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sanking
27-Aug-2017, 12:40
Wonder if someone might comment on the current state of this type of equipment. Are there any decent units that might be in the price range of of small studio for personal work?

Sandy

faberryman
27-Aug-2017, 13:14
I looked into a computerized mat cutter a year or so ago and found only large units meant for frame shops. You could not buy them; instead you leased them with a service contract. Maybe something has changed since then, but I just have become more adept with my manual Logan cutter. If I need something complex, I have Archival Methods cut it for me, like one which was a 25 2"x3" window mat in a 5 by 5 matrix.

Jac@stafford.net
27-Aug-2017, 14:44
Exactly what faberryman wrote. However, like the proliferation of 3D home Laser cutters progress I expect better matte cutters for home use than ever before. Hang in there.
.

Gudmundur Ingolfsson
27-Aug-2017, 16:30
Yesterday I had mats cut for an exhibition at a frame shop. The mats were cut in an Italian computerized mat cutter. In about 3 hours 130 mats were cut in 8 different sizes. This cutting machine had the prize tag of a nice Alfa Romeo.

Jac@stafford.net
27-Aug-2017, 16:47
Yesterday I had mats cut for an exhibition at a frame shop. The mats were cut in an Italian computerized mat cutter. In about 3 hours 130 mats were cut in 8 different sizes. This cutting machine had the prize tag of a nice Alfa Romeo.

I am sure it was quite expensive. A good friend of mine owned a camera store and darkroom service and he paid a lot for the license for the matte cutter. However, do you not think that with the acceleration of CNC types of machines they will become very inexpensive?

Just asking, Romero.

Best,
Jac

Bruce Watson
27-Aug-2017, 17:24
However, do you not think that with the acceleration of CNC types of machines they will become very inexpensive?

I'm not Romero, but I've got some experience with CNC machining and low volume manufacturing. Mat cutting is not conventional CNC (that is "chip making" via milling machine, lathe, jig bore, punch press, etc); a CNC controller won't run a mat cutter without a lot of work. Neither lasers nor water jet cutters will work in this application (unless you don't mind burned or soggy cuts). And these razor machines are low volume, on the order of 1000s a year. This ain't no iPhone where they make 10s of millions a year. Low volume drives the price up, and will keep it up. But it leaves a nice niche for Logan to exploit with its manual cutters.

Me, I just run my mat cutting needs out to my local Jerry's Artarama. They've got a nice automated mat cutter just 10 minutes away, and they'll usually cut while I wait, for a nominal fee (cutting a 40 x 50 cm hole in a 50 x 61 cm piece of 8-ply was something like $5.00 USD last time I needed it done).

Hard to justify owning a $30k USD automated cutter. Just sayin'.

Willie
27-Aug-2017, 17:58
http://www.pictureframingequipment.com/Classified%20Page.htm

http://www.skylinepictures.com/Mat_Board_Glass_Cutting_Equipment_page_187.htm

Just two of a number who handle used computerized mat cutters. Depending on what you consider 'reasonably priced' these and similar may do the trick for you.

bob carnie
28-Aug-2017, 06:26
Sandy

I am in the quote mode of a Villanni system by Crescent... 25K so its not cheap

There is a group in Mass that make semi automatic machines 4k which is good, I can dig up there name if you like , I may go this route.

Need a compressor , to operate and mounts on your wall.

tgtaylor
28-Aug-2017, 11:31
Me, I just run my mat cutting needs out to my local Jerry's Artarama. They've got a nice automated mat cutter just 10 minutes away, and they'll usually cut while I wait, for a nominal fee (cutting a 40 x 50 cm hole in a 50 x 61 cm piece of 8-ply was something like $5.00 USD last time I needed it done).

Hard to justify owning a $30k USD automated cutter. Just sayin'.

Five dollars is pretty darn reasonable - actually unbelievable if you ask me. I finally got my Logan cutting technique down to where I can cut precisely where I want (Believe it or not but the small plastic T-square ruler wasn't lined up with the start mark. When I switched to the metal T-square, the [problems went away.) but bringing the boards with their diagram to havie them cut on a computerized cutter for a few dollars is the way to go! I'm going to check into this.

