Plexiglas is a tough acrylic plastic that can be used in place of glass. Cutting Plexiglas is challenging because it is more brittle than glass, and if friction from the cutting blade builds up, the plastic may melt. Plexiglas is a cheap and versatile glass replacement, available in sheets that are transparent, translucent and completely opaque. Cutting requires some experimentation with different blades until the right one is found. This is because it is available in a variety of thicknesses, which also affects how brittle the Plexiglas will be while cutting.
Things You'll Need
- Ruler or measuring tape
- Grease pencil
- Safety glasses
- Safety gloves
- Circular saw
- 80 - 180-grit sandpaper
Measure the Plexiglas to size with a ruler or measuring tape and mark with a grease pencil. Use the glass-cutter to score the surface. This gives you a guide to follow while cutting. Because acrylic scratches easily, it usually comes with a layer of paper on it. Leave this on as long as possible. If cutting right angles, use an angle-square to check for accuracy.
Experiment with different saw blades until you find one that works without chewing through the plastic too much and causing splits and shards. Use an expendable section of Plexiglas sheet, and try different speed settings on the saw with different blades until you find a combination that can handle the level of thickness and hardness presented by the sheet.
Use a blade with fine teeth to avoid chipping and splitting, or try a blade with widely spaced teeth for thicker pieces of Plexiglas. Look for blades designed to cut Plexiglas at your local hardware dealer. They usually offer a wide variety of blades for both manual and power tool cutting. After finding the appropriate blade, you are ready to make the cut.
Move the piece of Plexiglas slowly toward the saw while cutting, following the score line you made earlier. A faster cut may cause the edges to chip. If you're worried about friction causing too much heat to melt the plastic, try spraying some cold water on the blade to keep it cool.
Sand the edges of the sheet using fine grit sandpaper to reduce the risk of someone getting cut while handling the Plexiglas. This will smooth the edges and eliminate imperfections so it looks good, too.
Tips & Warnings
- Use a chisel-point soldering iron if all other blades fail to cut the Plexiglas properly. The soldering iron will be slower, but it will go through the plastic easily.
- Plexiglas shards can be just as sharp as glass, so avoid handling them.
- Photo Credit senior lifestyle 2 image by Pierrette Guertin from Fotolia.com
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