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Author Topic: How to trim/finish edges of gatorboard?  (Read 20956 times)

Bob_B

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How to trim/finish edges of gatorboard?
« on: March 11, 2015, 11:22:44 am »

I bought some 3/16" white self-adhesive gatorboard cut to 11x14 as an experiment, having never used this to mount prints. I noticed that these boards need some additional finishing to square them and finish the edges. (I'm not sure why the supplier didn't do this in the first place, but let's not go there.) Can I use a sanding block to finish the edges? What grit paper? At worst, there's maybe 1/16-1/8" of overhang that needs to be removed on a a few boards, and several boards have edges that I feel would benefit from better finishing to remove roughness.

Any thoughts or suggestions are appreciated. Thanks for your help!

Bob
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mstevensphoto

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Re: How to trim/finish edges of gatorboard?
« Reply #1 on: March 11, 2015, 02:43:53 pm »

often futzing with gatorboard edges takes one problem and makes it into another. a brand new blade and a single pas cut will be your best bet. I always try to get through gator on one swipe, it's the cleanest way. you can score and snap but there is always some weirdness left.
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Wayne Fox

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Re: How to trim/finish edges of gatorboard?
« Reply #2 on: March 11, 2015, 03:28:55 pm »

If you want a really clean even edge, better to oversize the print and include a white border of paper, mount and then trim to exact size cutting into the image area slightly.  as mentioned a really sharp blade and good straight edge.
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bill t.

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Re: How to trim/finish edges of gatorboard?
« Reply #3 on: March 11, 2015, 03:39:59 pm »

It's very easy to make clean cuts on prints adhesive mounted to Gator, as opposed to canvas on Gator which is much harder.

My best recommendation is to sacrifice a mounted scrap print and board to the cause of learning the trade.  Just keep slicing.  Education is always worth the price.

For medium to heavy weight papers, what works best for me is to rotate the knife very slightly in towards the print, make perhaps two gentle cuts to get through the paper, and then aggressively cut through the rest of the board.  That should yield a smooth edge on both the foam and the back laminate.  If you see fractures on the back laminate, take a few medium cuts instead of a single aggressive one.

The required skill is keeping the knife at the same angle for both gentle and aggressive cuts.  It's all about knife control, and that's why one should practice.  Virtuoso Gator cutters are known to practice several hours a day.

The purpose of the angle and the initial gentle cuts is to cut through the paper while generating the smallest possible burrs.  The proper angle will place a large burr on the waste piece, and a relatively smaller burr on the print side.  You can never quite lose a burr on the print side, but it can be gently burnished down by the smooth chrome rod of a screwdriver, smaller burrs are easier.

If thin, long shards of paper are generated from the cuts, it's because the knife position was changed for sequential cuts.  That's the argument for a single aggressive cut, which will unfortunately generates a large burr on both sides of the cut and sometimes fractures the back edges of the Gator.

A cutting straight edge like this is a must-have, IMHO.  Those have wide, foam covered bases that can be safely placed over the most delicate prints.  I've got two of those, and a table surface completely covered with an always present cutting matte that is a suitable surface for every type of the print and frame handling, and I laugh at rotary cutters.
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Bob_B

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Re: How to trim/finish edges of gatorboard?
« Reply #4 on: March 11, 2015, 07:49:47 pm »

.A cutting straight edge like this is a must-have, IMHO.  Those have wide, foam covered bases that can be safely placed over the most delicate prints.  I've got two of those, and a table surface completely covered with an always present cutting matte that is a suitable surface for every type of the print and frame handling, and I laugh at rotary cutters.

Ahem to that, Brother Bill (lol). I accidentally sliced off part of my thumb last year (in a run-in with a kitchen mandoline), and since have great respect for anything that keeps my fingers (or other body parts) from blades. Also, thanks for your thoughts on rotary cutters. I had read a couple of articles that recommended them, but had some doubts. I'll stick to good ole cutting blades and change them often.

 Bob
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Peter McLennan

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Re: How to trim/finish edges of gatorboard?
« Reply #5 on: March 11, 2015, 08:33:56 pm »

How about a matt cutter?  I use my Logan to cut foamcore, but I've never cut gator with it. 
How thick can you go with gator and still cut it nicely?
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bill t.

