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Unable to square new mat boards on my mat cutter.

Discussion in 'The Grumble' started by prophotoman, May 18, 2012.

  1. prophotoman

    prophotoman Grumbler

    I have a Logan Platinum Edge mat cutter. After verifying with a carpenter's square that the squaring arm on my mat cutter is perfectly perpendicular with the cutting bar. I cut a mat, not putting pressure anywhere on the mat cutter itself while cutting. Board was flush with the squaring arm. Yet after "squaring" the new mat board I double checked the board and found a gap about 3/16's of an inch between the top of my board and the edge of the cutting bar (on a FULL size mat board).. I checked my board using the carpenter's square and verified it IS off. What could cause this?
    Last edited: May 18, 2012
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  2. Julie Walsh

    Julie Walsh MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    Sometimes the board is not square! I stopped thinking about this and added a step that ensures square cuts: I measure bottom edge and top edge and if I find the top to be off (usually adds extra) I have a strip of mat scrap that I wedge under the mat -- enough to shift it over.
  3. prophotoman

    prophotoman Grumbler

    mat boards are rarely ever square

    That's why ALL new boards should be squared on your mat cutter, using the squaring arm. If the squaring arm is perpendicular to the cutting bar, it should form a perfect 90 degree angle cut. How does adding a scrap scrap shift it over? Besides, the insturctions say to remove the slip sheet (cardboard backing) when doing straight cuts. I'm not talking about bevel cuts.
  4. Bob Doyle

    Bob Doyle SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    OK, is your carpenter square, square? When you have it on the mat cutter, do you flip it to verify that the square you are using is square. They can get out of whack, then a 3/64th off could become 3/16th off after cutting four sides.

    When you are cutting to make the mat square, are you rotating the mat so that the just cut side is against the squaring arm? If not then you are just cutting the mat down in size, not squaring it. If the mat came in out of whack it'll be out of whack when you are done.

    Do you measure the diagonals of your matboard before and after it has been squared? If it is square prior to squaring and off after then maybe you need a longer carpenter square to square your squaring arm with.

    As you can see I am stuck on only one part of your problem :) I am stuck on the standard of square you are using being off :) I know when I try to check my matcutting guide I cut long strips, the longer the better. Then I invert one strip, bringing the far side to me and line it up with my other strips. If top and bottom are even then the bar is even, if the top and bottom are off then the bar s off. Not sure how to check a squaring arm with such a simple test....
  5. prophotoman

    prophotoman Grumbler

    Yes, I flipped the carpenter's square to verify square both sides

    It's a steel carpenter's square (brand new) from Stanley.... measures 16 x 24 inches, which was the largest carpenter's square available at Ace Hardware. And, of course I DID flip it over and get the exact same result. between the squaring arm and the cutting head, it fits snug the full length of each arm of the carpenter's square. Maybe this is totally normal for a mat cutter. I know that as the blade cuts through the mat, the mat MIGHT shift while squaring a mat board... but with the cutting bar laying on the mat it shouldn't shift. Also... I do place the last edge cut flush with the squaring bar. Common sense if you're wanting to get an accurate cutting angle. None of what I'm seeing makes any logical sense, so maybe I should just assume that a perfectly squared mat cannot be made on a mat cutter. It defies geometry. I've even stacked paper the same height as the mat cutter baseboard to provide even support for the mat as I cut to prevent dips in the mat board.. No difference. Even when I check the mat against my carpenter's square after squaring the mat board, the board is not square. Go figure???
  6. Bob Doyle

    Bob Doyle SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Just giving suggestions. No need to bite my head off. Wasn't implying you didn't know what you were doing, just that I had no clue what you were doing as i am not watching you as you do any of what you describe.

    Have fun finding your solution. I have no problem getting a square cut on a mat cutter, so you should be able to as well.
  7. Julie Walsh

    Julie Walsh MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    I'm using a wall mounted cutter to do my straight cuts; placing a scrap under the edge of the mat on the rail does the trick....just sayin!

    Have you tried drawing a pencil line to test the square of the hold down bar (the part with the blade)? Perhaps this is not in square.
  8. prophotoman

    prophotoman Grumbler

    Wasn't meaning to bite your head off. Sorry. It's just that I feel so frustrated in following logical steps that did not work. The only other possible explaination is that there might be a certain amount of play at the two suspension points of the cutting bar, which would be a manufacturing defect. But I don't detect anything like that. I guess I'll just have to unsquare the squaring arm so that as it makes an incorrect cut, it WILL be accurate. Anyway, I cannot recmmend this mat cutter at all. I did try to call Logan, but there never is anyone to pick up your call... leave a message and wait 2 to 3 days for a callback. I also sent them an e-mail. I bet they can't help with this. Sorry if I'm so much of a perfectionist, I'm the same way with my photography. I expect things to work as advertised.
  9. Bob Doyle

    Bob Doyle SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    So measure the diagonals on your matboard. Is it square to start with? If so then why resquare it?

