It may seem intimidating to cut plexiglass yourself, especially if you’re a beginner. Because this acrylic plastic easily chips and cracks, you have to handle it with care and use the right techniques throughout the whole process.
In this guide, we’ll be sharing how to use a table saw correctly on plexiglass.
Plexiglass, also known as acrylic, is a more affordable alternative to glass. Because it’s lightweight, shatterproof, and relatively durable, it’s often used in industrial, commercial, and residential projects. In fact, when tested against thicker glass, plexiglass wins in terms of impact resistance.
However, you should know that plexiglass melts and scratches easily. When cutting it using a table saw, you should follow the necessary safety precautions to avoid damaging the material.
How to Cut Plexiglass With a Table Saw
Step 1: Gather Your Equipment
If you plan to polish your plexiglass after cutting, bring out an electric drill and a buffing pad as well.
(If you are looking for the right tool for this project, you can consider our list of powerful Delta table saws here)
Step 2: Measure the Thickness of the Plexiglass
Use your tape measure to check the thickness of the plexiglass . If the material is less than 1/4 inch thick, you should use a utility knife instead to avoid chipping or melting from the residual heat of the table saw.
If your plexiglass is thicker than 1/4 of an inch, go ahead to the next step.
Step 3: Choose the Right Saw Blade
Because plexiglass comes in soft and hard varieties, you have to adjust your saw blade based on the material you’re working with.
For harder plexiglass, pick a blade with more teeth—this will ensure a smooth and clean cut with minimal chipping. On the other hand, a blade with fewer teeth will work better on soft plexiglass. Because this is more prone to melting, it’s ideal to lessen heat and friction produced during the process.
Generally, though, plastic substances require blades with 60 to 80 teeth—less than other materials—to avoid burning. Evenly spaced teeth with no rake will also ensure quick and straight cuts.
For optimal results, pick blades made from high-quality carbide. These models are pricier, but they do a much more impressive job.
Step 4: Measure the Size of the Cut
Next, measure out the size you want and mark it clearly on the plexiglass. Since your table saw will have a fence to hold the glass in place, account for any extra space it may take up. If you’re unsure, it’s a good idea to leave some allowance, as you could end up with a smaller piece than intended.
Before cutting, make sure the plexiglass’ protective film is still in place; without it, you could scratch or damage its surface.
Step 5: Start Cutting
Once you’re ready, put on your safety glasses for protection and turn on your table saw.
With the protective film side face down, slowly feed the plexiglass into the saw with one end tight to the fence. Whether you’re a beginner or a professional, it’s best to use a push block for added safety.
This tool allows you to put more distance between your fingers and the blade, so it’s much easier to guide the plexiglass forward. It also reduces vibrations, which cause jagged edges.
While feeding the plexiglass through the machine, remember to move slowly and steadily. If you go too fast, the plexiglass could chip or melt, ruining the end product.
Similarly, if you don’t apply even pressure, the saw could vibrate and make rough, uneven cuts. If you’re working with thin plexiglass sheets, consider stacking them up, clamping them in place, and feeding them through the saw together to save time.
To prevent the table saw from overheating, pause every few minutes or so to cool down the blade. It may seem unnecessary, but this lessens the likelihood of the plexiglass cracking in the middle of the process.
Step 6: Sand and Polish the Edges
After cutting, all that’s left to do is to polish up your work.
Smooth the edges with a waterproof sandpaper and repeat this multiple times until you achieve your desired result. Afterward, use an electric drill with a buffing pad for an even more refined look.
(To get the right power tool for this project, you can always check our list of top table saws below 500 here)
Now that you know how to cut plexiglass using a table saw, you won’t have to call up a professional to do it for you next time. Just make sure you read through the directions properly and follow all the safety precautions for a successful outcome.