Hello people, I going to share a detailed and easy-to-follow guide on how to cut plexiglass at home or anywhere else. So without further ado, let’s cut to the chase.
How to Cut Acrylic Sheet/Plexiglass
Plexiglass is a brand name for acrylic plastic sheets. It is a hard, transparent, lightweight, and cost-effective alternative to glass for many applications. It is immensely durable and has near-limitless applications. Plexiglass sheeting exhibits outstanding flexibility and strength with a lot of utility in everyday applications, and most importantly, it’s also shatterproof.
Versatile and tough, yes, for all the great things with Plexiglass, it’s still not perfect. Its biggest problem is that it scratches very quickly, and that is why the sheets of material come covered in a thin layer of protective film. Another problem is its poor scratch resistance makes it challenging to cut compared to glass. Cutting Plexiglass requires patience and the right tools.
While cutting plexiglass, leave the film in place for as long as possible to avoid impairing the surface. In addition, keep in mind that it doesn’t matter how careful you are; it’s challenging to cut plexiglass without a crooked and rough edge. If your application requires a clean and precise edge, you have to devote extra time and effort to smooth the finish. Simply cutting plexiglass to size is considerably easy by comparison.
The best way to cut plexiglass is heavily dependent on its thickness. For thicker slabs, scoring is the best option; sheets with intermediate thickness are cut well by a scroll saw; the thinnest are best suited for handheld rotary tools.
Surprisingly, the thickest plexiglass sheets are the easiest to cut and allows for the simplest cutting processes.
Continue reading further to know the right way to cut Plexiglass – Super Efficiently.
How to Cut Plexiglass with a Utility Knife, Box Cutter, or Glass Cutter –
Here’s a step by step by step explanation for cutting plexiglass perfectly:
- Place the sheet on a flat surface and measure the line you wish to cut using a yardstick and a permanent marker (or a grease marker). Next, hold the yardstick to the marked line, and run the blunt side of the utility knife along the yardstick to score the sheet.
- Score repeatedly, for about 10 -15 times until you have made a deep, narrow cut in the plexiglass.
- Turn over the plexiglass and score the opposite side in a similar way.
- At last, hold the scribed line to the edge of your work surface, and put the plexiglass in place with the help of a clamp. Then, with sharp downward pressure, cut off the extra portion of plexiglass going beyond your work surface.
Interesting read – Which is the Best Acrylic Glue? | The Best Plexiglass Glue
How to Cut a Thick Sheet of Plexiglass with a Saber Saw, Circular Saw, Table Saw, or Jigsaw –
For thicker sheets power saw is advisable-be it a circular saw or table saw (when cutting anything else other than straight-line, go for jigsaw).
Regardless of the type of saw you choose for the job, it’s essential to use the right blade. There are blades available in the market specifically made for cutting Plexiglass, but any metal cutting blade with carbide blades will work as well.
Before choosing one blade or another verify that its teeth are evenly placed or not, have no scratches, and have uniform height and shape.
After preparing your tool, it’s time to prepare your Plexiglass. Begin with marking it, and then cut it like any other material, clamping if required. Take a note that if the blade overheats, the material may chip or crack. Continue after double-checking everything, use water cooling if needed, or pause your work for few minutes.
How to Polish and Shine Rough Edges –
Regardless of the cutting method you choose, you will notice that the cut plexiglass edge isn’t exactly the most attractive looking thing. If the cut edge is supposed to be visible in your application then you have to devote some extra time to sand and buff out the blemishes.
People seem to be more interested in using a handheld power sander. However, manual wet sanding generally achieves the best results.
- It all begins with utilizing 120- or 180-grit waterproof sandpaper with a wood or rubber sanding block.
- As the plexiglass becomes smoother, steadily change to consecutively finer grits. Finish by sanding with 600-grit sandpaper.
- Once you are satisfied with the way the edge looks, start buffing. Outfit your electric drill with a buffing pad, and apply a polishing compound formulated for plastic. That will give the plexiglass edge a perfect, fantastic looking polish.