    If the mat is square and after squaring it is is out of square then doesn't it make sense that the problem is not the board, but the squaring arm. Just trying to isolate where the error is introduced and then addressing the found error.

    Since you are having a problem grab a fresh matboard, measure the diagonals. If they match the board is square. Now go through your squaring procedure and remeasure. If the board is no longer square then the squaring arm is off, or your technique is off. Both will be easy to fix, once you know which one to address.

    Not seeing what you are doing I can't tell you which is off.

    Since you are a perfectionist let me add that it would be helpful if you added a paragraph or two :) All one paragraph reads to me like you are saying it all in one breath :) Which, given how frustrating things can get you just may be....
  10. j Paul

    j Paul PFG, Picture Framing God

    I usally don't square my mats as I use a CMC and the opening is always square and if the outside is off a smidge it is concealed by the rabbet and the standard 1/8" allowance. If for some reason I needed the outside perfect I let my CMC cut it but that wastes 1 1/2".

    Now for squaring a factory mat on a wall cutter or mat cutter I have always heard that you would have to cut three sides to make it square. Think about it, if your arm is square and you place 1st side against it and cut and rotate and cut and rotate and cut the last side will be squared.
  11. Jeff Rodier

    Jeff Rodier SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    The problem lies in the cutter itself. Even though it is promoted as professional it is only a hobby cutter.
  12. prophotoman

    prophotoman Grumbler

    Defeated. Giving up. I will talk to Logan about returning it.

    I have made a total of about 25 squaring cuts on two matboards. Tried everything. Will try to sell this mat cutter or circular file it. Then perhaps get a Fletcher, although I will probably have the same luck with it as this.
  13. j Paul

    j Paul PFG, Picture Framing God

    Don't know about that Jeff. That Logan Platinum Edge is from everything that I have heard the Chronomat aquired and renamed. I have a Chronomat 60" (don't use much as I have a CMC) and I think the Chronomat is an excellant high end machine.
  14. Larry Peterson

    Larry Peterson PFG, Picture Framing God

    Yup, it is the Chronomat. It has been discussed here before but no one that has used both has made a comparison between the quality of the Chronomat (excellent) and the quality after Logan acquired it.
  15. framah

    framah PFG, Picture Framing God

    My thoughts as well..

    The squaring arm might be flexing or the cutting bar might be flexing.
    Try clamping the squaring arm at it farthest point after verifying its position with the stanley square and then make a cut.
    If is still off, then the cutting bar is the culprit.
    If it is a good cut then it is the cheap a** squaring arm.
    Also look at how the arm is locked in place. That would also be a weak point.
    artfolio likes this.
  16. prophotoman

    prophotoman Grumbler

    Not sure there are ANY professional level MANUAL mat cutters in existance. Even Logan's 301 compact mat cutter cut perfect mats.... just too small! When Logan bought out this manufacturer, they must have cut corners on the existing design for THIS model, which I heard WAS a good mat cutter. Well.... won't be cutting any mats anymore
  17. Jeff Rodier

    Jeff Rodier SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Fletcher or C&H will give you the performance you expect. Even a 10 year old used one will do it.
    Grey Owl likes this.
  18. David Hewitt

    David Hewitt CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    Is this a new cutter? If so did you remove the shipping blocks that support the cutting bar? (small spacers underside of bar) The bar has a curvature built into it to give added pressure on the mat when held down. If the blocks are not removed you won't have proper tension.
  19. David Hewitt

    David Hewitt CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    Glass is almost always square. Take a 32x40 sheet of glass, verify its squareness. Lay it on the cutter & measure to the blade (not the hold down bar) at the top & bottom of its travel, the two measurements must be exact.
    It is possible that the blade carrier and the rail it is mounted to are not in line. This is not a problem as long as you are in alignment with the blade carrier.
    I have a wall cutter, when I set it up with the glass method (40x60) & everything was exact ,I moved the glass just off the cutting area & took a fine point marker & drew a line on the backing. Now all I do is bring the mat to the line to see if it square.
  20. Bob Doyle

    Bob Doyle SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I have never used a logan or the chronomat. I have used Fletcher and C&H and they are very good machines. Saying that there are no good professional machines because of your experiences with Logan is to me like saying there are no good professional cameras because the point and shoot 12 shot roll camera you bought in the park is no good. (Using a photog analogy.)