Thomas

Corran
28-Aug-2017, 19:21
I am lucky to have a friend who runs a frame shop with one of the electronic mat cutters. Looking at my last invoice for 43 mats cut I was charged $40 (8x10 up to 20x24 sizes). Mat board was charged at cost + 10%. I keep telling the owner to charge me more, I do want them to stay in business!

A great question though. Perhaps it is too niche for some sort of home-brew system. But a computerized rail and carriage system with custom software and manual resetting for each edge seems plausible for a competent software engineer to build. I can imagine how it would work but I don't know anything about software design. Perhaps a good Kickstarter idea for the right person or partnership able to do it.

Leigh
28-Aug-2017, 21:47
But a computerized rail and carriage system with custom software and manual resetting for each edge seems plausible for a competent software engineer to build.This is a trivially simple effort, if a tolerance of +/- 0.001" is OK.


I can imagine how it would work but I don't know anything about software design.I actually know quite a bit about designing such systems, both hardware and software.

Is there any significant market for such an item, and at what price point? Thanks.

- Leigh

Corran
28-Aug-2017, 22:03
I am not surprised that it would be an easy thing to do, if you have the right skills.

Since such a device would have broad appeal to not only LF photographers but all photographers (who are matting prints), other artists who mat work, small frame shops w/o sufficient funds to buy a full-blown computerized system, schools, etc., I would bet the market would be quite large, given an appropriate price-point. I have no idea what that would be. I personally would be very interested at a sub-$1k price point, especially if such a system was built to be vertical. Considering large vertical mat cutters seem to cost several thousands dollars maybe that's not a workable price, I don't know. I'm not sure why those mat cutters cost that much.

It could even work as a peripheral to a phone app wirelessly, if one wanted to go down that route. I have a friend who has coded phone apps...hmm...

jamesaz
28-Aug-2017, 22:54
Maybe 45 years ago I bought a dexter hand mat cutter. I still use it. If I do all the handwork for the print, finishing it off with an extra 10 minutes to cut a mat is not too much to do, at least for me. Now, if I did shows and needed quantity it would be a different situation.

John Layton
29-Aug-2017, 07:33
Personally, I've always preferred the look of mats which are cut knowledgeably and skillfully by hand (with a manual machine, like my C+H) versus those cut by an automated machine.

Peter De Smidt
29-Aug-2017, 07:45
Why John? I only have one big print with a computer cut 8-ply mat. All of my other mats are cut by me on a manual machine. The computer cut mat is perfect, to my eye at least.

John Layton
29-Aug-2017, 12:32
Having compared a number of results from two different computerized machines, operated by the same person (from a span of about six to ten years ago) to skillfully executed manual machine cuts...the straightness/sharpness of inside corners from the two automated machines seemed to suffer somewhat, at least when viewed closely, as compared to those from manual machine cuts.

A biased sample perhaps - my observations based only on four ply mats? Computerized machines not dialed in correctly? Single practitioner not well-versed? Perhaps more recent machines give better performance? At any rate - just my own observations at that time...and to be fair, maybe I should amend my use of "always" and check in again?

Peter De Smidt
29-Aug-2017, 12:56
No worries, John. I was just curious. My big mat was cut by Frame Destinations. Maybe I was fortunate.

Jim Becia
29-Aug-2017, 13:15
Having compared a number of results from two different computerized machines, operated by the same person (from a span of about six to ten years ago) to skillfully executed manual machine cuts...the straightness/sharpness of inside corners from the two automated machines seemed to suffer somewhat, at least when viewed closely, as compared to those from manual machine cuts.

A biased sample perhaps - my observations based only on four ply mats? Computerized machines not dialed in correctly? Single practitioner not well-versed? Perhaps more recent machines give better performance? At any rate - just my own observations at that time...and to be fair, maybe I should amend my use of "always" and check in again?

John, as someone who cut mats on a Fletcher 2100 for 25 years and also having had mats cut on a computerized mat cutting system, there should be absolutely no difference, if, and this is a big if, the blades are changed at a regular interval. That is the biggest detriment to computerized mat cutting. Matter of fact, a computerized mat cutter eliminates the the tendency for hooked corners because many people cutting with a regular mat cutter have a tendncy to not pull straight back with the blade, but use their wrist and that tends to hook the corners.

