Plexiglass Cutting

How do professionals cut plexiglass? I am going to need to cut some, as well as rout some of the edges to make them fit into slots.
Would I be better cutting these on a table saw with a special blade, or using a router blade that has say a narrow width? Maybe even taking more than one cut, and using a fence as a guide.
I'm going to Google on this, just wanted to know if anyone did this sort of thing. It has to be a quality finished cut.
Steve
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I have seen it cut with an ordinary radial arm saw or table saw with the blade put on backwards. I find it is also easy to score it several times with a utility knife and then bend it over a straight edge and it will break cleanly along the score.
Pat
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My son used my Rot-Zip and it worked well. I was surprised that it didn't melt or burn.
Steve B wrote:

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You probably really mean Lexan, not plexiglass. Plexiglass is crap compared to Lexan. Use a roto-zip or your router with a carbide bit. High rpm's and keep it moving. If you stop, it will melt and make a nasty(melted) hard spot as well as load up your tool. You _can_ score it and break it if it is a sheet. Make sure you score it well. Once you have it cut and sand the edges smooth, you can probably get it to clear up on the edges if you run a BIC lighter over the cut edge. It's a little tricky, don't dwell in any one spot. If you need to drill any holes in it, sharpen your drill to a severe point, kind of like a pencil. That will help avoid "breakout" of the hole when you drill a through hole. Good Luck.
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material, but it is 3x the price of plexi (acrylic). Polycarbonate (PC) is a soft plastic and scratches much easier than acrylic. Running your fingernails over PC will scratch it, but not acrylic. When used outdoors, PC will haze due to UV and loose some of its strength. Acrylic is far more robust in outdoor applications. Of course, PC can be purchased with anti-abrasion and UV filter coatings making an expensive material even more costly. Finally, PC looks like sh!t when using it for display case and similar use. It has a dark grey edge coloration because it is a comparatively poor transmitter of light. Sounds like the OP has display uses in mind. John
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Sounds like the OP has display uses

What I want to use it for is to cut long rectangular panels, say 4" x 3' to imitate some of the Frank Lloyd Wright designs. These will either be mounted by drilling mounting holes and attaching them to standoffs, or holding them inside frames made of tubular steel. Either way, they will have to be nice looking in the finished form, and free from cracks and blemishes. They will be suspended, and will get no wear from contact. I intend to make some pot racks that are takeoffs on Frank Lloyd Wright designs.
Steve
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wrote

special bits made of drilling hard plastics or risk chipping and fracturing the work piece. If this is a one time project, finalize your design and have the work done by a fabricator rather than spending $$ on the proper bits and blades and the frustration of (and wasting time & materials) learning how to work acrylic sheet. Acrylic is a fun and challenging material to fabricate displays with if you want to put forth the effort.
John
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Steve B wrote:

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Steve B wrote:

windows for several years (After school at the local hardware store). I cut plexi glass with a rig that looked like this
http://www.nebraskatool.com/images/MiscTools/013.jpg
Not sure if thats actually the one. Anyway - the cutter head could be swapped between a Plexiglas cutter and a glass cutter.
The plexi cutter was a sharp point blade (hook maybe? been a long time). The plexi sheet would be scored several times and then a thing-a-ma-bob would be inserted behind the vertical rails to snap the scored plexi. Started at the top and worked down. Glass the same way except except scored once and I did not use the thing-a-ma-bob to snap the glass I just slid to the right and pushed back to snap off the waste.
Anyway - Thats how this pro cut plexi many years ago. Today I would just score with a utility knife and snap. Simple, easy and doesn't involve motors spinning at thousands of RPMs. Don't get me wrong, I'm all about power tools, but cutting plexi is not a place where you should use them.
Now - If we are not talking about plexi then...
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Steve B wrote:

As all mentioned here, about any fast cutting good blade will cut plexiglass, but they forgot to mention one thing the professionals do. Leave the plastic film on both sides so you don't scratch it up. If no plastic film, then put some painters tape along the line where you're going to cut. When you get ready to install the plexiglass then remove the film or tape.
J
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Steve i used to be a glaizer for 17 years.They sell a cheap tool for scoring plastic. 1/8 is easy use a stright edge and score it several times and snap it over the sharp edge of a counter top of sheet of plywood. You can cut some plastics with a saw but sometimes burning accurs and alot of times it leaves hair line cracks the will trave over time> But by all means leave the protective over on untill your readyto install it Hope this helps
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Steve i used to be a glaizer for 17 years.They sell a cheap tool for scoring plastic. 1/8 is easy use a stright edge and score it several times and snap it over the sharp edge of a counter top of sheet of plywood. You can cut some plastics with a saw but sometimes burning accurs and alot of times it leaves hair line cracks the will trave over time> But by all means leave the protective over on untill your readyto install it Hope this helps
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recommend a narrow kerf version like some shown here: http://www.forrestsawblades.com/nomelt.htm I also recommend a blade dampener/stiffener that cuts down on vibrations that may transmit to the work.
There are special router blades for acrylic as well.
Feed rate is very important. Too fast may cause chipping, to slow may cause melting. Plaskolite and Cyro have very good online fabricationg guides.
I fabricate acrylic display cases and such on the side. It can be a challenging material to work with. Without the proper tools, forget it. John
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Both plexiglass and polycarbonate will cut quite cleanly with normal woodworking tools (tablesaws with crosscut blades, routers etc). _If_ the plastic is thick enough - eg: at _least_ 1/4", and you move things along at a proper speed and don't stop.
Thinner stuff should probably be scored and snapped.
As for "quality finished cut" - well, that depends on what you mean. If you want optically decent, you'll have to polish it.
--
Chris Lewis, Una confibula non set est
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