Acrylic cutting tools?

muybridge

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I use Acrylite FF3 for frames; it's .093 or 3/32" thick. I've been cutting the acrylic on my table saw, which works fine for the most part, but starting with a big 32 x 40" sheet is a but unwieldy, since my table saw top is pretty small.

Would anyone recommend known decent handheld cutters for this? I likely won't be going thicker than 3/32".

Razor blade? Logan Plexi cutter? Fletcher Plastic Cutter? Hyde Plastic Cutting Tool?

Anyone have experience with any of these handheld cutters?
 
The size of a table saw in most situations is not that important. What is more important is the infeed and outfeed sizes that are used to support the flat sheets bein cut. You do not need the horsepower of a large saw for thin acrylic.

When I was a gallery owner I used a local plastic fab shop to construct acrylic boxes for my framing needs. They had a standard cabinet table saw (approx. 36" wide). What made that saw able to cut very large sheets of acrylic was that the saw had a 10' x 10'table as I remember that supported the sheets as they wee cut.
In your case, not knowing the exact size of your saw could make a "U" shaped support table that could have folding legs to support larger sheets of acrylic.
The open section of the "U" is where you and the saw would be.
3 used card tables, all adjusted to the same height as the saw, could also be used. Where there is a will, there is a way through ingenuity.
 
The hand held tools (I use the Fletcher) work fine but you need a flat table and a really good straight edge and there is a bit of a learning curve. Practice n scrap pieces.

You aren't actually cutting, but scoring a "V" groove in the acrylic and then snapping the pieces apart. I use the hand held when the size acrylic is too large to fit in my Fletcher 3000.

You can also cut acrylic with a hand held power saw and a saw track or straight edge. Getting a blade specifically made for plastic is essential for a good cut. They cut more by slicing where a wood blade cuts by chiseling. These blades are also called "No-Melt" blades.

In any event, as JFeig pointed out, support for the sheet of acrylic is important regardless of the method.
 
I am 100% acrylic and here is my setup. I buy in 48x96 sheets. The table saw uses a top-of-the-line Pro Series for Plastics Tenryu blade at around $200 each. https://tenryusawblades.com/product.php?productid=17795&cat=377&page=1 Tenryu Saw Blades :: Saw Blade Series :: Pro Series :: Pro Series for Plastic :: Tenryu PRP-255120AB3 Pro-Plastic 10" X 120T 5/8" Arbor The panel saw cuts the sheets in half before moving to the table saw. The panel saw uses a 7 1/4" Tenryu blade as well https://tenryusawblades.com/product.php?productid=17715&cat=350&page=1 Tenryu Saw Blades :: Saw Blade Series :: Plastic Cutter Series :: Tenryu PC-18560CB Plastic-Cutter 7-1/4" X 60T 5/8" Arbor Note the 52" fence and the 4x8 outfeed table; necessary for cutting larger pieces. I don't have any but they also make no-melt blades for cordless saw.

shop11.jpg
 
I have cut acrylic sheets using hand tools, a table saw and a CNC router and I agree with Jerome, creating a stable surface around the table saw where the sheets can be supported in both the in and out feed process is the easiest and cleanest way to cut acrylic. We use the CNC Router for cutting special shapes but for straight cuts I would always opt for the table saw. In addition to using the correct blade be sure that the thinner sheets can not slide under the table saw fence. I used one saw where the space between the bottom of the fence and the face to the table saw was just large enough to allow the thinner sheets to get lodged underneath. This was a recipe for disaster especially on larger sheets that are a little harder to keep tight against the fence. After it happened once I started clamping a straight piece of wood to the face of the fence and tight against the table saw surface.
 
I tried cutting some acrylic with a"no melt" blade in a cordless jig saw.
It worked, but the edges weren't great.
Quite a bit of chipping, especially compared to the "score and snap" method.
I will admit, it probably wasn't the best blade, or even the right tool to use.
And I didn't have full support, one end of the piece I was cutting was just hanging off the end of my work table.
That meant that the piece was vibrating so much it probably contributed to the poor cut quality.
 
When using a table saw, feather-boards that keep the sheet pressed against the bed of the saw help cut down vibration.
I use the same trick Rick used when cutting thin material because the fence is a full 1/8" off the bed.
 
Regarding the "insert" for the top of the table saw; there are premade inserts and you can make your own so that the sawblade will have "zero clearance" that prevents very thin cutoffs from jamming the cutting process.
as an example:
A necessity. Mine is shown below.

When using a table saw, feather-boards that keep the sheet pressed against the bed of the saw help cut down vibration.
I use the same trick Rick used when cutting thin material because the fence is a full 1/8" off the bed.
A good fence shouldn't have that gap. My unifence shown below doesn't have a 1/8" gap, just a thin gap (less than 1/64") enough to keep it from scrapping the table top. a 1/8" gap for cutting acrylic would be dangerous. Kickback can be a killer - a flying piece of acrylic can do some serious damage. If you have a 1/8" gap, stop using that fence to cut acrylic, adjust the fence to get rid of the gap or build an auxiliary fence (Google "Auxiliary fence for table saw")

I don't use a feather board. My blade is good enough that vibration is minimum. When I want to demonstrate how good a premium blade is, I cut a piece using the best blade. All you hear is a hum. The I cut a piece on my radial arm saw with a regular blade and you hear clattering and the resultant cut isn't smooth and has chips. I use the push block shown below which has a 1/8" rabbit at the back; perfect for pushing acrylic. I use the white block on the outside. Both have a foam base to cut down vibration.


tablesaw.jpg
 
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