Do you want to cut plexiglass to your desired design but lack a laser cutting machine? Can you cut plexiglass with a jigsaw? However, you need to be careful or risk melting the material at the cutting edges.
This article shows you how to cut plexiglass using a jigsaw easily. Besides that, you will find the essential tips for using this type of saw to cut this material. So, let’s look at the best blades for this job.
The Best Jigsaw Blades to Use When Cutting Plexiglass?
Plexiglass is susceptible to high heat. When cutting it using a jigsaw, you can’t use any blade. Some blades that aren’t fine enough can end up chewing up your plexiglass. Such blades are dull and heat up faster when cutting the plexiglass.
The best choice is ten teeth per inch (TPI) bi-metal blade. Alternatively, you can use a sharp hollow ground one—the blade used for wood. Despite carbide-edged blades being efficient theoretically, they heat up pretty fast, meaning they can’t give the result you seek.
What Factors Should You Consider When Buying a Blade for Cutting Plexiglass
When shopping for a blade to use in cutting plexiglass, it would be best if you consider the following factors:
After you have found a blade that cuts plexiglass, it would help to consider its size. Choose a blade that is an inch longer. Long blades are sturdy and won’t bend when cutting the plexiglass.
Shank refers to the part attached at the end of the blade. Jigsaw blades come in U-shank and T-shank. Despite their slight similarity, the U-shank blade is inside the jigsaw, and you need an Allen key to remove or install it. Whereas with the T-shank, you can remove and install it without using an additional tool. This feature has made the T-shank the go-to blade for cutting plexiglass.
Jigsaw blades are made from different materials such as high-speed steel, tungsten, high carbon steel, and carbide. These blades are suitable for different functions. It would be best to buy a blade made of tungsten carbon since it’s softer and thinner compared to those made from other materials.
Step-by-step Process of Cutting a Plexiglass Using a Jigsaw
To cut plexiglass using a jigsaw, you will need clamps, measuring and marking material, tape, and protective gear. You will then use the following procedure:
Step 1: Ensure the jigsaw is in the right condition
Firstly, ensure that your jigsaw is in the right condition. The blade should be the right one. That includes any blade used to cut plastic. It would be best to ensure that the blade is secure to prevent it from coming out during operation. If you can fix a vacuum, do so to ensure that your working area remains clean. Besides, it will make your work easier when cleaning your workshop due to fewer fillings.
Step 2: Mount your plexiglass on a workbench
Next, you will mount your plexiglass on the workbench and secure it using clamps. These clamps will control chattering and vibration, and it will help if you use as many clamps as you can get to secure the plexiglass firmly. If your plexiglass comes with protective film, don’t remove it once you mount and clamp the material you want to cut.
Step 3: Measure your cuts
Next, you will mark the measurement to know where to put your tape before you start cutting. If you intend to cut along a straight line, it will help to guide the jigsaw shoes using a fence guide. You will set this fencing guide along one side of the plexiglass’ cutting line. To get it right, you will measure the edge of the jigsaw shoe to the side of the blade before making two more lines of reference. After setting the guide, put a tape on the reference lines. While measuring the cuts, ensure that you get the center of the tape close to the lines.
You will first drill a hole using a special bit if you cut a circle. The hole should be wide enough for the blade to fit. And the drill hole should be on the inside of the circle.
Step 4: Position your jigsaw
Once you are ready, position your saw for the job. Ensure that the position of the blade and shoe of your jigsaw align at one end of the cut line you marked. To avoid damaging the plexiglass, ensure that the blade isn’t in contact with it when it starts. Instead, turn it on, then start cutting when it’s up to speed.
Step 5: Cut the plexiglass
When cutting in a circle, you will insert the blade through the hole you drilled, then get it to full speed. You will then push the jigsaw along the demarcated line to cut. If it’s a straight line, you will cut it at full speed while maintaining the line you drew on the plexiglass. Keep your hands away from the blade as a safety precaution.
Step 6: Finish the cut
After you are done cutting, the edge of the plexiglass will be rough. You can smoothen it using grit sandpaper. Alternatively, you can use a router if you find sandpaper ineffective.
Tips for Cutting Plexiglass With a Jigsaw
Use the following tips if you want to avoid unforeseen damages when cutting your plexiglass.
Keep the blade cool
The blade will get hot and start smoking when you cut plexiglass using a jigsaw. You can control the damage by using a non-flammable lubricant. You need to apply the lubricant before you start cutting. Coldwater would work well. You will sprinkle the water on the plexiglass while cutting.
Practice on a small piece
If you are cutting plexiglass using a jigsaw for the first time, the chances are that you will make mistakes. It would be best to practice the steps on a small piece to ascertain if the process is right. Remember that you can’t undo the process once you start cutting.
Don’t pause once you start cutting
Once you start cutting, you can’t pause. The blade’s heat will melt the plexiglass if it stops on one spot, and you won’t be able to get a clean cut once it melts in some parts.
How cut the material should be gradual. Not too fast, and not too slow. The heat will cause the plexiglass to wrap if you do it slowly, and it will start melting when cut at excessive speed.
Frequently Asked Questions About Cutting Plexiglass
Can you cut plexiglass to size?
Yes, you can cut plexiglass to any size you desire. Plexiglass has many uses; that’s why you might need to reshape it to fit your needs. However, note that you must have the right tools to smooth the cuttings.
Under what circumstance do you use a jigsaw to cut plexiglass?
You can cut plexiglass with other tools such as a bandsaw for thick glasses. However, if you need to make tight curved cuts, the jigsaw is the tool to go to. That is because it is easy to control, especially on a powerful handheld saw machine.
How can you protect yourself when cutting plexiglass?
When cutting plexiglass using a jigsaw, it would be best if you protect your eyes. The chipping from the plexiglass poses a lot of danger if it hits your eyes. Besides that, the blade might break, and if it happens, your eyes will be at risk of injury.
Does plexiglass support weight?
Plexiglass weighs half the weight of glass but is much sturdier. It can carry a lot of weight. But when cutting it, it would be best to support the end that’s not on the working bench to prevent it from shattering.
How do you cut plexiglass without breaking it?
If you want to cut plexiglass without cracking or breaking it, you should keep the plastic film that it comes with. Other than that, score deep when cutting. Also, remember always to use the right blade, which you have to cool as you cut through the material.
How can you cut plexiglass that is bent already?
Suppose you have bent plexiglass, the rule of cutting remains the same. You have to mark it before you cut it. Also, note that you can use a jigsaw on thick sheets, but use other tools such as a utility knife if the plexiglass is thin.
Plexiglass, although durable, can melt under high heat. You need to be cautious when cutting it using a jigsaw. As you have learned in this article, it would help to choose the right blade. Besides that, to prevent overheating, use either water or non-flammable lubricant. But all in all, if you want a clean-cut, follow the steps that we have outlined and explained in this article. It will make your work easier and give you better results.