Corran
29-Aug-2017, 13:17
The only poorly-cut mats I've ever had were the ones I cut :p

bob carnie
29-Aug-2017, 13:18
John, as someone who cut mats on a Fletcher 2100 for 25 years and also having had mats cut on a computerized mat cutting system, there should be absolutely no difference, if, and this is a big if, the blades are changed at a regular interval. That is the biggest detriment to computerized mat cutting. Matter of fact, a computerized mat cutter eliminates the the tendency for hooked corners because many people cutting with a regular mat cutter have a tendncy to not pull straight back with the blade, but use their wrist and that tends to hook the corners.

What Jim Says, I have done both, the changing of the blades is most important.

Rich14
29-Aug-2017, 13:30
I bought a used Esterly Speed Mat cutter because I just became totally frustrated with the inaccuracy of the Logan type systems for cutting large mats. I do all my own mat cutting and cutting anything larger than a 16x20 mat for me was just an exercise in frustration. I do a lot of large mats. Below 16x20, the Logan type machines were ok (marginally).

The Esterly Speed Mat holds up to 60x40 mat board. It mounts on a wall. It's a purely mechanical unit, but it's the closest thing to a production machine short of a computerized machine. It locks the board down absolutely securely and the cutter carriage is then just moved through four cuts as fast as you can say it with incredible accuracy. Once you see one in action, you'll never want to use any other kind of manual system. Here's a link to a photographer who shows his whole process. He demonstrates the Esterly at about 4:30 into the video. Don't blink. If you've never seen one before, you'll be amazed how fast it is.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3n2ossog5Ns&ab_channel=RobertRodriguezJr

The Speed Mat company also makes a computerized machine. I believe their machine is at the very low price range of such machines.

(I have no connection to them or to the photographer in the video)

I investigated a number of the high end machines - Valiani, Zund, Kongsberg. They are all fantastic machines. If anyone has seen poor cuts from such a machine, something was very wrong with the setup or the operator allowed the blade to become dull. They are capable of precision beyond which anyone needs in mat cutting. They are used in high-end production cutting of all kinds, way beyond mat cutting. There are many fascinating youtube videos showing these beasts. The videos are a real eye-opener into that industry. I highly recommend doing a search on youtube.

They are drop-dead beautiful pieces of equipment and are intended for very high-volume production. Only the largest of frame shops can reasonably afford such things.

Rich

bob carnie
29-Aug-2017, 13:33
I bought a used Esterly Speed Mat cutter because I just became totally frustrated with the inaccuracy of the Logan type systems for cutting large mats. I do all my own mat cutting and cutting anything larger than a 16x20 mat for me was just an exercise in frustration. I do a lot of large mats. Below 16x20, the Logan type machines were ok (marginally).

The Esterly Speed Mat holds up to 60x40 mat board. It mounts on a wall. It's a purely mechanical unit, but it's the closest thing to a production machine short of a computerized machine. It locks the board down absolutely securely and the cutter carriage is then just moved through four cuts as fast as you can say it with incredible accuracy. Once you see one in action, you'll never want to use any other kind of manual system. Here's a link to a photographer who shows his whole process. He demonstrates the Esterly at about 4:30 into the video. Don't blink. If you've never seen one before, you'll be amazed how fast it is.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3n2ossog5Ns&ab_channel=RobertRodriguezJr

The Speed Mat company also makes a computerized machine. I believe their machine is at the very low price range of such machines.

(I have no connection to them or to the photographer in the video)

I investigated a number of the high end machines - Valiani, Zund, Kongsberg. They are all fantastic machines. If anyone has seen poor cuts from such a machine, something was very wrong with the setup or the operator allowed the blade to become dull. They are capable of precision beyond which anyone needs in mat cutting. They are used in high-end production cutting of all kinds, way beyond mat cutting. There are many fascinating youtube videos showing these beasts. The videos are a real eye-opener into that industry. I highly recommend doing a search on youtube.

They are drop-dead beautiful pieces of equipment and are intended for very high-volume production. Only the largest of frame shops can reasonably afford such things.

Rich

Sandy this is the system I am considering...

