Logan makes a wide range of mat cutters suitable for everyone from the novice to the professional. Which mat cutter is right for you depends on two factors: how many mats you will be cutting on a weekly basis and how quickly you want to master your mat cutting skills.
UNDERSTAND THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN MAT CUTTERS
Consider how much time you’re willing to spend becoming proficient at mat cutting, because the learning curve does get progressively shorter the more you spend. On the other hand, 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 $395 price range, and does not get a whole lot easier even if you spend more. High-end mat cutters, such as the Logan Framer’s Edge, Model #650, are built to take the wear and tear of rigorous professional use, as is common in a frame shop. They have thicker, more durable cutting boards, heavier guide rails and bigger cutting heads. They are designed to cut 100+ mats a week, to stand up under continuous use and are production-oriented for multiple repeat cuts. They are easy to become comfortable with and provide consistently good results straight out of the box (Figure K‑1). On the other end of the spectrum, hand-held mat cutters are capable of cutting just about anything. 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 some time. The learning curve on hand-held cutters can be long. Hand-held cutters usually require more time and patience. A mat cutting “system” is distinguished from a hand-held mat cutter in that it provides some of the other necessities besides just the mat cutter, such as a place to cut (a cutting bed), a measuring system, and a straightedge to cut against (a “guide rail”). A system such as the Logan Team System combines a handheld 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 (Figure K‑2). Still, the guide rail itself is not attached to anything and may slip, even though it has a rubberized base.
Systems that have the guide rail attached to the base board—or board-mounted mat cutters as they are called—represent a vast improvement. The Logan Compact Mat Cutter is this type of mat cutter. In addition, it includes a system for quick and easy measuring. For those serious about cutting mats, a 32″ mat cutting system like the 301-S Compact represents the minimal investment for the quick attainment of superior mat cutting skills (Figure K‑3). On the face of it, the biggest shortcoming of a 32″ mat cutter appears to be its size. After all, a sheet of matboard is 32″x 40″. So right away one might conclude that, with a 32″mat cutter, large mats can’t be cut. But this is not so. 32″ mat cutters are open at either end so the matboard can shifted along the face of the cutting bed and hang out to allow for cutting a window of any size. However, it is true that the small size of a 32″ mat cutter requires special attention when it comes to sizing a full size sheet. Sizing is the reducing of a full size sheet of matboard to frame size. Since 32″ mat cutters cannot take a full size sheet across their base boards to be halved, these cutters have a distinct disadvantage when it comes to sizing. The next grade of mat cutters solves this problem. Mat cutters such as the Logan Model 450 Intermediate + Mat Cutter provide a full 40″ base board with a fixed guide rail and a measuring system. The Logan Model 750 Simplex is another example. It is a fine full-featured mat cutter, representing the high end of manually operated mat cutting systems and includes a host of fine features, including all those listed above, plus production stops, and the durability to handle 25+ mats per week (Figure K‑4). If one is looking to buy just one mat cutter without ever needing to upgrade later, the Simplex Plus or the Framer’s Edge are the best bets. In choosing a mat cutter, the wise shopper weighs the advantages of each against budget and need and makes an informed choice. Good mat cutting begins with a good tool—and one that’s right for you.