Acrylic is a kind of plastic that is known for its appealing appearance, high impact resistance, lightweight, and various other chemical and physical properties. Acrylis sheets are available in various size and colors, including clear. Clear acrylic is transparent like glass, but it can bear impacts.
Being both aesthetically appealing and resistant, acrylic is a preferred materials for both DIYers and businesses to use it in a variety of projects, such as decorative and fashion items.
Due to hardness, it can have cracks during cutting or under stress. Therefore, if you want to cut acrylic, you need to select the tools and methods.
In this article, we will discuss how to cut acrylic sheets properly and share various methods and when to use them. Follow the detailed guide and step-by-step methods to become a pro at acrylic cutting.
In This Article
- Acrylic Cutting Tools and Materials Needed
- How to Cut an Acrylic Sheet?
- Tips for Cutting Acrylic
Acrylic Cutting Tools and Materials Needed
Acrylic can be cut through two types of tools. One type of tool creates physical contact with the acrylic to create a cut, such as a jigsaw or a router. The second type of tool has no physical contact with the material; instead, it uses laser beams to cut the material into pieces.
Acrylic Cutting Tools
- Table Saw
- Circular Saw
- Utility Knife
- Laser Cutting Machine
You can use any one of the tools to cut acrylic. All these tools have different results and handling methods. They are suitable for certain cuts on acrylic.
It is a must to use safety gear to cut acrylic. All safety measures and precautions are necessary; otherwise, you can hurt yourself.
The first important safety gear is gloves. Blades are quite sharp, and if you do not handle them properly, you can cut fingers or hands. Make sure you wear proper safety gloves to prevent any cuts and injuries. The second important gear is safety glasses. While cutting acrylic, small particles can hurt your eyes. It is better to use safety glasses.
If you are cutting acrylic through a laser cutting machine, wear protective glasses because laser beams are harmful to your eyes. Secondly, the ventilation of the area should be proper to expel the smoke and smell.
How to Cut an Acrylic Sheet?
We are going to share step-by-step instructions to cut acrylic through various effective methods.
1. Cutting Acrylic Using a Knife
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If you do not have any power tools like a power saw or laser cutting machine, then you can use a utility knife to cut an acrylic sheet.
Usually, a knife is used to cut small pieces of acrylic, but you can also cut large sheets; however, it will take some time and laborious effort. This method is only suitable if you want to make straight cuts. For any intricate design, a jigsaw or laser machine is the only way.
Secondly, make sure you use gloves while cutting acrylic using a knife because it can slip on the surface of the material, and you can hurt yourself.
You might be thinking about how a utility knife can cut acrylic. Basically, the knife does not cut acrylic into pieces; instead, it scores the surface and makes some deep scratches. When you apply force, the material breaks from the scoring.
How to cut acrylic sheets using a utility knife?
Step 1: Place the acrylic sheet on the table. Secure the sheet on the surface so that it cannot move while cutting.
Step 2: Place a long ruler on the surface of the acrylic sheet. Now, using the utility knife, score in the line of the ruler. You need to slide the knife 2-3 times to create a deep scratch.
Step 3: Flip the acrylic sheet and bend it. Apply the pressure on the sides and try to break the sheet from the scoring. After applying force, the sheet will break into pieces.
Keep in mind this method does not work on thick acrylic sheets. If the thickness is no more than 6mm, you can try this method.
2. Cutting Acrylic Using a Saw
A power tool is a better option if you want to cut an acrylic sheet. It will save time and cut pieces with perfection. There are multiple power tools available, and you might get confused about which saw is better for cutting acrylic.
You can use a circular saw, jigsaw, or table saw. All of them can make straight cuts, but circular saw and table saw are better in this case. For intricate cuts, curves, and designs, the only option is a jigsaw. It can be moved in any direction and cut the acrylic sheet in the desired shape. Thus, depending on the design, you pick the right saw.
An important thing to consider is the blade. Not every blade is suitable for acrylic cutting, and if you choose the wrong blade, you will not have a good finished surface, or there can be cracks.
If you are using a jigsaw, you can get special blades that are specifically made for acrylic cutting. Different brands sell such blades, and they work well. For a circular saw or table saw, picking the right blade can be a bit difficult. The recommended option is Carbide Tipped saw blades. These work great on acrylic and offer exceptional results.
However, you also need to pay attention to the number of teeth. Ideally, there should be 60-80 teeth on a 10-inch blade. With the increase in the diameter of the blade, the number of teeth should increase.
How to cut acrylic sheets using a table saw?
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Step 1: Make sure the table saw is unplugged. Now, fix the right blade for acrylic cutting. Adjust the height of the blade according to the thickness of the material. The blade should be a few millimeters above the material.
Step 2: Adjust the rip fence according to the width you need. For extra precision, use a measuring tape. Keep in mind there will be a certain kerf width, so measure the distance from the fence to the nearest edge of the blade.
Step 3: Wear gloves and safety goggles. Turn on the machine. Now, place the sheet on the table and move it slowly toward the blade. Keep your hand away from the blade and hold the sheet firmly using a push block. Acrylic sheets are long, so there should be someone to provide support to the sheet. Otherwise, the sheet will bend, and you won’t be able to cut it properly.
How to cut acrylic sheets using a circular saw?
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Step 1: Place the acrylic sheet on a large table and secure it using clamps.
