra precision in starting and stopping each cut to insure flawless corners. And the quick change magnetic blade cartridge makes blade changes a snap.

WHO THIS MAT CUTTER IS FOR 

If you are going into a framing business and seek a superior mat cutter, or if you are contemplating large volume contract frame jobs of more than 100+ mats, the Platinum Edge is right for you.

THE PLATINUM EDGE FEATURES…

All aluminum construction
Ball bearing guided cutting heads
Heavy duty guide rail with hold-up feature
Micro-adjustable magnetic stops
12” wide bade
Quick change magnetic blade cartridge
8-ply cutting ability
Foam board cutting ability
32” squaring arm
Start-position stop
Guide rail stop
Squaring arm stop
Mat guide
40” or 60” cutting capacity
Bevel cutting and straight cutting ability
Glass and Plexi cutting ability (with accessories purchased separately)

Logan Framer’s Edge Elite Mat Cutters, Models 650-1 and 660-1 viewer (5)

Built to take the wear and tear of 50+ mats a day, the Framer’s Edge has a ¾” thick MDF base and heavy duty guide rail. With ball bearings for a smooth glide which virtually eliminates slop and wobble, the Framer’s Edge enjoys some of the same advantages as the Platinum Edge but at a lower price.

WHAT THIS MAT CUTTER DOES

The Framer’s Edge can straight cut and bevel cut 4-ply and 8-ply (double thick) mat board, and comes with a removable 32” squaring arm for accurate sizing of full size sheets of mat board and foam board. An optional extension board can be purchased separately and added to the Framer’s Edge to widen the 10” base. The Platinum edge is available in a 60″ version for larger format mats.

WHO THIS MAT CUTTER IS FOR

If you are contemplating branching out from matting and framing your own work to doing it for others as a home-based business, the Framer’s Edge is right for you. It will provide superior ease of use and versatility and can stand up to rigorous use as your volume grows.

THE FRAMER’S EDGE FEATURES…

¾” MDF cutting base
Heavy duty guide rail
Ball bearing guided cutting heads
Optional extension board to widen base
8-ply cutting ability
Foam board cutting ability
32” squaring arm
Start-position stop
Guide rail stop
Squaring arm stop
Mat guide
40” or 60” cutting capacity
Bevel cutting and straight cutting ability
Glass and Plexi cutting ability (with accessories purchased separately)

Logan Simplex Elite Mat Cutters, Models 750-1 and 760-1

Versatility is the key with the Simplex Elite Mat Cutter. Designed to provide photographers and artists with a host of desirable functions but without the bulk and durability necessary for production runs, the Simplex is multi-faceted without being pricey.

WHAT THIS MAT CUTTER DOES

The Simplex Elite can straight cut and bevel cut 4-ply mat board and foam board, and comes with a 27” squaring arm and production stops for accurate sizing of full size sheets of mat board and foam board. With the accessories provided the Simplex can also cut glass, Plexi, paper and double-thick (8-ply) mat board. The Simplex is available in a 60″ version for larger format mats.

WHO THIS MAT CUTTER IS FOR 

If you are a photographer or artist who needs to cut mat board, glass, Plexi and paper but don’t need to cut more than 25 mats a week on an on-going basis, the Simplex Elite is right for you.

THE SIMPLEX ELITE FEATURES…

27” squaring arm
Start-position stop
Guide rail stop
Squaring arm stop
Mat guide
40” or 60” cutting capacity
Bevel cutting and straight cutting ability
Foam board cutting ability
8-ply cutting ability (with accessory included)
Glass cutting ability (with accessory included)
Plexi cutting ability (with accessory included)
Paper cutting ability (with accessory included)

Logan Classic Mat Cutters, Models 550-1 and 560-1

The same in all particulars as the Simplex Elite except that it does not include the accessories for cutting glass, Plexi, paper and 8-ply mat board. The Simplex Classic is strictly a tool for cutting 4-ply mat board and foam board.

WHAT THIS MAT CUTTER DOES

The Simplex Classic can straight cut and bevel cut 4-ply mat board, and comes with a 27” squaring arm and production stops for accurate sizing of full size sheets of mat board and foam board.

WHO THIS MAT CUTTER IS FOR 

If you are a photographer or artist who needs to cut mat board and foam board quickly and accurately but don’t need to cut more than 25 mats a week on an on-going basis, the Simplex Classic is right for you.

