How to cut hard plastic sheets

Written by katherine kally
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How to cut hard plastic sheets
(Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

Hard plastic sheets can be a challenge to cut unless you have the right tools and know the proper techniques. Thin sheets of hard plastic, up to 3/16 inches thick may be cut using a scribe and snap method, similar to cutting glass. Thicker sheets of hard plastic need special blades and saws to make the cuts. Don't let cutting the material stop you from creating projects with hard plastic sheets. Learn how to make the cuts and you can open the door to a new type of building and crafting material.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Straightedge
  • Marker
  • Scriber/awl/utility knife
  • Clamps
  • Circular saw
  • Duct tape
  • 1-inch thick by 3-inch wide wood strip
  • Fine-tooth, carbide-tipped saw blade
  • Beeswax/soap

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    Scribe-and-Snap Cutting Method

  1. 1

    Place the hard plastic sheet on a flat work surface with the side protected by plastic film facing down. Leave the protective film on.

  2. 2

    Place a straightedge on top of the plastic sheet where you wish to make the cut. Mark the cut line with a grease pencil or a thin permanent marker using the straightedge as a guide.

  3. 3

    Draw the scriber, awl or utility knife straight down the plastic sheet along the marked line. Repeat this step several times to make the scribed groove deeper in the hard plastic.

  4. 4

    Clamp the hard plastic sheet securely to the table with the scribe line suspended away from the table.

  5. 5

    Apply hard, downward pressure on the plastic sheet to snap the plastic at the scribe line.

    Circular Saw Method

  1. 1

    Place the hard plastic sheet on a work table. Leave the protective paper on both sides of the plastic sheet. Apply a piece of duct tape over the protective paper in the area you plan to cut.

  2. 2

    Mark the cut line onto the duct tape using a straightedge. Place a 1-inch thick by 3-inch wide wood strip beside the marked cut line as a guide for the circular saw. Clamp the wood and the hard plastic to the work table, with the cut line extending just beyond the edge of the table.

  3. 3

    Lubricate the fine-toothed, carbide-tipped saw blade with beeswax or soap. Set the blade 1/8-inch above the height of the hard plastic sheet.

  4. 4

    Turn the circular saw on full speed. Slowly feed the saw along the cut line.

Tips and warnings

  • If the hard plastic material is more than 1/4-inch thick, use water to cool the saw blade while cutting.

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