If you are contemplating how to cut plastic or cutting perspex at home, read our helpful guide before you start.
Cutting Perspex or Acrylic can be done at home using saws which you might usually use on wood. Before you begin to cut, we advise you to leave on the film which covers and protects your acrylic/perspex until you have completely finished cutting. And, remember – gloves and safety glasses too for this job:)
Begin by clamping your acrylic sheet to your work surface so it does not flex or move. Use a length of 1 – 3 wood to distribute the clamping pressure and act as a guide for your saw. A sharp blade and a smooth feed is the way to go. Don’t force your cutting – you’re likely to generate heat which will melt the acrylic.
DIY – sharp blade, smooth feed
If you are cutting sheets thinner than 6mm simply choose a very sharp scoring tool, clamps, a table with a straight edge and a metal rule. Clamp your acrylic sheet so it does not flex or move. More than one scoring pass is the way to go with this method. Start by scoring around 1/8th of the way through your acrylic sheet. Keep going in both directions and ideally also score from both sides of the acrylic sheet as this will make the eventual snap easier and the break cleaner.
When you’re satisfied with the scoring, make sure your acrylic sheet is clamped very firmly with the edge of the table directly beneath the score. Press downwards on the piece that’s beyond the edge of the table until your acrylic sheet snaps.
If you are cutting acrylic sheets which are thicker than 6mm, choose your saw depending on whether you are cutting curvy or straight lines.
If you are cutting curvy lines a jigsaw with metal cutting blades of reduced depth and sharp teeth can be used – use the finest blade you can. If you choose to use a jigsaw try experimenting with settings and your speed first of all on a few test pieces of acrylic to gauge the results you get. The speed of cutting is one to trial as is the pressure you apply – cutting too slowly can melt acrylic and applying too much pressure can chip its edges. You can use a lubricating oil to help prevent friction from building to a point where the acrylic begins to melt. Have someone apply it to the saw blade as you’re making the cut. Take care to avoid flammable lubricants or aerosols as these are a fire hazard.
If you are cutting curved edges or unusual shapes a band saw can also be used. The teeth per inch on your blade should decrease as the thickness of your acrylic sheet increases. On thick acrylic sheets thicker of 12mm or more use blades with very few teeth per inch.
If you’re cutting straight lines you can use a table or circular saw with a blade with fine closely spaced teeth and a 0 degrees rake angle. This will suffice for rough cutting. It is difficult to get a good finish using a hand saw. If you need a very clean edge, try making 5-10 light passes with a scraper followed by some light sanding. For a smoother finish use dedicated acrylic cutting blades for jigsaws and circular saws. These blades will produce better results.
Even easier – buy it ready cut to your sizes
If you want acrylic or perspex cut to a certain size without the time and bother of cutting it yourself, you can buy Perspex cut to size online and have it delivered to your home or business. The friendly team at The Plastic People will be happy to do this for you or use their cut to size tool to order the sizes you need and they will post out the acrylic you want to you.