Rich - how long have you had this machine? and does it live up to the video as being very easy to use?
For some reason I thought the Easterly system had a compressor attached to hold the matt into place and to drive the knife into the board??

Rich14
29-Aug-2017, 13:53
Bob,

I've had mine for 8 months. Operating it is exactly as easy as shown in the video. It's the only sane way to manually cut mat board. Yes, there is a model with a pneumatic unit. Mine is strictly mechanical. Like the video.

I bought mine used from Skyline for about $850. I live in Oceanside, CA. The seller was in Boston. The cost of shipping the large backing board that the system is mounted on was prohibitively expensive. So I had him unmount all the components and send them to me. I then reassembled them on a melamine-clad board here.

I don't recommend anyone else do that unless you have a woodworking shop (I do) and some light metal-working capability. And the mechanical aptitude to figure out how to achieve the accuracy in re-mounting the parts (the original manufacturer uses industrial-strength jigs and templates to achieve that). And you like doing that kind of thing (I do). I had to re-engineer the hold-downs a bit as the guy who sent it to me damaged them when he disassembled them. No big deal. Needed new springs.

It's a great machine. I think they are about $3500 new. Worth every cent if you're a picture frame shop. But you have to know what you're buying if you get them used.

bob carnie
29-Aug-2017, 14:23
Bob,

I've had mine for 8 months. Operating it is exactly as easy as shown in the video. It's the only sane way to manually cut mat board. Yes, there is a model with a pneumatic unit. Mine is strictly mechanical. Like the video.

I bought mine used from Skyline for about $850. I live in Oceanside, CA. The seller was in Boston. The cost of shipping the large backing board that the system is mounted on was prohibitively expensive. So I had him unmount all the components and send them to me. I then reassembled them on a melamine-clad board here.

I don't recommend anyone else do that unless you have a woodworking shop (I do) and some light metal-working capability. And the mechanical aptitude to figure out how to achieve the accuracy in re-mounting the parts (the original manufacturer uses industrial-strength jigs and templates to achieve that). And you like doing that kind of thing (I do). I had to re-engineer the hold-downs a bit as the guy who sent it to me damaged them when he disassembled them. No big deal. Needed new springs.

It's a great machine. I think they are about $3500 new. Worth every cent if you're a picture frame shop. But you have to know what you're buying if you get them used.

Thanks Rich I think Sandy should look at this unit.. I did not know there was a strickly Mechanical.

As far as setting up your window cuts how long does it take you to figure out how to set the positions.. I have used a computerised and its easy, and we now hand cut and its just a matter of pencils on the back of the matt.
Are you pre marking the matts for final cuts..??

I am useless in set up so I actually would send a more mechanically inclined person to Mass, make them show how to work the unit and then bring it back - set it up- and then teach me.

Rich14
29-Aug-2017, 16:03
Thanks Rich I think Sandy should look at this unit.. I did not know there was a strickly Mechanical.

As far as setting up your window cuts how long does it take you to figure out how to set the positions..

You just decide the width of border you want and set the stops to that measurement. It's a direct process.

sanking
29-Aug-2017, 21:03
Sandy this is the system I am considering...

Rich - how long have you had this machine? and does it live up to the video as being very easy to use?
For some reason I thought the Easterly system had a compressor attached to hold the matt into place and to drive the knife into the board??

These units look interesting.

Rich, the Esterly Speed Mat cutters appear to have been produced for many years. What would be the important things for a potential buyer to ask a seller of a used unit? And especially for buying a good working unit that could be shipped as is.

I can figure out how to make it work, if all the parts are there.

Sandy

jnanian
30-Aug-2017, 05:05
You just decide the width of border you want and set the stops to that measurement. It's a direct process.


i just watched that video ...
talk about direct .. its ez+fast too

Willie
30-Aug-2017, 05:35
On Logan mat cutters. Most are lower quality but their Platinum Edge Elite is the old Chronomat - a very good mat cutter. Logan bought out Chronomat and has done a good job of keeping the positive aspects of these mat cutters in their offering.

Rich14
30-Aug-2017, 06:08
These units look interesting.

Rich, the Esterly Speed Mat cutters appear to have been produced for many years. What would be the important things for a potential buyer to ask a seller of a used unit? And especially for buying a good working unit that could be shipped as is.

