Known also as acrylic, plexiglass is an inexpensive, durable, and lightweight substitute for glass. Versatile and shatterproof, plexiglass is used for a variety of projects and can be cut in various shapes and sizes if you have the right tools.
How to cut plexiglass? There are several different ways to cut plexiglass. Thinner sheets of plexiglass can be scored using a utility knife or scoring tool. To cut thicker sheets of plexiglass you can either use a power saw for straight lines or cut specific shapes out of the sheet using a jigsaw.
In this article, we’ll list several different techniques for cutting plexiglass with step-by-step instructions and also tell you how to remove scratches and polish plexiglass. Keep on reading to find out more!
How to Cut Plexiglass by Scoring
If you need to cut a thin sheet of plexiglass that is up to 3/16-inch-thick, scoring and snapping the sheet is the simplest way to get it done. Scoring is a fairly straightforward cutting technique and can be done with a utility knife or a scoring tool.
Here are steps for scoring plexiglass sheeting:
- Place the plexiglass sheet on a flat surface. Make sure that the work surface is completely clean otherwise the sheet might get damaged or scratched during the cutting process.
- Use a ruler and a dry-erase marker to draw a straight line where you want to cut the sheet.
- Next, before you start scoring the plexiglass make sure that the sheet is flat and stable on the work surface. Hold the ruler on the marked line and drag the utility knife over it to score the sheet.
- Drag the knife over the scoreline 10 or 12 times and continue scoring until you’ve made a deep cut in the sheet.
- When the cut is deep enough, flip the acrylic sheet on the other side and start cutting along the same line. Continue scoring the other side until you’ve made a deep enough groove.
- Once you’ve finished scoring the sheet, place it so the part that you cut is hanging over the edge of your work surface. Now, clamp the plexiglass sheet to the work surface so it won’t move or wobble.
- With the sheet firmly clamped in place apply quick downward pressure to snap the piece you cut. At this point, the sheet should snap cleanly along the scoreline, but if it doesn’t, use the utility knife along it to break the piece of plexiglass off.
How to Cut Plexiglass by Cutting
Using a handheld rotary tool is another way you can cut thin plexiglass without melting or damaging the sheet. Cutting plexiglass this way is a bit faster than scoring and can be done without saws or other more powerful cutting tools.
Here’s how to do it:
- Place the plexiglass sheet on a flat work surface and use a dry-erase marker and a ruler to draw a cutting line.
- Once that’s done, position the plexiglass sheet so the section you want to cut is over the edge of the work surface.
- Use a spring to clamp the section of the sheet you don’t plan to cut, ensuring that the plexiglass is firmly attached to the work surface.
- Once the plexiglass is firmly in place, bring your handheld rotary tool to the full speed and only then start cutting along the marked line. As you come at the end of the cut line your piece of plexiglass will fall off and break from the rest of the sheet.
How to Cut Plexiglass by Sawing
Thicker sheets of plexiglass will have to be cut with a saw, and a circular saw is ideal if you need to cut plexiglass along a straight line.
Blades with carbide tips that are designed for cutting metal are strong enough to cut plexiglass to size without creating a ton of dust and debris.
There are also blades designed for cutting acrylic and you can use them as well. Keep in mind that cutting plexiglass with a power saw can create dust particles that can damage your eyes, so wear protective goggles while cutting.
Here is how you can cut plexiglass with a saw:
- Set a sheet of plexiglass on a sawhorse and use a ruler and dry-erase marker to draw a straight cut line on plexiglass.
- Use a C clamp or a spring to clamp the sheet firmly to a sawhorse and prevent it from sliding or wobbling while you are sawing.
- Get your power saw and align the cutting guide with the line you’ve marked on the plexiglass.
- Turn the saw on and allow the blade to develop full speed before it comes into contact with your plexiglass sheet. This way the teeth of the blade won’t catch or snag on the sheet and you’ll be able to get a smooth and clean cut.
- Use the cutting guide to follow the marked line for a straight cut. You’ll need to push the saw at a steady pace so the blades don’t become stuck.
- If by any chance the saw becomes lodged, you are probably pushing it too fast and you’ll need to stop pushing and let the blade get back up. After this, just continue to push the saw at a steady pace until you finish cutting through the sheet.
How to Polish Plexiglass?
While plexiglass is a great and inexpensive substitute for glass, it does have one downside, it can get scratched and damaged easily.
A great way to prevent damages while you are working with plexiglass is to leave the protective paper on until you finish cutting it.
But if the damage is already done, you can use a power sander or sandpaper to polish small imperfections or rough edges. Here’s how you can do it:
- Start by soaking an 800 grit sandpaper into water. Once the sandpaper is moist enough, rub it in a circular motion against the scratch on the plexiglass.
- Continue doing this for the next two to three minutes maintaining consistent and steady pressure. During this process, the plexiglass will start to become frosted, and you might feel that you’re causing more harm than good, but don’t worry!
- After three minutes are up, soak a 1200 grit sandpaper into the water and repeat the same process, polishing the plexiglass in the circular motion. Continue doing this until all scratches are gone.
- Use a dry and soft cloth to wipe the plexiglass before using a different cloth to apply plastic polish to the sheet. Use a circular motion to rub the polish into the plexiglass, and keep in mind that you might need to do it a few times to achieve the perfect shine.
How to Buff Plexiglass?
Although polishing works for minor damages and imperfections, it won’t be able to remove deep gouges. The only way you can remove deep scratches from plexiglass is to try buffing.
Here’s how to do it:
- Attach a wool pad to a variable-speed rotary polisher and apply a super duty rubbing compound onto the pad.
- Use a low RPM to spread the compound onto plexiglass and once you finish with spreading, raise the RPM to 1800. Continue sweeping the pad across all the scratches to smoothen them out.
- When you finish with compounding, replace the wool pad with a foam pad and spray the surface of the plexiglass with a high-quality protectant.
- Distribute the polisher using low RPM and then switch to 1800 RPM and continue buffing until plexiglass is completely dry.
If you haven’t worked with plexiglass before, you might think that you won’t be able to get it cut at home. However, with the right tools and proper preparation, you’ll find that cutting plexiglass is not as hard as it seems.
Cutting thin plexiglass sheets can be done in a matter of minutes with a simple utility knife or rotary tool. Thicker plexiglass sheets, on the other hand, require heavier machinery such as power saw and protective gear.