    Again with another photography comparison. If a first time camera user came inand complained about the quality of their camera, and from your experience as a photg you knew it was a good quality camera, where would you go to address the percieved problem? I think you would tell that person that they have a very good camera and that you could, through courses you offer, show that person how to use their camera properly.

    So to you I say talk to a framer in person. Tell that person the problem you are having and ask if they know where you can take a course to use your equipment better. You may very well have a lemon, I got a C&H with a "bad bar". It happens. Not seeing your cutter we can only offer advise on how to fix what works. You're not being that experienced with this cutter may be limiting your diagnostic skills. Just like I would be with a good quality camera. I can get good pictures from the cameras we have, but I don't know why they come out good... I even read the manual both before and after using the camera. Still looks greek to me, but some feature are coming to me with subtitles...

    I think itis time to get help in person. The problem could be something simple that the writer just glossed over in the instructions because they have done it so many times it is obvious to them.
  21. Pat Murphey

    Pat Murphey SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Use your square to draw a "square" pencil line on the mat. Align the blade with the far end of the pencil line and pull the blade toward you. Does the blade track with the pencil line?

    At less than half the price of a Fletcher, there may actually be a quality control issue.
  22. Jeff Rodier

    Jeff Rodier SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Another issue that has not been addressed is how are you placing the board for squaring. The bulk of the board needs to be under the bar if you are trimming a very small amount.
  23. Bob Doyle

    Bob Doyle SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Jeff I looked at a photo of the mat cutter on-line and if the mat needs to be under the bar then it will be resting in or on the bar the mat guide is attached to. So after squaring the squaring arm I would think you would want to run a long straight edge against the two bars to make sure they line up and are straight. If they aren't then the mat guide bar is gonna make the board you are cutting be out of square. Like squaring and lining up a Morso chopper.

    If the mat isn't under the cutter bar then it isn't flat when you are cutting, so it cant really cut a food straight line.

    Before throwing out the mat cutter for not being able to square a board why not buy a used F3000, F3100 or FSC? In other words use a dedicated cutter for squaring the boards, one designed for that sole purpose.
  24. Julie Walsh

    Julie Walsh MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    I have a chronomat and have never used the squaring arm. I have a wall cutter for that.
  25. MitchelC

    MitchelC MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    Ditto... same here. :eek:
  26. Larry Peterson

    Larry Peterson PFG, Picture Framing God

    Yup, me to. Love my Chronmat.
  27. prophotoman

    prophotoman Grumbler

    Measuring diagonal... slightly warped matboard

    Bob, Could trying to square a slightly warped matboard cause this problem? Also when you say measure the diagonals, what do you mean... measure from one corner to the opposite corner or just measure the length of each side? Thanks.
  28. Jeff Rodier

    Jeff Rodier SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Measuring diagonally to the corners will let you know if an item is square. Do it both ways and if the numbers are the same the item is square.
  29. j Paul

    j Paul PFG, Picture Framing God

    Measure diangonal = measure top right to bottom left / top left to bottom right. Make sure your measuring instrument is in the exact same place both times.

    Another way to determine a square is the 3,4,5 rule or any multible thereof. For instance you measure out from the corner at right angles 3' and 4' other side. The diangonal measurement will be 5' if they are square. Take that rule up or down in scale to find out if anything is square.
  30. Larry Peterson

    Larry Peterson PFG, Picture Framing God

  31. prophotoman

    prophotoman Grumbler

    The Diagonals are VERY close

    I measured the diagonal cris-crossing the board, at 47.5 inches approx, they are within 1/16th of an inch of each other OR SO. When I square my new mat boards, I trim off only about 1/4th of an inch, so only that 1/4 inch is below the cutting bar. In any case, I am NOT getting rid of this cutter. I think I may be making much ado about nothing. What really matters is that the final mats I cut (for now 13 x 19 holes in an 18 x 24 inch mat) allow no more than 1/8th of an inch of space top and bottom of the rabbit. Will see what happens.
  32. j Paul

    j Paul PFG, Picture Framing God

    Photoman - if you are cutting 18x24 mat your frame size should be 18 1/8" x 24 1/8" in most circusmstances. Do not allow 1/8" top and bottom for a total of 1/4" as to much slop in frame will cause you problems with settling or sometime lip of frame is too narrow to accomodate. 1/8" is a standard allowance in most cases.
  33. prophotoman

    prophotoman Grumbler

    No... I mean 1/8th inch total

    I know that frames are cut with an extra 1/8" of space vertically and horizontally. That is what I meant. I cut my mats very slightly oversize to avoid too much of a gap. I think that part of my problem is that the mat boards I've been working with recently don't lie completely flat, therefore inaccuracies may be3 introduced. Am I right?:icon21:
  34. Jeff Rodier

    Jeff Rodier SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Nobody has asked the question of the consequence of your minute squareness issue. Measuring diagonally as you did tells us your boards are very square. Is this a double mat that is not lining up properly. If so and you are cutting 2 separate mats then attaching them together the problem is that you are cutting 2 separate mats.

