Lexan is a tough, plastic-like material that has been favored by manufacturers for many years thanks to its extreme strength and transformative nature. It comes in several thicknesses and can be cut with any saw. However, it’s essential to use the right blade.
For Lexan sheets that are more than 3 mm thick, a circular saw with a carbide-tipped blade is best. Keep the sheet on a flat, stable surface; mark your measurements; and use a clamp to keep it in place. Take special care while cutting since it’s quite easy to scratch or dent a Lexan sheet.
Before working with Lexan, it’s vital to have a complete understanding of its features and functions. Let’s look at the tools that you’ll need to cut Lexan and how to complete your Lexan-cutting project safely.
What Is Lexan?
Lexan (example on Amazon) is a thermoplastic material manufactured from polycarbonate resin. Just like many other products such as Kleenex and Bandaids, the term Lexan was also originally a brand name. However, today it’s used generically for multiple companies’ products.
Although Lexan may look similar to Plexiglass or acrylic, it’s actually quite different from these two. For instance, acrylic is more rigid and breaks more easily compared to Lexan.
Benefits of Lexan
Lexan comes with some unique features and benefits. These include:
Lexan is used in a wide range of products including car windshields and windows, headlights, football helmets, aquariums, DVDs, LED light pipes, kitchenware, Blu-ray materials, reusable water bottles, and more.
Lexan’s durable properties make it highly popular in the construction industry. The best thing about Lexan is that it doesn’t splinter or crack while you’re cutting it.
It’s 250 times stronger than normal glass and can retain its shape even in temperatures of up to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
Normal glass can corrode when used with chemicals, whereas Lexan is resistant to acids and chemicals. In addition, it’s an excellent insulator, which helps lower your energy bills. It’s also very easy to install.
Downsides to Lexan
On the other hand, Lexan also has some cons that should be kept in mind when using this material.
Lexan can become discolored over time due to UV rays. If it’s not treated with UV protection, it’ll turn yellow from exposure.
Lexan can dent and scratch quite easily compared to normal glass. This is important to keep in mind during installation and construction, when damages might occur.
Even when drilling, there’s a chance of scratching. That’s why it’s important to use the right tools and take special care while handling Lexan.
Which Tools Are Best for Cutting Lexan?
Any power tool can be used to cut Lexan according to your measurements. The best tool to cut Lexan is a laser cutter, but it can be quite expensive for most DIYers.
You can also use a table saw or a circular saw and achieve good results. It’s best to use a blade that has small teeth to ensure a smooth cut.
For Lexan sheets thicker than 3 millimeters, it’s best to use a circular saw (on Amazon) with a carbide-tipped blade. This helps to reduce the vibrations of the blade and ensures a more precise cut.
Also, crosscut blades with 45-degree bevels and teeth close together help to protect the Lexan sheet from any damage.
Utility Knife or Shears
It’s best to use a standard utility knife to cut a Lexan sheet that’s thinner than 3 millimeters. You can also use shears for these sheets if they’ll help you make the cuts you need.
Jigsaw or Band saw
Be sure to check that the blades have teeth that are 2-4 millimeters apart and are strong enough to cut metal. Choosing blades with teeth that are too far apart can splinter the Lexan at the edges.
Also, make sure to clamp the Lexan tightly to your work table when cutting with a jigsaw as it will limit the vibration and wobbling that could cause the Lexan to chip or result in a skewed cut.
Which Other Supplies Are Needed?
In addition to a saw or a utility knife, you’ll need the following supplies:
- Spray bottle
- C-clamp (on Amazon)
- Fine grit sandpaper (on Amazon)
- Safety goggles
- Ear protection (on Amazon)
How to Use a Circular Saw to Cut Lexan
Before cutting Lexan, it’s vital to keep the following considerations in mind:
- Place the Lexan on your work table in such a way that the piece you plan to cut is hanging over the edge.
- Carefully measure the cut lines and mark them with a marker or pencil.
- Defining the marked lines with a utility knife will ensure an exact cut.
- Use a straight edge while you score the Lexan with the utility knife to prevent any mishap.
- Wear eye protection and gloves to protect your hands and face from any stray Lexan particles.
- Be sure to keep pets and children away from your work area.
Now that you’re ready, let’s look at how you should use the circular saw to cut Lexan.
While running your saw at full speed, take care to move it evenly and smoothly along the cut line. Work slowly and surely, taking your time. Don’t force the blade through.
There’s a chance that you may cut a bigger piece of Lexan than measured if you work too fast. But that also doesn’t mean that you need to go too slow.
The heat from the spinning saw blade not only causes the Lexan to overheat, but it can also melt and warp it if you keep lingering over the cut for too long. That’s why it’s best to work at a moderate pace when you’re cutting Lexan.
How to Use a Dremel to Cut Lexan
Although you can use a Dremel (on Amazon) to cut Lexan, it’s not the best tool for this job as it uses friction to cut. Friction produces heat, which can melt the Lexan.
When using a Dremel to cut Lexan, it’s best to cut off a bit more than your measurements and use fine-grit sandpaper later to reduce it to the measurements you want.
To cut Lexan with a Dremel, here’s what you need to do:
- Insert the correct bit size into your Dremel.
- Use a permanent marker to mark your measurements on the Lexan.
- Start at a 45-degree angle and cut along the marked lines slowly.
- Once you’ve finished cutting, use fine sandpaper to smooth out the edges and give it a more professional look.
It’s crucial to take the following safety precautions when you cut Lexan sheets to prevent any damages or injuries:
Wear Protective Gear
Remember to wear goggles to protect your eyes from stray pieces of Lexan. Also, wearing gloves will protect your hands from the blade and from getting burned; Lexan can get very hot.
Prepare Your Workstation
Place a cloth or blanket under the Lexan to protect it from dents or scratches, especially if you have an older work table.
Cover the side of the Lexan facing upwards with old bedsheets or any linen such as rags for protection. Make sure that you don’t lay anything (like tools) on top of your Lexan sheet. As this material is transparent, you don’t want it to get scratched from either side.
Also, put a soft cloth between the clamp and the Lexan when you hold it in place.
Secure the Lexan Sheet
It’s important to make sure that the Lexan doesn’t move or slide while cutting. Use clamps to secure the Lexan sheet to your workstation, or you can hold it down with a piece of wood wrapped in cloth.
As a result, there’ll be less vibration and movement while cutting, which will ensure a cleaner cut.
Avoid Applying Pressure on the Saw Blade
While running the saw blade, be sure to cut at a good, moderate pace. Running the blade too fast or too slow can damage the Lexan sheet. Forcing the blade forward can also cause bits of Lexan to splinter off. Be sure to move smoothly and let the blade work at its own pace.
Don’t Keep the Saw Blade in One Place for Long
Lexan sheets can become quite hot while cutting due to friction. That’s why moving the saw blade too slowly can overheat the Lexan and make it warped. You’ll also find the edges of the Lexan seem deformed and melted.
Drilling a Hole in the Lexan
Similar precautions should be applied when drilling a hole in Lexan:
- Double-check your measurements before making a hole. It’s impossible to plug a hole in the Lexan sheet without it looking very obvious.
- Line up the drill bit and make a hole while moving at a steady pace.
- Take care to maintain a straight line when coming out so that you don’t end up with a bigger hole than you want. Make sure you plan carefully and execute the cuts with confidence.