How to cut plexiglass?

brussoSeptember 21, 2006

I was cutting pieces of plexiglass (.093), and had a very tough time doing it. I tried the score and snap method (recommended by HD) but that was useless. Then, my circular saw caused the plexi to shatter. Eventually, I used a saber saw with a 15 TPI metal blade. It still shattered. Next, I used the saber and ran it VERY slowly into the plexi. This worked best of all the methods but the cuts were still not ideal. Lots of chips and a few shatters still. So, how do you cut this stuff?

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snoonyb

Score it several times.
Use a 40 tooth blade on your skil saw.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2006 at 9:10PM
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sombreuil_mongrel

Were you using an actual scoring tool or something else? It works for me, is all I'm saying. Score from both sides, if need be. You could also use a tablesaw with a plywood blade and a zero-clerance insert. A bandsaw with a fine blade and zero-clearance insert would be ok as well.
Casey

    Bookmark   September 21, 2006 at 10:48PM
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HandyMac

I use a jigsaw with a metal cutting blade. A band saw also works well for smaller pieces.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2006 at 1:21AM
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over_n_under

I use my band saw whenever possible.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2006 at 8:22AM
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jamesbodell

When I was fixing my Vinyl siding, I used a standard wood blade in my circular saw but installed it BACKWARDS. This worked really well. Can you possibly do the same for plexi glass?

    Bookmark   September 22, 2006 at 12:26PM
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western_pa_luann

DH says he uses a bandsaw....

    Bookmark   September 22, 2006 at 2:30PM
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mike_kaiser_gw

Plexiglass (acrylic) is very hard to work with because it's so brittle. My best suggestion is to visit a local glass shop and have them cut it to the exact sizes you need. You'll probably pay a bit more than at the big box store but you'll save a lot of frustration.

Mike

    Bookmark   September 23, 2006 at 6:51AM
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brickeyee

Glass shop or switch to polycarbonate (lucite).
Much tougher (thick fighter canopies) and cuts cleanly without fracturing.
It is prefered for protecting glass from breakage (burglar proofing sidelights, etc).

    Bookmark   September 23, 2006 at 11:52AM
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mike_kaiser_gw

brickeye,

Did you mean Lexan for polycarbonate? If I'm not mistaken Lucite is a brand name for acrylic sheets.

Mike

    Bookmark   September 24, 2006 at 8:09AM
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brickeyee

Yes. Lexan.
Much nicer stuff to deal with and far bettter than acrylic (polymethyl methacrylate).

    Bookmark   September 24, 2006 at 9:17AM
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sdello

Using Lexan and a bandsaw with fine teeth always worked for me.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2006 at 10:23AM
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bob_cville

I needed to cut some acrylic panels for use in a suspended ceiling. After trying scoring, sawing and several of the above suggested methods I tried a chisel-pointed soldering iron. Whether it was curved cuts, holes, or cuts leaving a thin section that would be prone to breaking off, it went slow (about 1 inch per second) but it cut it like butter.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2006 at 4:33PM
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drywall_diy_guy

I just use my table saw and a rip fence. Move the piece through nice and slow. I have cut a lot of this stuff for my kid's 4H projects with no problems.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2006 at 4:40PM
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mikel2020

To cut plexiglass with even a fine toothed saber saw blade you need to keep a constant stream of cold water on the blade. Hold the spray bottle with your off hand, aim the water at the front (cutting edge) of the blade and the stream of water will turn what would have been a melted blob of blade stopping plexiglass into a sort of cream of wheat mixture that will flow away with the water. Need to brace the plexiglass down with clamps, however, cause this manuever requires both hands.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2007 at 11:17AM
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mongoct

I use a curcular saw with a plywood blade in it.

Plywood blades have several hundred tiny teeth.

I set the depth of cut to be just deeper than the sheet material is thick.

The teeth are small enough, and the angle of the teeth, due to the small depth of cut, is shallow enough where they don't grab and shatter the material.

Works well on all plastic materials.

Mongo

    Bookmark   January 27, 2007 at 11:27PM
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lazypup

I use a circular saw with a fine tooth blade mounted backwards and have no problems.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2007 at 12:25AM
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tomcat_7475

Has anyone ever tried to use a wet saw?

