How To Cut Acrylic Sheet

In the last decade, perspex acrylic has become one of the best materials for DIYers to work with, as well as those who are industry professionals.

How To Cut Acrylic Sheet

The reason the thermoplastic material has become so widely used is because of its durability and strength. It is a versatile, flexible and sustainable material that is much cheaper to use compared to other plastics and glass.

The problem a lot of DIYers are faced with is how to cut the acrylic. Once you know how to, working with acrylic becomes super easy.

Follow these simple steps to achieve great results every time you cut acrylic.

What Can Acrylic Be Used For

Acrylic is incredibly inexpensive, and it has many uses for the DIY enthusiast who wants to achieve impressive results.

If you are struggling for ideas, then one look online can tell you that there are many uses for acrylic. You can make an acrylic topped table, a fish aquarium, a kitchen backsplash, a photo frame, terrarium table, shelving, etc.

Once you know how to work with acrylic, you will find that there will be no stopping your creativity.

Before You Start

There are a number of ways to cut acrylic, so it is all about finding the right way suitable for you. You will also need to have the tools to hand. Here are the methods we shall be looking at:

  • Handsaw
  • Bandsaw
  • Jigsaw
  • Score and Break

Using A Handsaw

Using a handsaw requires a lot of concentration and time, but it is also a great way to achieve a perfect straight line.

When it comes to using a handsaw, you are going to want to use one that is not used for cutting wood – this might break the acrylic. Opt for something like a hacksaw which will be able to cut the acrylic much easier.

Basically, you need something that has uniform teeth, otherwise it will not cut a smooth line and instead will cause the acrylic to break into pieces.

You Will Need

  • Clamp
  • Marker pen
  • Hand saw
  • Ruler
  • Sanding paper

Making The Guideline

Using the marker pen and ruler, draw a line where you will be cutting, rather than going in blind.

Clamp The Acrylic Into Place On A Flat Surface

Now that you are ready to go, clamp the acrylic onto a flat surface, making sure the area you need to cut is hanging over the edge.

Saw The Acrylic

Whilst you saw, make sure that the acrylic is not moving, as this may cause you to chip away at the material, rather than achieving a straight line.

Also, make sure that you are sawing the area you had marked on the acrylic. It is really easy to accidentally move away from the line, so always keep your eye on where you need to be sawing.

Smoothing The Edge

Once you have finished, it is highly likely that the edge of the acrylic will be rough, so using a bit of sandpaper will give it that smooth finish you are after.

Using A Bandsaw

Using A Bandsaw

If you want a curved line, the bandsaw is the way to go. Acrylic can withstand the use of this tool, and it is a simple way to achieve more intricate designs.

You Will Need

  • Marker pen
  • Bandsaw
  • Safety glasses
  • Sanding paper

Draw The Guide

Just like with the handsaw, you will need to draw where you would like to cut. With the bandsaw, you can draw shapes and curved edges, rather than having to stick with a straight line. Be creative!

Selecting The Correct Blade

When you cut curves into acrylic, it is important that you select the correct blade width for the job to achieve the right results.

The thickness of the acrylic will affect the size of blade that you choose, so using a test piece of acrylic will be the way to go to find the correct size for the job.

Using The Bandsaw

Before you begin using the bandsaw, put on the safety goggles and follow the health and safety recommended by the manufacturer of the tool.

Now that you have the correct blade chosen, you will need to make sure the feed rate (the speed of moving the acrylic sheet along the bandsaw) is correct. If you move it along a bit too quickly, it can distort the acrylic by melting it.

Follow the guidelines of the bandsaw to achieve the desired result.

Once finished, you may need to sand down the images for a smoother finish.

Using A Jigsaw

A jigsaw is another way to achieve curved lines, though it may be rather fiddly at first to cut the shapes you want, however practice does make perfect.

Even so, it is a preferred method due to the tool producing a cleaner edge compared to other ways of cutting acrylic.

You Will Need

  • Marker Pen
  • Jigsaw with a fine tooth blade
  • Clamp
  • Safety goggles

Drawing The Guide

Just like using the other tools, draw out the guide that you wish to cut. Do not be scared to draw circles or intricate shapes.

Clamp The Acrylic Sheet

Due to using a hand tool, you will need to clamp the acrylic down onto a flat surface to ensure there is no movement. This way you get a good result and the acrylic does not fly off onto the floor!

Use The Jigsaw

Just like with the band saw, remember to take extra precautions because the jigsaw can be highly dangerous. Always remember to wear safety goggles when using such tools.

Before you begin, do a test sheet so you can experiment with the different cutting speeds. Just like with the bandsaw, cutting it too slow or fast can cause the acrylic to melt. Doing a test sheet will help you to figure out the best method of cutting out the shapes you want.

This method should not require you to sand the acrylic down afterwards.

Using The Score And Break Method

If you are lacking tools and only need a straight line, then this method will prove very useful.

You Will Need

  • Marker pen
  • Ruler
  • Scoring knife
  • Clamp
  • Sandpaper

Drawing The Guide

Using a ruler and a marker pen, draw the guide where you will be scoring and breaking the acrylic.

Once completed, clamp the acrylic onto a flat surface and hang the area you need to cut away over the ledge of the table.

Scoring The Acrylic

Start by cutting a very narrow groove onto the acrylic, going deeper every time you use the scoring knife. This way it ensures a better cut.

Breaking The Acrylic

Making sure the scored line is facing upwards (which it should be), with a swift movement, push down on the acrylic to break off the edge.

Smooth any of the edges with sandpaper if they are feeling too rough.

Final Words

Acrylic is a popular material for DIYers and industry professionals alike. Due to the durability and strength, it can be used for a number of different projects.

With the know-how, cutting acrylic is an easy task that anybody can do. Plus, it might just become your next hobby!

Mark Andrews
Latest posts by Mark Andrews (see all)