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The term 'ply' refers to the thickness of the mat board. The higher the number, the thicker the board. The most common thickness used is 4 ply (around 1/16th of an inch). 2 ply is 1/2 the thickness of 4 ply. 8 ply would be 2 times as thick. Which ply should you use? That depends on what you are doing Most mat board sold is 4 ply. 8 ply mat is often used in museums or galleries for special presentations of artwork or photos. The 45 degree bevel allows the extra thick core to show and gives a dramatic effect. Double matted means you will have 8 ply mat on your artwork if you use the 4 ply board. In most cases, 4 ply works well. If you choose a thicker or thinner mat board, you must adjust the blade on your mat cutter to avoid over or under cuts. If you are just starting out in mat cutting use 4 ply only. Also, some mat cutters (both manual and computerized) will not cut 8 ply.