How To Cut Plexiglass

Plexiglass is also known as acrylic glass. It is a form of hard plastic showing in clear color. Many people prefer using Plexiglass because it is tougher and more durable than ordinary glass. It is also very easy to work with, using simple and readily available woodworking tools. While it is a better choice in comparison with glass in term of durability, it is also prone to being scratched, splintered or chipped. Hence, before working with Plexiglass, there are a lot of things that you need to know in order to handle the material and cut it nicely.

If you want to know how to cut Plexiglass, this article below will show you some of the most common ways along with useful tips for the project.

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​METHODS OF CUTTING PLEXIGLASS

​In general, you have to deal with 2 types of Plexiglass. There would be thin and small pieces of Plexiglass and thicker and larger one. For the former type, the method we are going to use to cut it is the score and snap method. And for a thick piece of Plexiglass, we will use a circular saw for cutting.

​1. Score and Snap Method

​This method will be used for cutting small and thin pieces of Plexiglass Generally, you should use this score and snap method for a thin sheet of Plexiglass of less than 3/16 inch in thickness. Before you start working on the project, it is worth noting that you should leave the paper which is stick to the piece of Plexiglass until you finish cutting it.

(More information for you: Since Plexiglass can get scratched easily, each piece of Plexiglass when sold on the market comes with a piece of paper covering its entire surface. This piece of paper helps to protect Plexiglass from being scratched. It also makes our job of scoring and snapping a piece of Plexiglass much easier.

If you want to remove the paper, just simply peel a bit at the corner and lift it before pulling it off smoothly from the piece of Plexiglass.)

​Here is the list of things that you would need to cut Plexiglass:

  • A sheet of Plexiglass (with the cover of protective paper on)• A flat and clean working surface
  • A utility knife with dull blade or a glass cutter. You can also consider using a scriber or an awl to score the sheet of Plexiglass as well.
  • A yardstick, a black maker or a grease pencil

​Follow these steps below for how to use score and snap method for cutting Plexiglass:

Step 1: First, you need to lay the piece of Plexiglass you want to cut onto a flat and clean working surface.

Step 2: Then use the yardstick to measure the pieces of Plexiglass you want to cut into. After that, you should mark your measurements on the sheet with a black maker or a grease pencil.

Step 3: In the next step, we will proceed to score our marking lines on the Plexiglass sheet. Please note that while you are going to use a utility knife or a glass cutter, you are not going to cut Plexiglass.

• Here is how you score the lines you draw on a sheet of Plexiglass:

  • Use the yardstick and place it in the way that one edge of it is on the line you have drawn. This yardstick will be used as a guide line for you to score straight lines.
  • In the next step, you need to use the glass cutter, the dull blade of the utility knife or the back of it to score several times on the line. Each times, you should score deeper than the previous one. Keep in mind that the deeper you can score, the easier it is for you to snap the Plexiglass later on. You might need to score from 5 to 10 times, or even more depending on the thickness of the sheet of Plexiglass and the tool you are working with.
  • You should score both of the front and the back of a piece of Plexiglass.

Step 4: When you finish scoring both sides of a Plexiglass sheet, reposition it so that the line you have score now lies on the edge of the working station.

Step 5: Bend down the outer side of the Plexiglass so the whole piece can snap into 2 pieces from the line you have scored several times.

Step 6: After you successful snap the Plexiglass sheet, you might need to smooth the rough edges of these cut pieces. For thinner pieces of Plexiglass, you can use sand paper to help smooth these areas. You can also use a handheld power sander. However, for a very thin piece of Plexiglass, it is better to sand the cut pieces of Plexiglass manually. You can use 120 or 180 grit sanding paper or a rubber sanding block. After you smooth the cut edges of Plexiglass, use another type of sanding paper with finer grits of up to 600 grits.

​2. Cutting Plexiglass with a circular saw

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The snap and score method is best used when the piece of Plexiglass is relatively thin and small. In case you have to work with a large piece of Plexiglass, you should use a circular saw.

Here is the list of things that you would need to cut a thick piece of Plexiglass:

  • A sheet of Plexiglass (with the cover of protective paper on)
  • A flat and clean working surface
  • A circular saw
  • A yardstick, a black maker or a grease pencil

Follow these steps to cut Plexiglass using a circular saw:

Step 1: First of all, you need to make the big piece of Plexiglass stay stable by clamping it to the working station.

Step 2: Then use the yardstick to measure the piece you want to cut and make the cutting line with a black marker.

Step 3: Situation the blade of the circular saw for it to be parallel to the line you have drawn on the piece of the Plexiglass.

