Learning how to cut acrylic sheet with a jigsaw is essential for practical and aesthetic purposes.
Acrylic is one of the most popular materials globally, thanks to its durability, clarity, and versatility.
By knowing how to use a jigsaw with this material, you have a higher chance of avoiding cracks, chips, and melting.
Can You Use a Jigsaw to Cut Acrylic?
When used properly, a jigsaw is one of the best options for cutting into acrylic.
Fortunately, there are only a few pieces of equipment necessary for the job, aside from specific blades.
You will also need some of the traditional gear you’d typically use when working with power tools, including:
Clamps are important for making sure the acrylic is gripped firmly to prevent vibrations that can cause ruined cuts.
Using a straightedge and a clamp can also create straighter cuts compared to trying to do it freehand.
Most acrylic sheets have a paper backing designed specifically for marking your measurements.
If your material doesn’t, you’ll need a fine-tipped marker, such as a dry-erase or permanent marker.
Using tape along the edge you intend to cut can prevent chipping once you use your jigsaw.
Blue tape is preferred, although any other basic masking tape can be used, too.
As always, PPI is essential when working with power tools.
Eye protection is the most important, as it prevents splinters and chips from getting into your eyes.
Acrylic is a rigid material, which can cause significant damage to the eye’s soft tissues.
Usually, when dealing with acrylic, the jigsaw will need to work at a medium to slow pace, rather than as fast as possible.
With variable speed control, you can adjust the settings as necessary to prevent melting and messy cuts.
Still, the blades you choose will be the most important consideration when trying to determine whether can you cut plexiglass with a jigsaw or not.
What Type of Blade Is Used to Cut Acrylic?
There are several essential features to look for in jigsaw blades that work well with easily-melted materials.
Did you know that many top-tier manufacturers, such as Bosch, offer specialty blades designed for acrylic?
You’ll find they have all of the recommended features necessary to work with plastics, including:
The first thing to consider when choosing the right blade for acrylic is the material it’s made from.
High-speed steel, also known as HSS, is the primary choice for cutting acrylic and other non-ferrous metals.
This material is much more durable than high-carbon steel and easily cuts through thick acrylic without chipping.
Plenty of people believe carbide blades are the top-tier choice; however, they can be challenging with acrylic.
Although they offer the most precise cuts, they also generate a lot of heat.
When used to cut acrylic, this can cause the material to melt.
Another critical factor is the number of teeth along the cutting edge of the blade.
Ideally, 10 to 24 teeth per inch (TPI) is suitable.
With acrylic, you’ll need blades with a higher tooth count that can cut at a slower pace.
How Do You Cut Thick Plexiglass With a Jigsaw?
Let’s get into some basic instructions for learning how to cut plexiglass with a jigsaw.
Step 1: Secure the Material
First, you’ll want to make sure the acrylic sheet is affixed to your workbench to limit vibrations.
This is where you’re going to want to use your clamps to ensure both ends of the cut are secure.
There’s no limit to the number of clamps you can use; the more you have, the more accurate the cut will be.
When working with this material, a great technique is to make sure you don’t remove any protective film or paper covering the acrylic.
This is not only essential for measurements but can also protect the acrylic from scratches while cutting.
Step 2: Make the Measurements
If there’s a paper backing on the acrylic, use a pencil to make the measurement you want.
These measurements will be used to place the tape to ensure the material doesn’t crack or splinter while cutting.
As mentioned, it can be beneficial to use a fence guide to help control the cutting shoe for longer cuts.
If there’s plastic sheeting instead of paper covering the acrylic, use a fine-tipped marker to make your measurements.
When you’ve made your measurements, you can then take your masking tape and place it along your reference lines.
The center of your tape should be in line with your reference lines across the entirety of the acrylic sheet.
Step 3: Prepare the Jigsaw
Once your measurements are marked and the material is secure, it’s time to prepare the jigsaw.
You’ll want to attach your acrylic blade to the tool and review the speed setting.
Blades with more teeth will require slower cutting speeds for accurate and clean edges.
If you have invested in a high-quality acrylic blade, you can quickly get up to medium cutting speeds without hassle.
When the blade has been installed, you’ll want to position the jigsaw at one end of the cut, aligning it with the cutting line.
