When using acrylic for projects, it’s common for customers to need to cut their own plexiglass sheets at home. It’s important to take the time to understand your options for cutting plexiglass acrylic plastic to ensure that the process goes smoothly the first time. There’s the potential of damaging the plastic if it’s cut improperly.
To cut thick acrylic sheets such as over 20mm thickness, it’s best to use either a Circular saw or a table saw that’s outfitted with a special blade that’s designed specifically for cutting acrylic. This will allow you to cut cleanly the first time, and make the finishing process much more straightforward.
Cut Acrylic Sheet with a Table Saw
Table saws are the most common method for cutting thick sheets of plexiglass acrylic. If the operator of the table saw has cut wood or another material with it in the past, the cutting process will be rather straightforward.
While any table saw could likely cut through plexiglass with the right blade installed, it is recommended that the table saw be equipped with at least a 10” blade and a 2-horsepower motor. Additionally, the blade should be running at a speed of approximately 3,450 RPM, if that is possible.
The best blades for cutting plastic have between 60 and 80 evenly spaced, carbide-tipped teeth depending on the diameter of the blade. The blade should have no rake and uniform teeth.
Safety is first whenever you’re using a table saw, you will definitely need to wear Safety goggles when cutting plexiglass. Shards of plastic can shoot out from the saw blade and straight back at your face.
Technique for Cutting thick acrylic sheets with a Table Saw
The overall process of cutting a piece of plexiglass is not so different from cutting wood, but there are some small details to consider in order to improve the quality of the finished product and to keep yourself safe.
- Install the blade meant for cutting through Acrylic in your table saw
- Set the blade height so it is only ½ inch higher than the piece of acrylic sheeting.
- Measure and mark the area or use a straight edge where you’d like to cut the plexiglass
- take a tape and apply it along the sides of the lines to provide additional protection against cracks and chips when the cutting process begins.
- Place the Acrylic sheet on the table saw with the film side down and set everything up.
- Put on your safety glasses, turn the saw on, cut the plastic in a straight line at a steady, moderate pace, use a guide to ensure that the line is perfectly straight
Tips for Cutting acrylic sheet with a Table Saw
- Be careful not to cut too slowly, as this will grate at the plastic and potentially cause cracks and chips.
- The recommended manual feed rate should be about 3 inches per second, and you should move at a steady place.
- Be sure that the acrylic is tight against the fence and apply pressure as you push it forward.
- Cross-cutting acrylic can sometimes help to start the cut at one end, flip the piece of acrylic, and finish the cut coming from the other side.
Cut thick acrylic sheet with a circular saw
Circular saws are very common and popular among technicians. They can be used on acrylic sheets of thick thicknesses. If you want to get a fine and clean cut for your sheets, you can do it with a circular saw.
- Clamps to fix the sheet
- Circular saw with proper blade for Acrylic
- Safety gear
- An adhesive tape
- A flat work tables
USE YOUR SAFETY GEAR, especially the hearing protection and the face shield because noise level gets tremendously high and Shards of plastic can shoot out from the saw blade and straight back at your face when cutting plexiglass.
Technique for Cutting thick acrylic sheet with a circular saw
- Put the plexiglass sheet on the top of your sawhorse or your workbench and make sure that it is completely clean. use clamp-on vises to make sure the sheet is fixed and stable.
- Measure and mark the area or use a straight edge where you want to cut on both sides of the protective film. leave the part to be cut to overhang freely in the air.
- To avoid splinters flying everywhere, put pieces of adhesive tape on the cutting line.
- use a coolant spray on the blade if you will cut thick sheets of plexiglass to avoid the
- Aim your circular saw on the plexiglass sheet and wait until it reaches its full speed (the best rpm rate for cutting plexiglass sheets is 3450 RPM and no more than that.)
- push the circular saw (feeding rate) in a slow and smooth motion. If you force the saw too fast, it will cause the edge to chip and damage to the sheet as large pieces of plexiglass will chip away.
Tips for Cutting thick acrylic sheet with a circular saw
- Do not force the circular saw to be too fast or too slow, the best feeding rate is 3 inches per second.
- Make sure the blade is sharp and does not have any bent or broken teeth to avoid the kickback.
- Make sure you have the information about the rake angle of the blade that you will use. The rake angle should be between 5 to 10 positive degrees.
- Don’t use a blade with teeth of uneven height because this will cause the edges to be damaged
- Make sure that the blade depth is ½ inch below the sheet.
- Do not stop the feeding of saw because the plexiglass will heat up and can stick to the blade.