Looking to cut plexiglass?
There are several different methods you can choose, but one of my favorites is using a jigsaw.
In this guide, I’ll show you exactly how to cut plexiglass with a jigsaw and give you a few tips to help you avoid uneven cuts. Let’s dig in!
- Jigsaws are the perfect tool for cutting plexiglass without cracking or splitting it but it’s essential to use the right blade.
- To cut plexiglass with a jigsaw, you’ll want to ensure your plexiglass sheet is secure and stable to avoid cracking and splintering that the vibrations from a jigsaw can cause.
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How to Cut Plexiglass With a Jigsaw
Step 1: Choosing the Right Jigsaw Blade
What kind of jigsaw blade do you use to cut plexiglass?
Cutting plexiglass with a jigsaw starts with choosing the right blade. There are many types of jigsaw blades, and choosing a blade is sometimes a matter of what you have on hand or what you can find at the local hardware store.
If you have time, the best blade for cutting plexiglass is a special blade made for plexiglass. For example, these Diablo Plexiglass jigsaw blades are perfect to get a clean cut. They have a nonstick coating that reduces heat and friction, so you can cut plexiglass without melting it. These blades come in a 5-pack and have 13 TPI (teeth per inch), which is perfect for cutting through plastic.
It’s not always possible to find the right blade for the job, though, and sometimes you have to make do with what you have. In a pinch, you can use a lot of different jigsaw blades, and some people even use metal and wood jigsaw blades with success.
Generally, the more teeth the blade has, the slower you will want to go so the blade doesn’t heat up. No matter what, you should always avoid using a dull blade.
I’m the kind of person who likes to plan ahead to make sure I have everything I need for my projects before I start though, so I always recommend you have these jigsaw blades handy before starting. If you get the right blades for the job, you’ll get a better cut on your plexiglass edge – which can make a huge difference in how your project turns out.
Step 2: Measure and Mark
Before you start cutting, measure and mark all of your lines. The best marking tool for plexiglass is a simple Sharpie. New plexiglass usually comes with a protective film, which you can leave on to protect it.
Adding a strip of masking tape will help prevent splintering when cutting plexiglass. Mark your cutting line, then place a strip of masking tape over the line. Then, measure and mark your line again over the top of the masking tape.
Step 3: Securing the Plexiglass
One of the most significant problems with using a jigsaw on plexiglass is the vibration, which can lead to cracked edges. The vibration can also make the saw jump, which can result in injuries or bad cuts. Securing the plexiglass sheet is essential to help you avoid mistakes and reduce your risk of injury.
Securing the plexiglass also helps you prevent scratches to the surface of the plexiglass. I recommend you sandwhich the plexiglass sheet between two boards and clamp them together.
Use at least two clamps to hold the plexiglass sheet in place, and more if necessary to prevent movement. This will help reduce vibration, making cutting safer and less likely to cause cracking or splintering.
On a related note, safety is a key consideration, so it’s important to protect your hands, fingers, and eyes from saw blades and flying shards of plexiglass. At a minimum, you should wear safety glasses and gloves, and you may also want to consider earplugs.
Step 4: Make a Test Cut
It’s always a good idea to make a test cut before going all in, especially if you’re new to cutting plexiglass sheets with jigsaws or if you have a new jigsaw blade that you’ve never used before.
It’s important to cut at a moderate speed. If you cut too fast through the plexiglass, the saw blade will start to heat up and can melt the plexiglass. If that happens, try going slower.
Start with a straight cut, and then try some curved lines. Don’t get discouraged if your first few cuts don’t come out perfect, especially when you’re making curved cuts. Keep practicing until you feel comfortable with cutting plexiglass with your jigsaw. Sometimes it can be difficult!
Step 5: Making a Cut
When making cuts with your jigsaw, I recommend you use a medium speed. It’s not a race, and you’ll get a much better result when you take your time. If you cut too fast, you’re more likely to fracture the plexiglass. No thanks!
As you cut, don’t push the jigsaw blade into the material. Allow it to cut and move it along gently. Keep your focus on the cutting line until you’re finished with your cut.
Step 6: Finishing
Once your cut is made, you can finish the edge with a light sanding. First, remove any burrs from the edge. If your cut piece is small enough, it is easier to lay the sandpaper on the table and run the plexiglass along it a few times.
You can also polish the edge of the plexiglass if it’s going to be visible. Start with 120-grit sandpaper and work your way to 600-grit. Finally, use a buffer and some polishing compound to buffer the edge.
Tips to Cutting Plexiglass with a Jigsaw
For straight cuts, set up a fence alongside the line for your cut. Some people use the fence that came with their table saw, but you can use anything made of wood, metal, or plastic for a fence, as long as it’s straight.
If the blade is starting to get hot, you can squirt water or oil to cool it down. Some people use dish soap, which is a surfactant that will reduce friction and make cutting easier.
Jigsaws work best for cutting plexiglass that’s at least 4 mm thick. If it is any thinner than that, your best bet is to use a utility knife to employ the score-and-snap method.
Making an Interior Cut
When making an interior cut, you first need to drill a pilot hole in the plexiglass to insert the jigsaw blade. To prevent chipping and cracking, start with a small drill bit, then gradually work your way up to a large enough drill bit that your jigsaw blade will fit in the pilot hole.
Using masking or painter’s tape to cover the cut line will help prevent chipping when making interior cuts. You should also secure the plexiglass sheet as well as you can.
Making a perfect circle is challenging, but one trick makes it much easier. Drill a small hole in the exact center of your hole, then set a screw and attach a piece of wire to it. Then, attach the other end of the wire to your jigsaw. The wire will act as a tether, helping you to maintain an equal distance from the circle’s center as you cut.
What Is The Best Tool to Cut Plexiglass?
There are several ways to cut plexiglass, either by hand or with various power tools. I like to use a jigsaw because it’s the most versatile option with the best results.
Plexiglass is much stronger than regular glass but is still somewhat brittle. It’s prone to chipping and cracking when it’s being cut, so finding the best tool to cut plexiglass will save you a lot of headaches.
Plexiglass is also prone to melting. The heat and friction caused by some blades can actually melt the plexiglass. That’s not always a problem unless it’s excessive, but it’s something to consider, and there are jigsaw blades made for cutting plexiglass that don’t cause this problem.
If you’re working with a thin piece of plexiglass, you can cut it with a utility knife. Make sure you’re working with a sharp blade, score your mark a few times, and then snap it using the edge of a table.
Cutting plexiglass with a utility knife isn’t the most accurate way to do it, and it doesn’t work as well on thick plexiglass. I prefer a jigsaw for plexiglass over 4 mm because it’s easy to use and it’s versatile enough to allow you to make circular or rounded cuts, whereas a lot of other methods only allow you to make straight cuts.
Even though a jigsaw is the best tool to cut plexiglass, it’s not the only way. You can use any of the following tools to cut plexiglass:
- Table saw
- Circular saw
- Dremel tool
- Tile saw
- Scroll saw
- Utility knife
You can check out this guide on cutting plexiglass with a table saw for more info!
Here is an awesome video that demonstrates some plexiglass working techniques.
Using power tools makes many jobs easier, and jigsaws are one of my favorite tools to use for a variety of tasks.
By choosing the right blade, securing the plexiglass, and making a few practice cuts, you’ll have no problem cutting plexiglass with your jigsaw.