How to Cut Perspex & Acrylic Sheets
Learning how to cut acrylic perspex sheets can be a useful skill that you can master from your very own home. Acrylic sheets (also known as Perspex) are a versatile product that can be used for both domestic and industrial products. Typical applications include glazing, signs, screens, furniture, and many precision engineering components. Knowing how to cut your acrylic sheets properly is extremely important to provide the best appearance. Acrylic above 4mm thickness can be cut at home using an electric jigsaw with a T101A Bosch blade (or equivalent). Due to chippings, eye protection should be worn at all times.
Step One: Leave the protective film on your piece of acrylic to protect it until you have completed cutting.
Step Two: Clamp your acrylic sheet to your work surface to avoid vibrations, which will damage the cut. At a minimum, you should be holding down the two ends of the acrylic.
Step Three: Mask off the acrylic where you intend to make your cut; this will help prevent chipping. (Masking tape will work fine!)
Step Four: Make sure the blade is not blunt and check the shoe is set down flat on the surface of the workpiece. Start the jigsaw, and let it run up to speed (blade speed not critical)
Step Five: Gently ease the jigsaw into the acrylic sheet. Do not push the blade into the cut more than is needed as applying pressure will cause the blade to generate heat very quickly. Allow the blade to stop before slowly withdrawing it from the saw cut on your acrylic sheet.
Note: It is important that head build-up is kept to a minimum, as it can cause stress cracking in the acrylic material. You can squirt water every now and then to act as a coolant. However, this won’t be necessary in smaller jobs.
For a more in-depth guide on cutting with acrylic, including scribing for thinner materials, machining, and different saws to use - please download our cutting guide under the ‘downloads’ section.
The Difference Between Acrylic and Perspex Sheets
There is absolutely no difference between acrylic and perspex sheets, they are all just acrylic. Perspex® and Plexiglas® are simply brand names of acrylic, just like Hoover is to a vacuum cleaner. Other popular brand names include Lucite®, Policril®, Altuglas® and many more.
Acrylic is manufactured in two forms: casting (cast) and extrusion (XT). It is generally difficult to differentiate between either type, especially with clear acrylic. However, there are differences that anyone experienced with plastics will notice. These differences may or may not be relevant to your intended application. If you are unsure, please feel free to let us know your intended use and we will do our best to suggest which would be most suitable
Benefits of Cutting to Size
Although acrylic can be cut at home, with every project there are risks of damage. Below are some factors to remember when working with acrylic.
- Acrylic is brittle, so it can chip easily when being cut.
- Acrylic will soften if heated above 80°C.
- Acrylic can crack or craze if the material is stressed when cutting.
Letting us cut your acrylic pieces to size removes these risks and saves you time. Not only can we cut to your dimensions (within our +/-1 mm tolerance), but we can also offer drill holes, cutouts, shapes, letters, and much more using our CNC and Laser machines.
What Machines & Tools Can Cut Acrylics
You can cut your acrylic using many different saws that are more commonly owned by a DIYer such as a bandsaw, circular saw, jig saw and fretsaw. Acrylic under 4mm thickness can also be scribed. In a workshop, acrylic can be Laser cut and routed.
For a more in-depth guide on working with acrylic, including scribing and the different blades to be used, please download our cutting guide under the ‘downloads’ section. Why not check out our FAQs section for more information or contact us today?