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cutting plexiglass

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Forum topic by Monte Pittman posted 07-12-2013 10:51 AM 757 views 1 time favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Monte Pittman

15138 posts in 1061 days


07-12-2013 10:51 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I am making some cabinet doors on a project. It will be packed around to a couple shows so I didn’t want to put in glass to avoid breakage. What’s the best way to cut plexiglass on tablesaw? Tape both sides and keep blade very low? Don’t want to screw it up either.

-- Mother Nature created it, I just assemble it.


18 replies so far

View Howie's profile

Howie

2656 posts in 1646 days


#1 posted 07-12-2013 11:28 AM

I would tape it and use at least a 60 tooth blade set just high enough to cut thru.

-- Life is good.

View Roger's profile

Roger

15055 posts in 1527 days


#2 posted 07-12-2013 11:34 AM

Installing a plywood blade in backwords seems to work pretty well fer me

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Kentuk55@bellsouth.net

View scotsman9's profile

scotsman9

134 posts in 612 days


#3 posted 07-12-2013 11:40 AM

I agree with Roger….that has always been the best way in my experience.

-- Just a man and his opinion.

View Gary's profile

Gary

7526 posts in 2156 days


#4 posted 07-12-2013 11:46 AM

I cut a lot of plexi. I use tape and a 100 tooth blade set low. Never have problems.

-- Gary, DeKalb Texas only 4 miles from the mill

View Bogeyguy's profile

Bogeyguy

484 posts in 791 days


#5 posted 07-12-2013 12:22 PM

Don’t remove the protective paper prior to cutting.

-- Art, Pittsburgh.

View kizerpea's profile

kizerpea

746 posts in 1091 days


#6 posted 07-12-2013 12:29 PM

sounds good to me! what they said..

-- IF YOUR NOT MAKING DUST...YOU ARE COLLECTING IT! SOUTH CAROLINA.

View EPJartisan's profile

EPJartisan

1087 posts in 1848 days


#7 posted 07-12-2013 12:29 PM

if you don’t have or can’t afford a sharp or 100+ saw blade, you can aways sandwich the plexi between two thin sheets of plywood.. I have done both direct pressure and double stick tape. But it is much easier to have a sharp blade and just tape off, and if you get some melting… let it cool and cut it with a razor blade.. don’t be tempted to break or sand off the melt.

-- " 'Truth' is like a beautiful flower, unique to each plant and to the season it blossoms ... 'Fact' is the root and leaf, allowing the plant grow and bloom again."

View NH_Hermit's profile

NH_Hermit

391 posts in 1819 days


#8 posted 07-12-2013 12:40 PM

Thanks for asking this. I’m in the middle of building a cold frame with plexiglass, and was wondering how to cut it. Now I know.

-- John from Horse Shoe

View Pimzedd's profile

Pimzedd

463 posts in 2527 days


#9 posted 07-12-2013 02:45 PM

Taught Plastics Mfg. for 34 years. As has been said, the more teeth the better. Taping can help. Eric’s suggestion about a sandwich is good.

Steady feed, not slow or fast. Keep blade low.

We used a Forrest blade called a No-melt http://www.forrestblades.com/nomelt.htm. Had a triple chip tooth grind. Think the tooth may have had a negative rake angle, more of a scraping action than a cutting or slicing action. 10 in. blade ran about $200, that was 20 years ago. Looks like the prices is still about the same. Great blades.

-- Bill - Mesquite, TX --- "Everything with a power cord eventually winds up in the trash.” John Sarge , timber framer and blacksmith instructor at Tillers International school

View Greg..the Cajun Wood Artist's profile

Greg..the Cajun Wood Artist

5218 posts in 2032 days


#10 posted 07-12-2013 02:57 PM

I recently cut some 1/8” plexiglass to replace some panels on a bird feeder and used a 80 tooth carbide blade and placed blue painters tape over the cut lines. Worked like a charm.

-- Each step of every Wood Art project I design and build is considered my masterpiece… because I want the finished product to reflect the quality and creativeness of my work

View Earlextech's profile

Earlextech

1010 posts in 1414 days


#11 posted 07-12-2013 03:00 PM

Tablesaw with a high tooth count blade, keep the protective paper on for the cut, don’t go too fast or slow. File or sand the edges smooth. I’ve never had a problem with plexi.

-- Sam Hamory - The project is never finished until its "finished"!

View DocSavage45's profile

DocSavage45

5241 posts in 1566 days


#12 posted 07-12-2013 03:35 PM

Problem with plexiglass ( acrylic plastic)in the situation you are describing ( as a display door) is cleaning it? I have some plexiglass in a window frame and it doesn’t age well? Also scratches producing a dull finish after awhile.

Just cut some with my bandsaw. Had some rough edges that I sanded. Good luck.

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View Blackie_'s profile

Blackie_

3600 posts in 1236 days


#13 posted 07-12-2013 03:37 PM

What about instead of a tablesaw, using a bandsaw?

-- Randy - If I'm not on LJ's then I'm making Saw Dust. Please feel free to visit my store location at http://www.facebook.com/randy.blackstock.custom.wood.designs

View NiteWalker's profile

NiteWalker

2710 posts in 1300 days


#14 posted 07-12-2013 04:46 PM

I cut a lot of plexi too.
First, when buying your plexi, avoid extruded. It’s the cheaper kind. You want cast acrylic. If you’re using polycarbonate, the type doesn’t matter much.

For cutting, use whatever is on your table saw. I use the same blade for cutting wood, a 40 tooth combo blade. Installing a blade backwards in your saw is asking for trouble.
I also wouldn’t worry about filing or sanding the edges smooth since they’ll be hidden.
Don’t have the blade too low; kickback chances increase the lower the blade is.
Use a ZCI on your table saw.

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

View Pimzedd's profile

Pimzedd

463 posts in 2527 days


#15 posted 07-12-2013 09:08 PM

Have to comment on Nitewalker’s recommendations based on my multiple years working with acrylic (plexiglas is a tradename).

Cast or extruded cut about the same. Cast is flatter and may be what you want on your cabinets. Extruded may tend to melt a little more depending on the blade used. Lucite L is the best extruded grade. Lots of imported extruded grades. Not much cast left anymore, too expensive.

Polycarbonate is good if impact resistance is needed. It scratches easier than acrylic and it is not as rigid.

I agree about cutting with the blade backwards, bad idea. Tends to melt a LOT!!!

Keep the blade low for safety and quality of cut. A raised blade induces a downward motion to the teeth, that leads to cracks sometimes.

Blade height has little to do with kickbacks on plastic sheet. They usually occur when the plastic drifts away from the fence (guess that is true for wood as well). Low blade height helps keep fingers attached, I have a student that can testify to that one that; two stitches in three fingers (set his hand down on a blade after turning off the power). I have another had the opposite experience with a blade that was 1 1/2 inch above the plastic (kickback knocked the guard up and the hand into the blade, was not using a push stick as instructed)

DocSavage45 mentions scratching. That can definitely be a problem. Be careful of window cleaners and cleaning rags or paper towels. Of course, if you build it, you can replace it.

-- Bill - Mesquite, TX --- "Everything with a power cord eventually winds up in the trash.” John Sarge , timber framer and blacksmith instructor at Tillers International school

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