THE SIMPLEX CLASSIC FEATURES…

27” squaring arm
Start-position stop
Guide rail stop
Squaring arm stop
Mat guide
40” or 60” cutting capacity
Bevel cutting and straight cutting ability
Foam board cutting ability
Glass, Plexi and paper cutting ability (with accessories purchased separately)

The Logan Artist Elite Mat Cutter, Model 450-1

If you are an artist on a budget, the Artist Elite provides you many of the features of the more versatile mat cutters listed above but at a lower price.

WHAT THIS MAT CUTTER DOES

The Artist Elite can straight cut and bevel cut 4-ply mat board, and comes with a 20” squaring bar and production stops. Note: The squaring bar differs from the squaring arm provided on more sophisticated models in that it is strictly a measuring feature and doesn’t provide the abutment for keeping the mat board square during sizing.

WHO THIS MAT CUTTER IS FOR

If you are an artist on a budget who needs to cut mat board with some degree of accuracy but won’t need to cut more than 15 mats a week on an on-going basis, the Artist Elite is right for you.

THE ARTIST ELITE FEATURES…

20” squaring bar (not a squaring arm – see note in text)
Guide rail stop
Squaring arm stop
Mat guide
40” cutting capacity
Bevel cutting and straight cutting ability
Foam board cutting ability
Glass, Plexi and paper cutting ability (with accessories purchased separately)

The Logan Compact Classic Mat Cutter, Model 301-1

Designed to provide the greater accuracy and ease-of-use that is missing in hand-held mat cutters, the Compact Classic is the lowest priced mat cutting system in Logan’s line.

WHAT THIS MAT CUTTER DOES

The Compact Classic can straight cut and bevel cut 4-ply mat board and provides a mat guide measuring system to provide a way of measuring in the mat cutter.

WHO THIS MAT CUTTER IS FOR

The Compact Classic can straight cut and bevel cut 4-ply mat board and provides a mat guide measuring system to provide a way of measuring in the mat cutter.

THE COMPACT CLASSIC FEATURES…

Mat guide
32” cutting capacity
Bevel cutting and straight cutting ability
Foam board cutting ability
Glass, Plexi and paper cutting ability (with accessories purchased separately)

The Logan Team System Mat Cutters, Models 424 & 440

The Team System combines a bevel cutting hand-held mat cutter with a guide rail and allows the cutting head to ride on the guide rail to eliminate the problem of the two pushing against each other.

WHAT THIS MAT CUTTER DOES

For all intents and purposes, this is a glorified hand-held mat cutter and should not be mistaken for a mat cutting system like those listed above. While easier than a hand-held mat cutter, it still requires a learning curve to master. Available in two different sizes, with a 24” rail (424) or a 40” rail (440), it only cuts beveled windows in mats and cannot be used for sizing.

WHO THIS MAT CUTTER IS FOR 

Anyone who wants to move beyond a hand-held mat cutter but can’t justify the expense of more sophisticated models.

THE TEAM SYSTEM MAT CUTTER FEATURES…

Bevel cutting ability
A rubberized guide rail

The Logan Hand-Held Mat Cutters

With a hand held cutter you can cut a window as precisely as on the most expensive mat cutter – but you’d better be willing to devote the time. The learning curve on hand held cutters is long, because hand held cutters are difficult to manage.

WHAT THESE MAT CUTTERS DO 

At bottom, a basic principal of hand-held mat cutting is flawed. To cut properly you must push firmly against the straightedge with the cutting head. But straightedges are not designed to be pushed against. They slip. And when they do the cut is ruined. It takes practice to get the feel of a hand held mat cutter – exactly how much pressure to apply to the cutter, to the straightedge and both, to avoid slippage.

WHO THESE MAT CUTTERS ARE FOR 

Anyone who wants to bevel cut a window in a mat but wants to do so at the minimal possible expense.

THE LOGAN HAND HELD MAT CUTTERS FEATURE…

Bevel cutting ability

Learn to Use Your Mat Cutter – Hands-on Mat Cutting Workshops

One thing your mat cutter won’t do, regardless of price, is produce consistently superior results without your ability and know-how. It is true that a mat cutter is never automatic in the sense of, say, a coffee maker. It won’t automatically give you perfect results. You will have to learn how to operate the mat cutter properly to get superior results, which is why we offer hands-on workshops for those who are interested.