    Tell us the result of the problem for the best answer.
  35. prophotoman

    prophotoman Grumbler

    Pythagorean theorem

    I think you're talking about the Pythagorean theorem to find the hypotenuse (diagonal). Time to break out my scientific calculatator!! :)
  36. prophotoman

    prophotoman Grumbler

    Double mats

    I cut the outer mat first, keeping the drop out. Then I ATG it with the dropout to a very slightly smaller inner mat... then cut the dimensions for the print minus 1/8th inch to be slightly smaller than the print itself... well, you know what I'm talking about... the easiest way to cut a double mat.
  37. prophotoman

    prophotoman Grumbler

    Double mats

    I cut the outer mat first, allowing an extra 1/4" for the inner mat to show. Then I ATG it with the dropout to the inner mat, then cut the border to allow 1/8th inch overlap to cover the outer edge of the photo. Then both pieces fall out. :) The standard way of cutting double mats. I do not cut them seperately. :)
  38. Jeff Rodier

    Jeff Rodier SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    You've got the cutting of a double mat correct. Where is the squaring or lack of coming into play, is it when the piece is in the frame that your mat is not lining parallel to the frame rail?
  39. Bud Cole

    Bud Cole True Grumbler

    unable to square mat question

    When I want to square my (MAT CUTTER) I use a full sheet of30 X40 glass. I have found that is a much better option. Squares do get out of square and we assume that that is not possible. Good luck!!! Bud
  40. Rick Granick

    Rick Granick SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    The other advantage of using a big piece of glass is that the outermost points of reference are farther away from one another, giving you much broader references. If you are using a small square you have a much smaller target area of alignment, with many fewer points of contact with the bars. (This is like in polling or other group studies, where the larger the number of subjects, the greater the possible precision of the measurement.) I always use a 32 x 40 piece of glass to align the measuring arm on my C+H wall cutter.
    :cool: Rick
  41. RAGlenn

    RAGlenn Grumbler in Training

    Probably WAY to late for original post but may help someone else.
    I’m using same cutter, Platinum Plus and same problem - going crazy getting square boards. I seem to have solved my problem. Using 24 in carpenter square I squared my cutter per manual instructions. Flipped square to check align long side both ways. Then as a final check I did the following.
    Put short end of squared on squaring bar , long end NOT touching cutting bar. Pulled cutting head all the way back and locked in cutting position. Removed blade and reinstalled blade holder. Slightly loosened squaring bar adj bracket. Put carpenters square with short side against squaring bar but away from cutting bar. Held cutting head down as far as it would go and slid square in until just touch flat edge of blade holder - had to squat to get line of sight between base and cutting bar. Clamped short end of carpenters square to squaring bar. Holding cutting head all the way down, moved head to top of long end of carpenter square. Moved squaring arm so blade holder and carpenter square touch. Tightened squaring arm bracket. I’m now getting perfectly square cuts. An old wood working technique - measure cuts from cutting blade.
    shayla likes this.
  42. Grey Owl

    Grey Owl SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    When I first started using an old C&H, maybe 12 years ago, I sometimes had problems with squaring mats on my mat cutter. After lots of analysis, I found I was sometimes rotating my wrist when I was pulling. Everything was in square except for me, as the operator. If I had unequal pressure, or I rotated my wrist, there would be slight alignment problems.

    I now stand at the end of the mat cutter and pull the blade so it is being pulled straight toward me, so my wrist does not rotate at all, and my shoulder, wrist and blade are all in a straight line. I also make sure I hold the bar down at constant pressure. Haven't had any problems in the last 11+ years, now, once I corrected my process.

    I now use a wall cutter for squaring mats because I get better productivity; I finally broke down and got a wall cutter about 7 years ago, because I was having problems pulling a score on 40 inch museum glass without rotating my wrist, but it works great on mats. Just cut a straight edge on one side, then always cut the other sides from the straight edge you cut, because mats are rarely square. But even with a wall cutter, make sure your wrist and shoulder are straight in front of the handle; if you are standing so your wrist or shoulder are slightly off to the left or right you will not get perfectly straight cuts.

    There was a recent article in PFM [Picture Framing Magazine] about squaring mats.
    shayla likes this.
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