cutting acrylic

Folks -
What's the best way to cut acrylic? I have some storm window inserts to cut.... The last time I cut some acrylic on the bandsaw, all hell broke loose - the stuff shattered as soon as I started the cut.
Ideally, I'd like to cut this stuff on the tablesaw - what kind of blade should I use, Ply, Rip or XC? I'll be ripping to width, mostly, but I'll be damned if I can read the grain in this stuff... hehehe....
John Moorhead
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I have used my table saw. I had to add a piece of wood to the fence so the plastic didn't slip under the it. It worked for me. I guess a zero clearance insert would also help Frank
John Moorhead wrote:

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I use may standard 50 tooth Freud combo blade and have cut 1/8" styrene (? - those florescent light panels) up to 1" polycarb and acrylic with no problems.
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Owen Lowe and his Fly-by-Night Copper Company
Offering a shim for the Porter-Cable 557 type 2 fence design.
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Too few TPI and maybe a wide opening around the blade?
More teeth, less depth to gullets would make for a continuous cut rather than smacking it less often with widely spaced teeth.
I use the bandsaw with an 8 or 12 TPI narrow blade so as not to heat and stick too badly, and it has done 1/8 and 1/4 no prob.

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On Wed, 30 Jun 2004 21:34:50 GMT, "John Moorhead"

Bandsaw. Your two enemies are vibration and heat buildup.
Heat buildup is no problem on a bandsaw, because it's a long blade - maybe 200 times longer than the usable part of a jigsaw blade. It will jigsaw too, but this is the time when a really good jigsaw (Swiss-made Bosch) pays for itself - use a light pendulum action.
Vibration is what causes cracking. Hold it firmly down onto the table and use an adequate number of teeth. You don't need the "always 3 teeth in contact" rule for a bandsaw, but 2 teeth certainly helps. Don't over-feed it, especially if the teeeth are a little coarse.
--
Smert' spamionam

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Okay, I've never tried this, but would a wet saw for cutting tile work, or would it just make a huge mess? Would this help with the heat buildup, or is the water just to remove tile dust?
Kirk
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Huge mess.
Especially if you didn't get the rig pristine prior to the cut. Lot of leftover crud to scratch.

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In aviation applications, I've used a carbon fiber disk and multiple shallow passes. My next suggestion would be a bandsaw with a very high tooth count - the tooth count should be such that several teeth are cutting the material at any given time. It is a function of tooth count per inch versus the thickness of the material.
KB

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I just cut a bunch of it on a table saw, around 350". Used a plywood blade and fed the work slowly. It is easy to give it a try without subjecting your entire lot to the process.
Dick

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I,ve used my 50 tooth combination blade on straight cuts, be carefull you don,t slide inder the fence.......on curved cuts, if it thin n small amount i,ve used my Dremel tool with the lil round disc.......they work, but break easily, but you can sand it later....to smooth it even..

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I concur with some advice already given:
1) Avoid vibration of the acrylic piece at all costs.
2) Use blades that cut on the down stroke
3) High count of teeth
4) Little or no pendulum action
5) Avoid heat build-up around the blade (or boring bit)
My experience:
I have cut acrylic with a jigsaw fitted with a special acrylic blade (teeth point downwards), the piece of acrylic being clamped between a peice of ply and the saw guide.
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I get good results with a regular 40 tooth combination blade. Make a few practice cuts before cutting to finished length. DO open some windows, it kind of stinks when cut.
--

Larry Wasserman Baltimore, Maryland
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On Wed, 30 Jun 2004 21:34:50 GMT, "John Moorhead"

I've successfully used a "melamine" blade designed to cut plastics on the table saw, slow feed. Wear gloves (I hope I don't need to mention safety glasses) as the burr and edge can be quite sharp. You'll have to scrape off some of the burr that gets stuck to the cut edge.
The "sawdust" is really messy, major static cling all over your saw and your clothes. Have the shop vac handy.
Luigi Replace "nonet" with "yukonomics" for real email address www.yukonomics.ca/wooddorking/antifaq.html www.yukonomics.ca/wooddorking/humour.html
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On Wed, 30 Jun 2004 21:34:50 GMT, "John Moorhead"

It depends on how thick it is. If it is window-pane thin, they sell a cheap $3 scoring tool for cutting plastics, including acrylic. Use a straightedge, make a couple of light scoring passes with the blade, and snap the piece. Clean as a whistle, with no loud noise or electrons burning.
tt
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