The Best Way to Cut Plexiglass – Which Tool to Use? – Top Picks & Reviews
People often ask about the best way to cut Plexiglass, so these reviews will explore several tools that can be used to cut Plexiglass and other polycarbonates. Keep polycarbonates in mind because we’ll talk about that later. The follow-up question invariably is, do I need a special tool to make my cuts? The answer to both questions depends upon the thickness of the Plexiglass and the type of cut. Cutting straight lines in thin Plexiglass is a lot easier than cutting curves in thicker stock.
Cutting Plexiglass to meet your needs is a lot easier with the right tool and technique. To save you time, well present several tools and hints for using them to make your task a lot easier. The good news here is that you may have some or all the tools already. If your project demands a tool you don’t already have, that can be better news for tool guys and gals. Why? Because you have the perfect excuse to add to your tool collection! And, if you have many uses for Plexiglass, well then multiple tool acquisitions might be in your future.
Before we launch into the reviews, you might be interested in how Plexiglass was developed. Rather than being spoilers, this site offers a short history. Think about how impressed people will be at your next social gathering as you demonstrate your vast knowledge of this remarkable product!
Comparison of our Favorite Methods for 2020
|Our Top Hand-Powered Choice||WORKPRO Folding Utility Knife||
|Our Choice for Complex Cuts in Thin Material||WEN 3939 Benchtop Band Saw||
|Dremel 4300-5/40 Rotary Tool Kit||
|Our Top Recommendation for Making Straight Cuts||Freud D0760A Diablo Circular Saw Blade||
|Rockwell RK3441K Compact Circular Saw||
It All Depends on the Thickness of the Plexiglass
Roll up your sleeves and get ready to learn about the best tools for cutting Plexiglass. We are going to start with the tools that work for thin Plexiglass. In this case, we’re talking about a thickness of 3/16” or less. Much thicker than that, and you begin to encounter problems. That’s where tools for cutting thicker stock come in.
Hint: Plexiglas and other polycarbonates come with a plastic covering on both sides. We recommend you always leave that in place until you have it mounted in your project. It protects against most scratches that will be unsightly later.
Cutting Thin Plexiglass
Making Straight Cuts
1. Utility Knife and Ruler – The Champ for Cutting Thin Plexiglass
This is the most basic and straightforward way to cut thin stock and requires tools you likely have on hand. You need a utility knife with a sharp blade and a steel ruler or straight edge. Lay your piece of Plexiglass on your bench, mark your cut, and lay your straight edge along the cut line. Applying a firm amount of pressure to keep the straight edge from moving, carefully score the Plexiglass with the utility knife. You want to cut approximately ¾ of the way through the Plexi. This means making more than one cut. Take your time. If you go too fast, your knife may jump out of the cut and mar adjacent material.
Hint: It is best to use a metal ruler or straight edge. The sharp utility knife will cut into wood or plastic and potentially ruin your cut. Here’s a good one to consider: GOLRISEN Stainless Steel Ruler Lightweight Metal Rulers. Stainless steel, set of three, great value.
- ★Durable & Non-bendable→Made of high quality stainless steel, smooth surface, prevent rust and...
- ★3 Sizes Available→Totally 3 different sizes(6 inch/12 inch/15 inch), 3 rulers have the same...
- ★Convenient →The side of the ruler is round with a hole for easy hanging and carrying, and the...
Go to a sharp, straight corner such as the edge of a kitchen counter. Lay the scored line along the edge. Push firmly downward and snap the Plexi along your line. Simple!
If you want to cut thin Plexi, we suggest you consider the WORKPRO Foldable Utility Knife With 10-piece Extra Blades.
- Premium finish rosewood handle contoured for comfortable hold fit
- Quick-change blade mechanism works quickly and easily, lock the tightly the blade
- Stainless steel frame body with belt clip for added convenience
Note: We don’t recommend table saws for thin stock because of the potential for damage to the stock.
Making Curved and Complex Cuts
1. Benchtop Band Saw – Our Choice for Complex Cuts in Thin Material
These are great for cutting complex angles and curves in wood and work equally as well in Plexiglass. Just mark your pattern on the protective plastic sheeting, put a fine-toothed blade in the tool and cut to your heart’s content.
We recommend the WEN 3939 2.8-Amp 9″ Benchtop Band Saw.
- 2.8 amp motor rotates the blade up to 2460 feet per minute
- Create cuts up to 3-5/8 inches deep and 9 inches wide
- Uses 62-inch blades anywhere from 1/8 to 3/8 inches in size
Hint: You might also consider a scroll saw rather than the bandsaw. It offers similar capabilities and limitations. However, they are less expensive and have a smaller footprint. For these, we recommend the WEN 3921 16-inch Two-Direction Variable Speed Scroll Saw.
