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How to Cut Plexiglass

Two Methods:Use the Score and Snap MethodCut Large Pieces of Plexiglass with a Circular Blade Saw

Acrylic glass, (polymethyl methacrylate) is hard clear plastic, and is commonly known as Plexiglass.Plexiglass can be used instead of glass in most situations, and it is often preferable to glass because it is tough and doesn’t break as easily as glass. You can purchase Plexiglass in sheets and cut it with ordinary woodworking tools. The 2 methods below explain how you can cut small and large sheets of Plexiglass.

Method 1
Use the Score and Snap Method

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    Use this method for cutting small pieces of Plexiglass. (A sheet you can handle easily without any help.)
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    Leave the paper covering on the sheet. Plexiglass is hard to break, but it does scratch easily, so Plexiglass sheets are sold with a protective paper covering to protect the surface during transportation.
    • Leave as much of the paper on the plastic as possible until your cutting project is complete.( When you are ready to completely remove the covering, simply peel and lift 1 corner of the protective paper and pull it off the sheet.)
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    Lay the sheet (still covered with protective paper) on a flat, even surface. If you don’t have a workbench, you can set up 2 or 3 sawhorses. Use enough sawhorses to support the weight of the sheet.
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    Use a yardstick to measure the piece you want to cut. Don’t use a metal or cloth measuring tape; a yardstick works better with this type of material.
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    Mark the paper. Use a black marker or a grease pencil to mark off the size of the piece you want to cut.
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    Score your mark. Use a glass cutter or the dull side of a box cutter. You need to score the line you want to “cut” because you will actually be snapping the piece off, not cutting it.
    • Line up your yardstick on the lines you have marked.
    • Score each line at least 5 times, and as many as 10 times. The deeper you score, the easier the piece will break off. There are several ways to score the plexiglass:
    • Use a glass cutter.
    • Use a box cutter (utility knife) with the sharp tip of the blade broken off, or use the back of the knife to do the scoring.
    • Score the front and the back of the plexiglass to make it easier to snap it off. (Technically, you are not “cutting” the Plexiglass, you are simply making a deep indent so that you can snap off the piece you need.)
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    Position the scored line on the edge of your workbench or table. If you have only scored 1 side, place the scored side up so that you can clearly see the line you have marked and scored.
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    Press down sharply on the scored line. Use enough pressure to snap the scored piece off. This is sometimes easier if you place a length of wood along the piece and apply the pressure to the wood; the pressure will be more even.
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    Smooth the rough edges. You will most likely end up with a piece of Plexiglass that has rough edges.
    • Clamp the piece to a table or workbench.
    • Use a power saw to smooth the edges. This method works best if your sheet of Plexiglass is at least 1/8” thick (4.57 mm). Position the Plexiglass so that there is just enough overhang to allow for the saw blade’s clearance.
    • Use a drill with a buffer for thicker pieces of Plexiglass. Coat the buffing pad with a rouge polishing compound before you begin buffing.

Method 2
Cut Large Pieces of Plexiglass with a Circular Blade Saw

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    Clamp the sheet of Plexiglass to a table or workbench. (Keep the protective paper covering on the sheet.)
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    Measure and mark the piece you want to cut.
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    Keep the sheet firmly against the fence, which must be parallel to your saw blade.
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    Use high speed steel blades. Purchase blades that are designed for cutting Plexiglass. If you are cutting more than one sheet at a time, or you are cutting a thick piece of Plexiglass, use a carbide-tipped blade.
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    Use a coolant when cutting thick pieces. Although a coolant isn’t necessary for sawing most pieces of Plexiglass, using a coolant can give you a much smoother cut.
    • Combine a few drops of detergent with water in a bottle that has a fine spray mist setting.
    • Aim the mist against the saw blade. You won’t need to spray the saw blade very much, and probably not at all if you are cutting a small piece.
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    Operate your saw at the correct speed. The ideal speed for cutting Plexiglass is about 3,450 rpm. The material (Plexiglass sheet) feed rate should be about 4” (10 cm) per second. Keep the speed slow and steady so that you don’t shatter the Plexiglass or cause a jam.
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    Buff the rough edges. Use a power saw, wet sander or a drill fitted with a buffer to smooth the edges.


  • After snapping or cutting, blow away any dust or debris from your Plexiglass sheet with a fan or a hair dryer. Don’t attempt to clean the sheet until you have blown away all particles, dust and debris. If you wipe down the hard plastic while it has debris on it, you will scratch the surface.
  • Keep your workbench or table clean and free of dirt, chips and sawdust. If you are working with an older piece of Plexiglass that does not have a protective paper covering, you should cover your work area with a piece of felt so that you don’t scratch the plastic sheet while you are snapping or cutting it.


  • Plexiglass will soften at high temperatures (it won’t melt unless the temperature reaches 320 °F (160 °C). Be on the safe side and keep Plexiglass away from any open flame or hot surface.
  • Plexiglass sheets, depending on their size, can be heavy. Store them so that they are fully supported and don’t sag; either in an upright position or lying flat.
  • When cutting Plexiglass, it’s very important to keep a steady machine feed. If you slow down or stop while cutting the sheet, you will scorch the edge.
  • Cutting Plexiglass causes vapors from the Acrylic to be released. These vapors can cause respiratory irritation. Be sure your work area is well-ventilated and that you use the proper protective respiratory equipment.[1]

Things You’ll Need

  • Yardstick
  • Grease pencil
  • Circular saw (optional)
  • Flat working area
  • Saw or drill for polishing edges
  • Protective respiratory equipment
  • Safety glasses

Article Info

Categories: Glass and Stained Glass Projects