Acrylic, commonly known as Plexiglass, is a flexible plastic substance that comes in a range of colors and opacities and may be used for a variety of purposes. Acrylic plastic was developed in 1928 and introduced to the market in 1933 by the Rohm and Haas Company. It was first employed for items like airplane glass, canopies, and turrets during World War I. [source]
Plexiglass may now be found in a broad variety of applications. Aquariums, submarine viewing ports, automotive lenses, spectator protection in sports rinks, airplane windows, police riot control vehicles, lighthouse lenses, and other applications utilize it as a transparent glass alternative.
Plexiglass may be cut with a variety of saws. However, you may use a table saw to cut plexiglass and other acrylic materials to size, as long as you use a blade specifically for cutting plastic and utilize the correct technique.
How Do You Cut Plexiglass With a Table Saw?
Plexiglass is a transparent acrylic material that is a cost-effective substitute for glass. Nonetheless, you may be confronted with the chance of seeing a sheet of plexiglass of a size that is potentially troublesome at some point. When cutting plexiglass, it is susceptible to breaking.
A table saw is one of the most straightforward ways to cut through plexiglass or other transparent materials, but it requires some special care.
Gather Your Supplies in the First Step
Make sure you have everything you need in your workspace before doing anything else. You’ll need a tape measure (or any measurement instrument), a permanent marker (or any writing tool), sandpaper, and safety goggles in addition to your plexiglass sheet and table saw.
In Step 2, Measure the Plexiglass Thickness
Check the thickness of the plexiglass with your tape measure. To avoid chipping or melting from the residual heat of the table saw, use a utility knife if the material is less than 1/4 inch thick.
Proceed to the following step if your plexiglass is thicker than 1/4 inch.
Choosing the Right Table Saw Blade Is the Third Step
When using a table saw to cut plexiglass, keep in mind that there are two types. Soft and stiff materials are examples of these variances. Because soft plexiglass melts fast, you’ll want to use a blade with a lower TPI (tooth per inch) to reduce friction and heat generation during the cutting process.
To cut stronger and more robust plexiglass, use a larger TPI since it cuts faster and lowers the risk of chipping.
Step 4 Calculating the Correct Cut Size
Determine the size of the acrylic pieces you’ll need for the furniture-making procedure. After that, you’ll need to trim the plexiglass sheet to fit. To match your furnishing requirements, you must cut the plexiglass to the necessary size.
Step 5 Always Pay Attention to the Safety Requirements
It would help if you never took a power tool at face value. So, be sure you’re wearing the appropriate safety equipment whenever you use a table saw. To avoid any unintended risks while cutting acrylic with the table saw, you must use protective goggles and gloves.
Also, ensure that the workspace is clean and that you have a clear vision of the cutting material via the porthole.
Setup the Table Saw Fence in Step 6
One of the most important plexiglass-cutting recommendations is to use a sharp knife. You’ll have to compensate for the blade thickness while setting up the table saw fence on the platform to securely fit and retain the plexiglass.
It’s critical to keep the plexiglass cutting piece from becoming too small. Additionally, use the provided screws to secure the fence.
Step 7 Performing the Cut
Turn on the table saw and adjust the blade speed to your liking. Feed the opposite side of the plexiglass with the table saw blade going at full speed while the table saw fence securely holds one end of it.
To protect your hands from the blade, take the following precautions:
- To work with the thin plexiglass strips, use a wooden guide.
- Push the plexiglass through the blade with the help of the guide.
- Take your time and cut slowly.
If the plexiglass begins to melt, reduce the speed to create less heat.
If chips appear on the acrylic sheet, stop working and replace the table saw blade with one with a greater tooth count. The chipping rate will be significantly reduced with a higher TPI.
Sanding the Plexiglass Edges in the Final Step
The final step in cutting plexiglass with a table saw is to sand the edges to smooth them out. While using the table saw, the newly cut edges of the acrylic sheet are uneven. As a result, you won’t be able to directly use those edges on the furniture.
As a result, sanding is essential. Glazing will appear on the edges owing to melting.
Smooth the edges and remove the glazing with fine-grit sandpaper for a flawless plexiglass finish.
What’s the Best Way to Cut Plexiglass
Cutting plexiglass for diverse uses requires the use of a variety of instruments and procedures.
Fortunately, any DIYer can quickly master these techniques if they understand the required procedures and take the necessary safeguards.
The easiest to work with is thin plexiglass. All you’ll need is a flat, non-wobbling surface and a ruler to double-check your dimensions.
This approach is known as “scoring and snapping,” and it’s perfect for cutting plexiglass sheets into basic shapes for a tiny DIY project.
Keep in mind that if your plexiglass sheet is too thick, this operation will fail.
A circular saw may be used for more precise cutting. The blades’ teeth can easily be cut thru thick panes of plexiglass. This method is quicker and produces more precise results.
A jigsaw may be used to cut plexiglass into numerous forms. You can cut plexiglass sheets into circles, curves, and other irregular forms with an up-and-down action to complete a variety of DIY and professional projects.
What Precautions Should Be Taken While Cutting Plexiglass With a Table Saw
- Wear safety glasses to protect your eyes from flying debris.
- Use a fine-toothed blade to reduce cracking.
- Support the material properly to avoid bending or warping.
- Make sure the saw is properly adjusted and secured before starting.
- Use a slow, steady pace to avoid melting the material.
- Hold the material securely while cutting to avoid slipping and injury.
What is the Best Way to Clean Plexiglass After Cutting
The best way to clean plexiglass after cutting is by using a microfiber cloth or a lint-free cloth moistened with water or a 50/50 mixture of water and white vinegar. Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive materials, as they can scratch or damage the surface of the plexiglass.
Plexiglass is a very adaptable material that both experts and novices can utilize. This is a tough, flexible, and long-lasting industrial glass alternative.
If you learn how to cut plexiglass, you’ll be able to use it for a variety of applications. There are a number of various devices available, each of which is effective for different types of cuts. Whether you’re a DIY enthusiast or a professional, you have the freedom to choose the tools and strategy that work best for you!
Always remember to utilize the proper blade, speed, pressure, and a consistent, gradual push toward the blade. Although Plexiglass is prone to cracking, melting, and chipping, you should be able to prevent these problems if you take the proper measures.
When working on a table saw, always use protective equipment to keep yourself safe from accidents.
About This Writer
Hi, I am Eric Devin and I am a professional interior architect. Since childhood, I've always enjoyed DIY projects! And, I have loved to solve simple household problems using essential tools and equipment. I have also acquired a lot of information about basic household tools settings by working with contractors.