Cutting PLEXIGLAS®: How to accurately cut to size acrylic

© Röhm GmbH – Acrylic Products / Photo: Stefan Wildhirt

Machines for processing metal and wood can usually also be used for cutting PLEXIGLAS®, as can scribing knives. Find out what to watch out for when selecting your tools and how to achieve a perfect result. Before starting you should lay out all the necessary materials and tools and prepare your workplace.

    • Do not remove the masking film from the material
    • Secure the PLEXIGLAS® sheet on a level base
    • Use the appropriate tools and machines (according to material thickness and form of the blank)
    • Switch on the machine before the saw blade enters the material
    • Deburr the cut edges

Materials and tools – what you need for cutting PLEXIGLAS®

© Röhm GmbH – Acrylic Products / Photo: Stefan Wildhirt
  1. Manual router
  2. Jigsaw with appropriate blade (or, for thin sheets, a scriber)
  3. Screw clamps
  4. Guide track
  5. Circular hand saw with blade appropriate for PLEXIGLAS®
  6. Plane
  7. Folding ruler
  8. Permanent marker or grease pen
  9. Draw Blade, plane, or manual router; alternatively, file or sandpaper

Selection of tools: circular hand saw, jigsaw, or scriber

The method and tool best used for cutting PLEXIGLAS® depend on the material thickness as well as the desired form of the cut edge. In principle, both circular hand saws and jigsaws are suitable. For PLEXIGLAS® sheets of thickness up to 4 mm, you could also use what is known as a scriber. Other cutting methods are described in the brochure titled Machining PLEXIGLAS®.

Circular hand saw

Commercially available circular hand saws are well suited for straight cutting. A saw blade specially ground for plastic is important to obtain cut edges that are as clean as possible. Further information on suitable saw blades is available in the Machining PLEXIGLAS® brochure.

© Röhm GmbH – Acrylic Products / Photo: Stefan Wildhirt

Jigsaw

A jigsaw allows straight as well as curved cutting. Jigsaws have also proven useful for recesses. It is important that the lifting speed can be regulated and the pendulum action switched off.

© Röhm GmbH – Acrylic Products / Photo: Stefan Wildhirt

Scriber

Thin PLEXIGLAS® sheets up to 4 mm in thickness can also be cut with a scoring knife. This process is known as scoring and breaking. For each millimeter of sheet thickness, the scriber is drawn over the PLEXIGLAS® once, for example three times for a sheet of 3 mm thickness. Start and end of the sheet have to be cleanly scored. The sheet is then laid over an edge along the score and broken. Scoring results in straight edges along an angle or a template. Sharp edges and splinters may arise while breaking; eyes should therefore be protected by safety glasses, and protective gloves worn.

© Röhm GmbH – Acrylic Products / Photo: Stefan Wildhirt

All of the tools have their advantages and disadvantages: The choice of circular hand saw, jigsaw, or scoring knife ultimately depends on the sheet thickness and the form of the cut desired. If possible, try out the tool on a test piece beforehand. Once you have all the necessary tools and materials ready, you can start with the cutting process.


Cutting PLEXIGLAS® is easy. This is how you do it.


Instructions: Cutting PLEXIGLAS®

© Röhm GmbH – Acrylic Products / Photo: Stefan Wildhirt

1

Leave the masking film on the sheet

To protect the surface during cutting, leave the masking film on the sheet as long as possible.

© Röhm GmbH – Acrylic Products / Photo: Stefan Wildhirt

2

Draw the line

Before you start cutting, draw the line along which you want to. Permanent markers or grease pens work well.

© Röhm GmbH – Acrylic Products / Photo: Stefan Wildhirt

3

Secure the sheet on a level base

Lay the sheet on a level base. The part that you want to split off should project beyond the edge of the base. Secure the material with clamps or screw clamps, for example. Important: Clean the base beforehand so that no sharp-edged parts that could damage the sheet project from it.

© Röhm GmbH – Acrylic Products / Photo: Stefan Wildhirt

4

Use a guide track

For accurate cutting it is best to use a guide track.

© Röhm GmbH – Acrylic Products / Photo: Stefan Wildhirt

5

Drill a hole when cutting an angle

For clean angles it is recommended to drill a hole at the intersection of the lines.

© Röhm GmbH – Acrylic Products / Photo: Stefan Wildhirt

6

Set rotational speed and feed rate

Set the rotational speed and feed rate before sawing. Recommended settings for sawing PLEXIGLAS® with circular hand saws or jigsaws are given in the Machining PLEXIGLAS® brochure. Faulty settings can often be recognized from incrustations or fusion at the cut edge.

© Röhm GmbH – Acrylic Products / Photo: Stefan Wildhirt

7

Sawing

Switch on the saw before guiding it through the acrylic sheet and cut the material carefully, keeping the saw running. Take care to follow the guide track accurately. The blade of a circular hand saw should barely project above the sheet. You can use a vacuum cleaner to remove swarf.

© Röhm GmbH – Acrylic Products / Photo: Stefan Wildhirt

8

Deburr the cut edges

Deburr the cut edges with a scraper, sandpaper, or a file. An electric woodworking plane or manual router may also be used for this purpose. Secure the PLEXIGLAS® sheet in a vice with suitable protective jaws, for example, so that it does not slip during processing.


Tips and additional notes for cutting PLEXIGLAS®

  • Wear hearing protection and safety glasses to avoid injury.
  • Remove the masking film only after completing all the work steps.
  • Use a guide track for straight edges.
  • Before sawing, on a test sample check that the saw blade is suitable and the settings are correct.
  • Note that the cut edge is sharp after cutting.
  • If there is no masking film left on the sheet, apply adhesive tape at the place where you want to cut the PLEXIGLAS®. In this way you will prevent fusion of the material, as well as scratches or breakouts.

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