Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Upgraded to the Logan 650 Framers Edge

Back in March of 2005, I mentioned that I bought a Logan 450 matcutter, and then I followed up with instructions for modifying the matboard to add a squaring arm with production stop.

Problems with the Logan 450 + modifications

After using that extension board for a while, I found that it wasn't always spot on accurate. Either the squaring arm would shift over time, or the extension board would be just a tiny bit loose, but loose enough to throw off the squaring slightly. I also found that getting the original 3" squaring arm perfectly lined up with the extended squaring arm was quite difficult, and as a result cutting tall but narrow sections of matboard was difficult.

After a while of dealing with all of this, I just gave up and reverted back to hand measuring all of my mats before cutting. Of course, the problem here was that the process became very time consuming, and there was a loss of accuracy in the process.

Another issue I discovered as my first show drew closer, and my rate of cutting ramped up considerably, was that using the 450 was a bit uncomfortable. The way the you had to depress the cutting blade with your fingers, but at the same time ensure that you keep the angle tool firmly on the slide (since it's not attached in any way), cause a bit of stress on my hands wrist. It was quite uncomfortable.

Finally, since both the cutting tools are NOT attached to the slide, they have a tendency to wobble or angle every now and then, resulting in cuts the bow a little bit.

The Logan 450 served me quite well as a budget cutter in my startup stage, but now that I'm getting more serious, it was time to get a bit more serious of a tool.

Picking out a new model

I had looked around at some of the other popular and highly recommended brands, such as Fletcher and C&H, but decided that with a cost of $1000 or more they were a bit out of my league. The Logan 750 was a step above my 450, and included the built in squaring arm (which solved a few of my issues) but it used the same basic mechanisms as the 450, so it wasn't a very considerable improvement over my current situation.

Instead, I opted to go right for the Logan 650 Framers Edge cutter. It's quite heavy duty in construction, the squaring arm is very rigid, and (most importantly) both cutting tools (straight and bevel) are securely attached to the slide (which means they don't come loose or tilt, and it makes the cutting less of a strain on the hand and wrist).

The Logan 650 normally sells for over $450, but I was able to get in on a really great deal (I had an old 30% off coupon from my local shop) and got it for $320. That was a price I couldn't resist.

Unpacking and setting up

My only complaint with the way things were packed was that the included instructional DVD was jammed in there in such a way that it was warped enough that I wouldn't dare consider putting it in any DVD drive.

UPDATE: I must add that I'm quite impressed with Logan's response over this matter. Without me even contacting them, I've been emailed twice by employees of Logan Graphics (Brian Buell - Director of Sales, and Connie Miley Cook - Director of Marketing). They both saw my blog, noticed my complaint, and offered to ship me out a replacement DVD.

When taking everything else out of the box, I was alarmed that there were screw marks on the squaring arm, indicating that it had already been installed once. At first I thought maybe I had received a refurbished unit. However, when I went to install it, I realized that there were precision adjustment screws to fine tune the angle of the squaring arm and ensure a perfect 90 degree angle. I then realized that the unit had probably been calibrated at the factory, and was thus relieved (actually, I was impressed). When I put everything together, a quick check confirmed that indeed, the squaring arm was perfectly square, and the parallel bar was perfectly parallel. So far so good...I was completely satisfied.

UPDATE: Brian Buell also let me know my assumption about it being assembled at the factory was correct. Here is what he said:

"Yes we do install and calibrate the squaring arm along with everything else. In fact, each machine is built from the base board up from one person, tested, then re-tested and packed by another QC person. So technically the machines are used during testing before being packed."

Putting to actual use

I've only been using this for a couple days now, and I've only cut a very small number of bevel cuts, so it's probably not fair to comment on that part of the tool. However, from the little bit I did use it, the bevel cutting seems to be perhaps a bit better then the 450. I'll post an update when I've used it more.

On the other hand, straight cutting (ie: cutting full sheets of matboard down to size) was MUCH easier. Absolutely no pre-measuring was required, and almost every single cut came out perfectly square. I had a few mistakes early on where the cut came out slightly off (and by slightly, I mean very close...well within acceptable tolerance for an 11x14), but as I got better at the process, I didn't have any more problems. In the course of a few hours, I was able to take all the bevel edged remnants I had from window cutting my 11x14 and 16x20 mats, and trim down into over 100 8x10 and 11x14 mats. That cleaned up a big pile of clutter I've had sitting around for several months now.

Next I took about a dozen sheets of foam board, and in about 10-15 minutes was able to trim them all down to 8x10s, 11x14s, and 16x20s. It was VERY quick...just a small fraction of the time I spent previously.


So far, I'm very satisfied with the Logan 650 framers edge. Just based solely on the straight cutting improvements, it was well worth the money. After I get to work on some bevel cuts soon, hopefully I'll discover that it was an even better investment. At this point, I have no regrets and would highly recommend it.


Joshua said...

Ron -
Thanks for the review. This is an old post, but still handy to me, as I am researching and pricing mat cutters right now. Your insights are very helpful.

Ron Frazier said...

I'm glad it was helpful for you. Just as an update (since I haven't posted any updates about this cutter), after using this to cut a large number of mats, my original opinion still stands....this is an excellent cutter, and continued use has shown it to be every bit as good as I originally thought it was.

Jeff W said...

I framed professionally for 5 years. I brought my personal 650 into my workplace and used it everday/all day. I preferred it over the shop owned Fletchers. I used the 650 until our shop upgraded to a computerized matboard cutter (Wizard). After leaving the framing industry, I sold my 650. Now, six years later, I would love to get my hands on a used one to have around the house for projects here and there...

Mark F said...

Don't know if you're still following this 2006 post, but hope so...

I've just started printing and have never matted. I expect to mat about 20-30 prints per year, mostly 11x14 and 16x20, but also a few 17x25. If I understand your post correctly, while you much prefer the 650 as a time saver, the 450 is usable so long as I am careful. Did I get it right?


Mark F