How to Avoid Breaking or Cracking Plexiglass as You Cut –
Although Plexiglass is a tough and durable material, many times stronger than glass in terms of impact strength, that doesn’t make it unbreakable. Below are some salient tips which you can follow in order to prevent any unrepairable damages.
Don’t Remove the Plastic Film: As I mentioned earlier, Plexiglass comes with a thin, protective layer of plastic film for preventing scratches or any other damage as the material travels from manufacturer to retailer to your place. Not removing the film will prevent you from making scratches while measuring, marking, and cutting your tool and work surfaces.
Score Deep: When using the knife for cutting plexiglass, ensure that you score a deep, straight-line before trying to break the material at a mark.
Use the Right Blade: Whether you use a hand tool or power saw for cutting, choosing the right blade is integral to getting the job done perfectly. A blunt or dull blade will not be compatible with cutting the material and cause unwanted scratches and marks.
Blade Should be Kept Cool: As I said at the beginning of the piece that an overheated blade can cause cracks and breaks in the plexiglass during the cutting process. If kept on, the thin plastic film can act as a lubricant up to some extent, but still, if your blade becomes too hot, pause and wait for some time before continuing. You can also add some amount of soapy water to the plexiglass surface for additional lubrication while cutting.
1. What is the difference between Plexiglass vs. Acrylic?
Ans. The short and straightforward answer to that question is that there is absolutely no difference between the two. This is because acrylic is the usual abbreviation for polymethyl methacrylate, and Plexiglas® is one of the many brand names of this plastic. Over time this brand name has become generic as ‘plexiglass’.
2. What is the cleanest way to cut Plexiglass?
Ans. Fit a circular saw or table saw with a good quality blade with crosscut teeth to prevent chipping the piece while cutting. Place the plexiglass sheet along with the cut line. Keep the saw speed slow while cutting or spray some water over the cut point to keep the material cool. This will make your operation clean and well-finished without leaving cracks or damages on the material and work surface.
3. Can I drill holes in Plexiglass?
Ans. Drilling holes in plexiglass is possible but tricky. Often the traditional bits used for drilling wood and metal chip and crack the plexiglass while drilling through its surface. There are drill bits available in the market, specifically designed and engineered to work with acrylic/plexiglass. You can also alter traditional drill bits to work with plexiglass.
4. Can a laser cutter cut acrylic?
Ans. Yes. It’s possible to cut acrylic using a laser cutter, but it won’t result in polished flame edges. Laser cutting is most commonly used for engraving applications, and if you’re looking for smooth, clean, and well-finished edges, then laser cutting is not advisable. However, laser cutting can deliver clean, smooth, and flame polished edges if used on extruded acrylic.
5. Is Plexiglass sheet an excellent alternative to glass sheets?
Ans. Absolutely yes. Plexiglass or acrylic is ten times stronger than glass making it suitable for a wide range of scenarios in both indoor and outdoor applications. The most popular acrylic application is indoor and outdoor glazing & windows.
Suggested Read –
- How to Choose the Right Lubricants For Plastic Parts?
- Plexiglass Vs. Acrylic | What are the Differences and Similarities?
- 7 Types of Plastics | An Helpful Illustrated Guide
- What is a Plastic Pallet? | The Definitive Guide
- PTFE Vs. Teflon: What are The Differences?
- Which is the Best ABS Glue? | The Definitive Guide on Bonding ABS Properly
- What is the Best Glue for Plastic Parts | The Ultimate Guide
- Antistatic vs. Static Dissipative Plastics | Which One to Choose?
Final Thoughts –
That is all I wanted to say about how to cut plexiglass with precision and sheer ease. Every building material comes with its specialties and nuances. Working with them can be mastered over time by practice. Luckily, plexiglass isn’t a material that is hard to work on.
That’s it from my side. Kindly share your reviews and thoughts in the comment section.
Have a wonderful day.