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How To Cut Acrylic 

Project Overview

Cutting Perspex or Acrylic can be done at home using saws which you might already have. If you are contemplating how to cut plastic or cutting perspex at home, read our helpful step by step guide before you start.  And, remember - gloves and safety glasses too for this job:)

Step by Step

Step 1 - Set up your acrylic ready
Leave on the film which covers and protects your acrylic/perspex until you have completely finished cutting.  Begin by clamping your acrylic sheet to your work surface with a straight edge so it does not flex or move. 

Step 2 - Cutting acrylic sheets thinner than 4mm
If you are cutting sheets thinner than 4mm simply choose a very sharp scoring tool. More than one scoring pass is the way to go. Start by scoring around 1/8th of the way through your acrylic sheet. Keep going in both directions and ideally also score from both sides of the acrylic sheet as this will make the eventual snap easier and the break cleaner.
When you're satisfied with the scoring, firmly clamp your acrylic sheet with the edge of the table directly beneath the score. Press downwards on the piece that's beyond the edge of the table until your acrylic sheet snaps.

Step 3 - Cutting acrylic sheets thicker than 4mm
Use a length of 1 - 3 wood to distribute the clamping pressure and act as a guide for your cutting. A sharp blade and a smooth feed is the way to go. Don't force your cutting - you're likely to generate heat which will melt the acrylic.  Power saws such as jigsaws and carbide tipped circular saws are suitable choices.  Jigsaws can be used on acrylic sheets upto 6mm thick.  Circular saws can be used on acrylic sheets of all thicknesses.  Use jigsaws with metal cutting blades of reduced depth and sharp teeth (5-6 teeth per cm) - use the finest blade you can.  Be sure to allow the blade to stop before withdrawing from the cut.  If you choose a circular saw, the optimum blade speed is 3000m/min and make sure the teeth are closely spaced (0.8-1.6 teeth per cm).  A 0-5 degrees rake angle which will give a rough finish.  If a smoother finish is needed use dedicated acrylic cutting blades for jigsaws and circular saws.

Step 4 - Keep it cool 
Acrylic starts to soften at 80 degrees C so use coolants to keep heat build up to a minimum while you’re cutting. You can do this with water, air mists or soluble (oil in water emulsions) oils.  Take care to avoid flammable lubricants or aerosols as these are a fire hazard.
Test the pressure you apply - cutting too slowly can melt acrylic and applying too much pressure can chip its edges. 

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How To Cut Acrylic