Although plexiglass is an inexpensive alternative to glass, cutting them down can be a bit challenging. You don’t want to chip or snap the plexiglass, so you need to find an effective way to cut down sheets.
So, can you cut plexiglass using a table saw? Let’s get to know more about plexiglass and if it’s worth using a table saw.
What You Need to Know About Plexiglass
First of all, plexiglass is not glass. It’s a type of hard, clear acrylic, which is an affordable alternative to glass. Acrylic is a petroleum-based thermoplastic material that’s usually manufactured in sheets. And in fact, plexiglass is more like plastic.
What’s good about plexiglass is that it’s shatter-resistant and lightweight. Its common uses include:
Plexiglass comes with a protective layer of paper that should be kept in place until you cut and finish it.
Types of Plexiglass Sheets
Cast Acrylic Sheets
This type is what most of us understand as plexiglass. It is rugged and durable. You can cut this using a table saw as long as you use the right blade.
Extruded Acrylic Sheets
This sheet is not as durable and hard as cast acrylic sheets. It has a lower melting temperature and should only be cut using hand tools.
This sheet falls in-between in terms of durability. It’s not as robust as cast acrylics, but it does have a higher melting temperature compared to extruded acrylics. Cutting it with a table saw is possible, but it requires the right blade for optimal results.
Strength of Plexiglass
Plexiglass is more shatterproof compared to glass. It can resist bullets and can withstand extreme wind velocities. In fact, plexiglass is six to 17 times more impact-resistant than regular glass.
Impact Resistance Compared to Glass
Our engineers proved that plexiglass has more impact resistance compared to glass. It will only break subjected to force beyond their specific measure. See the table below comparing plexiglass to other glass.
What's The Right Way to Cut Plexiglass on a Table Saw?
Using the Right Blade
Our engineers emphasized that the blade depends on the thickness of the plexiglass you’ll use. We advised using a blade with 10 and 14 inches in diameter and 80- and 100-teeth count, respectively, for a sheet thickness of 1/16th to 1/18th.
Checking the Power of Your Table Saw
Use a table saw that’s at least 2 horsepower. Also, the blade must be 3,450 rpm (revolutions per minute).
Depending on your bit’s size, the ideal feed rate for cutting acrylics like plexiglass is usually 75-300 ipm (intelligent power module).
You will need to apply pressure. Since plexiglass is thin, it will produce more vibrations when placed on the table saw for cutting. To ensure your safety when cutting, you can use a push block.
Plexiglass is prone to chipping– especially on the edges, the surface’s weakest point. You can avoid chipping by starting to cut from one end and flipping the sheet to finish the cut that’s coming from the opposite side.
Wear gloves or goggles to protect your hands and eyes. Also, we advised you to wear a long-sleeved shirt as the plexiglass debris may shoot anywhere as you cut.
What to Do After Cutting Plexiglass on a Table Saw
After cutting plexiglass, it is likely rough on the edges. So, you need to smooth an1d finish the edges. Get a 120- or 180-grit of sandpaper to do the finishing.
Insert it into the sanding block, and sand the cut edges. Alternatively, you can use a buffing pad attached to your power drill for an even better finish.
Should You Really Use a Table Saw to Cut Plexiglass?
You can use a table saw to cut plexiglass, but not necessarily. There are other cutting options that you can use. Besides, it really depends on the thickness of the plexiglass.
Other Recommended Alternatives
Plexiglass Knife or Utility Knife
When cutting thinner sheets, you can use a plexiglass knife or your utility knife. Just run the knife along with the plexiglass a few times. Go slightly deeper with each pass, then snap the sheet where you’ve cored it.
Dremel Grinder with Cutting Wheel
You can use a Dremel grinder with a cutting wheel to cut plexiglass. This tool can get the job done efficiently and quickly. It cuts at a very high speed, resulting in high-quality cuts and a fine finish.
See Also: Can You Cut MDF Using a Table Saw?
So, can you cut plexiglass using a table saw? Yes, you can use a table saw. However, you need to consider the thickness of the plexiglass and use the most appropriate cutting tool for efficiency. Aside from table saw, there are alternative methods that you can utilize.
But remember– safety first. Cut plexiglass with caution. You want to ensure your plexiglass does not break or chip – so as your hands, too!
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