Lexan is also known as Polycarbonate. It is a type of lightweight plastic that you can use for various DIY home projects, construction projects as well as backing board. You can also use Lexan as a layer to add extra insulation to a wide range of items, from your corrective lenses, protective windshields and bottles. Thanks to the nature of the plastic, it is quite easy to cut Lexan with various types of tools.
Today, we will show you how to cut Lexan with our step by step guide. Most importantly you need to think about the right tool for the project. The choice of which tool to uses depends on the thickness of a piece of Lexan, the patters you want to cut and the purpose of the project. Then you can follow the other steps on handling the chosen tool to cut Lexan nicely and smoothly.
What Are Lexan?
Lexan is a type of polycarbonate resin. This type of material is lightweight and durable as it is resistant against heat and electricity. It is even tougher than a cement board. It also has a high optical clarity. Last but not least, it can be easily bought from many stores with a very affordable price. That is the reason why this material is very popular among DIY hobbyists. If you learn how to cut it now, you will see that this will be really useful for your next projects in the future.
How To Choose The Right Tool?
First of all, you need to decide which tool that you would need in order to cut Lexan. The right tool will ensure that you can cut a piece of Lexan in a short time, resulting in clean and smooth cuts.
Here are 3 things that you need to consider when you choose the right tool- the softness of a piece of Lexan, its thickness and the pattern which you want to cut the piece of Lexan into.
- Softness of Lexan: First of all, the best tool to handle of soft and fragile sheet of Lexan is a utility knife. And if it is tougher and stiffer, you can use other tools including hand shears or a circular saw.
- Thickness of Lexan: In case a sheet of Lexan is thin and fragile, you should use a utility knife. For thicker Lexan, you can use a hand shears. For any piece of Lexan which is more than 0.125 inches, you can use a circular saw. In case of a sheet of Lexan which is more than 0.5 inches, you should use a table saw to cut the Lexan.
- Pattern: For curved cuts on a piece of Lexan, you can use a jigsaw. This tool is also suitable for cutting other unique and original pattern. Provided that you want to cut only the middle of a sheet of Lexan, you can use table saw. This tool is able to reach for further areas without you having to cut through to it.
What Are Other Things That You Need In Order To Cut Lexan?
Other things that you should prepare before cutting Lexan are pencil, ruler, duct tape and C-clamp. Pencil and ruler are used to measure and mark the cutting points and lines.. On the other hand, duct tape and C-clam are used for keeping the piece of Lexan stable and in place during the cutting process.
Steps To Take Before You Cut The Sheet Of Lexan With Different Tools:
These steps are applicable for all of the tools that you are going to use to cut Lexan.
Step 1: Lay the sheet of Lexan on a clean working surface. This surface should also be flat and stable. A stable working surface will ensure you have consistent cuts and avoid having edgy cuts as much as possible. You should also place another stable and flat board underneath the piece of Lexan if you don’t want the tool such as the utility knife to cut through the working table and cause scratches on the surface.
If you notice a thin layer of protective layer on the sheet of Lexan, don’t remove it. This piece of paper is there to protect the piece of Lexan and you should leave it there to have clean and smooth cuts.
Step 2: Use the ruler and pencil to mark the points or lines that you are going to cut. You should use a pencil instead of permanent marker as you can erase the marks later on. You can also use duct tape and place it on the sheet as an outline for your intended cut.
Step 3: In case you think that the working surface is quite slippery, you can use duct tape on the edges or cover the lines on the sheet of Lexan that you are going to cut. You can use C-clamps in case the sheet of Lexan is thicker to keep the sheet in place.
Note: Make sure when you use duct tape to fix the sheet of Lexan on the working surface, you don’t stretch the sheet too much. Otherwise, the cuts will be distorted.
How To Cut Lexan Using A Utility Knife:
Use the sharp blade of the utility knife to cut through the sheet of Lexan along the line that you have drawn before. Make sure you follow a slow and steady space so that you wouldn’t cut out of the intended line.
Check that you only a sharp blade. In case you use a blunt blade, not only will it take a longer time for you to cut, it also cause potential damages to yourself.
How To Cut Lexan Using A Pair Of Hand Spears:
Follow the lines that you have marked on the sheet of Lexan slowly and steadily to avoid wobbles and unclear cuts. For smoother cuts, instead of making two spears close completely, you should stop when they are just about to close.
Note: You can add extra drops of light machine oil on the blades as well as spears of your hand spears. This will help you to cut through a piece of Lexan quicker, having much smoother cuts as a result.
How To Cut Lexan Using A Circular Saw:
For a sheet which is thicker than 0.125 inches, you should use a circular saw for the best result. You should go for the blade with fine and even teeth. Make sure that the blade that you use is the sharpest.
Step 1: Turn on the circular saw and move it toward the sheet of Lexan.
Step 2: You don’t have to apply too much force. Instead, just let the saw cut the Lexan itself. Move it in a slow and steady speed.
Step 3: Stop the saw when you finally cut through the sheet of Lexan.
In case you don’t have a powered circular saw, you can also use a handsaw. This tool will take much effort and time for you to cut through the sheet of Lexan. Still, it is also very convenient and will be a great substitute. Also choose a fine tooth saw blade and follow the same steps as above.
How To Cut Lexan Using A Jig Saw:
You can cut Lexan with this tool using the similar steps that you would take when you cut with a circular saw.
The blade that you are going to use with this jig saw is a metal cutting blade. Make sure that the blade that you use is the sharpest. Also check if the sheet of Lexan can stay firmly and stably on the working station. Use C-clamps for extra stability.
Turn on the jig saw and guide it toward the mark that you have drawn on the sheet. Move the blade slowly and steadily. You don’t have to force or push down the saw at all. Complete all of the cutting before turning the jig saw off.
How To Cut Lexan Using A Table Saw:
Step 1: First of all, you have to mount the table saw on the working table. Raise the blade so that it is about 0.5 inches higher than the surface of the saw table.
Step 2: After that, you can push the sheet into the saw. When the sheet makes contact with the blade, follow a slow and steady space.
For other tools, you don’t have to press the blade too hard into the sheet of Lexan. However, you should apply a moderate amount of pressure. Too much or too little pressure will lead to the cracking of the sheet of Lexan.
Tip: Instead of drawing the cut line on the sheet of Lexan with a pencil, you should use duct tape to cover the line that you intend to cut. Duct tape will prevent the Lexan from chipping when you cut it under high speed and pressure.
Warning: To make sure that you stay safe and avoid accidents from happening when you cut through these pieces of Lexan using circular saw, jig saw and table saw, you need to put on your safety glasses and dust mask. You should only work in a well ventilated area and avoid breathing in the fumes that are coming out of the saw blade. Be aware of your surroundings to make sure that you will not hurt anyone that accidentally passes by.
If you notice smoke coming out when you are cutting the Lexan, you should slow down the sliding until the smoke stops and then continue pushing the sheet of Lexan forward.
After Cutting The Lexan
When you finish cutting, you can use medium grit to sand and make the edges of the cut pieces to become cleaner and smoother. Sanding also helps to remove the residual crumbs after the Lexan is cut.
As you can see, it is quite easy for you to handle and cut a piece of Lexan. The most difficult thing here maybe is about how to choose the right tool for the project. Pieces of Lexan with different thickness and softness will require different cutting tools. In addition, based on your need to have straight cuts or curved cuts, you also need to choose the tool accordingly.
I hope with all of the guides and useful tips above, you would be able to choose the most appropriate tool for your projects. Follow all of the steps on cutting Lexan for different tools and I am sure that you would be able to have very clean and smooth cuts from Lexan.