Ensure the shoe is flat along the workpiece’s surface without the blade touching the acrylic.
Step 4: Begin Cutting
At this point, you can turn the jigsaw on and let it power up to the speed you’ve chosen.
You’ll then want to gently ease the saw into the acrylic, ensuring you don’t stay still for too long.
It’s also important to note if the blade is getting hot, as this can cause the material to melt.
A fantastic tip is to consider using a coolant, such as water or oil.
Squirting the coolant to the material on the cutting surface can help reduce significant heat levels.
As you’re cutting, be sure not to force the blade to go faster or apply too much pressure.
All you have to do is gently follow the pre-marked cutting lines and ensure the jigsaw is straight.
At the end of your cut, put a little more pressure to maintain a straight and even line.
How to Make Interior Cuts When Cutting Plexiglass With Jigsaw
Instead of making traditional straight cuts, you might be interested in making interior one when cutting plexiglass with jigsaw.
The process is relatively the same, aside from the fact that you’ll have to create a pilot hole beforehand.
Step 1: Make a Pilot Hole
Before you start using a jigsaw, you will need a small bit to create a pilot hole that the saw can fit through.
For example, if you’re making a round interior cut, drill a small hole near the edge of the outer rim.
Depending on the size of the hole, you may have to make several pilot holes.
During this step, it can be a good idea to start using small drill bits and then work your way up to thicker options.
This process will help to prevent the material from cracking.
Like the hazards of plunge cutting, starting with a large drill bit can cause the acrylic to break apart.
Step 2: Begin Cutting
Once the pilot hole has been made, you can then insert your jigsaw blade and begin cutting along the marked line.
It’s important to allow the saw to get to its set cutting speed before you ease it along the cut’s path.
Without applying too much pressure, gently guide the jigsaw along the measured lines for a perfect interior cut.
Tips for Cutting Acrylic With a Jigsaw
Here more tips from the pros so you can master how to cut acrylic sheet with a jigsaw:
Know When to Score
Sometimes, using a jigsaw isn’t necessary, especially if you’re working with thin sheets of acrylic.
Jigsaws are typically recommended for materials that are 1/8-inch thick or thicker. Otherwise, you’ll have a much simpler time using a scoring knife to make precise cuts.
Scoring knives are convenient handheld tools that look similar to exact-o knives. They have a sharp edge that cuts when dragged against materials such as acrylic.
Thin acrylic sheets might only need to be scored once or twice, while thicker materials can take up to eight passes.
You’ll also want to consider using a straightedge to ensure the cuts are accurate.
Once the cutting is finished, simply snap the material with your hands, and it should make a relatively accurate cut.
Use Special Drill Bits
If you’re making cuts into acrylic and need pilot holes, special drill bits are best for the task.
You will find an assortment of acrylic point drill bits designed specifically for the material.
These ensure that you can get an entirely accurate hole without cracking or splintering the material.
Much like when learning how to cut plexiglass with a jigsaw, you’ll want to use the acrylic point drill bit slowly.
The slower you go, the less it will impact the integrity of the material.
This process also applies to situations when you want to drill through the acrylic to attach it to another material.
Know Your Options
Apart from using a jigsaw, you can use two other power tools for cutting acrylic.
Table saws are often the most preferred, as they have an assortment of saw blades for multiple purposes.
They also feature blades designed for acrylic, which is best for those who always work with non-ferrous metals.
Another option is a router, which is adaptable for straight and curved cuts.
You’ll typically want to use a table saw or jigsaw first to make a rough cut and then reach for the router.
They are a highly versatile tool that assists with shaving down unfinished edges and making small adjustments.
As with any material, you must take the necessary steps to protect your safety and health.
You should always wear non-penetrable safety glasses when cutting through hard materials like acrylic.
Also, ensure you cut the material in a well-ventilated area. Cutting acrylic can release irritants in the air.
How to Cut Acrylic Sheet With a Jigsaw
Can you cut plexiglass with a jigsaw? Sure, you can.
In fact, it is relatively simple with the correct equipment, including a specific acrylic blade.
Using your jigsaw, you can craft several aesthetic and functional pieces for your home or business.
Even as a beginner, following the steps we listed can make the job as easy as working with wood.