How To

Can You Cut Acrylic Sheets?

Can You Cut Acrylic Sheets

The question often gets asked when people think about buying and using these sheets. Acrylic is a type of thin plastic that comes in very thin but strong sheets. You can use these sheets for many things and almost anything you want, which is why it’s so popular among people who like to do arts and crafts.

You can cut acrylic sheets with a handsaw, through scoring and breaking, with a jigsaw, or by cutting with a bandsaw. You can cut acrylic at home using a handsaw, while laser cutting is the best-recommended method. Sand the rough edges using sandpaper or buffer to ensure that your cuts look good.

This article covers all the important aspects of cutting acrylic with precision and efficiency. Let’s find out if you can cut acrylic sheets at home.

Related Reading: Can You Etch Acrylic?

How to Cut Acrylic Sheets

An acrylic sheet is a strong, durable, and flexible material, also known as plexiglass (source). It can also be defined as a long-lasting material used in construction projects, bespoke aquarium construction, picture frames, signs, arts and crafts, resins, adhesives, and coatings.

When used correctly, it’s a great option for both the home user and any commercial industry since its flexibility makes it perfect for many different applications.

It is possible to cut acrylic sheets, but you need to follow the correct procedure and use the right tools for you to be able to cut them. I will cover the types of materials or tools you will need to cut acrylic sheets.

First, understand that there are different sizes of acrylic sheets, each requiring different tools to cut efficiently. For your projects, you can use several major materials or tools to cut the acrylic sheets to any size or shape.

These tools are listed below (source):

1) Hand Saw

This is a common method for cutting acrylic sheets. The process requires more concentration and effort than other methods. You’ll need to use a hand saw with a fine-toothed blade.

To cut acrylic, place the sheet on top of another surface and slowly push the blade through it. You may need to apply some pressure to ensure that the saw cuts through all layers of plastic.

I recommend using the KAKURI Japanese Hand Saw (link to Amazon). This Japanese hand saw is designed to cut through PVC, plastic, pipe, and acrylic materials. It features a razor-sharp Japanese steel blade. The pocket clip allows for easy transportation, even when you’re on the move. It has a thick plastic sheath that protects it from damage and makes it easier to clean the blade after use.

2) Score and Break

This procedure is precise and should only be used on less than 5mm thick acrylic. When cutting acrylic, it’s important to remember that the plastic is not as strong as wood or metal.

You need to cut slowly and carefully so as not to break the material and waste your time. You can score a line on your acrylic sheet with a utility knife or razor blade before breaking it along that line.

Below is a video that shows you how to score and break acrylic.

Jigsaw

A jigsaw is more efficient than the first two methods since it’s easier to use. You can make more complicated or detailed cuts using an electric saw because it’s easier to operate, making it user-friendly.

I recommend BOSCH T101A T-Shank Jig Saw Blade (link to Amazon). Combine the high-speed performance of this premium blade with outstanding value for your plexiglass or metalworking needs. These high-quality blades are engineered for precision cuts on Plexiglas 5/64” to 3/4” thick (1/2). Pointed teeth deliver fast, smooth cuts and optimal chip clearance. Engineered for metalworking applications.

Band Saw

A band saw is a circular saw with a blade that spins at high speeds (source). It’s often used in industrial settings and can be purchased online or from your local hardware store. This tool can cut acrylic sheets into any shape you want.

To do this, you’ll need to clamp down the sheet on top of another surface so that it doesn’t move while cutting. Use clamps to hold everything together and ensure it stays stable during operation.

I recommend getting VEVOR Portable Band Saw (link to Amazon). With full metal gears and solid construction, it can reach 5in cutting capacity and cut non-ferrous metal with high efficiency and safety. Great power, ease to carry and handle, small size, and long operating time with low noise level makes this band saw possibly one of the best portable saws.

Laser Cutting

If you’re looking for the best way to cut acrylic sheets, then a laser cutter is your best bet. Lasers are extremely precise and can cut through materials with great precision. Laser cutters use a beam of light to cut through materials, usually by melting them and turning the melted material into plasma. This process leaves you with smooth edges that are extremely precise.

I recommend getting Genmitsu CNC 3018-PRO Router Kit (link to Amazon). It has a durable 3-axis, solid, stable aluminum frame with high-precision laser-cut surgery-grade acrylic parts. Fully compatible with GRBL controller and can be easily programmed via G-code, as well as producing various cutting actions including chamfer, miter, and screwdriver.

Related Reading: Can You Use HTV on Acrylic?

How Do You Cut Acrylic Sheets at Home

Once or twice, you may have probably thought that cutting acrylic sheets is easy peasy. There are several factors to consider, such as making the exact layout and knowing what shape your sheets should take to avoid scenarios where the sheets might, for instance, crack

So, where do you turn? How do you cut? Here are some of the guidelines you can follow (source):

Step 1: Draw the Line

  1. Draw the line where you wish to cut using a yardstick or a piece of wood and a marker on your acrylic sheet.
  2. Remove the protective covering from the acrylic sheet’s surface. Acrylic sheets scratch easily, thus the need for a protection layer.
  3. Flip the acrylic sheet over and draw the same line on the other side. Try to be as precise as possible for it to look neatly shaped.

Step 2: Make a Grove in the Acrylic Sheet

  1. Hold the piece of wood or yardstick close to the drawn design and score the acrylic sheet along the knife.
  2. Don’t use too much force here; It’s easy to fall off and injure yourself with the knife. Apply a reasonable amount of force to score the acrylic sheet several times. You don’t have to score the sheet as often, but I recommend doing it at least ten times.
  3. Flip the sheet over and repeat the process along the line on the opposite side until you have a nice groove on both sides of the acrylic sheet.

Step 3: Cut the Acrylic Sheet

I understand that this step seems a little terrifying, which is why so many people avoid utilizing it. Your groove should be deep enough that the plexiglass will break precisely along the groove with little power necessary.

  1. Place your acrylic sheet on a table with straight edges and align the groove you produced with the knife in the previous step with the table’s edge.
  2. Either with clamps or weights, secure the side of the table to the table’s surface.
  3. Gently pull down the edge of the acrylic sheet hanging over the table.
  4. Apply increasing pressure to the sheet until it snaps off cleanly.

Step 4: Clean or Buffer the Edges

Cutting acrylic sheets in this manner will likely result in minor edge damage. After all, it’s not the cleanest approach to cutting acrylic sheets. Fortunately, cleaning the margins of an acrylic sheet is simple. Just sand them with a fine-grit sandpaper. Preferably you can start with 100-grit sandpaper.

  1. Run it around the edge but avoid touching the top or bottom of the sheet because acrylic scratches readily.
  2. After that, switch to 140 grit and repeat the procedure until the edges are equal and smooth. You can even use 400 or 600-grit sandpaper if you want your edges to be exceptionally smooth. However, this is usually unnecessary for most tasks.

The YouTube video below describes a few different methods of cutting acrylic sheets at home.

Final Thoughts

Acrylic sheets can be cut into different shapes, designs, and sizes. The method of cutting acrylic sheets depends on a few factors, like the design you want to cut it into and the tools that you have at your disposal.

Acrylic sheets need a lot of caution when cutting into various designs and shapes, so should you follow the necessary instructions. Once you do so, the sheets will be highly unlikely to crack or get damaged.

You can cut the acrylic sheet with the most complicated designs using laser cutting, which is the most recommended because it is elaborate and efficient.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *