How To Cut Plexiglass: It’s Time To Expand Your DIY Skills

Do you know how to cut plexiglass? It seems many people don’t know anything about cutting sheets of plexiglass. As a versatile material, plexiglass is easy and useful.

How To Cut Plexiglass

Among serious do it yourselfers, plexiglass is a go-to material and shatterproof substitute for glass. Among DIY home improvement projects, plexiglass is the king.

However, many don’t understand what plexiglass is or how to cut it. Once you learn how a world of home improvement possibilities will open up to you. 

What Is Plexiglass? 

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You might be more familiar with plexiglass by its other name, acrylic. Plexiglass is a clear acrylic that has many uses. One sheet of plexiglass can go a long way. 

Acrylic plastic was first produced in 1928 and brought to the market by Rohm and Hass Company around 1933. Today, plexiglass is used for picture frames, airplane windows, and basketball backboards, and in Russia, it’s used to make transparent wheels for automobiles.

Cutting Plexiglass

Whether cutting a thin layer or thick sheet of plexiglass, the durable material should be handled with care. And just as it is with glass, you’ll need to wear protective clothing, gloves, and safety glasses.

You can cut plexiglass with a power saw or other power tools. When working with thin sheets, it’s safer to cut them by hand, like with a utility knife or saw blade. Thicker sheets will require more powerful saws. 

Carbide Tips

When you need to cut thicker plexiglass material, a power saw will be necessary. Cutting plexiglass with an electric saw should be handled carefully.

The type of blade you use is important. You can use any metal cutting blade, but the best blades to cut plexiglass are carbide tipped. 

Also, when using a power saw, for example, make sure you don’t use it for extended periods. You’ll need to let the blade cool in between sessions. An overheated blade could melt your acrylic sheet and ruin your power saw. 

If you don’t know how to use a circular saw or an electric cutting tool, you’ll need to learn how before you cut an acrylic sheet. 

Here are the steps you should follow for your DIY plexiglass project:

Gather Materials

You’ll need a cutting tool, scoring tool, a box cutter, or plexiglass cutting tool, and measuring tape. When working with thick plexiglass, you’ll need additional tools. Thicker acrylic sheets will require a table saw with fine teeth. 

When you buy plexiglas, it’ll be wrapped in protective paper. The paper is designed to prevent scratching. It’s not uncommon for the protective paper to stick to the acrylic sheets, which makes it hard to remove. You can use soapy water to remove the paper, but other DIY solutions are available.

Prepare Work Surface

Just like with any project, you need a work surface that’s clean and organized. 

Measure And Mark

You can use a permanent marker or cutting tool to mark your plexiglass. Measure everything first. Determine the size you want and write each measurement down.

Then measure again to match. Also, make tiny cut marks in a straight line with your permanent marker. 

Scoring And Cutting

To make straight cuts, use a scored line with your cutting tool or box cutter. Make a shallow cut along the flat surface. With the same line make a deeper pass while running your knife along the straight lines.  

Continue cutting until you’re at least 3/4 of the way through. Then, move the piece to the end of the table and apply sharp downward pressure to the other side. If it breaks, that’s okay, but if the acrylic sheet doesn’t break, keep cutting.

If it breaks with a clean cut, use grit sandpaper to smooth over the edges with a polishing compound or buffing pad. The process is similar to cutting drywall, which requires the same tools. 

Rubber Sanding Block

A rubber sanding block holds sandpaper in wet or dry surface conditions. For best results, use a power sander to achieve that perfect polish. To achieve an amazing polish, use a polishing compound formulated for plastic. 

Difference Between Acrylic And Plexiglass 

Difference Between Acrylic And Plexiglass 

It’s common to confuse acrylic with plexiglass. Acrylic is a type of versatile, clear plastic. However, acrylic is an ingredient whereas plexiglass is a specific type of acrylic used in construction. However, if you say acrylic, people may ask for specifications. 

Plexiglass DIY Projects 

Working with plexiglass is easier than working with glass.  Because it is versatile, plexiglass can be applied to many projects. You can use it for furniture, walls, and showers, to name a few. 

