It’s not really that hard to cut plexiglass with a jigsaw. However, while the material is sturdier and much more durable than regular glass, it can still crack and break, especially if you cut it the wrong way.
You can cut plexiglass with a jigsaw by covering the cut line with masking tape and then moving the blade along the marked cut line with the right momentum and speed. Remove the tape and then smooth the edges with sandpaper. Make sure you wear protective gear before starting this process.
Before you start cutting, practice it on some scrap pieces of plexiglass. Now let’s look at what exactly jigsaw and plexiglass are, how you can use the tool to cut plexiglass, and how you can stay safe during the process, so you can have clear, precise cuts without injuring yourself.
What is Plexiglass?
Also known as acrylic glass, plexiglass is transparent plastic. It usually goes by several brand names, such as Perspex, Lucie, and Acrylite. The plastic is typically available as plexiglass sheets, and they’re incredibly lightweight and durable, so they don’t shatter as easily as regular glass.
However, plexiglass can get scratched if there isn’t any scratch-resistant layer on top. While plexiglass can be cut by hand, most experts recommend cutting this material with a laser because it allows for a more clean and precise cut. However, a jigsaw is the best alternative if you don’t have a laser.
What is a Jigsaw?
A jigsaw is a strong, sharp power tool ideal for cutting curves in wood and other materials. While most saws can only cut in straight lines, a jigsaw (on Amazon) allows you to easily cut complicated shapes and patterns.
The tool can cut wood of varying density and thickness and, if fitted with the right blade, can cut through fiberglass, drywall, and stool. This makes the jigsaw an incredibly versatile and valuable addition to your workshop.
A jigsaw is also ideal for cutting plexiglass because it doesn’t overheat, preventing the plexiglass from melting. In addition, it allows you to make both straight cuts and curved lines and enables you to cut across large pieces of plexiglass as well easily.
How Do You Use a Jigsaw to Cut Plexiglass?
Before using a jigsaw to cut plexiglass, choosing the right saw blade is essential, as the wrong one may chew upon and damage the material. It’s best to opt for a shallow and fine blade to get smooth cuts even if you start cutting the piece at a higher speed.
Experts recommend a 10 TPI bi-metal blade (on Amazon) with a jigsaw. However, you can also use a sharp hollow groundwood blade (on Amazon). Ensure you avoid using very fine metal blades, as they’ll clog into the plexiglass when you cut, causing it to melt because of all the heat.
Once you’ve chosen the right jigsaw blade, here are the steps you need to follow to cut plexiglass:
Mark the Plexiglass and Securely Clamp It
Use a marker to mark all the areas where you want to cut the plexiglass. This will allow you to feed the jigsaw blade exactly where you want it. After scoring, clamp the piece securely on an even table or workbench.
Fit the Jigsaw Blade and Try Making a Test Cut
Properly fit the blade you’re going to use for cutting plexiglass into your jigsaw. Once it’s securely fitted, make a small test cut.
Practice on a Small Plexiglass Piece
Conduct your test cut on a small piece of plexiglass before starting on any of the larger pieces. By practicing a bit first, you’ll have a much more steady hand when you make the actual cut. This practice will also help ensure you make as few mistakes as possible on the final material.
Cut with a Bit of Momentum
Cut the smaller piece of plexiglass with some momentum, or your jigsaw’s blade will jam into the material. The wrong momentum could also mess up the accuracy. Ensure you get the proper momentum when you practice so you don’t make any mistakes on your final piece.
Approach with the Right Speed
Along with approaching with a bit of momentum, you’ll also need to cut the plexiglass at the right speed. Make sure you power up your jigsaw blade first, allowing it to pick up some speed before it comes into contact with the plexiglass.
Remember that starting the jigsaw once the blade is already in contact with the plexiglass will cause significant damage to the material.
Use a Masking Tape to Cover the Cut Line
Once you’ve gotten the hang of the process, you can start cutting the actual piece of plexiglass. Before making the actual cut, use masking tape to cover the cut line you previously made. This will help prevent the edges of the plexiglass piece from chipping as you cut.
Cut the Plexiglass Along the Marked Cut Line
Cut through the plexiglass by following the cut line you made. If you handle your jigsaw well, you’ll be able to cut through the line easily.
Finish with Care
It’s essential to approach the finishing of the plexiglass with care. Ensure you maintain the same speed and momentum, so the finished edge comes out as smooth as the rest of the cut.
Remove the Tape and Smooth the Edge
Once you’ve made the right cut, remove the masking tape. Next, make sure that the cut is smooth and completely chip-free. Lastly, smooth the cut’s edge with sandpaper for a polished finish.
What Other Supplies are Needed?
Along with protection gear, such as safety goggles and work gloves, and a jigsaw, it’s also handy to have several different types of saws for cutting plexiglass:
- Band saws are ideal for formed pieces that are roughly trimmed and for cutting curves in flat sheets.
- Table saws are perfect for cutting plexiglass sheets to close dimensions. This tool usually varies in size, but a medium-duty model is most commonly used.
- Swing and Radial saws are best for making both angle and cross cuts on narrow plexiglass sheets.
- Panel saws come in handy when you don’t want to risk damaging your piece of plexiglass by cracking it. The placement of the sheet on the table and the way the saw cuts through it help ensure clean, precise cuts.
- Scroll saws are ideal for cutting closed holes and sharp radii in thin plexiglass sheets.
- Saber saws are also perfect for making both straight and curved cuts.
How to Stay Safe When Cutting Plexiglass
To help make the process a bit easier, here are a few tips and tricks on how to make cutting plexiglass as safe as possible:
- Ensure you always use a blade designed to cut plexiglass or plastic with a high tooth-per-inch count. Avoid using a regular wood cutting blade, as it won’t work in this situation.
- Plexiglass can get a bit hot while it’s being cut. If you’re worried about overheating or start seeing smoke, pour some cool water over the jigsaw blade to keep things cool.
- Always wear a pair of safety goggles when handling a power tool like a jigsaw. Also, tie back long hair and don’t wear any loose clothing that may get caught in the blade.
- Never cut plexiglass with one end loose or hanging out in the open. Instead, ensure that both ends are firmly secured, or the plexiglass might shatter or snap because of its weight, especially as you move further along the cut line.
- Avoid moving the blade too fast, as this might significantly damage the plexiglass.