HOW TO POLISH ACRYLIC: DIY GUIDEPlastral
How to polish acrylic sheet is easier to do at home than you might think. Sanding and polishing acrylic sheet edges is recommended for achieving the best appearance, particularly after cutting it to size. This will smooth rough edges, remove scratches and will leave a glossy appearance.
Following is a guide for the right materials and methods to follow. This is intended as a guide only. We also recommend that you test first wherever possible to determine which method works best for you.
For more information on cutting acrylic sheet yourself, you might like to read our How to Cut Acrylic Sheet guide here.
SANDING AND POLISHING ACRYLIC SHEET
Materials and tools for sanding and polishing acrylic sheet
- Draw Blade
- Sanding block
- Wet sanding paper or sanding net
- Cotton cloth
- Polishing paste
- Cloth buffing wheel with polishing wax
- Grinding discs
- Beaker with water
Always sand first then polish your acrylic sheet.
How to smooth acrylic sheet edges by sanding
Acrylic sheet can be sanded by hand using sandpaper.
- Secure your acrylic sheet using clamps or a vice with protective jaws. Ensure there are no sharp edges or anything that could scratch or damage the surface of your plastic sheet when secured in place.
- Smooth your edges out with a scraper. Use a moderate pressure, gliding the scraper along the cut edge several times until marks and scratches are removed.
- Wrap the sandpaper around a wooden or cork block to grind the cut edges.
- Sand your edges with wet sanding paper. We recommend starting with a course sandpaper and repeating the process with finer grits. The choice of abrasive grit depends on the depth of the marks or scratches you are trying to remove: The deeper these marks, the coarser the grit. Finish with a very fine (1000 grit) paper. Always use water when sanding to avoid thermal stress on the plastic and to stop the paper clogging.
- Clean any excess paste caused by sanding with a damp cloth.
Using power tools to sand acrylic sheet edges
You can use the above methods with a mechanical sander eg. rotating grinding discs, orbital sanders, or belt grinders. This is recommended when sanding a large amount of acrylic and long edges.
When power tools are being used, however, we also recommend the following precautions be taken.
- Always move your power tools gently and in a smooth motion along the edge of the acrylic.
- Do not press the acrylic sheet rather, let the power tool do the work for you, gently gliding along the surface. Pressure placed on the tool can cause damage to the acrylic from increased friction and resulting heat. It will also drastically reduce the life of your sandpaper.
Materials and tools for polishing acrylic sheet edges
Various methods are available for polishing acrylic sheet.
- By hand with paste and cotton cloth – Great for DIY or at home projects
- Cloth buffing wheel and wax – Great for DIY or at home projects
- Felt tape and wax – Some experience and special tools needed
- Flame polishing – Some experience and special tools needed
- Diamond polishing – Some experience and special tools needed
Polishing by hand is pretty straight forward. Just be sure to select the correct paste that has been specifically designed for plastic and follow the manufacturers instructions.
The other method that we recommend for DIY projects is polishing with a cloth buffing wheel and wax. Following are our recommended steps for this method of polishing acrylic sheet.
How to polish acrylic sheet with a cloth buffing wheel
- Secure your acrylic sheet using clamps or a vice with protective jaws. Ensure there are no sharp edges anything that could scratch or damage the surface of your plastic sheet when secured in place.
- Remove dirt and other contaminants from materials and tools before you start buffing to avoid damaging the acrylic.
- Clamp the cloth buffing wheel in the drill. Large and curved surfaces are easily polished with a cloth buffing wheel clamped in a commercially available drill.
- Apply polishing wax. Make sure that the cloth buffing wheel is free from old wax. Apply the new polishing wax on the rotating disc.
- Set the Speed. With the drill power on, set the rotational speed based on the size of the buffing wheel. If this has a large diameter, set a low rotational speed; if the diameter is small, a high rotational speed is recommended. Please also refer to the manufacturer’s instructions where relevant.
- Polish. Move the cloth buffing wheel across the surface of your acrylic with a light and even pressure. Do not press down with the polishing tool at any one spot of the material too long or with too much force. It is best to let the tool do the work for you.
- Remove polishing wax. At the end of the process, remove excess wax with a dry cloth.
Sanding and subsequent polishing can be used not only on cut edges but also to restore heavily scratched or scuffed surfaces. Note that the polishing of small areas, particularly if these have been sanded beforehand, changes the surface due to abrasion of material and such areas remain clearly visible.
Check out our range of acrylic sheet, rod and tube products to order for direct to door delivery 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.