How to Cut Plexiglass With a Circular Saw

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Plexiglass is one of the cheapest and sturdiest forms of glass available, making them the perfect material to do DIY projects with. Cutting plexiglass isn’t easy, though. While using a circular saw to cut plexiglass may sound easy, there’s a chance you’ll hurt yourself since circular saws are some of the most dangerous mechanical tools.

Here’s a short guide that will teach you how to cut plexiglass with a circular saw safely.

How to Cut Plexiglass With a Circular Saw

Before you get started, gather all the tools and materials you need.

Materials Required

  • Plexiglass sheet
  • Clamps for fixing the sheet
  • A straight piece of wood
  • Circular saw with a proper blade
  • Proper safety gear
  • Adhesive tape (optional)
  • 120-grit and 600-grit sandpaper
  • Electric drill

Step #1: Choose the Right Blade

Heat is a major enemy of plexiglass, and therefore choosing the wrong blade may cause problems like melting the plastic due to overheating in the blade.

Close up of a circular saw

The best blade for cutting a plexiglass sheet smoothly and without any trouble is 10 inches, 80 teeth, and carbide-tipped ones.

You must ensure that the blade is sharp. It must not have any bent or broken teeth; otherwise, it might cause binding, and the problem of kickback might occur.

Check the rake angle of the blade you use. The blades used for cutting plexiglass must have a rake angle between 5 to 10 positive degrees.

Ensure that all the teeth of the blade are even and of the same height. The uneven height of the teeth can cause jagged and rough edges in the plexiglass.

Step #2: Put on Safety Gear

Make sure to put on safety gear before cutting the plexiglass. It is available for a price of about 60 dollars and is imperative for your well-being.

A face shield must be used to prevent small pieces of glass and other material from entering the user’s eyes. Also, hearing protection must be used as a loud sound is generated while cutting plexiglass with a circular saw.

Make sure you wear gloves as well. This will protect your hand from the jerking effect that occurs while cutting glass and also from flying fragments.

Keep a first aid kit in your vicinity. Since the process is tedious, it is advisable to have a medical kit in case of emergencies.

Step #3: Prepare the Glass for Cutting

To prepare the glass for cutting:

  • Clean the plexiglass properly and then fix it on your workbench or a saw horse, whichever tool you prefer to use. To provide further stability to the glass sheet, you could use a pair of clamp-on vices.
  • Make sure you have a protective film on top of the plexiglass. Use a marker to trace the path you wish to cut on either side of the protective film. Use a ruler for more precision.
  • Let the part you want to cut off hang freely in the air. Use pieces of adhesive tapes on the cutting lines to prevent splinters from spreading and flying off everywhere.
  • For straight cuts, you should use straight pieces of wood on top of the markings. These can serve as guides for straight cuts, and clamps can be used to fix them firmly.

Do not remove the protective film before cutting. It protects the glass from heat generated in the process and also protects it from scratches.

The protective film can be peeled off once the cutting process is over. Apply coolant sprays on thick glass surfaces to protect them from the heat generated during cutting.

Step #4: Cut the Plexiglass

To cut the plexiglass:

Man trying to cut Plexiglass with a jigsaw
  • Ensure the blade is rotating at the optimum speed for cutting the plexiglass. The optimum speed is considered to be around 3450 RPM (rotations per minute).
  • When the blade reaches the optimal RPM, push the saw against the sheet gently.
  • Make sure not to stop the feeding of the circular saw because the plexiglass can heat up, melt and stick to the blade of the saw.
  • If you have a dimmer, it can be of great help as it helps to achieve better control over the speed of the blade.
  • The optimum feeding rate is 3 inches per second. If it is too fast, it will result in chipped edges causing large chunks of plexiglass to break off. If the feeding rate is too slow, it causes excessive heat generation, which might cause the plexiglass to crack or get damaged.

Spraying a mixture of detergent and water as a coolant spray is one of the best ways to protect the plexiglass from melting.

It is possible to cut more than one sheet simultaneously. This can be done by placing them one on top of the other and fixing them together with clamps.

Step #5: Give Finesse to the Glass

After the cutting is over, apply some more coolant to the glass surface. Allow the glass to cool and then properly dry it up before proceeding further.

For the next step, make sure that you have your gloves on. Feel the cut edges to check for some unevenness. Then:

  • To check rough edges, you can turn off the lights in the room and use a high focus lamp or torch to check for any rough surfaces.
  • The rough surfaces need to be smoothened to give the glassware a perfect look. Spray some more coolant on these uneven surfaces.
  • Take the 120-grit sandpaper, wet it in water, and rub it on the rough edges to smoothen the edge. For further smoothening, use the 600-grit sandpaper.
  • Once the desired texture is achieved, use an electric drill with some buffer element on top of it to polish the glass surface.
  • Open the plexiglass from your workstation and remove all clamps from the vices. Then keep it safely so that it doesn’t break.

This video guide can help you understand the process better.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I Need a Special Blade to Cut Plexiglass?

Cutting plexiglass can produce fragments and shards that can pose a hazard. Therefore using proper carbide-coated blades is important to prevent over-heating and other similar problems.

Why is the Protective Film Important in the Plexiglass?

Cuttingplexiglass generates large amounts of heat, can cause scratches, and even damage the glass. Also, markings need to be done for cutting with precision. Therefore, the protective film should not be removed before the cutting process is over.

Conclusion

Plexiglass is a very popular glass due to its durability and economic viability. Knowing how to cut it with a circular saw can be very helpful as it saves you the hassle of relying on someone else for the same. If done properly and safely, it is easy and worth it.

An expert at home repair, remodel, and DIY projects for nearly 40 years. His first experience came in completely restoring an antique home. Completely redone from the inside out, and restored to its original form, the home is a featured design by renowned Southern California Architect Cliff May, considered to be the father of the California Ranch Home. Now Dennis spends his time on fine woodworking projects and tool comparisons.