Thursday, August 20, 2009

Cutting Plexiglass, Cutting Acrylic Sheet - Saw Cutting

Part 2
In Part 1 we gave a light overview of cutting Acrylic or Plexiglass, in this part we are going to take a closer look at cutting Acrylic with a table saw. In general, the better the tooling, equipment and technique... the better the results.
There are a few things we should cover as far as the saw itself. Your saw should be rigid and free of vibrations(vibration = chipping). This also includes the throat plate and fence. The throat plate should have a minimal kerf opening to minimize chipping. The fence, solidly mounted and as parallel as possible to the blade. One of the most common reasons for chipping is the blade and fence not being properly aligned.
Equally as important if not more is your blade. I could write a book on just saw blades, there is so much to them. The most common configuration for cutting Acrylic is a carbide tipped triple chip blade. Acrylic blades are very similar to wood blades. The most obvious difference is the rake angle or hook of the teeth. Wood blades usually have a few degree negative rake angle, while Acrylic blades have a positive rake. The general rule is about a 10 degree hook with a 10 to 15 degree clearance angle. You want to keep your blade kerf to a minimum. If you want really great results, get a blade from a manufacturer that specializes in plastic blades. They use a harder grade of carbide and grind them with a finer grit then a wood or metal blade manufacturer would. The end result is a sharper blade giving better edge quality with less chipping and melting.
Part 3: Table Routing Acrylic/ Plexiglass