Cast acrylic is used for everything from table tops to sculpture bases. It's easy to work with and less expensive than glass. Use a table saw to cut acrylic. The saw's blade leaves a rough edge, but then you can flame polish the acrylic to make it look smooth and finished. Use a few basic tools and the same techniques employed by professional fabricators to flame polish cast acrylic.
Things You'll Need
- Sanding block
- Cotton rags
- Plumber's torch
- MAAP gas
- Scrap lumber
Place a piece of 120-grit sandpaper on the sanding block. Sand lengthwise along the plastic's cut edge. When the saw marks have been removed, switch to 320-grit sandpaper. Sand until the edge is smooth to the touch. Leave the protective paper or plastic backing on the acrylic while sanding.
Wipe down the sanded edges. Sanding debris left on the edge's surface will burn when flame polishing the acrylic. The burned debris leaves rough spots on the polished surface. Use a 100 percent cotton rag to remove any sanding debris. Remove the protective backing from the acrylic.
Mount the acrylic on risers. Use scrap lumber to raise it above the work table. Hot acrylic will melt into anything it comes in contact with. Therefore, the risers should be at least 4 inches away from the edge being flame polished. Riser height should be roughly 3 inches.
Set up the torch. Plumbers torches are normally used with propane. However, propane does not burn hot enough to flame polish acrylic. Purchase a small tank of MAAP gas, available at any hardware or building supply store. Connect the MAAP gas tank to the torch. The tank screws into the bottom of the torch. Turn the valve on and light the torch. Adjust the valve control so the flame is approximately 2 inches in length. The ideal flame forms a pointed tip that is blue in color.
Polish the acrylic. Work the torch along the edge being polished, left to right. Move the torch quickly along the edge, holding the torch's tip roughly 4 inches from the edge's surface. Do not hold the flame over an area for any extended period of time. Otherwise the Acrylic will start to burn. Quick passes of the torch, produce the desired effect. Allow the polished surface to cool for at least 20 minutes before handling.
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