Cutting Plexiglass with a Jigsaw

Lead Image
What You'll Need
Extra blades
Safety glasses
Work bench or work surface

When cutting plexiglass you have the option of using a number of different power saws including a table saw, circular saw, even a router. Another tool you can use to cut plexiglass is a jigsaw. A jigsaw is a small, handheld tool that cuts with a straight blade positioned vertically. It moves up and down very fast to make the cut. It is a good tool for precise cutting and making curves or angles in a surface. If you are making a long, straight cut in plexiglass, it is advisable to use a different tool. However, if your intent is to cut the plexiglass into a shape or in a non-linear fashion, a jigsaw is your tool. Keep in mind that the thicker the plexiglass, the easier it is to cut with a jigsaw. Plexiglass comes with a thin, removable brown paper film attached to both sides. When cutting it with a jigsaw, leave this film on and remove after you make the cut(s).

Step 1: Clamp the Plexiglass to a Sturdy Surface

Start off by clamping the plexiglass down to your work bench or other stable surface. Leave the end to be cut hanging over the edge of the bench with plenty of room between it and bench. Use at least 2 clamps, but use more if you can.

Step 2: Mark the Line of the Cut

Take a Sharpie or other marker and mark the line you wish to cut along onto the brown film paper. Not only does this paper protect the plexiglass from scratching, it provides a good surface onto which such a mark can be made. Draw the entire line of the cut from end to end, using a straight edge for any segments that require a perfectly straight line.

Step 3: Safety

Put on the safety glasses before you begin. Plexiglass can chip easily and you don’t want to end up with any small pieces hitting you in the eye.

Step 4: Start Cutting

Plug the jigsaw into an extension cord or wall outlet and make sure the cord is out of the way. Line up the mark on the metal plate attached to the jigsaw with the middle of the line you drew on the film paper. Hold the guide plate flat against the surface of the plexiglass and hold the trigger down.

Step 5: Cutting Speed

Don’t try to go too fast through the cut. Go slowly but confidently. If you feel the blade start to pull away from the line you drew, you can always let up on the trigger and start again. If you need to back the blade up, you may be able to do so when the saw is off. If not, turn it on and back it out the same way you went in. A jigsaw can turn a fairly sharp arc, but you should come at angles from both ends. The piece will fall away when the cuts meet at the vertex.

After the plexiglass is cut, remove the film paper and sand any rough edges with fine grit sandpaper. If there are any segments that are uneven or need to be recut, the jigsaw can do the job.