Cutting acrylic sheet is a fairly easy task to accomplish once choosing a method that works best for you and your skill level.
Here at A&C Plastics, we enjoy helping our customers learn how to use our materials to complete their projects.
Methods For Cutting Acrylic Sheeting
Before using any of these methods to cut your acrylic sheeting, you’ll want to determine the length and thickness of your sheets first as this will decide which method will work best. You can use lots of the same tools you’d use to cut wood for this project. Here a few tool options for cutting acrylic:
- Table Saw: This is the most common method and since saw blades are easy to find, it’s a great option for everyone regardless of experience. For this method, you can cut multiple sheets at the same time by stacking them.Using a table saw with closely spaced teeth (such as those used when plywood). If the blades are much wider, you run the risk of chipping your plastic. While you can use blades designed for wood, there are ones specifically designed for acrylic which is best for frequent cutting projects. Acrylic is different than cutting many other materials because the dimensions need to be exact to ensure proper fitting with other pieces. Incorrectly cutting acrylic can be a costly mistake if you need to sand down inches off the material to make sure it’s even and unchipped, so always use the sharpest blade possible.
- Router: Routers can be used to cut acrylic for both curved and straight cuts. For best results, use another tool (like the earlier mentioned table saw) to cut your acrylic roughly before getting a more exact finish with the router. Be sure to use a compressor to keep the sheet in position to avoid chipping and more time needed to polish the cut. Like table saws, routers can be easily found at hardware stores and are quite versatile. If this is your first time purchasing a router, we suggest an upcut bit if you want to have a vacuum connected to your router or you are cutting slots. Downcut bits are great because they throw the shavings down and away from your face and sheeting.
- Scoring Tool: For acrylic sheets thinner than ¼ inch, use a scoring which will produce a deep scratch rather than the chipping effect you’d get from a hardened wheel. Apply pressure to the tool and let your guide direct the cut until it is 1/8th of an inch into the sheet. This can take many passes to complete, so be patient and precise. Once the sheet has been scored, clamp the acrylic on a table edge so that the table edge aligns with the scored line of the sheet. Once you confirm the clamp is secure, apply pressure to the piece of sheet that is hanging off of the table until it breaks off. If the cut was deep enough into the sheet, there will be a clean edge.
Safety Precautions When Cutting Acrylic Sheet
Always wear safety glasses to protect your eyes from shattered acrylic pieces. Additionally, it’s important to work with acrylic in a well-ventilated area because cutting acrylic sheet can release vapors that will irritate your respiratory system.