Step 4: You can either choose a high speed steel blade or carbide tipped blade for the project. The carbide tipped blade is more suitable for cutting a thicker piece of Plexiglass.

Step 5: Set the speed of the circular saw at about 3450 rpm. Keep guiding the drawn line to the blade at a slow and steady rate until the piece is cut entirely.Step 6: After cutting the piece of Plexiglass, you should smoothen the cut edges by using a wet sander, a power saw or a buffer drill. The wet sander is suitable for buffing a piece of Plexiglass which is thicker than 1/8 inch. And a buffer drill is for the thickest piece of Plexiglass you can have. You can attach a bugging pad to electric drill, use the device to buff the cut edges of Plexiglass pieces until they have nice and smooth cut.

Tip for you:

  • You should apply a little bit of coolant when cutting thick piece of Plexiglass. It would help you to have smoother cut. You need to mix water with some drops of mild detergent. Then pour the mixture into a bottle that can release fine spray mist. While you cut Plexiglass using a circular blade, spray the mixture onto the blade of the saw occasionally.
  • Another method you can use is applying soap or beeswax on the cutting blade.

3. Cutting Plexiglass with a router

Another method you can use to cut Plexiglass is to use a router. With this tool, you can cut Plexiglass in both straight and curved lines using a collar and a guide.

One common problem with this method is that when you cut Plexiglass with a router which produces heat during the process, it will make the Plexiglass sheet become less transparent.

Here is the list of things that you would need to cut a thick piece of Plexiglass:

  • A sheet of Plexiglass (with the cover of protective paper on)
  • A flat and clean working surface
  • A router with a blade specifically made for cutting Plexiglass
  • A yardstick, a black maker or a grease pencil

Here are the steps on how to cut Plexiglass with a router

Step 1: Prepare a piece of Plexiglass and lay it flat on a clean working station. Draw on the sheet the line that you want to cut using a maker. You might also want to clamp the piece of Plexiglass down to make it more stable, especially when you want to cut straight lines.

Step 2: Then you need to prepare the router. Choose the right blade. I recommend you go for a blade with a 2 flute carbide option. Make sure the collet of the router is tightened and ti causes no rattling noise.

Step 3: Set the router at the speed of no less than 15 horsepower. Roughly cut the sheet with the router by guiding the blade along the cut line. Move in a slow and steady pace.Step 3: After cutting a sheet of Plexiglass into smaller pieces, you can trim the remaining material off.

Step 4: Finally, you should consider sanding and buffing the cut edges of the Plexiglass for a cleaner and smoother look.

TIPS TO REMEMER FOR THIS PROJECT

Finally, here are a few tips you should know before and during you cut Plexiglass to make the task effective and safe for you:

  • Make sure that your working station or the table where you are going to lay a piece of Plexiglass is clean and free from debris or any small particle that can scratch the surface of the glass.
  • In case there is no protective paper covering the Plexiglass, you can wrap it in a piece of felt so to prevent it from getting scratched while you are handling it.
  • Only work with Plexiglass in a well ventilated area, far away from any hot or inflammable source.
  • Wear your personal protective equipment including protective respiratory equipment, goggles and globes.
  • In case you choose a saw to cut a thick piece of Plexiglass, keep in mind that not all of the blades can be used to cut this material nicely. You should go for a blade which is designed specifically for cutting glass. Normally, this blade comes with fine teeth of the same height and the same size. These teeth are also evenly spaced as well. Blades used for cutting metal such as copper could be used as well.
  • Besides a circular saw, you can use different types of saws such as scroll saw, band saw and table saw for the project as well. No matter which saw you are going to use, you should always pick a blade with fine teeth which stays close and even together.
  • And always go at a slow and steady speed while you are cutting on the Plexiglass as well. You should not stop at a point for too long or the polymer will heat up and damage the quality of the piece of Plexiglass.
  • Finally, after cutting the piece of Plexiglass and smoothen the cut edges, you should clean away all of the dirt and debris. Do it by using a hair dryer to blow away any dirt and debris on the surface of the cut pieces of Plexiglass. Don’t clean these tiny particles with a clean cloth as they will scratch the surface of the piece of Plexiglass.

Here are some of the most common and effective methods you can use to cut Plexiglass. In general, for a thin sheet of Plexiglass, you can apply the snap and score method. On the other hand, if you have to cut big and thick pieces of Plexiglass, use a circular saw with high speed steel to cut it.

There are quite a few things you should remember to keep the Plexiglass from being scratched such as leaving the protective paper on and cleaning the table where you are going to lay the piece of Plexiglass.

I hope that with all of the information above, you would be able to choose the right method and the right tool to cut Plexiglass without any difficult.

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