How to Cut Plastic: Polycarbonate and Acrylic

Most of the plastics today are either made of polycarbonate or acrylic. They are good construction materials because of their effective insulation against electricity and heat. If you want to have a DIY project that involves them, you should sharpen your cutting skills. Specifically, how to cut plastic?

There are various ways to do this. However, the greatest determinant for your cuts would be the size of the plastic. If you are dealing with a plastic material that has a thickness of 3/8 inches or more, you will need specialized tools.

In this article, we will show you efficient procedures of cutting plastic, specifically polycarbonate, since they are common. Make sure that you have the right materials before you start this project. In this way, your work would be smooth and uninterrupted. Let's get started.

How to Cut Plastic

Polycarbonate is a specific type of thin plastic. It is a great material that usually stability and clarity. Most modern devices use this as an electrical insulation. You could also see this plastic on your ordinary bottles and containers and windshields. If you can customize this device through cutting, you can maximize its potential in your home as well.

Tools

  • Hook knife
  • Circular saws
  • Duct tape
  • Jigsaw
  • Band saw

Cutting Thin Plastics

Step 1

If you are cutting thin plastics (with a thickness of 3/8 or lesser), use a sharp hook knife. The first thing you need to do is to mark the parts that you are going to cut with a pencil or a washable marker. After this, clamp the drawn line to a table or a bench with the use a straightedge. Alternatively, you could also use a duct tape to secure the plastic on the table.

Step 2

Next, you can already start the cutting process. However, we have to remind you that a single pass is not sufficient to make the cut. But undeniably, the first initial cut is the most important one. It will somehow create a guide to which the knife will follow on the next passes.

When cutting, make sure that the blade's point is pointing at the straightedge. Moreover, you have to exert a moderate amount of pressure when making the score line. After each passes, you have to dust off any waste and residues. After all, it would be difficult to make clear and straight cuts if the guide is not clear.

For Thick Plastics

Step 1

If you are already dealing with tough pieces of polycarbonate and plastics, a knife or a heavy-duty scissor won't be enough. Instead, you need to acquire the help of a circular saw.

Specifically, this is a powerful tool that comes with a rounded blade that can continuously spin at different variable speed. This is the perfect option if you are cutting straight lines to sturdy materials like plastics and hardwood.

Of course, you need to choose the right kind of blade for this application. If you choose a thin blade, it will lessen your efficiency. Moreover, it will somehow destroy the edge of the blade, too.

The blade that you should choose must have teeth of uniform shape and length. It also should have a similar angle on the rake, which goes around 0 - 10 degrees. You can choose either carbide or steel blades. But for us, the carbide-tipped blades work better that their steel counterpart.

Step 2

The next thing that you need to do is to affix duct tape along your cutting line. It would also be great if you would cut through the tape because it lessens the damage to your blade and your plastic as well. Of course, you would still need to clamp the plastic on a bench or a flat working table. Circular saws require a stable platform before it can cut.

You need to wear your goggles and protective mask while cutting the plastic. You should expect chips of debris to hurl towards you during this process. These residues could have shards on them. Therefore, they could inflict serious damage if they get pass through your sensitive body parts such as your eyes.

Curved Cuts

Regardless of the thickness of the plastic, you will need the help of a jigsaw or bandsaw if you want to cut curves. Alternatively, you could also use scroll saws and reciprocating saws as well.

  • The best blade that you can accompany the saw is the metal-cutting variant. It is great in reducing the number of chips. However, it is notable that it generates heat when it is operating. The heat is a particular deterrent here since you are working with plastics. Therefore, we recommend that you have to ventilate your working area through the use of large fans.
  • If you want to make circles on the plastic, you will need a hole saw. Just like in making holes in wood, you need to start the cut on the side of the plastic and complete it from another side. In this way, you can avoid damages.

Once more, we have to remind you that exercise enough caution while doing this. You are in the presence of a sharp and powerful machine. One wrong move and you can suffer from serious injuries.

Also, we recommend that you should work on a place where your kids are not present. Having them around is undoubtedly fun. However, the case would be different if they are near a monstrous saw! In the end, you will not be able to concentrate on your work because of the uneasiness and fear.

Conclusion

Learning how to cut different types of plastic is essential. It just improves your versatility in DIY projects and weekend tasks. You can certainly benefit from it especially in your future home renovations. Furthermore, it can save your money because you don't have to hire a professional contractor for this simple task. As long as you got the tools and passion, this work is very doable!

Did your learn from this simple tutorial? Do you have any questions, comments, or suggestions? Ask us in the comment section below. We will be waiting!

Thomas Roberge
 

This website was created and is supported by a person who has been in the business of working with power tools, dedicated to home improvement projects both professionally and for the do it yourself type of person.

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