- Unique design accepts blades in two directions (standard and 90 degrees) to allow for infinite...
- Variable speed goes from 400 to 1600 strokes per minute
- Spacious 16-by-11-inch table bevels up to 45 degrees to the left for angled cuts
2. Handheld Rotary Cutter – Our Second Choice
Things get more complicated when you need to cut something other than a straight line. You may want to cut a curve. You may need to notch a side to fit around another part of your project. The score and snap method isn’t going to give good results.
Handheld cutters are an excellent choice for making intricate cuts. When it comes to cutting Plexiglass and similar stock, you want to use a blade with a lot of fine teeth, say 60-80 teeth per inch (TPI). Blades with fewer teeth will produce ugly, jagged cuts. For a handheld, opt for a fine-toothed or diamond blade. They make smooth, clean cuts.
Position the stock on your bench and mark your pattern. We recommend you clamp the stock to the bench for safety and cutting control. With your handheld cutter, carefully cut through the Plexi.
Hint: To preserve your bench, put a piece of scrap wood under the Plexiglass, so you cut into that rather than the top of your bench.
For this tool, we recommend the Dremel 4300-5/40 High-Performance Rotary Tool Kit.
- Premium rotary tool kit - Includes 4300 high performance rotary tool, 5 attachments, 40 high-quality...
- High performance motor – Our most powerful motor delivers maximum performance even in the most...
- Variable speed - 5, 000 – 35, 000 RPM with electronic feedback for consistent performance &...
Cutting Thick Plexiglass
Making Straight Cuts
Cutting options broaden when it comes to cutting thick Plexiglass. Just about any tool you use for making straight cuts in other stock will cut thick Plexi.
1. Table Saw – Our Top Recommendation
Most DIY workshops have these whether they are floor or bench mounted. That doesn’t matter as much as the blade you need to use. Here you want the fine-tooth variety, 60 – 80 TPI. These tools also have the benefit of a guide you can use in place of the ruler.
Hint: Why don’t we recommend cutting thicker Plexiglass with a knife and straight edge? You can if you like. But it takes a lot of passes to cut ¾ the way through the stock. And, you run the risk of chipping the stock when you snap it.
When it comes to saw blades, we like Freud. They may be more expensive than other brands but the quality and longevity of the blade more than make up for that in the long run. For Plexiglass, we recommend the Freud D0760A Diablo 7-1/4″ x 60-Tooth Ultra Fine Finishing Circular Saw Blade where you need a 7 ¼” blade. For saws that use a 10” blade, recommend the FREUD D1060X ATB Fine Finish Saw Blade.
Freud D0760A Diablo 7-1/4″ x 60-Tooth Ultra Fine Finishing Circular Saw Blade
- 7-1/4" diameter 5/8" arbor with diamond knockout 0. 059"
- 7-1/4" 60T Diablo Ultra Finish Work Table Saw Blade The Diablo Ultra Finish
- Used in miter saws or table saws,
FREUD D1060X ATB Fine Finish Saw Blade
- TiCo Hi-Density carbide specifically designed for each application to increase performance
- Perma-SHIELD Non-stick Coating protects from heat, gumming, & corrosion
- Super thin laser cut kerf for fast, durable, and clean cuts
2. Handheld Circular Saws – Great Alternative to the Table Saw
You can cut thick Plexiglass with a handheld circular saw, or SkilSaw as they are often called. For these tools, use the same 60-80 tooth per inch blades. Some of these tools are sold in kits and come with a variety of blades for cutting a wide range of materials. Be sure to clamp the stock firmly to your bench, so you have both hands free to manage the saw.
Hint: When looking for the proper blade, you for one that is rated for cutting polycarbonates if there is some uncertainty about the tooth count.
For the smaller saws, we recommend the Rockwell RK3441K 4-1/2” Compact Circular Saw. This is a great tool and one you should have in your tool kit. Even if you own a larger handheld saw, this little fellow adds so much capability to your DIY arsenal.
For larger handhelds, you can’t go wrong with the SKIL 5280-01 15-Amp 7-1/4-Inch Circular Saw.
- Powerful 15-amp motor delivers 5,300-RPM for greater speed and faster cuts
- 7-1/4-inch carbide-tipped blade included. Spindle lock for easy blade changes.