I can figure out how to make it work, if all the parts are there.

Sandy

I would just ask them to assure you that the machine is in good condition, that it's been taken care of, that nothing is broken, how much it's been used. Also, give the company a call. They're a small mom and pop shop. They sometimes have deals on specific models, and can tell you a lot about the machines. They are also aware of some machines for sale, although they want you to buy new, of course.

bob carnie
30-Aug-2017, 06:28
I would just ask them to assure you that the machine is in good condition, that it's been taken care of, that nothing is broken, how much it's been used. Also, give the company a call. They're a small mom and pop shop. They sometimes have deals on specific models, and can tell you a lot about the machines. They are also aware of some machines for sale, although they want you to buy new, of course.

They are definitely nice people , I have had a few discussions with them and will be back at it... The price of their machine is around 3500k USD and at the time I was looking (last year) our dollar sucked and I bought a used
Fletcher matt cutter, but I think when the dollar gets better I will think again as I hate cutting matts manually and this machine looks very user friendly.

Harold_4074
31-Aug-2017, 14:53
Since the OP used the phrase "for personal work" I will offer the following:

My local framing shop has a computerized mat cutter, and it is a joy to watch. However, I prefer "floating" mounts where the edges of the mat form a window for the print. Chatting with the owner, I mentioned this and he said that the computerized machine should be able to do it even better. I brought in an example, where the print was slightly off square but the mat and print edges were nonetheless parallel. The error was difficult to see, but would have been disturbing if the mat opening had been a clean rectangle. When I explained how to do it with a Dexter mat cutter, he just shook his head. Actually, I first learned the technique because I had so much trouble cutting down sheets of mat board to (sufficiently) perfect rectangles, an essential for mat cutters which measure in from the outside edges of the mat.(Of course, his computerized machine handles this effortlessly.)

Michael Kadillak
31-Aug-2017, 21:40
These units look interesting.

Rich, the Esterly Speed Mat cutters appear to have been produced for many years. What would be the important things for a potential buyer to ask a seller of a used unit? And especially for buying a good working unit that could be shipped as is.

I can figure out how to make it work, if all the parts are there.

Sandy

I bought a like new manual Speed Mat cutter off of the local Craig's list about a year ago for dirt cheap. Sent in the main arm to have it adjusted (excellent customer service I might add) and even if it is manual, it simply does a tremendous job. The adjustments are easy to deploy and the blades are easy to change. Well engineered design. Mounted it on the wall in my basement.

bob carnie
1-Sep-2017, 06:10
I have a good idea of the volume of work Sandy does and I think the Esterly system , semi auto or manual would fit the bill, since this thread started I am now re considering purchasing the semi auto unit would suit my needs for my small shop.
I do a lot of matt cutting, fortunately I have a good framer near me that will cut windows, at a decent price but I am increasing my matting needs. At my old company I did have a Fletcher Auto Cutter we purchased for about 15 K , and it paid for itself in about a year which was great.

bob carnie
1-Sep-2017, 06:11
Also Knowing Sandy who has a lot of friends , he will find a way to cut matts for others with the unit and turn a nice profit within a year or two.

J.B. Harlin
1-Sep-2017, 20:18
We pick up the smaller Esterly Speed Mat cutter several years ago off Craig's List. . . really like it. . .

sanking
21-Sep-2017, 12:50
Well, finally located an Esterly Speed-mat cutter, Model 3240, said to be a late model in Excellent condition, for what I consider a very reasonable price ($600), and it is on the way to me now.

Tried to find one that I could pick up locally but that did not work out so had to spend a good chunk of change on freight. But price with shipping is only about 1/4 of the cost of a new model so I am happy.

To this point I have worked with a few standard sizes and have had mats cut to size, which of course is a great luxury. But I have a lot of vintage carbon prints that are irregular in size and believe the Esterly will help me get them matted so I can do a better job of marketing them.

Sandy

faberryman
21-Sep-2017, 13:00
The 3240 handles 8-ply mats which are luxurious, and especially appropriate for vintage prints. Anxious to hear your experiences.

