If you are wondering how to go about cutting plexiglass with table saw, here is some helpful information for you.
What is plexiglass and why do some people prefer it to glass?
Plexiglass is a transparent plastic that is often substituted for glass. This is because it is cheaper, durable, and versatile. Besides, it does not shatter easily since it is 40 times resistant to glass.
Besides, plexiglass is lightweight, UV resistant and flexible. It can be folded and also cut into different shapes. Also, it is available in different colors, unlike glass.
However, one main disadvantage of plexiglass is that it scratches easily. Also, cutting it into the desired sizes may be hectic. This is because it tends to melt from the heat produced by the table saw.
Despite this, you do not need a specialist to cut plexiglass for you. You can use a skill saw, jigsaw, circular saw, or a table saw to easily cut a plexiglass. This article is geared at guiding you on how to best cut plexiglass with a saw blade.
Cutting plexiglass with a saw- Cutting plexiglass with a table saw
Step 1 – Identify the plexiglass’ thickness
A table saw can only cut plexiglass with ¼’’ thickness. Anything smaller than this thickness will get chipped or melt away due to the intense friction. You also need to get the best plexiglass table saw blade.
Step 2 – Take Measurements
Before any cutting, use a tape measure or a ruler and take the required measurements on the plexiglass. Make the markings with a grease pencil or a dry-erase marker for a clearer visual.
Then, draw a straight line that will guide you when cutting the plexiglass. If you make a mistake when drawing the line, you can easily clean it off with a paper towel or a wet cloth.
Lastly, take into consideration the width of your table saw when setting up the fence. This is because it will take up some space which can cause a discrepancy in your measurements.
Step 3 – Find the right blades
Plexiglass can be soft or hard. Soft plexiglass sheets require blades with fewer teeth than hard plexiglass. Fewer teeth have less friction and will not result in extensive chipping and melting.
The recommended blades from enthusiasts are those with 50-60 teeth. These have a low rate of chipping and do not have a lot of friction. Also, one swipe across the blade is enough to cut the plexiglass.
A blade that is carbine-tipped is the best for to cutting plexiglass with a table saw.
Step 4 – Find a push block
In terms of safety, a push block comes in handy. It helps in holding the plexiglass in place while moving it on the blades. The push block also aids in keeping the plexiglass flat.
Step 5 – Turn on the machine
After taking the measurements, fixing the right blades, and knowing the width of the plexiglass, it is time to turn on the machine.
Slowly slide the plexiglass to the blades as the other end is against the fence. Do not be in a rush and keep your eyes and hands safe.
Thin plexiglass sheets should be moved slower than thick ones since they vibrate more. Slow yet steady movements make the edges appear smooth.
If the plexiglass gets chipped, switch off the machine and change the blades. Get one with more teeth for a cleaner and polished outcome. However, if there’s melting, slow down the machine to reduce friction.
Step 6 – Apply pressure
Unlike wood, plexiglass has more vibrations when cutting. It is, therefore, important to apply pressure when sliding it against the rotating blades.
When working with thin plexiglass, be alert since the machine can throw tiny pieces of glass on your face or worse, pull your hand. To avoid this, you can add a flesh sensor to your table saw for your safety.
Step 7 – Sand the edges
After successfully cutting the plexiglass with a table saw, you may find the edges unpolished and rough. Grit sandpaper comes in handy at this time.
Start sanding with 180 grit sandpaper as well as a wood sanding block. Once you note improvements on the edges, switch to a finer grit paper. In the end, use the 600 grit sandpaper for the final touches.
After sanding, you can buff the plexiglass. Have a buffing pad on your electric drill, and then polish the edges with a polishing compound for a perfect look.
Cutting plexiglass with a saw blade is not a hard task. However, what happens if you have a circular saw blade instead of a table saw? Worry less. The circular saw will also do the trick. Here is how.
How to cut plexiglass with a circular saw blade
Cutting plexiglass with circular saw is easy. Just like the table saw, first, take your measurements and make markings on where you need the cut. The unneeded part should hang off the work table. To limit any splinters from flying, use adhesive tape on the edges.
Do not remove the protective film until you are done since plexiglass is prone to scratches. Also, use a coolant spray to avoid the plexiglass from overheating.
When you’ve successfully done this, power your circular saw until it attains its maximum speed. 3450RPM is the recommended speed for cutting plexiglass with a saw. A higher speed that this will melt your product.
And, if you have come across this question; how do you cut plexiglass without cracking it? There is only one way to avoid cracks and chipping. Run the blades slowly and steadily. Turn the machine off if chipping occurs.
Things to remember when cutting plexiglass with a saw
Your safety comes first. When cutting the plexiglass, chipping may occur and small particles may fly into your eyes. It is therefore important to always have your safety glasses on before cutting the plexiglass.
Besides, when cutting plexiglass with a saw, there will be the unneeded pieces. Always ensure you turn off the blades before wiping them off or picking them up. The rotating blades may easily cut off your fingers.
Also, wear protective gloves when cleaning and handling the plexiglass.
Since plexiglass gets scratched easily, it comes in a protective cover to reduce the scratches. Therefore, do not remove this cover until the plexiglass is needed. This will help the plexiglass to retain its appealing look.
Frequently asked Questions about cutting plexiglass with a saw:
Can I cut plexiglass with a jigsaw blade?
Answer: Yes. Place the plexiglass on an even surface and measure the intended length. Switch on the jigsaw blade and glide it slowly on the plexiglass sheets. Then remove the protective film from the plexiglass once you are done.
How do I cut plexiglass with a saw without chipping it?
Answer: by determining the thickness of the plexiglass. Hard plexiglass should be cut using blades with more teeth. Also, apply the needed pressure when gently sliding the glass sheets across the rotating blade.
Can you cut plexiglass with a circular saw?
Answer: Yes. After taking the right measurements and observing safety regulations, run the circular saw on the maximum speed for a clean and polished outcome.
Which are the Best Blades for cutting plexiglass sheets?
Answer: It all depends on the thickness of the plexiglass sheets. Soft plexiglass requires blades with fewer teeth to minimize melting while hard plexiglass is the best fit for blades with more teeth. More teeth reduce chipping on the edges.
Cutting plexiglass with a saw is not too difficult if you follow the above steps. Find out the thickness of the plexiglass before running it on the saw blades. ¼’’ thickness and above is the recommended thickness as it will not melt away.
Then measure and mark where you need to cut with a dry-erase marker. Remember the width of the blades too for precise measurement.
Choose the right blade with the required amount of teeth. Few teeth may cause intensive chipping while many teeth may result in melting. Knowing the quality of your plexiglass will help you know what speeds and blades to use.
After that, run the plexiglass slowly and smoothly on the blades. Apply the needed pressure and use a push block. Switch off the machine in case of the plexiglass chipping off.
Lastly, always remember to have your protective gear when working. Keep your eyes, ears, and hands safe at all times.
Cutting plexiglass with a saw has never been easier. It’s time you tried this from the comfort of your home.