Today we are going to show you our favorite techniques on how to cut plexiglass.
There are several methods to get the job done and depending on the tools you have available, your budget, or simply the type of job that you require, there are multiple options that we have explained in detail for you to try.
As the go-to alternative to glass, you’ll find plexiglass applications all over the place as it’s commonly used for aquariums, vehicle lenses, aircraft windows, police riot control vehicles, and it’s commonly known to protect heads from being struck by a puck at a Hockey rink.
We start the list off with the most common methods where most of the effort is made through various tools, and we finish the how-to guide with the cheapest options that would be considered more ‘hands-on.’
Using A Jigsaw
To get the most accurate finish for a wide variety of simple shapes and designs that go beyond straight lines, we recommend using a jigsaw.
This method is one of our favorites as it’s relatively straightforward, and allows you to cut circular corners out of the plexiglass allowing for a lot of maneuverability.
All you need to do is mark the area of the plexiglass you wish to cut and place your sheet of plastic on a strong tabletop. You can use clamps if you desire extra support which we always recommend if you own a set.
Next, you’ll want to firmly press your slab against a strong piece of wood which will keep the plexiglass from moving around during the cutting process.
Once your sheet of plastic is in place, begin to slowly work the jigsaw around the line, making sure to hold the jigsaw firmly to prevent any mistakes being made.
If you need something that is going to go straight through a large portion of plexiglass and you won’t have the room to get this done with a jigsaw, then your next best bet is to use a saw blade.
This is the ideal choice for large cuts and for larger pieces of plastic that need to be cut in half, or made into squares and rectangle shapes.
Simply mark out the line you want to cut, and then set two pieces of wood in between the plexiglass to form a sandwich.
You’ll have two pieces of wood that lay on the ground, making sure to leave a slight gap for the line you want to cut, followed by your plexiglass, and then another two pieces of wood to clamp down on the plexiglass.
We recommend strong wood so that you don’t get any movement whilst sawing. Plywood seems to do the job well. We also recommend you have enough room for sawing and that the wood situated on the bottom is thick enough to avoid cutting through the floor.
Using A Laser
This option won’t be for everyone as lasers are not a typical tool found in most homes. However, if you do have access to a laser, this is a valid option that will give you one of the most accurate cuts.
Connected to a computer, the work is done automatically as the system will translate the design onto the piece of plastic. This makes using a laser the most versatile option because you can do more than just straight lines or circular edges.
Using A Knife
We know that many of you don’t own a jigsaw, laser, or circular saw. You might want to try inexpensive methods that can get the job done.
One of those options is to simply use a utility knife. This method avoids any potential cracks because you’re not applying force to the sheet, which is always a bonus.
To cut a sheet using a knife, place your sheet of plastic on a hard, flat surface (a tabletop, workbench, or even kitchen surface can work well). Then push down on the blade and firmly drag it across the plexiglass, making sure to go in a single swipe.
You need to hold onto the utility knife firmly: this isn’t the time for a weak grip and limp wrists as you could increase the chance of injury.
This method is ideal for thin sheets of plexiglass; it just takes a bit of time to set up. You’ll want to set the plastic down on a large table or workstation and draw your intended straight line where you want to snap the plastic from.
Just make sure when using a table that it’s clear from debris and that it’s stable enough to stop the plastic from slipping or sliding.
Once you’re set up, gently go through your line with a knife using firm pressure, but make sure not to cut through the plastic.
Do this about 10-15 times until you’ve made a deep groove in the sheet. Now repeat this process on the other side. Just be wary of when you pick up the plastic that it doesn’t bend or warp.
Position the plastic over the edge of your station so that it’s ready to be snapped, and then either use your hands or clamps (making sure not to tighten the clamps too much to avoid breaking the plastic) apply quick downward pressure to snap the intended piece off your sheet.
Here are a few extra tips to help you achieve a professional cut for your sheet.
When cutting a line straight through plexiglass with a circular saw from one side to the other, we recommend that you don’t just cut from one end to the other, and instead cut from both ends and meet in the middle, cutting in one single motion typically leads to chipping or cracking the plastic.
Another tip is that if you’ve got a sheet that is already bent or warped, you can still cut or snap depending on whether it is thin. For warped plexiglass that is thick, use a circular saw.
No matter which method you try, the final point is to finish off the plastic cut by smoothing and polishing the line. We recommend soaking sandpaper in water for 10 minutes and applying a firm wipe across the surface.