Can I cut plexiglass with a wet tile saw??? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-31-2007, 09:53 PM Thread Starter
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Can I cut plexiglass with a wet tile saw???

I was looking for Eggcrate ceiling tiles at several Menards and Home Depot. I came upon a ceiling tile made of clear plexiglass, which was 2'x4' (about 1/4" thick). I thought this would be very nice to use one day (DIY tops, DIY sumps, etc.) and so I was wondering what the best way to cut plexiglass. I performed a google search and several discussions stating using a band saw or such and cutting it slowly, since the plexiglass is plastic and can melt. Others state of spraying the blade with water. I have a wet tile saw, so I was wondering if I can use this to cut the plexiglass.


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post #2 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-31-2007, 10:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crazie.eddie View Post
I was looking for Eggcrate ceiling tiles at several Menards and Home Depot. I came upon a ceiling tile made of clear plexiglass, which was 2'x4' (about 1/4" thick). I thought this would be very nice to use one day (DIY tops, DIY sumps, etc.) and so I was wondering what the best way to cut plexiglass. I performed a google search and several discussions stating using a band saw or such and cutting it slowly, since the plexiglass is plastic and can melt. Others state of spraying the blade with water. I have a wet tile saw, so I was wondering if I can use this to cut the plexiglass.
Use a fine-toothed blade, like one used for plywood. Don't use a tile saw.
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post #3 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-31-2007, 10:18 PM
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a tile saw would cut it.. I've tried cutting aquarium glass with it. Only problem is my saw chips the last 1 cm of the glass.. It shouldn't be a problem for plexiglass.


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post #4 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-31-2007, 11:28 PM
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I've cut it with a tile saw.

Little messy, but it works - I rather wish I'd tried a plywood blade on a table saw instead, or even circular saw, though.

The blades sort of melt it as it goes, and the result isn't chips on a tile saw, but a long line of quickly hardening snot - which quickly bound up in the small throat plate of my tile saw. (It helps even more that it hit the relatively cold water and set up right away )

I spent twice as much time chipping that crap out as I did actually cutting.
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post #5 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-01-2007, 02:37 AM
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I've had pretty good results using a router table with a fluted or pilot bit.


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post #6 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-01-2007, 05:19 AM
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I used a dremmel, with a 3.5in cut-off wheel. As mentioned before, it kinda just melts it, and leftover is what quickly dries into small pieces of the plexi, which was usually easy to remove. I read that it should be scored, scored, and scored more, then break over the edge of a counter/table/etc. I tried that, it took forever, and never did break straight for me.
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post #7 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-01-2007, 05:29 AM
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why not just score it and then snap it clean?

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post #8 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-01-2007, 06:00 AM
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I usually score it then snap it. You need to get a long straight object like a ruler or a straight piece of lumber. Line it up to where you want to cut then use a razor blade and score it until the line is visible enough. Place the plexiglass on a table with the scored line lined up with the table's edge. Use your hands to press the plexiglass on the table while using your body to fold the plexiglass downward untill it snaps. Plexiglass usually come with an outer piece of plastic to keep it clean. Make sure you keep this outer plastic on when you are doing this. This is what I usually do and it turned out perfect each and every time. GL
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post #9 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-01-2007, 06:12 AM Thread Starter
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why not just score it and then snap it clean?
It looks too thick to score.

I'm thinking about making a wet/dry filter with sump, and if all goes well, a 50 (US) gallon breeder (36" L x 18" W x 18" H) tank.


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post #10 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-01-2007, 06:48 AM
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Quote:
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I'm thinking about making a wet/dry filter with sump, and if all goes well, a 50 (US) gallon breeder (36" L x 18" W x 18" H) tank.
I'd be interested to see that! I love my 50g. Keep us updated!

Mike


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post #11 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-01-2007, 08:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crazie.eddie View Post
It looks too thick to score.

I'm thinking about making a wet/dry filter with sump, and if all goes well, a 50 (US) gallon breeder (36" L x 18" W x 18" H) tank.
I worked for TAP Plastics in San Mateo, Ca as a fabricator for a few years and you would be surprised. However, I would use a table saw. then sand the edge and use acetone to bond. Then you can use a blowtorch to "flame polish" the edge and make it look real sweet. I have probably designed/built over 100 different sumps/wetdry filters. I made a few that actually hung on the back of 55gallon tanks and utilized duel powerheads for circulation. They are fun to build and it is a great feeling they turn out real nice..

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post #12 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-01-2007, 12:04 PM
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Wet saw should be good to go....since it will actually cool the plexi as it cuts and not give you as much of the "gum up".

Let us know how this turns out.


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post #13 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-01-2007, 09:21 PM
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A table saw with a fine toothed blade worked great for me. Just take it slow. I suck at cutting straight lines with a hand tool so the table saw was the trick for me.

Fshfanatic, what thickness acrylic did you use for the sumps? I've been thinking about trying to custom make something to replace the 29 gallon tank I currently use. I used some acrylic to cover the current sump, but it has actually warped. I don't know if it's the heat or what that caused it. I wonder if I needed thicker acrylic. Thanks.

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post #14 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-02-2007, 12:01 PM
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I was advised by the glass place that I bought my plexiglass from to use a plywood blade mounted in the my table saw backward to reduce the amount of chipping on the edges. I did get some minor plastic buildup along the side of the cut but it was easily polished up with some sand paper. Use coarse sand paper to get the bulk of it off then use fine sand paper to polish it up nice.

I would imagine that the score and snap works well for the thin stuff, but the saw would probably work better for the thicker material. Leaving the protective paper on until the very end protects it from scratching and makes for a cleaner cut.


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post #15 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-02-2007, 06:07 PM
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why not just score it and then snap it clean?
X2, if you're not soing heavy gauge stuff like 1/4" or 3/8". Wearing safety glasses, score it ONCE along a straight edge then snap it off over the edge of a table.

Here's what the "Pros" use to score plexi:



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