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!
|Rank||Model||Our Favorite Product|
|#1||A Utility Knife and Ruler|
(Our Top Hand-Powered Choice)
|WORKPRO Foldable Utility Knife With 10-piece Extra Blades
|#2||A Benchtop Band Saw|
(Our Choice for Complex Cuts in Thin Material)
|WEN 3939 2.8-Amp 9″ Benchtop Band Saw
|#3||A Handheld Rotary Cutter||Dremel 4300-5/40 High-Performance Rotary Tool Kit
|#4||A Table Saw|
(Our Top Recommendation for Making Straight Cuts)
|Freud D0760A Diablo 7-1/4″ x 60-Tooth Ultra Fine Finishing Circular Saw Blade
|#5||A Handheld Circular Saws||Rockwell RK3441K 4-1/2” Compact Circular Saw
|#6||A Hand Saw||WilFiks 16” Pro Hand Saw
|#7||A Handheld Jigsaw|
(Best Bet for Complex Cuts in Thicker Plexiglas)
|BLACK+DECKER BDEJS600C Smart Select Jigsaw
|#8||A Holes Up to 5”|
(Our Recommendation for Cutting Larger Hole)
|TackLife 16 Piece Hole Saw Kit
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.
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.
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.
Note: We don’t recommend table saws for thin stock because of the potential for damage to the stock.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
FREUD D1060X ATB Fine Finish Saw Blade
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.
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.
The back saw we recommend is the 10” IRWIN Tools ProTouch Dovetail / Jamb Saw.
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.
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.
You may be wondering about cutting circular holes in Plexiglass. This is easily accomplished with a drill. Standard drill bits work perfectly in Plexiglass.
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.
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:
Grab the right tools and make all your Plexiglass projects pieces of cake.