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Question cutting plexiglass

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Forum topic by Monte Pittman posted 07-12-2013 10:56 AM 1000 views 0 times favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Monte Pittman

15452 posts in 1086 days


07-12-2013 10:56 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.


17 replies so far

View Blackie_'s profile

Blackie_

3641 posts in 1260 days


#1 posted 07-12-2013 03:34 PM

Monte, do you have a bandsaw? I think the last time I cut plexiglass I used my hand held jigsaw, but I think a bandsaw would work better.

-- 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 Dennis Reynolds's profile

Dennis Reynolds

37 posts in 699 days


#2 posted 07-12-2013 04:47 PM

I’ve cut Plexi on my bandsaw before. It worked. A tablesaw even with a thin blade may work, but heat is a problem. The blade “melts” the plexi as it cuts. A jigsaw for anything other than a very short cut would have the same problem. The blade heats and melts, big gobs of melted plexi stays on the blade, on the plexi, ect. A bandsaw blade doesn’t heat as bad. It has a longer surface area to cool as it goes around the wheels. An option to try would also be a multi-tool or a rotary tool maybe ?

-- Dennis Reynolds

View ShaneA's profile

ShaneA

5449 posts in 1346 days


#3 posted 07-12-2013 05:15 PM

I have always cut it on the TS w/o issue. Keep the blade low and feed rate consistant.

View ADHDan's profile

ADHDan

623 posts in 856 days


#4 posted 07-12-2013 05:19 PM

I cut it in two passes at half-thickness each. Score one side, flip it over, cut through the other. Works pretty well, and eliminates the possibility of shattering the plexi.

-- Dan in Minneapolis, woodworking since 11/11.

View Nicky's profile

Nicky

636 posts in 2839 days


#5 posted 07-12-2013 05:47 PM

I agree with ShaneA, I’ve not had any issues. I use my combo blade.

AdhDan, I like your method, will give this a try.

Monte, use the tape only if the plastic protector has been removed.

-- Nicky

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Straightbowed

717 posts in 1045 days


#6 posted 07-12-2013 08:32 PM

I found drilling holes in plexi with a forestner bit works great, like if your making a counter sink for say a router plate

-- Stevo, work in tha city woodshop in the country

View steliart's profile

steliart

1816 posts in 1436 days


#7 posted 07-12-2013 08:46 PM

i cut lots of those on the TS, use at least 40T blade, keep it low and continuous feed and make sure there’s some down pressure on both sides while cutting.
Good luck :)

-- Stelios L.A. Stavrinides: - I am not so rich to buy cheap tools, but... necessity is the mother of inventions - http://www.steliart.com --

View ADHDan's profile

ADHDan

623 posts in 856 days


#8 posted 07-12-2013 08:50 PM

On steliart’s note – another nice thing about cutting only part way through is that, on the first pass, you can comfortably get a push pad pretty close to the blade on both sides in order to keep pressure on the cut, without too much risk of catastrophe. Since it isn’t a through cut you can, to some degree, treat it like a non-through cut with a dado blade.

And on the second pass, you’ve already got a good score line which makes the cut a lot easier.

-- Dan in Minneapolis, woodworking since 11/11.

View horologist's profile

horologist

95 posts in 2487 days


#9 posted 07-13-2013 07:38 PM

Without more detailed information on your cabinet it is hard to be specific, for covers on a display that is horizontal Plexiglas makes more sense but for vertical doors I still prefer glass. True, Plexiglas is more resistant to impacts that would cause a catastrophic failure. However it wears poorly and I have found it only somewhat more resistant to breakage during transport.

To answer your question, as others have stated I have found the table saw a great way to simultaneously cut and reweld the plastic. It will break easily along the melted seam and the surface can be cleaned up with a file. For cutting with power tools I prefer the bandsaw at slow speed to prevent the melting. It does make quite a mess though, the plastic shavings get everywhere and static electricity makes them a misery to clean. My favorite method of cutting Plexiglas is to treat it like glass, score a line and break.

I have a tool specifically designed for this job and a pair of pliers that is great for nibbling away any irregularities, especially handy for odd shapes or removing a thin strip. If you are cutting straight edges that go all the way across the sheet then you might consider this method.

-- Troy in Melrose, Florida

View ScrubPlane's profile

ScrubPlane

187 posts in 943 days


#10 posted 07-13-2013 11:27 PM

Table saw will work just fine…I’ve done it many, many times.

View Nomad62's profile

Nomad62

726 posts in 1706 days


#11 posted 07-16-2013 11:44 PM

I used my jigsaw with no problems as well, just gotta hold it in place to keep it from flapping.

-- Power tools put us ahead of the monkeys

View mark4345's profile

mark4345

55 posts in 1171 days


#12 posted 07-17-2013 01:49 AM

A vinyl siding blade would probably work well also, they have 120 teeth.

View redSLED's profile

redSLED

687 posts in 640 days


#13 posted 07-17-2013 03:15 AM

Never had a problem cutting on a table saw, and yes, tape both sides. Green painters tape is my favourite. The melting issue must be with cutting very thick plexiglass – like 1” or more? And be sure your safety glasses are completely on!

-- Perfection is the difference between too much and not enough.

View Grandpa's profile

Grandpa

3204 posts in 1423 days


#14 posted 07-17-2013 03:19 AM

I cut it on a table saw with a plywood blade on the saw. The fine teeth work better for me.

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

15452 posts in 1086 days


#15 posted 07-17-2013 03:23 AM

I taped both sides used my Freud Diablo blade. It worked great. Cabinet is about done.

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

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