Cutting perspex laminate.

Hi...
After phoning around trying to find someone to cut a fire-sized hole in a piece of thick perspex laminate* and getting several and various non-helpful replies such as 'only if you've bought it from us' and 'sorry, we only cut timber, our blades wouldn't touch it'... I've decided I must 'do-it-myself'.
* Backplate for standard B&Q Fireplace/Hearth kit.
So..
Presumably I need a jigsaw (or 'other' power-tool)? Any recommendations for a cheapish but EFFECTIVE saw for the job. No point shelling out for a pro-tool as it will be used very rarely.
I've seen them at diy.com ranging from 25 to 350 - Are the cheaper ones VFM and/or upto the job?
TIA for suggestions.
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Will the edges of the cut-out be visible, or will a fitted fire hide them? If they're going to be hidden, it gives you a welcome bit of latitude in the accuracy and quality of the cut: and if you don't already have a power tool, I'd be tempted to do it manually, I think. As long as the sheet is properly supported while you cut it, you should be OK.
Bert http://www.bertcoules.co.uk
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Very unlikely to be Perspex since it has a very low melting point. Which makes a difference to cutting.

If you only want it for this job, then I'd say any one will do it. Even for less than 25 quid. Just make sure you get suitable blades, support the work properly, and let the saw do the cutting, ie don't force it.
If you want a jigsaw for other work and one that lasts, ask again.
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On Sun, 02 Jan 2005 11:14:36 GMT, "David Illingworth-Young"

Wander down to your local hire shop, tell the guy what you want to do, and see what tools he offers you ....... If he offers you a DIY type tool, now decide if you want to rent his PRO quality tool, or spend approx double the day rental rate on a DIY quality tool ....... His PRO tool and blades (bades makets tool) will almost certanly do a better job.
Works for me every time.
Rick
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non-helpful
'do-it-myself'.
point
Fast blades can melt the area around the cut and literally weld it back together behind the blade, so jig saws and fast cutting disks are always the worst culprits for this happening. A hand saw with a fine toothed blade, like a hack saw blade, is the way to go with laminate boards. Drill the corners of a square cut so you can saw down to them and not have to try and turn tight corners. For dead straight line use a metal straight edge as a guide to get them bang on.
Good luck with it, and happy new year.
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I've always found that a plain hand saw is OK using long strokes so the semi molten chippings are carried well away from the cut, cool, and so don't have a chance to re-combine with the molten stuff. You have to use light pressure else you risk chipping or cracking the wanted bit and the saw should ideally be sharp and fine tooth (a hack saw is a bit too fine though) Put masking tape down the wanted line, mark on it the line to cut and take it easy....
Nick
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No.
As another poster has said, the plastic will melt around the blade, so you'll end up with a line scribed in an apparently solid sheet.
Cut it slowly with a hand saw.
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You can cut slowly with a jigsaw - even a fixed speed one. Don't press too hard, and stop frequently to let things cool down. But I've often cut *real* perspex in one go without melting it. You do, however, need the correct blade. And of course, no jigsaw cut is perfect, so if this matters cut loose and finish afterwards with file and sandpaper - as with anything.
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On Sun, 02 Jan 2005 13:12:46 +0000 (GMT), "Dave Plowman (News)"

We use an oscillating cutter at work for cutting perspex and acrylic type materials. It's similar to that used to cut plaster casts off. The circular disc vibrates back and forth minutely about it's centre, you can place it on your hand and it won't cut. Maybe ask a rental place if they have the oscillating cutters, or maybe a signwriting shop.
Before I had use of an oscillating cutter I found I needed to cut some plastic. The jigsaw did indeed create too much heat and effectively melted the plastic so it promptly healed itself and was a nightmare to cut. Add to that the extra work involved in tidying up the cut later and it wasn't very good. The jigsaw wasn't variable speed though, that might help. I also only had a wood blade, I think a metal blade might have worked better, maybe there are plastic cutting blades? I think the reciprcating blades that are a couple of inches deep might help in keeping the fresh cut seperated unitl it cools enough not to want to bodn back with itself.
I eventually chose to use a small angle grinder (with steel cutting disc) to gradually score down through the cut. It seemed to "chip" away at the plastic. Took it very carefully and got a better result. Defintely needed goggles and mask with that one, loads of small static charged plastic flakes get everywhere, and will not brush off, move about yes, but not brush off :)
HTH
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There are indeed. I've got a couple of Bosch selections that cover most eventualities. If a blade is melting the plastic while cutting slowly, it probably hasn't enough set. So saying, I've got a variable speed jigsaw.
However, in the OP's case, I hardly think a fire surround is likely to be made out of a plastic with a low melting point?
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On Sun, 02 Jan 2005 16:55:38 +0000 (GMT), "Dave Plowman (News)"

Expect a thread on smoke detectors any day now....
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wrote:

Why ever not, it's from B&Q after all :-)
Peter
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Heh heh. Perhaps mainly because it's about the most expensive plastic going?
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On Sun, 02 Jan 2005 13:12:46 +0000 (GMT), "Dave Plowman (News)"

..and when cutting plastic, the blade must be absolutely razor-sharp, i.e. brand new. Fine wood-cutting blades are usually the best.
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Illingworth-Young wrote:

Is this the double sided marble effect laminate about 4mm thick. If so I had to cut a piece of this a few weeks back. I did it with a small router grooving bit: I rested the sheet on an old board and clamped a batten over it to run the router along. Perfect cut. One of the shed 19.99 routers will do this just fine
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David

We often cut perspex on a fixed speed scroll saw i.e. fast blade speed. It will certainly melt and re-weld unless you do the following:
Stick a piece of masking tape over the area where you will cut and then mark your cutting line on to the masking tape. Cut through the masking tape and your perspex. I don't know why this stops the perspex re-welding but one theory is that the glue on the masking tape melts and acts as a lubricant.
I don't know if it will work with a jigsaw since jigsaw cuts are a lot more aggressive than using a fine toothed blade on a scroll saw.
If your cut edge is going to show: When you have your cut edge filed (draw-filed with a smooth file) and sanded (using wet and dry as your final sand), finish by rubbing with metal polish on a piece of corrugated card. This will give you a wonderful polished showroom finish to match that of the other faces. If your filing and sanding are not perfect the polish will dry in any filing lines to leave white marks - just file/sand/polish until these go - it is a good form of quality control.
Steve
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non-helpful
'do-it-myself'.
A jigsaw or router will do the job, don't worry too much about price of tool .... just buy the right blade (or bit) Perspex cuts easily, and with a perfect finish if you use the right blade. Use the wrong one and it will get hot, melt the perspex instead of cutting.
Rick
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tool
cutting.
Thanks to all. Plenty of tips/advice to mull over for now.
To answer a few queries.. No, the edge doesn't have to be at all neat - there is a 5cm trim going over the cut giving me a tolerance of +/-2.5cm for waviness and roughness. I'm sure even I can keep within that!
I'll probably go with the relatively inexpensive jigsaw/correct blade(s) option - and I like the masking tape idea.
Why B&Q? You'll have to ask my old Mum who has severe mobility problems and is restricted to shopping online - I guess diy.com was the first site she found. Anyway it's going in a relatively unused room and doesn't need to be too posh.
So, thanks to all. Yes, even those taking the p.
D I-Y.
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