Step 2: Place the circular saw at the end of the sheet. The blade should not touch the sheet in the first place. Let the machine reach its maximum speed.
Step 3: Move the saw slowly. There should be a person or helper to provide support to the acrylic piece that is being cut.
How to cut acrylic sheets using a jigsaw?
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Step 1: Place the acrylic sheet on a table and fix it using clamps. If there are intricate patterns, it is better to mark them on the sheet first.
Step 2: Place the jigsaw on the sheet, but keep the blade away. Start the machine and let it reach the maximum speed. Move the machine slowly to cut smoothly for perfect cutting.
Step 3: Finally, scratch the edges using a knife or sandpaper.
If you want to cut from the center of the sheet, make a hole using a drill. The hole should be larger than the width of the blade. After that, place the blade and machine on the hole and start cutting.
3. Cutting Acrylic Using a Router
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There are two types of routers available on the market. One is the table router, and the other is a handheld router. You can use any of them. For cutting sheets into pieces, a table router is a better option, and for making intricate designs in the middle of the sheet, you can use a handheld router.
Both these machines are easy to use, but you need to handle the handheld router firmly. Make sure to use the right and sharp router bit for acrylic cutting. Sharp bits do not put any stress on the material and prevent cracks.
How to cut acrylic sheets using a router?
Step 1: Place the sheet on the router table. Keep it away from the bit. The size of the table should be large enough to handle the sheet. Secondly, there should be a person to provide support on the other end.
Step 2: Turn on the machine. Use a push stick to slide the acrylic sheet on the table. Due to the high speed and sharp blade, the acrylic will cut in no time.
A router can also be used to create groves on the acrylic. You just need to adjust the position of the drill bit. These groves are quite useful when you want to join two acrylic pieces perpendicularly. Secondly, it is great for giving a good finish to the edges.
4. Cutting Acrylic Using a Laser Cutter
A laser cutting machine is much better than any power tool or hand tool for cutting acrylic because it does not make any physical contact with the material and offers an impeccable finish. It is a quick and safe option for DIY enthusiasts, beginners, and even professionals.
Using a laser cutting machine, you can cut acrylic in any shape or pattern. However, the size of the sheet depends on the size of the laser machine you are using. Usually, desktop laser machines have a limited size, so they can only cut small and medium acrylic sheets. If you have a large sheet, you need to cut the sheet into small pieces using any tool and then use the laser to cut intricate designs. But if you have a large or industrial laser machine, you can also cut large acrylic sheets without any hassle.
When the laser beams fall on the surface, the temperature of the material is increased. The melting point of acrylic is 160ºC, and the boiling point is 200ºC. The laser beams increase the temperature rapidly and turn the material into vapors. Therefore, acrylic is cut with a perfect finish.
You have to select the right type of laser machine for acrylic sheet cutting. For laser cutting acrylic, a CO2 laser cutter is the best option. You can cut transparent acrylic, opaque acrylic, blue acrylic, or any other color using a CO2 laser. If you are using a diode laser machine, you cannot cut transparent and blue acrylic. Other than that, it is also good for acrylic cutting. But these desktop machines are usually open, and you can install an extension to cut large pieces.
The most important thing about laser machines is that they cut the material automatically. You just need to upload the design into the laser cutter software, and everything will be done by the machine. There is no laborious work involved.
How to cut acrylic sheets using a laser cutting machine?
Step 1: Turn on the laser machine and connect it to the computer.
Step 2: Upload the design you want to cut. You can upload intricate designs like Mandala art, earring designs, wall art, wall clocks, etc.
Step 3: Place the acrylic in the working area. Secure it on the honeycomb panel. Move the laser head to the right position and adjust its focus.
Step 4: Adjust the power and speed settings on the software. Do framing to understand the positioning of the design. Click Start.
Step 5: The machine will cut acrylic on its own.
Tips for Cutting Acrylic
Acrylic can crack due to excessive strain. Here are a few tips that you need to consider while cutting acrylic.
- The blade you are using should be sharp enough to cut the material smoothly. If it is not sharp or leaves uneven edges, replace it.
- You need to use the blade that is made for cutting plastic. We have already discussed the blade in detail, so make sure you use the right one.
- Secure the acrylic sheet properly on the table or surface. It should not move during the process.
- Keep the blade away from the material until the blade reaches maximum speed. Otherwise, it will kick back.
- The speed of the blade should be 4,000 RPM or above. It cuts the acrylic of almost all brands smoothly.
- Hold the power tool firmly and move it gently to cut the material.
- If you are using a knife, make a deep groove by sliding the edge of the knife 2-3 times. Slide more if required.
- For cutting large acrylic sheets, there should be a helper to provide support to the cut pieces. Otherwise, the material will bend and cause cracks.
The best way to cut acrylic is a laser machine. You don’t need to worry about the cracks and strain because the laser does not create physical contact with the material.
Wrap up: Best Way to Cut Acrylic Sheet
Acrylic can be cut using various tools, but you need to do it in the right way to prevent cracks and damage to the material. The best way to cut acrylic is by using a laser cutting machine. It cuts acrylic in any design and shape and offers phenomenal results. Such intricate designs are not possible using power tools and hand tools. If you do not have a laser machine, you can use a table saw, jigsaw, circular saw, router, or utility knife. We have discussed how to cut acrylic sheet using these tools in detail. You can pick the tool according to your needs and cut acrylic by following the simple steps.