When it comes to windows, dividers, and much more, one of the choice materials to use is plexiglass. It looks like glass, it’s clear, but it’s also much stronger. Of course, plexiglass is actually acrylic, not real glass, but this does also come with certain advantages.
That said, if you are working with plexiglass, chances are you will need to cut it down to size. So, how do you cut plexiglass? Today, we will look at nine ways to cut this special type of acrylic using hand tools and power tools.
2 Best Ways to Cut Plexiglass Without Power Tools
Using hand tools to cut plexiglass is a great option to go with if you don’t have the right power tools, and if taking a bit longer to cut by hand is not a big deal to you.
Moreover, these methods for cutting plexiglass without power tools are best for people who won’t be doing this sort of thing too often, as it is of course more time consuming than if you were to use power tools. Here are two ways to cut plexiglass without power tools.
Using a Hand Saw
A preferred method of cutting plexiglass, particularly if you are only dealing with a few pieces, is by using a hand saw. This method does take a bit of practice because you need to apply just the right amount of pressure when sawing, but once you have this down, it should not be much of a problem.
Keep in mind that not all hand saws are ideal for this task. You do want a hand saw that has relatively small and uniform teeth.
The three best types of hand saws to use for cutting plexiglass include hack saws, coping saws, and straight saws. Also, remember that for cutting plexiglass, that saw blade needs to be really sharp and in great condition too.
Using a Scoring Knife
When it comes down to it, one of the easiest methods of cutting acrylic is to use a scoring knife, one designed specifically for acrylic. This method is easy, it is very affordable, and it works great if you only have a few pieces that need to be cut.
However, do remember that this method for cutting plexiglass is best used on sheets less than ¼ inch or 6.35mm in thickness. Anything thicker than that, and this method is not recommended.
It might take a bit of practice, because you first need to score a line where the sheet needs to break, and after the line is scored, you then need to snap off the excess using a good deal of force combined with a quick motion. This might sound like it will result in the plexiglass shattering, but in fact, it actually results in fairly clean and even breaks.
7 Best Ways to Cut Plexiglass with Power Tools
Ok, so using hand tools to cut plexiglass is fine, but not if you have a lot to cut and you are going to be doing so regularly. Here, we are going to talk about the seven best power tools to use for cutting plexiglass, each of which works just fine in its own way.
Using a Jigsaw
Perhaps the number one power tool to use for cutting plexiglass is the good old jigsaw. This small handheld saw is no doubt a convenient tool, as it can be used to cut virtually any and all materials, granted that you have the right kind of blade fitted. In terms of the blade, you want a fine and shallow blade, one with small and even teeth.
A big advantage of using this tool to cut plexiglass is that the blade doesn’t heat up much, thus preventing the acrylic from melting. Moreover, it’s a convenient tool because it allows you to cover large sheets of plexiglass at once, and moreover, a jigsaw can be used to cut both straight lines and curves too. When it comes down to it, this is the number one power tool we would recommend for cutting plexiglass.
Using a Bandsaw
If you have a lot of acrylic that needs to be cut, and it is quite thick, then a band saw is a good way to go. Bandsaws work great for thick acrylic sheets, particularly for ones over 1 inch thick. Band saws move at very high speeds, and with the right blade (small, uniform, and evenly spaced teeth), they can cut through large quantities of acrylic in record time.
This is also quite the easy way to go about this task, as you just have to mark a line and then push the sheet through the blade in a consistent motion. Although you could technically use a bandsaw to cut curves plexiglass, it’s really best used for cutting straight lines. Just make sure to have the band saw running at top speed to achieve the cleanest cuts.
Using a Laser
OK, so this one we will keep short because chances are that unless you are opening up a large scale or industrial shop where you have to cut large quantities of plexiglass on a daily basis, you probably won’t have a laser cutter.
Laser cutters are generally a CNC type of machine, which means that you enter the cutting directions into a computer and that computer then controls the laser that can make super accurate and clean cuts into plexiglass.
This is by far the best method for cutting large quantities of plexiglass, and for large pieces too. However, this type of machine is super expensive, so it’s probably not going to be your first choice.
Using a Table Saw
If you need to cut straight lines through plexiglass, very straight and accurate lines, then a table saw is always a go-to option. Table saws move at very high speeds, and with the right blade (small teeth, uniform distance, uniform tooth shape), you can cut through virtually any thickness of plexiglass, easily up to a few inches thick.
Now, table saws are not recommended to use for thin sheets of plexiglass, as you may end up chipping or cracking it. That said, table saws work well because they have fences, so you can make very accurate and precise cuts, and moreover, making the cut is as easy as pushing the acrylic sheet through the moving blade. Remember that a carbide tipped blade is the best option here.
Using a Circular Saw
One of the most convenient ways of cutting plexiglass is with a circular saw. When using a circular saw, you want to use a carbide tipped saw blade, one with fine crosscut teeth to prevent chipping and cracking.
Remember that circular saws work well for plexiglass sheets that are medium or thick, but not for the thinner sheets.
Moreover, when using a circular saw, you actually want to keep the speed on the lower end of the spectrum, as circular saws can end up melting the acrylic. Finally, circular saws are best used for making straight cuts, and don’t really work for curved cuts.
Using a Router
Another tool that you can use for cutting plexiglass is a handheld router. Of course, you will need to get the right kind of blade, which is a small and circular blade with very fine and sharp teeth. Yes, you can find router blades designed specifically for this purpose.
Now, routers do spin at very high speeds, and this can cause the plexiglass to melt, so you will either want to keep the speed down or continuously spray cool water on the cutting surface to prevent the acrylic from melting.
Keep in mind that routers are best used for cutting plexiglass that is 1 inch or thinner. What is nice about this tool is that because the blade is fairly small, it can be used for both straight and curved cuts.
Using a Dremel
The other power tool that can be used for cutting plexiglass is a dremel. A dremel is a rotary tool, similar to a handheld router. Cutting plexiglass with a dremel is more or less the same as using a router. The tools are very similar, so all of the requirements are as well. Technically, we would recommend using a router over a dremel.
As you can see, there are plenty of ways to cut plexiglass, both with power tools and without them. What you really need to consider here is how often you will be cutting plexiglass, and when you do, how large and thick those pieces of plexiglass are. Once you figure this out, you can then figure out which of these tools is the best one for your needs.