You need to cut a piece of plexiglass, but you’re not sure where to start. Many home improvement hobbyists have found themselves in this position. Plexiglass is a brittle material that can easily scratch or break. This can make cutting plexiglass an intimidating task. If used correctly, however, a jigsaw can be the perfect tool for cutting through this brittle material.
We put together this step-by-step process on how to cut plexiglass with a jigsaw safely and securely. Jigsaws have the advantage of being great for cutting both straight lines and curves, making them the perfect tool for the job. Our instructions will show you how to cut plexiglass with a jigsaw from start to finish. We include added tips to protect yourself from injury and make sure your plexiglass doesn’t get damaged. Follow these steps and you can learn how to cut plexiglass with a jigsaw in no time.
Step #1: Get the Right Tools Together
In any job, the most important way to protect your safety and avoid damaging your materials is to use the right tools. Before you begin cutting, you should assemble all your tools in one place. This will prevent you from having to stop halfway through if you realize you forgot an important piece.
First, you will need to get your jigsaw ready. In addition to the jigsaw itself, you will want to select the right size blade for the task. For cutting plexiglass, you will want a fine-toothed blade. Some experts recommend a stronger blade, like a carbide-tipped option. This ensures a smooth cut and minimizes the risk of damaging either the plexiglass or your jigsaw. You will also need to find a sturdy, flat surface to work on. Ideally, this will be a workbench designed for using a saw. If you do not have one of these, any sturdy table should work. Just make sure you are protecting it from potential damage from your jigsaw.
Next, you should gather tools for marking off where you want to make your cuts. Unless you are planning on cutting freehand, always measure carefully before you cut. Start by marking off areas with a pencil and a straightedge or ruler. It can be helpful to mark these lines with painter’s tape too. This not only makes them easier to see, but it can also protect the plexiglass from damage or scratches.
Finally, gather the important safety supplies you need for this job. This includes safety goggles and ear protection, as well as sturdy gloves. Jigsaws and plexiglass can both shatter easily, and you don’t want to risk any injury.
Step #2: Prepare the Plexiglass for Cutting
Now that you have all your tools together, you can begin marking your plexiglass for cutting. Doing this step properly can save you a lot of trouble further down the road. Especially when working with a material as brittle as plexiglass, even small mistakes can end up costing a lot of money to fix.
First, you should make sure that your plexiglass is securely attached to the surface you are cutting it on. You can do this using clamps or tape. Be careful not to attach clamps too tightly, or you might damage the plexiglass. Make sure that you attach the plexiglass securely enough that it won’t move when you start using your jigsaw.
Once your plexiglass is secure, trace the shape you want to cut using a pencil. If you are just cutting a straight line, this should be fairly easy. You can use the ruler or straightedge from step 1 to make sure your line is straight and level. It is also not too difficult to use a jigsaw to cut curves and other shapes into the plexiglass. If you are taking this approach, start by drawing the design on the plexiglass using a pencil. This way, it is easy to make any adjustments or corrections.
Once you are happy with the shape you have traced in pencil, you can mark it using painter’s tape. For a straight cut, you can use one long, straight piece. If you’re cutting curves and other shapes, use several smaller pieces of tape. Using tape in this way will not only make it easier to see the lines that you drew while you are using your jigsaw. The tape also protects the plexiglass from scratches and other damage. Once you have marked your cuts using tape, you are ready to start cutting.
Step #3: Cut the Plexiglass With the Jigsaw
Prepare the jigsaw for cutting by attaching the blade you have selected. The method of attaching the blade will depend on the specific brand of your jigsaw. Once you have it attached, put on all of your safety gear.
If you have a spare piece of plexiglass, you can use this time to practice on that piece. If you don’t have one available, you can make your cut directly on the piece you are working on.
To avoid damaging the plexiglass, you want to apply consistent, even pressure while you are cutting. Start the jigsaw spinning before you apply it to the plexiglass. The momentum this provides will prevent the jigsaw from getting stuck or catching on the material. Make sure you have a firm grip on the saw when you apply it to the plexiglass. The change in resistance can cause it to kick or catch, and you risk damaging your plexiglass if you aren’t prepared.
While you are cutting, it is important to move at a steady, consistent pace. Plexiglass is not really made of glass at all, but high-strength plastic. This means that if too much heat builds up in your saw, the plexiglass can start to melt. To avoid this, move the blade neither too fast nor too slow. If you move too fast, you risk losing control of the saw. But if you move too slow, the heat can start to build up and melt the plexiglass.
Finally, remember not to stop the jigsaw until you have completed your cut. Stopping increases the likelihood that you will damage or break the plexiglass. It can also lead to jagged edges or uneven cuts. For an even cut, try to complete it in one continuous motion. Once the cut is complete, turn off the jigsaw.
Step #4: Clean Up Remaining Edges
If you have followed these steps closely, you should have an even cut in your plexiglass without any damage. You may still need to clean up a few edges, however. You can use your jigsaw for this again, or just use a piece of fine sandpaper for smaller pieces.
If you use your jigsaw again, make sure that all you have not taken off your protective equipment. Don’t make the mistake of cutting without safety equipment. Many people injure themselves because they take off their safety equipment before they finish cutting. You should also make sure the plexiglass is still safely secured to the cutting surface. Falling off the table can do a lot of damage to your plexiglass sheet.
At this point, you can safely remove your eye protection, ear covers, and gloves. Remove the blade from the jigsaw. You can also start removing the painter’s tape from the plexiglass. Be careful when removing the painter’s tape you used to mark your cuts. It would be a shame to damage your plexiglass after taking so many precautions. You can now install your plexiglass wherever you need it. If you are cutting multiple pieces of plexiglass, repeat this process as necessary for each one.
If you followed our how-to instructions, you should now have two perfectly cut pieces of plexiglass. Learning how to cut plexiglass with a jigsaw is no easy task. Whether you are using it for greenhouse panels, photo frames, or anything in between, your plexiglass should now be ready to install.
Learning how to cut plexiglass with a jigsaw takes a lot of practice, so don’t be disappointed if you didn’t get it right the first time. Luckily, plexiglass is a relatively cheap material that can be bought anywhere. If your plexiglass got scratched or damaged, try following our instructions again. Pay extra attention to the steps we recommend to avoid damage, like using painter’s tape and cutting at a steady pace. With enough practice, you’ll be cutting like a pro in no time!