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There are 3 articles in this series, this one and two more: “Mounting Prints – Surface” and “Mounting Prints – Supplies”. I’d urge you to read the Surface one so you can see the difference between this method and that. The Supplies one just lists some gear you will need and places to get it from.

Stuff you will need:

Mount board (also known as mat board. See below for sizing)
Ruler (at least 600mm long)
Pencil (use a decent one!)
Eraser (a quality one, not a cheapo which will tear the board surface)
Acid free mounting tape (masking tape is NOT recommended, nor Sellotape or similar)
Cutting mat (not absolutely necessary but very useful. A1 sized is best. Can use just a large thick piece of card) Double sided tape (optional)

Mount cutter
Modelling knife (or dedicated mat knife) Space (plenty)
Light (good, shadowless)
Time (don’t rush it – disaster lies that way!)

This is NOT the cheapest way of mounting images. The cheapest is surface mounting. However, personally, I think this is a better method and has some advantages over surface mounting.

The best thing about cutting your own mounts is that you can mount pretty much any size and shape of photograph. This means that you can crop your image to suit your image instead of cropping it to suit a pre-cut mount!

This is the best method to use if you are going to frame a print as it is kept away from the glass.

Printing tip: don’t print on glossy paper. Print on lustre/silk/satin or similar. Glossy prints are harder to view because of reflections; very easy to mark (fingerprints etc) and can stick to glass if framing.

These instructions are to mount your image in the centre of the mount. If you want an off-centre mount, you’ll have to work out your own measurements!

So, how big should the overall mount board be? The largest size acceptable for competition for any SAPA registered club is 20” x 16” (500mm x 400mm) overall. This is also the largest recommended size for RPS images for LRPS panels etc as well as for most international competitions. Basically, see what you think suits your image. Sometimes you might want a lot of space around an image, sometimes you might not – entirely up to you.

When using a cut-out mount, it is wise to have around 5mm minimum on EVERY edge of your print which can be ‘lost’ under the edges of the cut-out. It makes it a lot easier to tape the image in place. This may mean that you might crop the image slightly larger than you actually want to give you that bit of margin or you might add a 5mm margin around the edge when you print it out (or get it printed).



Right, let’s start...

Before doing anything, make some space on a flat, supportive surface. Don’t try and do this on the corner of the dining table – use all of it! The cutting mat is ideal, but basically anything flat and large enough for your mount board which will protect the table underneath from the VERY sharp knife blades you’ll be using!

The numbers below are just examples – use your own measurements!

  1. Measure your image overall length and width, in mm. This is the image only, do not include any white border. I tend to use millimetres rather than centimetres: it’s just easier!

  2. Write down your measurements, eg:

    304 x 153

  3. If either measurement is odd, subtract 1 from it:

    304 x 152

    This saves trying to measure half millimetres later on!

  4. Now subtract 2 from each number:

    302 x 150

    The mount, when bevel cut, will cover around 2mm on each side of the print. If your mount board is much thicker than 2mm, then use that as the amount to subtract.

  5. Now divide each number by 2:

    302 / 2 = 151

  6. 150 / 2 = 75

    And write those numbers down and draw a box around them and label them ‘Cut out’:

151 X 75  CUT OUT

  1. Measure your mount board overall length and width, in mm. Write down your measurements, eg:

    420 x 297

  2. If either measurement is odd, subtract 1 from it:

    420 x 29


8. Now divide each number by 2:

420 / 2 = 210 296 / 2 = 148

And write those numbers down and draw a box around those as well and label that one ‘Board’:


Using the numbers marked as ‘Board’’

  1. On your mount board, on the back, mark, in pencil, lightly, the centre of each long edge. This should

    be 210mm from either short edge. Do the same on the other long edge.

  2. Again, mark 148mm, this time on the short side from either long edge. This should be the centre of the

    short edge. Do the same on the other short edge.

Using the numbers marked as ‘Cut out’
11. From the centre mark on each long edge, mark 151mm either side. This is half the even length minus 2

of your image from point 5, above. Join these marks by a light pencil line.

  1. From the centre mark on each short edge, mark 75mm either side. This is half the even width minus 2 of your image from point 5, above. Join these marks by a light pencil line.

  2. You should now have a rectangle marked out on the back of your mount.


  3. Lay your print on the back of the mount board and make sure the part of the image you want to show lies just INSIDE the marked rectangle. If it doesn’t, you’ve measured or marked something wrong: go back and have another go!

Assuming all is good...

  1. Cut out the mount using your cutter. Different brands of cutter work differently: follow the instructions for yours.

  2. You should now have a perfectly cut, 45° bevelled edge cut-out.

  3. Lay your print face down on a CLEAN surface.

  4. Stick small pieces (10mm) of mounting tape on the TOP 2 corners of your print, half on the print and half in ‘fresh air’.

  5. Turn the print over so it is face up with the two bits of ‘free’ tape showing on the top corners.

  6. Pick up the cut mount and very carefully, lay this on top of your print, holding the top edge slightly off the print.



  1. Carefully finalise the position of the print within the cut-out. When happy, press down the top edge of

    the mount onto the two bits of tape.

  2. Carefully lift and turn the mount AND print back over so it is now face down.

  3. If you are mounting this for a competition, apply mounting tape on all four edges of the print to securely fix it to the mount board.

    If you’re mounting this to go in a frame to hang, apply the mount tape just to the TOP edge of the image so it acts a bit like a hinge. This should stop the image from wrinkling due to the paper expanding and contracting with heat and humidity where it is going to be hung.

  4. For competitions, you may find a larger print/mount combination is a bit flimsy. I normally ‘back’ such mounts.

    You can do this by using the cut-out section of mount board and taping this in place on the BACK of the mount over the image.

    You can also (my preferred method) use a second piece of mount board, cut exactly the same size as the original mount board and stick that in place on the back, using double sided tape.

When mounting images, you should use an acid free mounting tape. Masking tape is NOT the best: it goes brittle with age and is not acid free so may, with time, mark your prints.