Cutting Plexiglass


#1

Hi guys

My father has an old china cabinet with glass shelves, one of which broke. He decided to replace it with plexiglass.

He has a jigsaw at home but no real way to hold the plexiglass in place to make the cut, nor any real experience at doing such a thing.

Would we be able to help him out with this project at DMS? What is the best tool for making such a cut? We’re talking about 1/4" think plexiglass that is 15" x 72". We would be gutting it down to about 57" and shaping it with a number of curves to fit in the cabinet.


#2

If you can get it cut to where it’ll fit in laser that will give you the best edge and least chance of cracking and scratching. After that bandsaw. Would recommend the Machine Shop saw as it has a finer tooth blade and throat is greater than 15" deep.


#3

I’m going to assume that you aren’t certified for plastics on the MultiCam? … so here’s another way to do it. All of the steps are fairly simple.

“Rough” cut on laser or table saw - then route using the Incra router - and flame polish to finish it.

If the shelf is rectangular, then the woodshop tablesaw with the plastic blade will be good for the “rough” cut. If you are cutting curves, then laser is clearly the best way - but your workpiece will have to be rough cut on the tablesaw to 63" to fit into Big Thunder. Cut your piece a little larger than you need to allow for routing it.

The best edge will be done using a router after you have made your cuts. Assuming the Incra router (woodshop) is working, that’s your best bet for the fine finish. You can also easily do that on the curves using a bit with a pilot on it. Don’t remove the paper backing until all the routing, etc. is done.

After you’ve routed the edges, you can flame polish them with a torch for a really finished look. Of course, you will want to peel back part of the paper backing before you take a torch to it … and practice a little on a piece of the drop off scrap.

(EDIT: Be forewarned that a piece that large will require a little finesse to laser cut. The power setting required to cut a piece sitting in the rear LH corner of the bed isn’t the same as the power required to cut a piece in the front RH corner. It probably should be, but experience tells us that it isn’t. Your piece will take up the entire bed so this anomaly will be particularly evident. Don’t remove the piece from the laser until you are certain it is cut all the way through and all the way around because you will likely have to make several passes.)


#4

You are not supposed to cut plexiglass on the laser. Acrylic yes but not plexiglass


#5

Plexiglass is a brand of acrylic. You may be thinking of polycarbonate, which is not allowed on the laser.


#6

Your right…I got confused.


#7

But you bring up an important point.

@Andru_Lemon - you said your Dad is replacing his shelf with plexiglass. You need to make sure it isn’t polycarbonate because that would definitely preclude you from lasering it - and it handles and machines quite differently also.


#8

Is anybody? what YEAR was the last class?

Chris’s responses are right on the mark. no matter whether you use a table/panel saw or the bandsaw, for a great look you need to use a trim router and flame finish on the edge.

We won’t be set up until after the move but we’ll be set up to do these activities.


#9

In the meantime, Woodshop has suitable saws and router.


#10

If he hasn’t bought the plexglass yet, he can get it rough cut by the supplier.


#11

Thanks all!

Everything has been really helpful so far.
I would have to add that the shelf has to be curved in order to fit in the cabinet.

My dad drew the outline on the plexiglass. If y’all don’t mind, take a look at this photo and notice the black line drawn on it. We would want to be able to cut along that line.

Would it be a realistic endeavor for the band saw?
If not, I will look into getting trained up on the laser.


#12

Would be very realistic for a bandsaw