The following projects require a utility knife, a sheet of plexiglass or acrylic sheet, an electric drill, and maybe a handheld glass cutter.

Cut Plexiglass Window Shelves

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Here we have one of our own projects where we mounted plexiglass shelves on windows. We spray-painted the brackets and screws with gold color to add character.

We mounted the shelves and cut the plexiglass to fit and used 3/4 in plexiglass for strength. If you want something that can hold heavier objects, then install thicker sheets. You’ll also want to make sure the shelves are evenly spaced so your interior design is balanced.

Contemporary Pencil Holder

This plexiglass pencil holder is useful and it looks amazing. Anika’s DIY Life created this with a simple wood frame opposite a similar open-top plexiglass frame. 

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The plexiglass here is thin and really easy to work with. You can use a utility knife or any kind of hand tool for the plexiglass which can be purchased at hardware stores or craft stores.

Abstract Fruit Bowl 

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This fruit bowl may look expensive, but it’s not. If you have a heat gun, this DIY project is super inexpensive. Using a heat gun and pliers, Stacy Risenmay created this bowl in minutes. 

Acrylic Desk Tray

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You can get them in glass, leather, metal, and even agate. All you need is a heat gun and a block to shape the plexiglass around. You can buy the pre-cut plexiglass in a square shape. Ashley Phipps makes this project look easy but it will take practice to master. 

Toy Storage Bin 

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This bin by The Handyman’s Daughter was created for LEGOs, but it can be used for anything. Special trays were cut in the wood below to accommodate the LEGO bases but they can be used for other things too. 

West Elm Wall Shelf

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Ursula of Homemade By Carmona decided that $700 was too much for a wall shelf, despite falling in love with it. So she made one for herself for less than $15.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ

Is Cutting Plexiglass Hard?

It can be. But once you learn how to do it with the proper tools, then it is much easier than cutting real glass. Plexiglass is a better alternative in most ways as it is easier to work with and it is more difficult to break.

How Do You Cut Plexiglass The Easy Way?

Plexiglass is medium-difficulty to cut. So you probably want to use the tool that will make it the easiest to cut. For thin plexiglass, very thin, a utility knife is hassle-free. But for thick plexiglass, a circular saw is easier. 

How Do You Cut Plexiglass Without Cracking It?

Cutting plexiglass without cracking it is probably your biggest concern. To start with, you should ensure that the plexiglass is braced before you begin. Then, you should be very careful around corners. 

What Is The Best Way To Cut Plexiglass?

A fine-bladed curricular saw or table saw is definitely the best way all around. Use a slow speed and keep the material cool and this is the best way to cut plexiglass all-around. But try to tailor your method to the plexiglass. 

What Are Carbide Tipped Teeth?

With a carbide saw blade, the main body of the blade is steel. Small carbide tips are brazed onto the saw’s body. A good carbide tip might hold an edge ten to 20 times longer than a tool steel tip.

How Can You Remove Protective Paper From Plexiglass?

One way to remove wrapping from plexiglass is with denatured alcohol. All you have to do is pour the alcohol over the paper and wait one minute. Afterward, you can start peeling it off.

Can You Cut Plexiglass With A Saber Saw?

When you need to cut thick sheets of plexiglass with an electric saw, it is critical that you use the right blade. Even if you’re working with a jigsaw blade or circular saw, if you don’t use the right blade, you will not achieve your goal. 

How To Cut Plexiglass Conclusion

When you know how to cut plexiglass, you can explore your DIY sensibilities. If you’re working with a thin plexiglass sheet, a glass cutter will be sufficient. 

Acrylic sheets, unlike glass, is a versatile material for DIY projects. As we mentioned, it is of utmost importance that you wear protective gear. Cutting acrylic can be dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. It doesn’t matter if you use a circular saw to make picture frames, for example, just make sure you use the right blade.

Also, if you choose to work with a power tool or anything with a metal cutting blade, make sure it doesn’t have a dull blade. You should always use the right tools.

Serious do it yourselfers know better.