How to Build a Mat Cutter

metal photo frame image by Bart van der Putten from

Things You'll Need

  • 1 piece of 2-by-6-inch wood
  • 1 large L-bracket
  • 1 small L-bracket
  • 4 small bolts, 1/16-inch
  • 2 large, heavy bolts, 3/16-inch
  • Measuring tape
  • Power drill
  • Router
  • T-square
  • Saw

A mat cutter is a tool most often used to cut mats for artwork and photographs. The idea of matting is pretty simple. A photo is attached to a mat board, and an opening the size of the picture is cut in the middle for the photo to be seen. By using a mat, photos do not touch the glass directly, and it creates a more interesting display piece. Mats can be purchased at any store. However, a mat cutter can be built at home to cut custom mats that will ensure more of a proper fit.

Cut one piece of 2-by-6-inch lumber to the desired length. The piece of lumber should be longer than the photo mat being cut.

Attach the large aluminium L-bracket to the wood using a clamp. The longest part of the bracket should be in the center of the wood. Drill a 1-inch hole about 1-inch from the bottom of the board. Drill the hole through both the bracket and the wood.

Cut the small L-bracket into two pieces using a saw. Each piece should be the same width and length as the wood.

Place the two L-bracket pieces on the board with a clamp. Use a T-square to make sure the brackets are at a 90-degree angle to the large L-bracket. Drill a hole through the brackets that were just attached. The hole should be large enough for the smallest bolts to fit through.

Draw a line along the center of the board in the middle of the smaller brackets. Cut a trough along the drawn line using a router.

Insert the small bolts through the wooden board and small L-brackets. Tighten the bolts once inserted. Insert the larger bolts into the large L-bracket and tighten.