HOW TO CUT TO SIZE ACRYLIC SHEETPlastral
Cutting acrylic sheet for DIY and at home projects is easier than you think.
Acrylic sheet is growing in popularity for DIY home improvement projects due to its incredible durability and aesthetics. Whether you’re an avid DIY enthusiast or just starting out, you can easily cut your acrylic sheet down to size.
Depending on the thickness or grade of sheet, cutting acrylic yourself can be as simple as cutting timber or metal. Following are our recommendations for selecting the right tools and methods.
Please note that this is a guide only. We recommend that you test first to determine the best methods that work for you.
Tools needed to cut acrylic panels to size
- Scriber: For sheets up to 4mm in thickness
- Jigsaw: For straight and curved lines and for cutting recesses.
- Circular Saw: Suitable for straight cuts
- Router: Best used for trimming and finishing rough cuts.
- Screw clamps: To hold your acrylic in place
- Guide track: To ensure accuracy of your cut
- Marking and finishing tools: Plane, folding ruler, permanent marker or grease pen, draw blade, manual router, file or sandpaper.
As a general rule, if you have the tools to cut timber or metal, then you can cut acrylic sheet. Following are some of the tools and methods you could use, depending on the material thickness you are trying to cut, and the desired finish along the cut edge.
In principle, both circular hand saws and jigsaws are suitable for most acrylic sheet grades. Whereas for acrylic up to 4mm in thickness, you could simply use a scriber and the blow mentioned method.
Methods for cutting acrylic sheet to size
Before you start:
- Always wear the appropriate safety wear for cutting acrylic sheet. It is common for the plastic material to splinter and break and so eyes and hands must always be protected.
- If possible, try out the tool on a test piece beforehand.
- Before starting you should lay out all the necessary materials and tools and prepare your workplace.
- Once you have all the necessary tools and materials ready, you can start with the cutting process.
This process is known as scoring and breaking. It is best used for cutting straight lines along an entire length of acrylic sheet.
- Secure your acrylic sheet and mark your cut using the finishing tools listed above.
- Draw the scriber over the surface of the material, along the marked cut, repeating this one time for every millimetre of sheet thickness. Eg. 3 times for 3mm acrylic sheet. Ensure that the start and end of the sheet are cleanly scored.
- Move your acrylic sheet so that the scored line is straight across an edge, one side flat on the bench, the other over the edge and break your acrylic sheet.
Routers are generally best used for trimming and finishing straight or curved lines. It is recommended that the acrylic sheet first be rough cut and then the router used. You can use any other saw or the router itself for the rough-cut.
Commercially available circular saws are perfect for the majority of acrylic sheet grades when straight lines are required. It is important that a low speed and feed rate is used as well as the correct blade. Refer to blade manufacturer recommendations to select the right blade type.
Use the steps outlined below of Power Saw Cutting Method.
A jigsaw is recommended for cutting both straight and curved lines and can be useful for cutting profile shapes. It is important that the lifting speed can be regulated and the pendulum action is switched off. Also, refer to blade manufacturer recommendations to select the right blade type.
Use the steps outlined below of Power Saw Cutting Method.
How to cut acrylic sheet using power tools:
- Leaving the protective film on your acrylic sheet to avoid damaging the surface, mark your desired cut lines and secure the sheet on a work bench using the tools listed above. The part to be cut should overhang the edge of your bench so that the blade can run through the plastic sheet freely.
- For straight lines, you can use a straight piece of wood as a guide. Ensure you fix it down, positioned on top of your sheet and along the cut line, using clamps to ensure it is kept firmly in place.
- Select the right blade. It is important that you use a blade specially designed for plastic in order to obtain clean cut edges.
- Always use a low speed with a low feeding rate. This will reduce friction between the blade and the sheet which could otherwise cause the acrylic to melt and stick to the blade. It will also help extend the life of your blade and ensure a clean finish cut.
- Aim your saw blade at the start of your cutting line and slowly and smoothly start cutting along the marked line. It is important that your movements are slow and smooth to avoid splintering, chipping and breaking your acrylic sheet cut edge.
- Do not stop the feeding of saw while cutting. Ensure you finish every cut once started. Stopping your saw can cause the acrylic to stick to the hot blade.
- You can remove the protective coating starting at one corner and peeling it back and off your final acrylic panel.
Hot tips for cutting acrylic sheet:
- Use tape along the cutting line to avoid flying splinters as you cut.
- Use a coolant spray on the blade of your circular saw to reduce heat caused by friction during cutting.
- Make sure the blade is sharp and does not have any bent or broken teeth to avoid kickback.
- Make sure you select the correct blade;
- The blade should be designed for use with plastics.
- For circular saws, ensure your blade has the correct rake angle. This should be between 5 to 10 positive degrees.
- For jigsaws, make sure you have the right tooth range.
- Don’t use a blade with teeth of uneven height because this will cause the edges to be damage.
If you are still unsure about cutting acrylic sheet yourself, we do offer a cutting service for all of our plastic sheet products. Check out the range here and simply select “Cut to Size” from the dropdown menu on the page of any sheet product you want to buy, enter your custom cut dimensions and add it to your cart.
Once you have cut your acrylic sheet you might like to smooth the edges. For this, follow our Sanding and Polishing Acrylic Sheet guide here.
Please note, our technical advice on the use of our materials is given without obligation. The buyer is responsible for the application and processing of our products. Technical data concerning our products are typical values. Subject to alteration.