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Re: How to trim/finish edges of gatorboard?
« Reply #6 on: March 11, 2015, 09:17:55 pm »

With a sharp blade supported rigidly as with matte cutters where the puck can not jump off the tracks, you can cleanly cut up to 1/2" Gator in a single swipe if the cutter is clamped to the table, and the table can not slide across the floor.  Most wall mounted media cutters can do the same.  There is, however, wisdom in taking at least 2 cuts for 1/2" Gator with a matte cutter, or 4+ cuts with a hand held knife.

Gator is basically a pussy cat except for its rigidity.  If you can cut standard foam core you can cut Gator.  OTOH, ragged cuts on Gator create razor sharp edges that like the taste of human blood.  Have bandages ready when you cut your first sheets of Gator, and do not let those sheets slide while in your grip.

The problem with matte cutters as media slicers is that many can not take the 48" dimension of 48 x 96 sheet, so you need to rough cut with a knife and straightedge, or for the brave, free form knife scoring + snapping.
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hugowolf

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Re: How to trim/finish edges of gatorboard?
« Reply #7 on: March 11, 2015, 11:43:45 pm »

OTOH, ragged cuts on Gator create razor sharp edges that like the taste of human blood.  Have bandages ready when you cut your first sheets of Gator, and do not let those sheets slide while in your grip.

I'll second that. The first time I cut Gator, I ran my fingers along that nice clean cut, just to see how clean it was. It is much worse than a paper cut.

Brian A
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Phil Indeblanc

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Re: How to trim/finish edges of gatorboard?
« Reply #8 on: March 12, 2015, 02:21:32 am »

I'll 3rd on that one. I did the same as you to see if it was smooth...It was as smooth as my shaver. That thing can be made in to guillotine with little weight added.
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Justan

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Re: How to trim/finish edges of gatorboard?
« Reply #9 on: March 12, 2015, 10:58:22 am »

Quote
A cutting straight edge like this is a must-have, IMHO.  Those have wide, foam covered bases that can be safely placed over the most delicate prints.
Bill,

Nice find! Any idea what the "foam covered base" is made of? One of the things that is a continual challenge is to keep the ruler from slipping when cutting larger pieces.

Bob_B

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Re: How to trim/finish edges of gatorboard?
« Reply #10 on: March 12, 2015, 11:06:10 am »

Would something like this Logan 701-1 mat cutter be appropriate?
http://www.dickblick.com/products/logan-701-1-straight-cutter-elite/

If not, I'd appreciate some suggestions for mat cutters better suited to cutting gatorboard.
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Phil Indeblanc

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Re: How to trim/finish edges of gatorboard?
« Reply #11 on: March 12, 2015, 12:07:49 pm »

If you can, get a Fletcher 2k wall mount and be done with it. One of my fav tools. I had to make some changes in my workspace a couple years ago, and I sold mine, and now can surely use it again.
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Bob_B

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Re: How to trim/finish edges of gatorboard?
« Reply #12 on: March 12, 2015, 12:28:30 pm »

If you can, get a Fletcher 2k wall mount and be done with it. One of my fav tools. I had to make some changes in my workspace a couple years ago, and I sold mine, and now can surely use it again.

Nice idea, but way more than I need (or can afford) at the moment. Maybe someday...
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John V.

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Re: How to trim/finish edges of gatorboard?
« Reply #13 on: March 12, 2015, 12:35:57 pm »

Not really a solution here, but thought I'd mention.

I'm big on templates. I use them for cutting packaging materials, papers, foam, whatever. I use sheets of aluminum cut to whatever specific dimension, clamp it down on top of the material to be cut, somehow, and then just cut around the template.
« Last Edit: March 12, 2015, 01:30:21 pm by John Drew »
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framah

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Re: How to trim/finish edges of gatorboard?
« Reply #14 on: March 12, 2015, 01:50:16 pm »

Personally, I take more than one cut thru gatorboard. The harder you push to get thru it, the more likely you are to have the straight edge move.
The first cut should  go thru the paper and the top layer of the GB. The next goes  thru the foam and possibly thru the other side as well. A third cut can finish the other side if needed.

Here is what I use to smooth off the shards on the cut edge:



A sheetrock sander.
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JohnHeerema

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Re: How to trim/finish edges of gatorboard?
« Reply #15 on: March 12, 2015, 08:47:19 pm »

After trying a variety of knife-based approaches, I now use a good table saw, followed by light application of a sanding block to feather the sharp edges.
It's a lot faster and more reliable than trying to use a knife on 1/2" gator.
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bill t.

