How to Cut Plexiglass by Hand

By: HowStuffWorks.com Contributors  | 

Plexiglas is a brand name of acrylic plastic sheets, which are made of very rigid plastic and are often substituted for glass. It's clear like glass, but doesn't break as easily as glass. However, Plexiglas does scratch easily, so it has to be handled and cut with care. Plexiglas is used professionally as well as for crafts [source: AllSands].

Plexiglas is sold wrapped in protective paper. Keep the paper on for as long as possible so the Plexiglas won't get scratched. Follow the instructions below to cut thin sheets of Plexiglass along straight lines [source: AllSands].

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  1. Place the Plexiglas on a flat work surface.
  2. Mark the Plexiglas with a grease pencil where you want to cut it. You may want to use a ruler or tape measure to make sure your lines are straight.
  3. Along the lines you marked, carefully score the Plexiglas five to 10 times with a glass cutter.
  4. Move the scored section to the edge of the work surface.
  5. Apply a sharp downward force on the Plexiglas to break it along the scored line.

If you want to cut more complex shapes or thicker sheets of Plexiglas, you have to use power tools. Fit your power saw with a blade designed for cutting acrylic or with a blade designed for cutting aluminum or copper -- the blade's teeth should be fine, all the same height and evenly spaced [source: The Natural Handyman]. Simply follow steps one and two above and then cut the Plexiglas with the power saw.

However you cut your Plexiglas, the edges will most likely need to be smoothed after they're cut. This is most easily done with a power saw.

Originally Published: Jun 22, 2011

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Cut Plexiglass FAQ

How do you cut plexiglass by hand?
If the plexiglass is less than 3/16-inch, you can cut it by hand. First, place it on a clean, flat surface to prevent scratching. Now, take your measurements and use a glass cutter to score the plexiglass five to ten times along the cut line. Then turn the piece of plexiglass over and score the marks from the other side. Clamp it to the edge of the work surface and apply a downward sharp force to cut it along the score line. Sand if needed.
What is the best tool to cut plexiglass?
To cut plexiglass, a circular or table saw that has carbide-tipped teeth is the best tool.
How much does it cost to get plexiglass cut?
This will vary quite a bit depending on where you live and what store you go to to get it cut.
Can you use a dremel to cut plexiglass?
Yes, a Dremel can be used to cut plexiglass with a maximum thickness of 1/4 inch. Just be sure you use the 561 Multipurpose Cutting Bit or EZ476 1 1/2-Inch EZ Lock Rotary Tool.
What is the best jigsaw blade for cutting plexiglass?
To cut plexiglass neatly, you should use jigsaw blades that are bi-metal and have ten teeth per inch (10 TPI). You can also use blades that are hollow ground and very sharp. Avoid blades that are very fine because they can melt the plastic and may clog it.