Whether you’re a DIY enthusiast or a professional builder, acrylic perspex is becoming one of the constructors’ preferred options – especially as it’s so readily available from local and national perspex cutters. Coloured acrylic comes in a variety of styles and clear acrylic sheets offer comparable optical clarity as glass. Encapsulated with glass-like clarity, strength and resistance, working with acrylic sheets (a guide to which plastic should you choose) does not demand specialised skills and techniques. These sheets can be cut with standard workshop tools including:
- Power saws
- Acrylic dowel or blocks
- Hand saws
Over the years, many do-it-yourself projects have used perspex sheets to enhance their design and durability. However, if you are a DIY enthusiast and are finding it difficult to cut acrylic at home, then have a look at several ways (listed below) to cut acrylic to size (also sold as perspex and plexiglass), achieving the highest degree of precision.
Cutting with a hand saw:
Most people prefer to cut acrylic using a hand saw. However, this technique demands more concentration when compared with electrical saws. To achieve the best result it is advisable to use a saw that has uniform teeth.
Cutting with a scoring knife:
It is one of the easiest methods to cut acrylic table tops. The process doesn’t demand the use of a power saw or any other heavy-duty electrical equipment. However, the process requires the following steps:
- Mark the area of the sheet you want to cut.
- Use a scoring knife to cut a narrow groove in the acrylic sheeting
- Scoring preferably works on sheets less than ¼” (6.35mm) in thickness.
- Place the sheet over a hard edge with groove-side up.
- Clamp the sheet if needed.
- Bend the overhang side of the sheet with quick and even motion.
- As the sheet bends, the groove will deepen as the crack propagates throughout the sheet.
- Bending will result in the separation of two pieces (polycarbonate sheet) with relatively straight and clean edges.
Cutting with a jigsaw:
A jigsaw is one preferred tool for cutting acrylic sheets. It is a small handheld tool that can cut the sheet with the straight blade by function up and down in fast motion. However, if you intend to cut acrylic into a nonlinear fashion, a jigsaw is the right option for you. It helps to achieve precise results by cutting the edges into curves and angular form. However, it is advisable to experiment with the setting and positioning of the machine to gauge desired results.
Cutting with a band saw:
A band saw is best for cutting intricate shapes and curves. While using a band saw, it is important to carefully select the blade and feed rate of the machine to minimise the risk of melting or chipping the sheet. A band saw works best with a thickness greater than 0.472 inches. It helps to achieve clean and clear edges by retaining the sharpness of the material.
Cutting with a laser:
Laser systems are designed to achieve complex and defined cutting of acrylic. Laser cutting is one of the preferred options to cut the desired design. Connected to a computer, the laser cutter works as a printer to translate the design/image onto the piece of acrylic. If you need to create complex, intricate and creative shapes with acrylic, a laser is probably the better option.