What Is Plexiglass?
Plexiglass is a type of lightweight plastic that can take on many forms.
It’s used to make protective covers for things like desks, rooftops, aquariums, and other areas where it would be otherwise difficult or dangerous to use glass.
Plexiglass is strong but also easy to cut with the right tools.
If you have never worked with this material before.
There are three basic types
Clear Plexiglass – This version provides no color tint at all so your view through it will be completely unobstructed.
It’s often referred to as acrylic glass or plexiglass sheet
Translucent Plexiglass – You’ll see some light come through this type of Plexiglas but not much – about 30 percent less than clear Plexiglass.
It’s also known as frosted plexiglass or opaque acrylic glass.
Black Plexiglass – This material filters out most light so it won’t be easy to see anything through it at all. It is often used for things like aquariums where you want to simulate being underwater.
Acrylic mirror sheet is another term commonly used for black Plexiglas.
How To Cut Plexiglass With A Circular Saw
Tools You’ll Need To Cut Plexiglass
- Measuring rulers
- 10-inch Circular saw blade with 80 tooth carbide tipped
- Safety Goggles
- Plastic film or an adhesive tape
- Fixing Clamps
In order to make straight cuts in your plexiglass, you’ll need a circular saw.
Other tools that may be helpful include a speed square, a pencil, and a carpenter square.
The first step will be putting the piece of acrylic glass onto plywood or another stable surface that can handle getting cut.
Don’t try cutting directly on the carpet or floor as it won’t provide much resistance should the blade slip during the process which could cause serious injury.
Next, place the speed square across the back of your material so it’s 1/16th inch from being flush with one side.
This will ensure your lines are straight and accurate all-around your sheet of Plexiglas.
Mark this area with a pencil so you know where to cut.
The carpenters square can be used in much the same way when making your marks for cutting – make sure it’s flush with one side of the material when you measure.
Next, secure your material onto the surface using clamps around the sides and back so it doesn’t move during sawing.
You’ll want both hands free for this project so using clamps is a good way to keep things from moving while you work.
Pre-drill holes on each corner of where you plan to start cutting, then secure a straight edge on top of these holes so your blade will have something sturdy to run against as you cut your Plexiglass.
There are different methods of securing a straight edge for this type of task but the idea is to make sure you have a firm, straightway to guide your circular saw.
Step 01: Setting up the Glass on plywood:
As mentioned earlier, you’ll want to make sure your Plexiglass is secured down on a surface that can handle getting cut.
For this job, plywood works well because it has a hard surface and will keep your material from shifting while you work.
If you don’t have any plywood around the house, an old piece of flat wood will also do just fine.
Step 02: Mark the Area You Want to Cut:
Once everything is in place, use a ruler or measuring tape for straight lines and marks.
Where you plan to begin cutting with a pencil so it’s clearly visible against the backdrop of your Plexiglas sheet.
Step 03: Remove the Plastic Film From Your Circular Saw Blade
The next step involves removing the plastic film that covers your blade so you can cut into the material.
Once it’s removed, press the blade against the straight edge and turn your saw on to full power.
Make sure you’ve got some earmuffs or safety goggles on at this point because things are about to get loud!
Step 04: Run Your Circular Saw Through the Plexiglass
Next, follow along with your pencil marks as you slowly push your saw into your material.
Work in small segments – don’t try to push the entire piece through at once because this could cause too much pressure which might make it slip out of place.
Be extra careful around corners – if possible, use an X-Acto knife for cutting around these areas instead of trying to force your blade through it.
Step 5: Cutting Out a Doorway
There’s no single right or wrong way to cut Plexiglass – just use whatever method you feel most comfortable with.
If you’re adding doorways and windows into your project, now is the time to do it.
You can use an X-Acto knife for this part but again, be extra careful not to apply too much pressure so you don’t damage your Plexiglass.
For smaller areas such as windows, take your time and work in small segments rather than trying to push the entire piece through at once.
Step 6: Making Straight Lines With A Speed Square
Use a speed square for cutting straight lines on bigger pieces of Plexiglas and for making corners on smaller pieces.
Just be sure you’re pressing it firmly against the surface – if it’s loose, then your angles won’t come out right when you cut.
Step 7: Using A Carpenters Square For Angles And Corners
You can also use a carpenter’s square for larger projects but make sure to press it down hard enough so that your lines are straight and correct.
Be careful around corners though because this could cause your Plexiglas to crack.
Cut slowly around these areas if possible rather than trying to force the entire piece through at once.
Note that cutting into thinner sheets of the material requires less pressure while thicker sheets require more pressure in order to get the blade through effectively.
If you’re using a speed square or carpenter’s, make sure to adjust the pressure you’re applying accordingly.
Step 8: Connecting Two Pieces Of Plexiglass Together
If you need to connect two pieces of Plexiglas together, use screws along the edges that fit into pre-drilled holes on your material or simply use super glue.
Make sure to wipe any excess glue off with a wet cloth first though.
Remember thinner sheets of Plexiglas require less pressure while thicker panels will need more in order for your saw blade to cut through it effectively.
Once everything is connected, make sure all of these openings are covered up by using wood or some other kind of solid sheeting.
So that water doesn’t get inside and cause problems later on.
Step 9: Using A File To Remove The BUR
Once you’ve finished cutting, you’ll need to remove the burr that forms along the edge of your Plexiglass.
If this isn’t done, then it can cause issues later on when painting or assembling your project because the paint will only stick to one side – not both.
Step 10: Cleaning Off All Excess Plastic FROM Your Saw Blade
After removing the excess plastic from your saw blade, be sure to clean it off with a cloth and water before storing it for future use.
This is important because if there’s plastic leftover on the surface, it could ruin another piece of material down the lines.
Since this stuff builds up quickly and could scratch or damage other objects as well as mess up their appearance.
Tips for cutting plexiglass:
Don’t apply too much pressure when cutting plexiglass!
This material is very flexible and rather than trying to force it through, you should be applying as little force as possible.
When cutting angles or corners on smaller pieces of Plexiglas, try using an X-Acto knife for this part instead.
Take your time and work in small segments if needed – don’t try to push the entire piece through at once because this could cause cracking or some other problem.
Always wear safety goggles or glasses when cutting plexiglass in order to avoid getting pieces of debris in your eyes.
Be sure to wear gloves as well because the sharp edges on Plexiglas can really hurt you if you aren’t careful.
When possible, cut smaller pieces of plexiglass with an X-Acto knife instead of using a circular saw since this is actually much safer and easier to control.
If you need to make specific cuts on bigger pieces of Plexiglas, using a circular saw will be the only way to accomplish this.
However, take your time with it, and don’t try pushing down too hard cutting plexiglass isn’t something you want to rush through, or else you can end up cracking or ruining your material.
Be sure that it’s securely attached to whatever surface you’re working with (a table for example) in order to keep everything steady during use.
This is important because even though most circular saws come with their own stand-alone base, these aren’t always the best way to cut plexiglass properly.
As long as you have patience and follow all of these steps carefully, then there shouldn’t be any issues with your final product.