Acrylic work

Does anyone here work with acrylic (Plexiglas, Lucite...)? I'm trying to find a better way of cutting and finishing. I score and snap now, but it is slow and tedious. I looked at several table saws, but the under $200 models look poorly made, the table is too small and the fence doesn't move far enough for wide cuts. (Room and costs are a limitation.)
I also looked at a Fletcher wall mounted machine. It can cut matboard, glass and plastic and will break out the plastic right in the machine. These are aimed at picture framing businesses and are well north of $1,000.
Cuts must be clean and accurate if the pieces are going to be solvent glued together for making boxes and such.
Finally, I was wondering about electric hand planers for cleaning up edges. How do these work with acrylic?
Thanks, John
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Yeah, I used to do a fair amount of work with acrylic for aquariums and such. There are acrylic specific table saw blades that are a couple hundred bucks a pop. Or at least they were about 10 years ago. Another choice for cutting is a quality plywood blade. You won't get the results of an acrylic blade, but pretty close. The jointer is great for cleaning up edges prior to applying Methylene Chloride. Unfortunately it doesn't sound as though you have the room or funds for these tools, and so it sounds like it'll be trial and error.
The biggest problem in working with acrylic is melting. With a hand drill and a hole saw, you can easily seize the drill and wind up with the hole saw melted into the acrylic sheet. I haven't used hand tools other than drills on acrylic. One tip when using hole saws is to cut in reverse while applying significant downward pressure. Takes a little longer to cut through, but you get a much cleaner result.
Brian.

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models
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I use acrylic a lot in my models, and cut it with a laminate blade in a contractor saw - an old Delta that I got for free because it needed clean up and a motor. The blade, a Freud, ran about 80 dollars as I recall. It makes a decent cut that can be cleaned up fast with sanding blocks. Wet sanding using wet/dry sandpaper keeps the dust down and the paper from clogging. If you use the super fine papers - from 600 down to 2000 grit, available at automotive paint supplies, you can get a glossy, clear finish that only needs a bit of rubbing with polishing compound.
Routing also works with acrylic, cut creates a lot of dust. Slower speed maching operations, like using a flycutter on a milling machine work very well with acrylic. I use a stream of air from my compressor to help cool that bit and keep the area clear.
One thing you don't want to do is aggressively feed the acrylic into a sander. Even if it doesn't melt you will see some stress cracks develop, sometimes after a considerable interval (days)
Hope this helps
Kurt
Kurt Greiner
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I cut the stuff regularly, see photo link:
http://www.patwarner.com/images/fig20b.jpg
In my view, some hands-on show & tell would may be required to understand the material. Sawing, routing, drilling, and finishing are similar to woodworking but there are technique sensitivities. Nonetheless, if your skills in woodworking are good on wood they can be transferred to arcylic. I would ace out all practices on wood first. It can be jointed as you suggest, but not planed. HSS will not last long in AC, expect to use carbide except for bandsawing and drilling. ********************************************************

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Have done quite a bit of work with Plexiglas. Always use a table saw with carbide tipped blade as well as a router with carbide. Very good results. I would often butt join the resulting joints and easily weld with methaline chloride solvent.
jriegle wrote:

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i work in a shop that uses plexi alot we have a blade in the 60$ range about 80 teeth on 10'' blade and sand the edges then use gas and oxygen to polish edges,takes a little practice to get use to the flame and all but makes a great finish
On Mon, 21 Jun 2004 22:18:24 -0400, Ray Mandeville

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