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cutting acrylic

Discussion in 'General Signmaking Topics' started by ckoziol, Jul 10, 2010.

  1. ckoziol

    ckoziol Member

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    I need some help asap, please?? I was in a hurry to get a panel job done this weekend so I picked up my 1/8" acrylic panels whole (4' x 8") and did not have the time to have them cut them down, because it would've been into next week, so now I have 5 panels I need to cut in various sizes. I already chipped one up pretty bad (luckily its the scrap side), but I have no idea at this point what to use to cut it!! I tried scoring, but get nowhere, then I tried the jigsaw...chipped like hell. What do I do?? Can anyone suggest anything? Thanks!!

    Carol
     
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  2. Shovelhead

    Shovelhead Major Contributor

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    A finer tooth blade?
     
  3. ckoziol

    ckoziol Member

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    finer tooth blade

    Yeah, I tried that, and it still jumps around and chips.
     
  4. Shovelhead

    Shovelhead Major Contributor

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    Probably not fine enough.
     
  5. signcrafters london

    signcrafters london Very Active Member

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    It's a pain and takes a while, but I have success using a scoring tool similar to this. If I have to use a jigsaw, I cut very slowly to keep the acrylic from breaking or melting back together after the cut.
     

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  6. CentralSigns

    CentralSigns Very Active Member

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    I use a skill saw and a real fine blade.
     
  7. Craig Sjoquist

    Craig Sjoquist Major Contributor

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    good idea to tape your cut area another is place in jig, meaning the less vibration the acrylic has the better, a panel saw blade, straight edge guild clapped to acrylic.
     
  8. Shovelhead

    Shovelhead Major Contributor

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    Never heard of scoring acrylic.
     
  9. Just Another Sign Guy

    Just Another Sign Guy Very Active Member

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    i'm with CentralSign but i put a sheet of insullation foam under...i put it under everything i cut so i can just cut into the sheet and not have a sheet up on saw horses or a piece flopping around...
     
  10. Craig Sjoquist

    Craig Sjoquist Major Contributor

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    For shapes I used a Cuttawl..foam sheet under the acrylic, you can get as detailed as you like
     
  11. RycckG

    RycckG Member

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    I have cut plastic sheets (i dont remember if it was acrylic) on a table saw with a fine tooth blade.
     
  12. Techman

    Techman Major Contributor

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    turn the fine tooth paneling saw blade backwards.. That the teeth do not grab and shatter the piece. They just push the swarf out.
     
  13. petrosgraphics

    petrosgraphics Member

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    i cut acrylic all the time, both with a table saw and a skill saw...
    table saw: 60 tooth carbide blade, raise the bade at least 2" above the plastic, push the plastic through very slowly...
    skill saw: fine tooth blade on my bench with a soft substrate on the bench, set the depth of your blade to just below the plastic, cutting into the substrate under the plastic.
    dont use plywood it will dull the blade.. homosote works well, also a soundproof material.
     
  14. SAS

    SAS Active Member

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    I have not cut 1/8 inch but this is how I cut 1/4 inch leave the masking paper on until after you cut it.
     
  15. Mike Paul

    Mike Paul Major Contributor

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    How large or small are the pieces? An Acrylic scoring tool works well with short lengths.
    Score along a straight edge ruler a few times and snap off your piece.
     
  16. curtrnev

    curtrnev Member

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    I don't now how big a piece you are cutting but I use a router and a straight edge with a flush cutting bit. Two face tape to the surfaces then set your bearing depth to match your sraight edge.
     
  17. artbot

    artbot Very Active Member

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    there's lots of ways to cut acrylic. i used acrylic exclusively in my work for about 10 years. the fool proof best way to cut it is with a router and straight/edge guide. the simplest way is to get an upcut sprial (keep the mask on, it has lubricants built into the paper that will keep the temp down). get a 1/4" template guide for the router. if you have 8' material and are ripping, get a 10" rip of plywood. a pine 1x10 that is very straight will work but never as straight as a 1x10 of ripped plywood. screw the wood into the table so that the piece of wood acts a a brace to hold down the acrylic. and use that plank as a guide for your template guide when cutting. make sure to look for the offset of the guide. also, the grade of acrylic matters. if you are using cheap extruded acrylic vs/ cast, the cut will get hotter an melt instead of loose leafy chips coming off. if you have extruded, spray water with a mister down the line to keep the material cool. otherwise you could have very bad crazing along that edge if you hit it with any paint or solvent at all. the edge will be under thermal shock. later on get a track saw with a plastics bit. and you will be in track saw heaven. i've got the large festo and it is a life saver and pays for itself in about a month in saved time.
     
  18. John Butto

    John Butto Very Active Member

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    table saw blade

    This type of blade made for plastics in a table saw cuts acrylic with a smooth motion with no chattering.
     
  19. ckoziol

    ckoziol Member

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    Thank you everyone for your help! I did finally have to go with the scoring tool, and believe it or not, it really did a wonderful job! I had 4 x 8 sheets that had to be cut down to some 2 x 8, and some 43", and yet a couple had to have add'l taken off the width. But all the blades and rotary tools kept chipping the acrylic, and I know it's the way I was doing it, and having the acrylic jump around too much, but I didn't have time to waste...these panels had to be ready today. So I finally ran over to Home Depot yesterday afternoon and the guy there suggested the scoring tool for acrylic so I bought it, and how glad! It works wonderfully!! But thanks for all the help...and I will look into buying that platic cutting blade that John Butto suggested!
     
  20. Techman

    Techman Major Contributor

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    That is why those in the know use a blade that is reversed. That is its set into the saw backwards. It will not grab that way. It will not chip the plastic etc.
     
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