cutting plastic

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I want to get opinions about how to cut plastic the easiest best way vs. what I already did. I had 2 kitchen fluorescent lights that had custom sized plastic covers or lenses over them. Lets say for now they each were 18" by 36" long. I don't remember the exact measurements right now. I had to replace the original ones so I went to Home Depot and bought 2 new plastic ones but they had to be cut to size. The store wouldn't do it so I had to lay it on the floor at home and using a straight edge score the plastic many times with a sheet rock knife (1 hour work for each plastic) till the discarded piece would break off without cracking off and which might crack into the piece I needed.
So for a home diy, is there a better (easier) way to do this? I read someone who had worked in a glass shop suggested a band saw but I don't know what that is nor want to spend a lot. Any other suggestions how to cut plastic safely?
And other than Home Depot, is there other places to buy plastic and perhaps have them cut it? Any idea what the cost is to cut it?
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There is a special utility knife like tool that scores Lexan and acrylic panels pretty well. It is actually more like a glass cutter than a utility knife. I think it has a carbide blade. I have seen them used but do not own one.
The plastic in the diffuser lenses is a slightly different critter but I bet the tool would do a better job than a utility knife.
They may even sell them at HD since they sell acrylic panels.
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Observer wrote:

I use a tool like the one on this webpage:
http://www.rplastics.com/plastic-cutter-ks1.html
TDD
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Would the infamous $35 Harbor Freight Multi-Tool handle the job?
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DerbyDad03 wrote:

I'd clamp it between two pieces of 1x4 to reduce chattering and blowouts, score the smooth side, and cut it with a saber saw and a fine-tooth blade. Pull it out every few inches to cool, so the blade doesn't get hot enough to melt the plastic and gum up. A helper with a vac hose right there will help keep the chips down. I presume the edge is held by the trim on the light, so the world will not end if the edge is not perfect?
Any full-line window glass or RV repair company, or even a good traditional hardware store, should be able to cut plastic to size for you, if they carry the style you want. Most won't cut carried-in material, in case they screw up. Most big cities have at least one supply house that will sell plastic in small retail quantities, but probably do not cut to size. Some places that sell plexi 'safety glazing' also sell the frosted and lensed styles, and they usually have that fancy machine (a first cousin to a picture matte cutter) that can zip out the correct size in seconds.
--
aem sends...

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Some of you are making this out to be MUCH harder than it is.
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Lowes
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NO.
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Observer wrote:

Any fine tooth saw, such as a hacksaw, would probably do it, as would a sabre saw or ??.
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Observer wrote:

Right next to where you pick up the panel, there is a tool to use. It looks like a utility knife but has different blade.
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you can use a score and snap cutter for breakable crackable acrylic plastic. go to a neighborhood hardware store for the tool and the technique when they cut an acrylic panel for a storm window in a screen combination door. or see hdsupplysolutions: PLASTIC/ACRYLIC CUTTING KNIFE HD Supply Part # : 737611 Brand: Other Qty.     Price 1+     $3.99 you can use 24 teeth per inch fine tooth saw blades including a circular saw for cutting unbreakable polycarbonate (lexan), which you can also drill holes thru without it breaking.
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In a business I own and operate I use plexiglass all the time. I treat it like the wood I use to manufacture my product. I purchase 24x36 inch sheets locally and cut out 3x5 inch pieces on my table saw. These small pieces are then run through my shaper to round over the edges slightly. Sandpaper and a propane torch are then used to polish off the rounded edge. Works just fine for me.
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just fine for me.
What does the torch accomplish? (I have heard of acetone to soften and polish.)
bob
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Sanding the rounded edge leaves it cloudy looking, even final sanding with #600 wet or dry. A quick pass along the edge with the propane torch slightly melts the edge leaving it transparent again.
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So...this is better/faster/safer than acetone? (You didn't comment)
bob
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So...this is better/faster/safer than acetone? (You didn't comment)
bob
Never tried acetone but I will. Torch takes about 15 seconds to go around all the edges on one piece.
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.
Sounds like a torch is faster!
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Not if you use a vertical wet belt sander :)
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Observer wrote:

A mitre saw would probably be the fastest way to get a clean square cut. Power or hand, maybe with a block of wood under one side to hold it in shape.
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If you don't know what a band saw, or the ambition to perform a simple google search to learn what one is, is then you have no business even asking this question. Hire a professional.

Local hardware store. Glass shop.
Cost? I dunno. How about you go interact with other real live humans face-to-face and ASK?
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