Glass cut failure, anyone with plastics experience? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-01-2016, 12:12 AM Thread Starter
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Glass cut failure, anyone with plastics experience?

I have worked several times with cutting glass but for some reason the pane I worked on today went terribly, I have made aquariums, vivarium and sumps but for some reason could not break the glass properly today. With all that said I'd rather use something with a little more forgiveness, has anyone used hdpe with success or maybe even pvc sheet? I'm making a weir and baffles for a new sump, seems a plastic sheet and a hand saw+water flow will work out but looking for opinions on this.

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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-01-2016, 12:42 AM
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Plastics are easy to cut and glue together, but are soft enough to flex.
If you have the basic container, but need to use plastic for the dividers, you might get by with thinner material, but if you are using the plastic to make the box then you need to use a thicker material, and proper workmanship to ensure it will be water proof. A minor leak in the interior dividers is not a big deal.

Each type of 'plastic' will need the correct 'glue'. Actually, the glue is more of a solvent, and melts the plastic in a very small area and then the parts will weld together.

To cut flat sheets of plastic to size, then cut notches to direct water flow you can use hand tools such as a hack saw, or small power tools, such as a Dremel or other small power saw with a fine tooth blade. Usually these blades will be labeled for plastic, and will work for all forms of 'plastic'. Holes can be drilled with any wood working drill bits. Go slow when cutting or drilling with power tools. The plastic can heat up and melt.
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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-01-2016, 01:00 AM
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Good info Dianna. Have built many things with acrylic - best advice is keeping the blade cool. I have used a fine tooth metal blade on a jig saw, 18 tooth blade on a sawzall, and a plywood blade on a table saw. All have worked nicely as long as the blade stays cool (wet). Once cut, you can file the edges flat or use 100 grit on a block of wood to get things close. 220 grit wet paper on a block of wood will polish the edges nicely. Most recent acrylic project.

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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-01-2016, 01:40 AM Thread Starter
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Good info Dianna. Have built many things with acrylic - best advice is keeping the blade cool. I have used a fine tooth metal blade on a jig saw, 18 tooth blade on a sawzall, and a plywood blade on a table saw. All have worked nicely as long as the blade stays cool (wet). Once cut, you can file the edges flat or use 100 grit on a block of wood to get things close. 220 grit wet paper on a block of wood will polish the edges nicely. Most recent acrylic project.

If I already had a jigsaw or sawzall I would no doubt use one, maybe I'll get a dremmel for it. Could I use a Dewalt end grinder instead of the dremmel? I already have one on hand and could easily keep it cool with a hose or something. Otherwise I can purchase a hand saw which I should technically own anyway since I do a lot of wood work.

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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-01-2016, 02:19 AM
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What sort of blades can you get for the grinder? It might work.
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post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-01-2016, 02:27 AM
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Might be a little over kill, but I have used a diamond rimless blade in the angle grinder to cut almost anything.
DEWALT 4 in. Ceramic Tile Circular Saw Blade-DW4729 - The Home Depot

Again, keep it cool with water.


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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-01-2016, 03:02 AM
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With a grinder to smooth any rough cuts, I might suggest scoring and snapping as a quick easy way. Maybe a walk through one of the hardwares would find somebody to show how they do the cuts? Easier to see than to describe.
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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-01-2016, 03:04 AM Thread Starter
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Might be a little over kill, but I have used a diamond rimless blade in the angle grinder to cut almost anything.
DEWALT 4 in. Ceramic Tile Circular Saw Blade-DW4729 - The Home Depot

Again, keep it cool with water.
Yeah those blades are awesome, I use a similar one in a 12 inch demo saw, cuts through even the thickest cast iron like butter. And anything that will work in a dreamel can technically work in a die grinder with caution. Dremmel has higher rpm but the torque in my grinder is quite high. I'll try to find something similar to what you used in the angle otherwise I'll cut by hand via fine tooth wood saw.

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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-01-2016, 03:18 AM Thread Starter
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After a few searches and a gander at a fabrication website I frequent I think I'll be using a hand saw with a bit of water, not just to find the perfect medium between tpi. Also trying to figure out if it's safe to sand the edges with a random orbit sander. I'll be using a ultra fine grit but I'm just not sure if it will work out as well as sanding glass.

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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-01-2016, 03:41 AM
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I have found the random orbit sander with wet 250 is great for rounding off edges and making things nice and smooth prior to buffing. But, it does not do much good in getting the cut line absolutely flat / square.


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post #11 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-01-2016, 03:48 AM Thread Starter
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I have found the random orbit sander with wet 250 is great for rounding off edges and making things nice and smooth prior to buffing. But, it does not do much good in getting the cut line absolutely flat / square.
Since this is for baffles and a weir I don't expect I'll need perfection. Do you happen to know the best silicone for glass to plastic?

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post #12 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-01-2016, 04:20 AM
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Since this is inside the sump, not being used to actually hold water, you can use the same silicone as is used for glass-to-glass bonding. It is not perfect. It may fail. But if it fails it is not the disaster that it would be if the silicone failed in an aquarium.
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post #13 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-01-2016, 05:51 AM
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A friend of mine used to cut acrylic and make boat windshields. He used to use a good quality blade and a table saw. No water ever. He also used a router to polish the edges for gluing. I've done a few sumps the same way. And made a few pieces and baseplates for my router table.

When you cut the glass did you use a lubricant like mineral spirits? It makes a big difference.

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post #14 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-01-2016, 03:21 PM
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When you cut the glass did you use a lubricant like mineral spirits? It makes a big difference.
Mineral oil, a decent wheel, and a single score across the sheet with enough pressure so it sounds like tearing paper. The secrets of success!

They also make a blade to score acrylic so you can snap it. They are very inexpensive (like $5) and a lot easier to use than a razor knife or similar tool. Start with a light pressure along a straight edge to start a score and then go over it a few more times increasing the pressure.
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post #15 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-01-2016, 03:43 PM
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I never had luck with cutting glass thicker than 1/4 inch with the glass cutter.


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