    Bookmark   December 15, 2008 at 1:03PM
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netlos

i used a grinder and a zip cut disc 4",just go slowly you do not want to melt it to drip melted plastic everywhere!

    Bookmark   December 17, 2008 at 5:52PM
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drywall_diy_guy

I use a table saw and a rip fence. Take it slow to minimize edge chipping. The pieces I have cut were always within a wood frame where the edges were in a groove so you could not see any of the chipping, so this method worked nice, and gave me a perfect width cut.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2008 at 6:42PM
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countryboymo

If you tape the area you are going to cut with masking tape of some sort it helps with cutting also. It don't chip out hardly at all and gives a nice place to mark your line also.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2008 at 11:01PM
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harry_wild

LASER!

    Bookmark   December 18, 2008 at 12:38AM
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bill_g_web

How about corrugated wave form sheets? (Not sure of the material, but it's clear.) I tried a metal blade in a jigsaw with poor results. I'll try the plywood blade in a circular saw next.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2009 at 2:14PM
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was_google_com

i used a dremel multimax with a half circular drywall blade. it worked fine. to cut smaller holes i used a dremel trio with the cement board bit. you have to move the bit up and down to prevent the plastic from biulding up on the bit' but it works fine.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2011 at 8:18PM
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greencleaning

To cut plexiglass leave the the paper on and lay the sheet to be cut on a flat, even surface. Using a yardstick and a grease pencil mark the sizes of the pieces to be cut on the paper. When this is complete use a glass cutter to score the lines. It is wise to use the yardstick as a straight edge to follow while doing this and to score the lines 5 to 10 times. When the lines are scored place the scored line on the edge of the table and apply a sharp, downward pressure until the pieces snap in two.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2011 at 8:18AM
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bondrey102

Cut some plexiglass the other day, but first checked out this old post. What worked for me was a 104 tooth plywood blade mounted backward in my 10" table saw. Hand-sanded the edges to soften them. Bernie

    Bookmark   January 23, 2011 at 11:23PM
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sombreuil_mongrel

Since my original response in 06, I cut some 1/4" plexiglass on my tablesaw with a 7 1/4" plywood blade, no zero clearance insert; it cut fine with no tearout or chipping, just left some sort of melted fuzz along the edges, which was fine, because it didn't affect the surface. I made a security panel for a stained glass door lite.
Casey

    Bookmark   January 26, 2011 at 1:43PM
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cobra64_comcast_net

After reading all these posts we were really nervous about cutting plexiglass, then my husband remembered the multi-tool I had given him for Christmas from Sears. It vibrates - the blade doesn't go around like with a circular saw or up and down like a jigsaw. We used the circular fine toothed blade that was included in the kit and ran it at the slowest speed. After marking our lines on the paper coating, he made 4 successively deeper cuts with the tool. There was some melting even at the slower speed but not a big problem. After the last cut which was usually between 2/3 to 3/4 of the way thru, he moved the plexiglass to the edge of the cutting table and snapped the piece off. It wasn't a totally smooth cut so we finished by scraping the melted/rough edges off and sanding with my Mouse sander and fine grit sandpaper. We cut 9 pieces, some small, some larger from an 18"x48" piece of 1/4 inch plexiglass - with no breakage or chipping! Awesome!

    Bookmark   June 12, 2011 at 7:46PM
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jehiatt

These may be old postings but the info is what I needed right now. All these tools mentioned were somewhere else, when I remembered my miniaturize Saws-all. A fine tooth metal blade was in it already and after taping my lines the saw did quick work cutting at 30 degrees angle on the 1/8 inch plexiglass.
I didn't support my panel very well and and a section of the panel hanging out over the garbage buggy broke off.
My piece came out great.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2012 at 5:55PM
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brickeyee

If you use a toothed blade u\you need a very shallow angle for the teeth going in and out of the material.

On a table saw the blade should barely extend through the material.

On a sawzall the blades\ needs t be almost parallel to the face of the panel to make a long shallow cut.

Jig saws with a vertical blade do not work all that well without a very fine bade.

You want about 3 teeth in contact with the material during the cut.

Putting wood on each side of the piece (even plywood) and than cutting works better than almost anything. It just wastes a lot of plywood and clamping the sandwich together can be real PITA.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 11:14AM
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