When it comes to sizing, the squaring arm is key. It allows for full size sheets to be measured and sized at proper right angles without requiring the operator to mark out lines on the mat. It makes sizing speedy and accurate and completes the picture of what a full featured mat cutter should be: a bevel cutting head (for cutting windows), a straight cutting head (for sizing), a fixed guide rail, at least a 40″ long cutting board, a measuring system and a squaring arm. When you have a mat cutter with these features, you have a complete mat cutting system.

The Logan Model 750-1 Simplex Elite Mat Cutter is such a mat cutter. It is a fine full featured mat cutter, representing the high end of manually operated mat cutting systems and has a host of fine features and add-ons, including a squaring arm (discussed in the paragraph above), plus production stops to speed mat cutting. The Simplex Elite can also cut glass, plexi, paper and double-thick (8-ply) mat board with the accessories included. It is available in a standard 40″ version (Model 750-1) as well as a 60″ version (Model 760-1) for large format mats. Since the largest matboard made is 40″x60″, it’s worthwhile to pay extra for the longer version if you foresee the need to cut mats larger than 32″x40″.

The Logan Model 550-1 Simplex Classic Mat Cutter is the same in all particulars as the 750-1 except that it does not include the accessories for cutting glass, plexi, paper and 8-ply mat board. The 550-1 is strictly a tool for cutting mat board in 40″ (Model 550-1) and 60″ (Model 560-1).

The Simplex Mat Cutters are distinguished by being the lowest priced full featured mat cutters. Mat cutters below them in price offer lower prices at the expense of leaving out or scaling back certain features.

Look at the picture below. Notice the slender insubstantial squaring arm and the shortened mat guide.

This is the Logan Artist Elite Mat Cutter Model 450-1. It provides a full 40″ base board with a fixed guide rail and a mat guide measuring system, but reduces the size and accuracy of the squaring arm.

A mat cutting “system” is distinguished from a mere hand held mat cutter in by providing some of the other necessities besides just a tool for cutting, such as a place to cut (a cutting board), a measuring system, and the straightedge itself (a guide rail). The Logan Artist Elite is genuine a mat cutting system, but it is something less than a reliable, full-featured mat cutter.

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The lowest priced mat cutting system that provides a cutting board and measuring system is the The Logan Compact Mat Cutter Model 301-1. It includes a mat guide measuring system for quick and easy measuring of mat borders. For those serious about cutting mats, a 32″ mat cutting system like the Compact represents the minimal investment for reliability, quality and a short learning curve. Like it’s bigger cousin The Artist Elite Mat Cutter, however, it shines only in the area of bevel cutting windows and falls short in the area of sizing, even though it includes a straight cutting head for that purpose.

A mat cutting system such as the Logan Team System combines a hand-held mat cutter with a guide rail and allows the cutting head to ride on the guide rail to eliminate the problem of the two pushing against each other. Still, the guide rail itself is not attached to anything and may slip, even though it has a rubberized base. For all intents and purposes, this is a glorified hand-held mat cutter and should not be mistaken for a mat cutting system in spite of the name. The problem here is not in cutting, it’s in holding everything in place as you cut. Mat cutters without cutting boards can be awkward.

viewer (7)As far as cutting a beveled window, hand-held mat cutters are quite capable. With a hand held cutter you can cut a fancy window as precise and exquisite as one cut on the world’s most expensive mat cutter – but you’d better be willing to devote the time. The learning curve on hand held cutters is long, because hand held cutters are difficult to manage. At bottom, a basic principal of hand-held mat cutting is flawed. To cut properly you must push firmly against the straightedge with the cutting head. But straightedges are not designed to be pushed against. They slip. And when they do the cut is ruined. It takes practice to get the feel of a hand held mat cutter – exactly how much pressure to apply to the cutter, to the straightedge and both, to avoid slippage – and once you’ve accomplished that, you’ve got still more to contend with.

Some hand-held cutters, such as the Dexter utilize a fixed blade. That is, the blade doesn’t pivot or slide up and down. It just remains sticking out, making it difficult to penetrate the mat at a proper angle, since the blade must enter the mat ahead of the body of the cutter, and the cutter must follow at a corresponding angle or a curved bevel will result.

Hand held cutters with retractable blades, such as the Logan Hand Held Mat Cutters fare better, but are handicapped by being in the role of adversary to the straightedge. Only a mat cutting system that incorporates a fixed straightedge or is designed to have the cutting head ride on the straightedge eliminates this problem. The most basic mat cutting “systems” do both of these things.

In choosing a mat cutter, the wise shopper weighs the advantages and disadvantages of each against a budget and makes an informed choice. Good mat cutting begins with a good tool – and one that’s right for you.

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