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What's the best way to cut Acrylic/Plexiglass?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
I'd like to know from experienced modders who use acrylic a lot, what is the best way you have found to get a true straight line cutting it? Do you scribe and bend it until it snaps? Do you use a power tool like a jigsaw or circular saw, even a table saw? Do you cut it yourself or take it to a shop and have them cut it?

I cut a few pieces this afternoon with a jigsaw and even while using a straight edge as a guide, I still ended up with a damn horrible cut that was perfectly straight. I'd love to hear any tips or tricks you guys have that will help me get true straight cuts every time.

Also, what do you use to glue 2 or more pieces of acrylic together?
Edited by Friction - 5/29/13 at 6:57am
post #2 of 15
In my experience, by far, the easiest way is to scribe it with a really sharp knife, then clap at down with a piece of wood at the edge of a table and snap it in a quick push down motion.

I have tried other methods like jigsaw, handsaw etc. and they are doable, just make sure it's clamped down or you will get cracked edges.

Of course I'm fortunate enough to have build a small CNC router, so I use that for details.

Anyway, have fun with your project smile.gif
post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 
Doesn't that leave the edge with a bit of a radius and if so, does it affect gluing it to another piece?
post #4 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Friction View Post

Doesn't that leave the edge with a bit of a radius and if so, does it affect gluing it to another piece?

It gives surprisingly straight edges, but if you use very thin acrylic and you want to glue the pieces, a router table is your best bet to guarantee a straight edge.

But if you are working in. 3 mm or 1/8" acrylic/plexi, the scribe and bend method works well. but I do recommend a bit of practice and it can be hard to apply even pressure to a large piece.
post #5 of 15
Thread Starter 
I've seen a few videos on YouTube where they use this Acrylic Knife. Is that the best thing to use or will any sharp knife do?
post #6 of 15
Table saw, use a 90 tooth carbide tipped blade- about $70-80. Leaves some saw marks, but those can be easily cleaned up with sanding. DO NOT under any circumstances us a general purpose blade with like 24-48 teeth... it will shatter the acrylic, kick the part out of your hands, shoot shrapnel at you, and likely make kittens cry as well.

Band saw, works really nice.

Score and snap method. Not my favorite. I hate having to use so much force to break it. The edge quality, while straight, requires a fair amount of sanding to get it smooth and even. Acrylic scriber is the best way to cut before snapping. It actually plows a little groove in the piece, removing a thin curl of acrylic. A knife will get bogged down as the taper of the blade is forced into the cut. I do not recommend using a knife as it is likely to bind, causing you to use too much force, and when it slips out it can become rather deadly if there's things you're attached to in the way of the blade path.

LASER. My favorite tool. Makes very, very nice flame polished edge quality.
post #7 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Friction View Post

I've seen a few videos on YouTube where they use this Acrylic Knife. Is that the best thing to use or will any sharp knife do?

Just a normal hobby knife works fine for me, but you have to apply a lot of pressure to make the cut reasonably deep, so don't extend the blade too far and be careful it doesn't snap. It works best for me when I do the first couple of cuts softly against a metal ruler to make sure it's straight, then gradually apply more pressure on each cut. Probably around 10 cuts in total is enough. Most important is to make sure you only get one cut and not a couple of cuts close together.

Then depending on size I like to clamp it to a table with a piece of wood with the cut aligned to the edges. Then then just press down, as even as possible, in a quick and firm motion. It sounds pretty loud when it breaks and even 3-5 mm thickness does take some force.

This works for me and no mess to clean up biggrin.gif but of course you are limited to basic shapes with this method.
post #8 of 15
I struggled with a jigsaw as well and found the scoring method (scrape and snap) to work as well. what I never figured out was how to then drill holes into it. No matter what I tried, the spots that I drilled cracked/spiderwebbed. Got any suggestions for that jvjessen?
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post #9 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by alcal View Post

I struggled with a jigsaw as well and found the scoring method (scrape and snap) to work as well. what I never figured out was how to then drill holes into it. No matter what I tried, the spots that I drilled cracked/spiderwebbed. Got any suggestions for that jvjessen?
Use masking tape on both sides. Also it help to have something firm underneath. They also make acrylic drill bits. Oh, and go slow. Whatever drill bit you use, make sure it's sharp. Pilot holes help as well.

As far as cutting. Using a fine tooth carbide is fine if you want to shell out that much money, it cuts other things so it might be a good investment. A cheaper way would be to buy a plastic cutting blade for a saw. Like this one. I've also heard of people using what's called a crosscut blade. Just make sure it has more than 10 teeth per inch. You may be able to find one of those local and cheap.
Edited by anyhtinggoes - 5/29/13 at 6:23pm
post #10 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by anyhtinggoes View Post

Use masking tape on both sides. Also it help to have something firm underneath. They also make acrylic drill bits. Oh, and go slow. Whatever drill bit you use, make sure it's sharp. Pilot holes help as well.

As far as cutting. Using a fine tooth carbide is fine if you want to shell out that much money, it cuts other things so it might be a good investment. A cheaper way would be to buy a plastic cutting blade for a saw. Like this one. I've also heard of people using what's called a crosscut blade. Just make sure it has more than 10 teeth per inch. You may be able to find one of those local and cheap.
Thanks!
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