If you are looking to replace the broken glass of photo frames with something more durable or get new windows or a tabletop, plexiglass is the ideal choice.
And the reason being, they are the more durable choice as compared to standard glass since they are shatterproof. Furthermore, it is also a lighter, and pocket-friendly option.
But the question remains, how do you cut plexiglass the right way so you can use it anywhere and everywhere? Well, that’s exactly what we are here to help you with. From the various tools you’ll need to detailed steps, this guide covers everything.
How to Cut Plexiglass the Right Way
Snap thin Plexiglass with bare hands
Step 1: If the plexiglass you are using is about 3/16 inches thick, you don’t need any fancy or powerful tools. Score and snap and voila, you will be able to cut the plexiglass with your bare hands. Though make sure you place it on a solid, smooth wooden table to get the measurements right.
Just make sure you clean the table and remove anything on it that can damage the glass or result in an uneven cut. You also want to stay away from a wobbly table.
Step 2: Make markings for a precise cut. For this, I’d suggest using a dry-erase marker and a regular wooden or steel scale. Though keep in mind that the marker is prone to smudging, which can result in an uneven cut, so make sure you avoid it.
But in case you can’t, it would be best to redraw the line. It will easily wipe off with a wet cloth or a regular cleaning solution.
Step 3: You’ll need a utility knife to cut as they are compact and thus easy to grip, plus sharp so the job should take no more than a few seconds. To get the cut right, keep the pressure on the scale and run the knife along the drawn line about 8-10 times or until you see a deep cut.
Don’t have a utility knife? A scoring tool should serve you perfectly well as long as it is sharp enough. Also, make sure the cut is deep enough so you can easily snap it off with your hands without disturbing the shape.
Step 4: Once you think the cut is deep enough on one side, just flip the glass and repeat step 3 on the other side. This will help further deepen the cut and make the snap easier. Be careful when you flip the glass. Hold all ends firmly as you do not want it to bend since it can deform the shape of the cut.
Step 5: Move the area with the cut to the edge of the table so it hangs over the table. This makes it super easy to snap off the portion. Though make sure that the entire area is hanging well over it, or you are likely to get a crooked cut.
But wait, don’t snap it just yet.
Step 6: The next thing you will need is two C clamps or even springs should work just fine. These need to be attached to part of the glass that you need and the bottom part of the table. This will help hold the plexiglass in position. Just make sure you don’t clamp it too hard as it can crack or create a dent on the plexiglass.
Step 7: Once the clamps are tight enough, use your hands and snap the part of the glass hanging over the table. A little downward pressure on the glass should do the trick. In case you find that the entire glass along the line isn’t coming off, feel free to put the utility knife to use.
How to Cut Plexiglass Using a Circular Saw
In case your plexiglass is thicker than the size mentioned above, you’re going to need more horsepower, and that’s where a circular saw comes in, and here’s how you should go about using it.
Step 1: The first thing to ensure is that you are using a blade with teeth that are evenly spaced and should be of the same size and design or you are going to get a crooked cut. Anything powerful enough to slice through metal is powerful enough for plexiglass.
This is why a carbide blade tip is ideal. Another benefit of this blade tip is that the dust is minimal, especially if your blade has fewer teeth. Though even the minutest of particles are dangerous for the eyes so don’t forget to wear your glasses.
Note: You can also find blades for your circular saw that are tailor-made for plexiglass.
Step 2: Put the plexiglass on your sawhorse and draw a line as you did above, using a ruler and marker without smudging it. Make sure it is dark enough and visible. Draw over it 4-5 times if needed. Also, use a dry-erase marker so you can easily wipe off the excess.
Step 3: If you use a circular saw from DEWALT, Makita, or even Bosch, they come with a viewer that shows you if the saw is aligned with the glass perfectly or not. Make sure it is in line with the marker line you just drew. To get the cut perfectly, you also want the sheet to be stable.
Step 4: In case you didn’t know, a circular saw takes a few moments before it comes to full speed, which is important to get the cut even and straight. Why? Because you are likely to end up with jagged cuts. So make sure you give it the times it needs (should take no more than a minute) before coming in touch with the glass.
Step 5: Once it is up to speed, be gentle as you push it forward and maintain a constant speed to the push as this will prevent jamming. Use both the viewer and the line as your guide to keep the cut straight. In case you notice a stutter, give it a break and let the saw get back to full speed and this time push it slower than before. You also want to ensure that each half of the plexiglass is properly balanced on the sawhorse so nothing falls to the ground.
Read more: 10 Best Cordless Reciprocating Saw Reviews
How to Cut Plexiglass Using a Jigsaw
Are you looking to make round cuts? A jigsaw to the rescue.
Step 1: The up and down cutting motion of the jigsaw is the reason it works so well when you need to cut the plexiglass into a circle, but you can just as easily make straight cuts or other designed cuts as well. Just ensure the blades are uncoated and have finer teeth. Also, keep additional blades nearby in case you are making complicated cuts.
Step 2: Once again, your sawhorse comes into play as it will hold the plexiglass in place. Just make sure you secure it well as any wobbles or movements can spoil the cuts.
Step 3: To mark the area you want to cut, use a dry-erase marker. This step is even more important than before since you would be cutting a circle or other shapes with a jigsaw, which means there is no room for guesswork to maintain accuracy. Plus, since this is a dry-erase marker, it takes seconds to wipe it off once you are done. If you are unable to draw the circle or design you want, consider getting a stencil.
Step 4: While the circular saw blades do not produce a lot of dust and dirt, it isn’t the case with a jigsaw, and thus, it is more important to have your protective glasses on when using a jigsaw or you could end up with serious injuries. The fit of the glass is a priority. They should be tight enough so it doesn’t fall off leaving your eyes vulnerable and your cut all haywire.
Step 5: Before you start the sawing, you’d have to drill a hole in the plexiglass to fit the jigsaw. Make sure it matches the size of the blade. In case you are making more complicated cuts, you will need to drill a hole in the tight corners for an efficient cut as it makes the turning easier. Not making these holes can damage the blade as it might bend.
Step 6: Like with the circular saw, you want the jigsaw to also be running at full speed, so insert the blade into the hole and let it sit for about a minute before starting the cut. The jigsaw blades are slower than that of a circular saw which makes this even more important. Plus, if it isn’t at full speed, the blade can bend or break, and worse, the broken blade can also cause serious damage to your hand.
Step 7: Once again, the pushing speed plays a vital role. You do not want to push too hard as it will result in an uneven cut and even damage the blade. Maintain constant pressure and follow the guide you drew as closely as possible, especially in the corners. In case you feel any resistance, give it a few seconds until it comes to speed, and then continue the push.
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That’s all you need to know about cutting plexiglass. Plexiglass is one of the best alternatives for anyone that wants more durability than regular glass without spending the big bucks, and now that you know how to cut it the right way, you can make pretty much anything and everything with it.
Apart from these tools, you can also use a table saw or a route (great for cutting the plexiglass in circles).
Have you been using a different method? Why not share your tips and tricks with us and make cutting plexiglass easier for the readers.
And if you have questions about any of the methods mentioned above, hit me up in the comments section below. You can also write to me using the contact form on the contact page.