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Thread: Best way to cut plexiglas?

  1. #1

    Best way to cut plexiglas?

    I typically use either a hacksaw (fine blade) or a Dremel tool (cut-off disc) to cut or trim plexiglas windows. Do you guys have a better tool for this purpose? My biggest concern is cracking the window due to over-flexing. I almost broke a window once - the crack started but didn't enter into my work area. 8-)

  2. #2
    Master Modder Tazz's Avatar
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    Best way to cut plexiglas?

    Depending on how thick of plexi your working with will alter my answer. Thin plexi I will use something that cuts slow to avoid getting to much heat and causing the cracking your talking about. On lexan and thicker stuff I use a right angled die grinder (air). Makes fast cuts and with the right blades makes nice cuts.

  3. #3

    Best way to cut plexiglas?

    I'm generally talking about thin plexi, like you would get when you order a custom laser-etched window from places like www.hyperkore.com . I have a few windows from them that are a bit long, so I'll need to trim both end pieces. Do you recommend a slow speed with the Dremel disc? Here is a picture of the window:


  4. #4

    Best way to cut plexiglas?

    If you have access to a table saw belive it or not that works really well if you go slow. Just make sure to tape up both side so they don't get scratched. I generally us the table saw to cut all my pieces of plexiglass and then I use an end mill to finish off the ends to clean them up. An end mill is the ideal option to taking from 1/32" to 1/16" off at a time and leaves a nice clean edge. But not a lot of people keep those laying around with a plex bit in thier garages.

  5. #5

    Best way to cut plexiglas?

    I like using my trusty jigsaw for most of my cutting needs. With a bi-metal blade and protective coating on both sides of the acrylic (some people like taping the bottom of the jigsaw base too), it's a quick and effective tool for cutting any thickness of material.

    click any image to see larger version

    Of course, there are several tools that facilitate the cutting of acrylics. Not only is a rotary tool an excellent tool for basic cutting (albeit slow), it's a great choice for an assistant to the jigsaw. And you just can't have too many files. These will help smooth the edges, take out the saw marks, add beveled or rounded edges and can get into some places even a Dremel can't reach.


    Since even the finest file won't remove all the scratches or give the polished edges you might desire, you're still gonna have to do some sanding. And more sanding... and more sanding. And then there's the polishing. There's nothing quick about modding.


    All that cutting, filing and sanding will be worth it in the end though. You'll have a piece that will really show your accomplishment and, hopefully, you will make ever'one think modding is easy -- anyone can do it. Even an ol' grump like me.


    click any image to see larger version
    Best R'gards,

    Grump

  6. #6

    Best way to cut plexiglas?

    Ok guys, I like the idea of a jigsaw. I don't have any big power tools, such as a table saw. I never felt comfortable using them in shop class (back in the '70's). I might get a jigsaw to make other cutting tasks go faster, like cutting side panels. I normally use metal shears, which work surprisingly well on thin panels. All my plastic modding projects were done with the Dremel tool though. Check my web site for pictures of my past projects when you get a chance.

  7. #7

    Best way to cut plexiglas?

    Ok guys, I like the idea of a jigsaw. I don't have any big power tools, such as a table saw. I never felt comfortable using them in shop class (back in the '70's). I might get a jigsaw to make other cutting tasks go faster, like cutting side panels. I normally use metal shears, which work surprisingly well on thin panels. All my plastic modding projects were done with the Dremel tool though. Check my web site for pictures of my past projects when you get a chance.
    Just stopped by your site, you've done some outstanding mods.

  8. #8

    Best way to cut plexiglas?

    Thanks. I started building computers back in 2000, after getting tired of the store-bought cases. My favorite one is always the latest one - OsborneAgain in this case. It's an awesome gaming machine with that dual-core AMD CPU and an nVidia 7800GT.

  9. #9

    Best way to cut plexiglas?

    The plexi I usually use is the thinner 1/8" stuff, so for straight cuts I just use the old "score-and-snap" method. Mark the end points for the edge, clamp the plexi to the table with a straightedge on top of it (I use a metal draftsman's T-square for that), and then use a scoring knife (which you can usually find in the same department where you bought the plexi) to gouge the snap-line into the plexi. After you get it scored, reclamp it so you can use the edge of the table to make the snap easier. Apply pressure and it should crack along the line you scored in. Rough edges can be cleaned up with sandpaper or a grinding drum for small burrs. Larger bits may require the use of pliers to remove anything that should have snapped but didn't or files to rasp it down.

  10. #10

    Best way to cut plexiglas?

    When I'm ready to cut my keyboard window, the scribe and break method might work pretty well. I expect to make two straight cuts, one on each side. Once I do it, I'll post some pictures.

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