How to Cut Plexiglass with a Jigsaw in Six Simple Steps

Last Updated: by Peter Lynn

Cutting plexiglass workpieces using power tools can be tricky because they are brittle, fragile and can easily ruin your project.

It is not uncommon to hear people reporting cases of cracked or broken plexiglass when working on their projects using jigsaws. But you do not need to go through a similar painful experience since we are here to help.

So how do you go about it? With the right blades and taking every precaution, you can smoothly cut plexiglass using a jigsaw.

In this post, we will tell you how to cut plexiglass with a jigsaw in six simple steps.

What You Need To Cut Plexiglass With Jigsaw

The Right Set Of Blades

Selecting the right blade is perhaps the most important thing when cutting acrylic with a jigsaw. If the blade releases a lot of heat and friction, it could end up causing semi-infused lines. But a little heat will be helpful to make the workpiece smooth, so it is a special balancing act that you must observe carefully.

Your goal is selecting a decent blade, with about ten teeth per inch or higher. If you only have blades with finer teeth, it is advisable to adjust the jigsaw to lower speeds to reduce heat build-up.

Clamps

A set of clamps will come in handy for holding the plexiglass sheets firmly when cutting them. If the workpiece is not held firmly, vibrations can easily ruin the cut. Therefore, a guiding fence (a straight light plank) might also be necessary for making straight cuts.

Measuring And Marking Tools

Before making a cut on plexiglass, you need to mark the cutting line. If you are using plexiglass with paper backing, you can use a pencil to make the marks. But if the plexiglass is made with a film, it is important to have a marker.

Tape

You will also need a tape to place along the cutting line to prevent chipping. It will also come in handy to prevent the shoe of the jigsaw from scratching the surface of the plexiglass.

Appropriate Coolant

When using a jigsaw to cut plexiglass, you need to be prepared to pull down the temperatures to avoid damaging the workpiece.

Therefore, it is important to have an appropriate coolant. We recommend oil-based coolants because it is more effective, but you can also use water.

Sandpaper

Sandpaper will come in handy once you have finally cut the plexiglass to help clear rough edges made by the blade’s teeth.

Protection Gear

As you start cutting through the acrylic sheet, the danger of loose chippings jumping into your face looms. Therefore, you need the right protection gear, which includes eye protection and hand gloves.

How To Cut Plexiglass With A Jigsaw

Before you can start working on the plexiglass, gather all the items and workpieces for easy access. You also need to put on the safety gear.

1. Mark The Plexiglass Workpiece And Clamp It Securely

The first step before you can start cutting your plexiglass is marking the cutting line. This will depend on the project you are working on. If your plexiglass came with a plastic cover, do not remove it. It will come in handy to help reduce the workpiece from chipping.

Then, secure the workpiece on a bench so that it remains firm to work on without vibrations. Although two clamps should be enough, you can clamp in more places to make the workpiece firmer.

Another method of securing the workpiece to prevent shattering is by placing some planks of wood between the plexiglass and the clamp.

A properly clamped plexiglass. Note the cutting line positioned some distance from the bench

2. Fit The Right Jigsaw Blade And Make A Test Cut

Now that the workpiece is secured, you need to get the jigsaw ready. First, you should identify the right blade and fix it on the jigsaw. Make sure to go for the uncoated and fine-toothed blades to reduce the heat generated when making your cuts.

Most jigsaws today allow you to simply lift the front section and snap in your new blade without using any tool. But if you have the older models, you might need to use Allen keys.

If you are new to using jigsaws, I recommend starting with a test cut before moving to your workpiece. But this is not necessary if you have some experience with jigsaws.

To test the blade, position some scrap plexiglass on a different bench and cut it to see how everything goes.  This will give you the confidence needed to make a more professional cut.

3. Cover The Cut Line With A Masking Tape And Position The Jigsaw At The Start Of The Cutting Line

On the already marked plexiglass, take some masking tape and run it on the entire cutting line. Then, on top of the masking tape, draw another line that you will follow to make your targeted cut.

The masking tape helps to strengthen the plexiglass material to reduce the risk of shattering when the blade rips the material.

If you are cutting a long piece of plexiglass, it is prudent to use a fence to guide the jigsaw all along. In such a case, the fence should be clamped well, so that the outer edge of the jigsaw shoe runs alongside it when making the cut.

Now, plug the jigsaw into a socket and position it at the start of the cutting line, such that a section of the jigsaw shoe rests on top of the plexiglass. The lower section of the jigsaw shoe should be parallel to the top part of the plexiglass workpiece.

Then, turn it on and let it run up to speed, ready to start ripping the plexiglass workpiece along the cutting line. If you start when the blade is slow, there is a danger of jamming and messing up the workpiece.

4. Cut Your Workpiece Along The Marked Cutting Line

Holding the running jigsaw firmly, run it along the marked line to make the targeted cut. At first, it will feel a little hard as the blade comes into contact with the plexiglass workpiece, but it will get smooth after a few centimeters as heat builds up.

But you need to take care to prevent excess heat build-up because it can damage your workpiece. If you notice heat building up more than anticipated, apply some coolant to cool everything down.

When running the jigsaw along the plexiglass, you should avoid exerting more pressure than needed. If you exert excess force, there are two risks. One, there is a danger of cracking the workpiece.

But the bigger risk of using excessive force is making the blade release more heat. Therefore, put more focus on tracing the cutting line and producing a smooth edge as opposed to forcing the jigsaw on the workpiece.

5. Approach The Finishing With Care

Even if you do everything right, how you complete the cut could ruin the entire project. Therefore, you should approach the end with caution to prevent the waste piece from tearing away the workpiece.

When nearing the end, you might want to grab the overhanging section so that it remains intact until you are through with the cut. Make sure to hold it firmly, but some distance from the cutting line to avoid ripping your fingers.

6. Remove The Masking Tape And Smooth The Edge

Now that you have made the anticipated cut, you need to confirm that the edge is as smooth as you anticipated. So, remove the masking tape or plastic cover to reveal the edge and check how smooth or rough it is. Do you like it?

If the edge has some rough sections, you should sand them off using sandpaper to get a uniquely smooth edge for your application. Take a lot of care when sanding the edges to avoid getting injured on your hand.

Note: If you wanted to make an interior cut using a jigsaw, the process is a little different. In such a case, you should start by making a pilot hole. Use a large drill bit to make a hole that the jigsaw blade can fit. Then, place the blade inside the hole and carefully make your interior cut, avoiding to shatter or crack the plexiglass.

Conclusion

From the above guide on how to cut plexiglass with a jigsaw, we have demonstrated that the process does not have to be complicated if you are careful.

Start by ensuring that you have the right tools, especially the jigsaw blade, and prevent chipping by securing the section along the cutting line with masking tape. We must also indicate that if you are new to jigsaws, the first results might not be as you anticipated.

It is, therefore, prudent to be patient by following the procedure we have listed in this guide to develop your skills of using a jigsaw.

Remember that even after making a clean, smooth cut, the chances are that it will still have some rough sections, especially at the start of the cutting line. So smooth them using sandpaper to enjoy an excellent cut line.

We want to give special thanks to seejanedrill for her incredible demonstration. Your work was truly incredible.

 

 

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