- 51 degree bevel capacity for a wide variety of cuts. Arbor size: 5/8 inches, cord length: 6 feet
3. Hand Saw – For Old School Aficionados or One Time Projects
If you want to cut Plexiglass like your great grandfather did, you can always use a fine-toothed hand saw. Wait, maybe it’s like your grandfather since Plexi wasn’t invented until 1928. Anyway, you will want a saw designed for cross-cutting as they have finer teeth. Depending upon the overall dimensions of the piece of stock you are cutting, you might be able to get by with a back saw. They are nice because of the extra rigidity provided by the heavy metal channel on the top.
The regular hand saw we recommend it is the WilFiks 16” Pro Hand Saw.
- ► EASY TO USE: Our pro hand saw is designed for precise cutting including dovetails, miters, and...
- ► DURABLE CONSTRUCTION: Induction-hardened teeth that stay sharp up to five times longer than...
- ► ERGONOMIC DESIGN: Anti-Slip Super Grip handle resists slipping and adds comfort, The handle size...
The back saw we recommend is the 10” IRWIN Tools ProTouch Dovetail / Jamb Saw.
- This dovetail saw uses a spring-loaded, reversible blade that can be used for left- or right-cutting
- The ProTouch handle on each jamb saw provides ergonomic comfort
- A Wide-Body Flush-Cut blade on this dovetail saw measures 50 mm
Making Curved and Complex Cuts
1. Handheld Jigsaw – Best Bet for Complex Cuts in Thicker Plexiglass
You can use a band saw for thicker stock. Since we’ve already covered that earlier, and our recommendation doesn’t change for cutting thicker stock, we are going to look at the handheld jigsaw. Think of these tools like a small reciprocating saw, because that is precisely what they are. These are perfect for curves (up to a point) and other complex cuts. Here we recommend the BLACK+DECKER BDEJS600C Smart Select Jigsaw.
- Curve Control technology which allows you to adjust the saw's orbit in 1 of 4 customized settings
- 5 Amp variable-speed motor; up to 3,000 SPM of cutting power
- Can make 45 degree bevel cuts; with adjustable shoe for stability
Hint: We have purposively left out full-size reciprocating saws because of their vibration. We find them harder to control when cutting material like Plexiglass so recommend staying away from them. If you have a reciprocating saw, go ahead and test it on some scrap Plexi to see if it produces the results you want.
Cutting Circular Holes in Plexiglass, Thick or Thin
You may be wondering about cutting circular holes in Plexiglass. This is easily accomplished with a drill. Standard drill bits work perfectly in Plexiglass.
Cutting Larger Hole in Plexiglass
1. Holes Up to 5” – Our Recommendation
If you want to cut larger holes, you can use a hole saw attachment, the same kind used for cutting holes in doors for handles. We recommend the TackLife 16 Piece Hole Saw Kit for cutting holes up to 5” in diameter.
- ▲【Safety and Durable】Carbon Steel, Heat Treated. High speed steel teeth for fast and clean...
- ▲【Perfect for Hole】 Covers most popular hole saw sizes on the market. High precision, smooth...
- ▲【Multiscale】3/4" (19mm), 7/8" (22mm), 1-1/8" (28mm), 1-1/4" (32mm), 1-1/2" (38mm), 1-3/4"...
2. For Cutting Holes Larger Than 5” – Our Recommendation is a Combo
Cutting holes larger than a hole saw can create becomes more difficult. In those situations, you can rough it out with the jigsaw, and finish the job with a sanding disk on a Dremel.
Hint: Always drill your Plexiglass with backing material underneath to prevent chances of splintering when the bit exits.
These reviews have covered several tools and techniques for cutting and drilling holes in Plexiglass. We hope you can use this information to cut and shape your Plexiglass projects successfully. Here is our summary of recommendations:
- For straight cuts in thin Plexi, we recommend the WORKPRO utility knife with a ruler. For straight cuts in thick stock, we recommend a table saw with the Freud blade.
- For more complicated cuts, the Wen Band Saw is great for cutting thin Plexiglas while the Black & Decker Jigsaw is an excellent choice for thicker stock.
- Finally, for drilling holes in Plexiglass, the TackLife Hole Saw kit is going to fill the need nicely for anything up to 5” in diameter. Larger than that, time for a combined attack using the Black & Decker and Dremel in a one-two punch.
Grab the right tools and make all your Plexiglass projects pieces of cake.
- Comparison of our Favorite Methods for 2020
- It All Depends on the Thickness of the Plexiglass
- Cutting Thin Plexiglass
- Cutting Thick Plexiglass
- Cutting Circular Holes in Plexiglass, Thick or Thin