What Tools Are Used to Cut Acrylic Plastic?

Written by leah newman
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What Tools Are Used to Cut Acrylic Plastic?
You can cut acrylic with a hand-held circular saw with the correct blade and technique. (Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Acrylic sheets, sometimes known by the brand names Plexiglass or Lexan, are sold in various colours and available in many sizes. Many home improvement and craft stores will cut your acrylic for you, but you can also do it at home. Because acrylic has a tendency to chip and splinter, it is necessary to have the proper equipment and use the proper methods to prevent damaging your acrylic.

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The simpliest way to cut acrylic is to score it and break it along the score line. This method is employed in many frame shops and other businesses that use acrylic sheets of 1/4-inch thickness or less. In order to break the sheet cleanly, you will need to score it with a sharp knife or razor blade eight to 10 times, then break it along the score. There are also acrylic rippers that are sold specifically for scoring acrylic.

Hand Saws

Hand saws can be used to cut acrylic, if they are equipped with the proper type of blade. Any blade used to cut acrylic should have fine, evenly set teeth. Using a hand saw is perhaps the most difficult of the cutting techniques. If the acrylic flexes at all during cutting, it may chip the plastic at the cut. Prevent this by using clamps on each side of the acrylic sheet to hold it taut.

Circular Saws

Using hand-held circular saws are a common method of cutting acrylic sheets greater than 1/4-inch thick. However, because they depend on a steady hand, hand-held saws can easily damage your acrylic. In order to minimise this variable, clamp the acrylic securely to a solid surface on either side of the cut. It is also a good idea to use a piece of lumber to help distribute the pressure from the clamp and to guide the saw through the cut.

Table Saws

Table saws equipped with blades designed for cutting glass or acrylic are the easiest way to cut thicker sheets of acrylic at home. These blades tend to be hollow ground, and have a minimum of five teeth per inch. Set the blade at 1/8 inch above the acrylic, and set the saw on a high speed for the smoothest cut.

Cut the acrylic slowly and smoothly for the best results. Many professionals use carbide-tipped saw blades, equipped with triple chip tooth.

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