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Re: How to trim/finish edges of gatorboard?
« Reply #16 on: March 13, 2015, 02:29:10 am »

Nice find! Any idea what the "foam covered base" is made of? One of the things that is a continual challenge is to keep the ruler from slipping when cutting larger pieces.

Dunno exactly, it's just black spongy foam about 2mm thick and it lasts for a really long time.  Have not had to replace any in a few years.  Less dense that weather stripping.  The thickness makes it safe to place over prints, because even if there is some crud on the print or in the foam, it just pushes into the foam.

The wide base is big plus because you can safely clamp the straight edge over the art at the edge of the table with Irwin clamps.  Lowes has them 4 for $24 right now, in my local store.  Very handy for those aggressive cuts, and also for fine trims.  You can even use one of those Irwins to clamp a straightedge to a piece a piece of Gator hanging way off the end of the table, and make cuts just as good as if the Gator was supported from the back.  We call those "air cuts" here, because that's what they are.  I do that all the time to cut 8 foot pieces on my 6 foot work table.  One learns to make do.  Have never had issues with dents on the backside of the Gator, even with a fairly aggressive clamp pressure.

I use at least one Irwin clamp on almost every cut, clamping one end of the straightedge to the edge of the table, then letting the excess length of the straightedge overhang past the art on the other, held down by its own weight.  Make the cut from the overhang end to the clamped end.  Longer Irwin clamp posts make great spindles for wire reels.
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Bob_B

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Re: How to trim/finish edges of gatorboard?
« Reply #17 on: March 13, 2015, 10:25:01 am »

I want to express my thanks and gratitude to everyone who responded with advice to my question. I learned a lot, and have a good idea on how to proceed. Thanks! - Bob
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Justan

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Re: How to trim/finish edges of gatorboard?
« Reply #18 on: March 13, 2015, 10:44:34 am »

Quote
Dunno exactly, it's just black spongy foam about 2mm thick

Thanks, Bill. I’ve used some 4” C clamps to clamp the underside of the media (I use mighty core rather than gator) to  a fairly rigid 12”x12” square underlayment that supports the media for the air cut you mentioned. I had problems with a slight crease developing under the 2” wide ruler unless the clamp was so light that it didn’t do bubkis to restrict the movement of the ruler. The Irwin clamps are a good buy but would not do any better than the C clamps in this instance. The wider straight edges you referenced above ( http://www.cutting-mats.net/straightedges.html ) could make a difference, but it’s also likely that the non-skid surface is the trick.

Anywho, because I’m thrifty by nature, I’ll find something to put on the underside of the ruler to give it some anti-skid results and see if that works. In the mean time I found that making a shorter cut of ~ 10” with my hand on the ruler right next to the area being cut, along with a substantial amount of downward force applied to the ruler produces excellent results. Most of the time. Naturally, this solution gets a bit tedious when cutting multiple long sections.

A little research shows there are a some adhesive tapes with good non-slip properties, with the 3M brand TB400 being what appears to be a good choice. I’m gonna snag a roll and see how it works

Jan Becket

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Re: How to trim/finish edges of gatorboard?
« Reply #19 on: March 14, 2015, 03:57:15 am »

Bob, I may have accidentally stumbled into one solution to the gator board issue. I had to mount a show of 50+ images and since I do not like to see my own blood, and am a sucker for hype and promotional prices, I got a Logan T300 Total Trimmer, which I was promised would slice through gator board. Not. I sliced through a few pieces of 1/2" board and then stripped something in the cutting head and had to order a new cutting block from Logan. The details are here, with images:

http://www.amazon.com/Logan-T300-Total-Trimmer-40-Inch/dp/B003A00YUS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1426318717&sr=8-1&keywords=Logan+T300+Total+Trimmer

If the link does not function, search for the Logan T300 Total Trimmer on Amazon and look for my one-star review, with images of my modification, which cost me $100 at a local machine shop. The thing now slices through 1/2" gator like butter, with absolutely straight edges. If there were such a thing as one-inch gator, it would do fine.

I communicated with the support person at Logan to ask why they had not spent an extra $.10 per trimmer to make it function properly. He said he would pass my comments along to their development team.
« Last Edit: March 14, 2015, 03:59:51 am by Jan Becket »
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