Cutting 1/4" acrylic with dremel - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 28 (permalink) Old 01-03-2016, 01:14 AM Thread Starter
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I watched a video of this but I'm a bit skeptical. Has anyone tried doing this? I've failed at cutting my 1/4 acrylic several times via scoring. I did 1/8 no problem but I intend to use 1/4" for my baffles and weir. So I'm tempted to use a dremel, I will go buy one if others have tried this and succeeded. Please no hypothetical answers.

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For anyone with acrylic experience I don't intend to fuse weld any of this but I am aware I'll need to give the edges a good sanding/buffing if I did intend to.

A second part of my question is do I use a standard cutting disk or do I opt for the wood and plastic multipurpose blades

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Last edited by Darkblade48; 01-03-2016 at 02:41 AM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts
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post #2 of 28 (permalink) Old 01-03-2016, 01:32 AM
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I cut my 1/4" acrylic using the scoring tool commonly sold for this purpose. Took awhile, and made a bit of a mess, but I'm a small female who is not particularly handy, so if I can do it, anyone can.

Just be patient and work slowly.
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post #3 of 28 (permalink) Old 01-03-2016, 01:35 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by randym View Post
I cut my 1/4" acrylic using the scoring tool commonly sold for this purpose. Took awhile, and made a bit of a mess, but I'm a small female who is not particularly handy, so if I can do it, anyone can.

Just be patient and work slowly.
At 80 bucks a sheet I'm done messing up haha, u just don't have the patience, I dug in the tool at least 15 times with consistent pressure. It's just not doing it for me. I can cut really small pieces but I'm doing a long weir and it's just not working out.

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post #4 of 28 (permalink) Old 01-03-2016, 04:25 AM
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Something that has worked well for me on long cuts;
Score the acrylic as usual (lets say 15 passes) on the top side (use "top" as reference)
Then put the acrylic in a vise with the top side facing you and put the cut line right at the top of the vice. Start at the far right end.
Bend the acrylic away from you just enough for the cut line to crack.
Move the acrylic to the right, just past where you think the crack ended.
Bend the acrylic again, just enough for it to crack.
Keep doing the above until you get to the other end - pretty certian you will have a nice clean break. Have mad 2"x24" breaks this way.

Now, if you are trying to make a piece say 16" tall by 36" long the process is the same, but you may have to get creative on your technique for holding the acrylic.
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post #5 of 28 (permalink) Old 01-03-2016, 04:36 AM Thread Starter
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Something that has worked well for me on long cuts;
Score the acrylic as usual (lets say 15 passes) on the top side (use "top" as reference)
Then put the acrylic in a vise with the top side facing you and put the cut line right at the top of the vice. Start at the far right end.
Bend the acrylic away from you just enough for the cut line to crack.
Move the acrylic to the right, just past where you think the crack ended.
Bend the acrylic again, just enough for it to crack.
Keep doing the above until you get to the other end - pretty certian you will have a nice clean break. Have mad 2"x24" breaks this way.

Now, if you are trying to make a piece say 16" tall by 36" long the process is the same, but you may have to get creative on your technique for holding the acrylic.
Little more awkward, 4.5x24 it's been a pita.

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post #6 of 28 (permalink) Old 01-03-2016, 03:23 PM
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My thoughts on the Dremel are not good. It is a small weak tool that relies on spin for it's power. Very high speed rotation compared to other power tools. that igh speed makes the blade heat much quicker than a far larger blade running at slower speed. With plastics, I normally find I'm not cutting as much as melting my way through after just a short bit of cutting. The melted plastic tends to wind up in the blade as well as a cut which can weld itself back together after the blade passes. Just not my tool of choice for plastics other than simple demolition.
For cutting when snapping can't be used, I would favor clamping the sheet down along an edge like a table and then use a handsaw with the finer teeth for the cut. Scoring the top edge before cutting can help you get a smoother cut as it tends to grab little chunks less when it is scored first. One side will be more ragged than the other but it may give you one better smooth side.
For more complex cuts like curves a coping saw or other tool like a saber saw with a bade that is thin from cutting edge to back is good if the saber saw can be run at slow speed to hold down the heat. Run too fast the cut just welds back together behind the blade.
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post #7 of 28 (permalink) Old 01-03-2016, 03:43 PM
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I cut my 1/4" acrylic using the scoring tool commonly sold for this purpose.
I too do that a few times on both sides. Then I put it under a door and pop it at the score. Works 90% of the time.
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post #8 of 28 (permalink) Old 01-03-2016, 05:37 PM
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Another option:
Whatever tool you decide on, clamp a guide to the acrylic so you can stabilize the tool and cut a straight line. This guide could be a straight piece of wood (perhaps a scrap of 1 x 4) or a level (though I do not like to use my levels like this).

If Dremel has some special blades for plastic, use them.

I have not done this, but I have watched my son, and seen the results- he cut some really interesting acrylic computer cases then back lit them.

When I cut acrylic I used a skil saw with a plywood blade. I have drilled, too, using a wood bit, and turned the drill to its lowest setting.
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post #9 of 28 (permalink) Old 01-03-2016, 06:49 PM
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Whatever tool you decide on, clamp a guide to the acrylic so you can stabilize the tool and cut a straight line. This guide could be a straight piece of wood

When I cut acrylic I used a skill saw with a plywood blade.
Yeh I always start with a piece of wood to cut.

Does using an electric skill saw cause any bits to fly toward your face?
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post #10 of 28 (permalink) Old 01-03-2016, 07:03 PM Thread Starter
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Yeh I always start with a piece of wood to cut.

Does using an electric skill saw cause any bits to fly toward your face?
Not really but you should always wear a full mask when doing it incase. I've cut 3/4 abs and polycarbonate with a saw, not comfortable doing 1/4 though. I'm going to pick up a Dremel and test it on an old acrylic sump before I cut my sheet for the weir

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post #11 of 28 (permalink) Old 01-03-2016, 07:50 PM
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Not really but you should always wear a full mask when doing it incase. I've cut 3/4 abs and polycarbonate with a saw, not comfortable doing 1/4 though. I'm going to pick up a Dremel and test it on an old acrylic sump before I cut my sheet for the weir
That seems the safe way to go. Are you certain you can't pick up the pieces you need on amazon or ebay cheaper than the Dremel?
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post #12 of 28 (permalink) Old 01-03-2016, 07:53 PM Thread Starter
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That seems the safe way to go. Are you certain you can't pick up the pieces you need on amazon or ebay cheaper than the Dremel?
Not in a timely manner at least, I need a Dremel in my tool chest anyway. I also have power sanders so the melting shouldn't be a big problem. I'll probably cut a little wider than I need and file and sand down to size.

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post #13 of 28 (permalink) Old 01-03-2016, 08:04 PM
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Depending on length of cut and as long as you are going in a straight line I have used a circular saw with a high tooth count and reversed the blade! Just make sure you use tape on both sides of piece to be cut! I have done this on both thin acrylic and plexi glass with only one mishap
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post #14 of 28 (permalink) Old 01-03-2016, 11:09 PM Thread Starter
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Purchased a Drexel 3000, felt more sturdy than the 4000. Am I wrong in assuming that

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post #15 of 28 (permalink) Old 01-04-2016, 01:58 AM Thread Starter
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So the 3000 worked amazing, got some cuts done and I'm impressed with the wood cutting blade for acrylic, it was butter and no melting.

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