How to Cut a Plastic Box Container Without Breaking It

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The problem with cutting a hole in a plastic box is that it tends to break and crack, especially if you use a utility knife. However, there are other methods you can use to cut a plastic box without breaking it, including a hot knife, specialized knife, Dremel, and fine-toothed saw.

Each method has its own set of benefits and drawbacks. Here are four ways you can cut plastic without cracking or breaking it.

How to Cut a Plastic Box Without It Breaking

Learning how to cut through plastic isn’t hard, and there are several ways to cut your plastic box without breaking it.

Using a Hot Knife​

The hot knife method works by melting the plastic along the cut line. It is an easy way to make a clean cut without breaking or cracking the plastic box.

For this method, you need:

  • ​soldering iron
  • wet towel
  • spare soldering tip

This is a good method because it’s quick and easy, but it can be messy because it involves melting the plastic.

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  1. Take the extra soldering tip and flatten it with a hammer or mallet.
  2. Mark the line you want to cut and put the modified tip in your soldering iron and heat it up.
  3. Use the heated tip to cut the plastic box. The plastic will want to stick to the soldering tip as you cut.
  4. Wipe the tip on the damp towel to keep it clean.

If you don’t have a soldering iron, then you might want to consider the next option. Most beginner woodworkers have a jigsaw on hand.

Using a Jigsaw​

An electric jigsaw can be used to cut plastic cleanly and without breaking it. Jigsaws are great because they are highly versatile, provided you have the right blade for the material. 

  1. You will need to use a plastic-cutting blade, which is a blade with fine teeth.
  2. Beyond that, mark your cut line and move slowly.
  3. Use a drill or heated drill bit to make a pilot hole for the cutting blade.

This is a great method because it leaves a clean-cut and is quick and easy.

Using a Dremel Tool

You can use a Dremel tool to cut plastic​ as well. And, as long as you use it correctly, you won’t end up breaking the container or bin.

  1. Use a reinforced cutting disc​
  2. Cut on a low speed

The Dremel can cut the plastic bin, but it will leave a slightly rough edge. You can clean up the edge with a file or sandpaper after you have made your cuts.

Hard plastic container with a cutting tool

Using a Hand Saw

If you want to make a clean cut in your plastic box, you can use a hand saw with a fine blade. There are a few different kinds of hand saws that will work for this purpose. The important thing is to use a fine-toothed blade. You can use a hacksaw, hand jigsaw, or fine-toothed saw.

Although it will take some work and muscle power, a hand saw is perhaps the best way to get a clean cut without breaking, snapping, or melting your plastic. As with the electric jigsaw, you’ll need to create a pilot hole to feed the saw blade through to make your cut.

Using a Heated Nail or Drill Bit

If you decide to use a jigsaw or hacksaw to cut your plastic box, you can use a heated drill bit or nail to make a series of holes along your cut line. It’s an extra step, but it will make the box easier to cut and the cut line easier to follow.

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  1. Use a pair of pliers to hold the nail or drill bit
  2. Heat it with a heat gun, lighter, or candle.

The metal does not need to be red hot, just hot enough to melt the plastic. A hot nail or drill bit cuts through plastic easily.


 Cutting plastic without breaking it is not necessarily easy. But, with these five different methods, you’ll have your choice of options, depending on what type of tools you have. Each makes it possible to cut through plastic bins and containers without chipping or breaking them. 

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.