Some builders cut hard plastic ceiling panels by scoring them with a knife and breaking them by hand. This is unreliable and can even ruin the panel. Use a table saw to cut hard plastics sheets of any kind. A table saw equipped with a fine toothed crosscut blade will cut straighter than any other method. It's faster and far more dependable. You can set the saw, make your cut and trim the pieces if they are not quite right. Table saw cuts are smoother and infinitely more square.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
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Things you need
- Table saw
- Cross cut blade
- Tape measure
- Rubber gloves
Put a cross cut blade on the saw. Set the saw fence at your desired measurement. Raise the blade 1/4-inch higher than the thickness of your plastic. Typically, the top edge of the highest tooth should be about 1/2-inch from the point where the blade emerges from the metal slot. Put on your rubber gloves.
Grab the plastic with both hands and pick it up. Spread your hands out as far as it is comfortable for you. Try to centre your grip so that the blade will be evenly spaced between your hands when you cut the plastic.
Set the plastic on the saw behind the blade. Turn on the saw. Gently ease the plastic into the blade as you watch the contact point between the plastic and the saw fence. Keep it tight. If the plastic begins to bounce when it contacts the blade, slow down until it stops.
Push the plastic into the blade, going only fast enough to cut the material without bouncing it. When you get to within 6 inches of cutting through the panel, stop.
Let go with your right hand and very carefully place it flat on the panel on the right side of the blade to hold the panel down. This is to prevent the last few inches of the panel from bouncing and chipping the plastic as it exits the blade. Hold down flat on the panel with your palm and push it the rest of the way, cutting through the last few inches.
Tips and warnings
- If the plastic continues to bounce no matter what you do, clamp a small block to the fence to the right side of the blade. Leave just enough room for the plastic to slide under when you are pushing it. This will help stabilise the ceiling panel as you cut it.
- If the plastic is very thin and tends to slip under the fence, clamp a piece of 3/4-inch plywood to the fence, flat against the top of the table saw, to stop it.
- Always wear safety gear and breathing protection when cutting plastics.
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