I spent about hour yesterday cutting ten 16x20 mats with 9x13.5 openings with my Logan manual. You could probably do it in less than five minutes with the Esterly.

sanking
22-Sep-2017, 16:40
The 3240 handles 8-ply mats which are luxurious, and especially appropriate for vintage prints. Anxious to hear your experiences.

I spent about hour yesterday cutting ten 16x20 mats with 9x13.5 openings yesterday with my Logan manual. You could probably do it in less than five minutes with the Esterly.

I will be sure to report my experience with the Esterly 3240. And thanks for the helpful replies to this thread that led me to go in that direction.

Although my original interest was in some type of computerized system, the fact that this system is both fast and manual could be more time efficient for the volume I anticipate.

Sandy

bob carnie
23-Sep-2017, 06:27
I will be sure to report my experience with the Esterly 3240. And thanks for the helpful replies to this thread that led me to go in that direction.

Although my original interest was in some type of computerized system, the fact that this system is both fast and manual could be more time efficient for the volume I anticipate.

Sandy

I will be interested in how the Southern Gentleman gets on with this machine.

sanking
27-Sep-2017, 14:03
The 32X40 Esterly Speed Mat cutter arrived today, well packed and in EX+ condition. Hardly a blemish anywhere on the unit so the previous owner obviously took good care of it. I am very impressed with the build of the unit, much sturdier than one could judge from pictures.

The unit did not come with any wall mounting equipment. I find some literature on the Esterly web site about this, would appreciate any personal experience with placement.

Sandy

Michael Kadillak
27-Sep-2017, 15:14
The 32X40 Esterly Speed Mat cutter arrived today, well packed and in EX+ condition. Hardly a blemish anywhere on the unit so the previous owner obviously took good care of it. I am very impressed with the build of the unit, much sturdier than one could judge from pictures.

The unit did not come with any wall mounting equipment. Any ideas about how to go about wall mounting, or reference to a good article on the subject, would be appreciated.

Sandy

Here is how I decided to mount my Easterly unit. The first step for me was to determine how tall the unit should be mounted to allow me to have comfortable and efficient control of the unit without bending over or reaching too high. Once you have figure out the height of the base I put a piece of tape at that height off of the floor. I wanted to have some angle at the bottom of the matt cutter to the flat wall so I purchased three 90 degree heavy metal brackets from Home Depot and cut a 2x4 to width to the width of the matt cutter. I affixed the brackets to the wall and then the 2x4 to the bracket. Get a beefy bracket as this is not a place to skimp on structural strength. I also purchased five screw hinges. On the top of the 2x4 where the hinge is at the outer edge of the wooden 2x4 I screwed the hinge into the wood and on the back side of the mat cutter to secure it in place. I then rotated the mat cutter up and against the wall and put two screw hinges into the wall and into the top of the mat cutter to secure them. I used a stud detector to find where I had 2x4's past the drywall. Now the mat cutter sits at a comfortable angle away from the wall and it is very comfortable to work with at this position.

Cheers!

sanking
27-Sep-2017, 16:47
Here is how I decided to mount my Easterly unit. The first step for me was to determine how tall the unit should be mounted to allow me to have comfortable and efficient control of the unit without bending over or reaching too high. Once you have figure out the height of the base I put a piece of tape at that height off of the floor. I wanted to have some angle at the bottom of the matt cutter to the flat wall so I purchased three 90 degree heavy metal brackets from Home Depot and cut a 2x4 to width to the width of the matt cutter. I affixed the brackets to the wall and then the 2x4 to the bracket. Get a beefy bracket as this is not a place to skimp on structural strength. I also purchased five screw hinges. On the top of the 2x4 where the hinge is at the outer edge of the wooden 2x4 I screwed the hinge into the wood and on the back side of the mat cutter to secure it in place. I then rotated the mat cutter up and against the wall and put two screw hinges into the wall and into the top of the mat cutter to secure them. I used a stud detector to find where I had 2x4's past the drywall. Now the mat cutter sits at a comfortable angle away from the wall and it is very comfortable to work with at this position.

Cheers!

Hi Michael,

Thanks, your observations are very helpful

I will definitely plan to attach the unit to the wall with screws into the studs!! The mat cutter would not be something we would want to attach to the dry wall with butterfly anchors!!

Regards,

Sandy