Polycarbonate is used around the home for a wide variety of purposes. When you need to cut a sheet, what can you use?
The best tools for cutting polycarbonate sheets are either a jigsaw or a circular saw. If you need to cut a long, straight line, a circular saw will do it easily. Using a jigsaw allows you to cut curves and unusual shapes.
There are many things to consider when cutting polycarbonate sheets that will help you to do so as accurately as possible. It’s not simply about picking up a circular saw or another tool, it’s about doing things the right way.
Throughout this article, we will discuss some of the specific tools that can be used to cut polycarbonate. We will also look at some other tools that are not well suited for that purpose.
What Can You Use To Cut Polycarbonate?
Before we begin to discuss some of the tools that are used for cutting polycarbonate, it’s a good idea to understand more about this material. In doing so, you can make good decisions about how it is used and what you may use to cut it to size.
Polycarbonates are a type of thermoplastic that is practically transparent. It is often used in the place of glass when you need to have light and a clear view. It is well-suited for that purpose because it is impact resistant and still useful.
Although transparency is often the benefit that is considered for polycarbonates, that is only one of the many options that are available. This type of thermoplastic can be dyed in any number of different colors, some of which may be translucent and others that may be solid.
Essentially, when you are cutting polycarbonate sheeting, you are cutting a very strong type of plastic that is used in automotive gear and even safety glass. It is still possible to cut it just as easily or perhaps even easier than a piece of wood.
One important factor that should not be overlooked is going beyond the choice of tool and is associated with the choice of blade. You have many different options available for saw blades, and choosing the proper blade can make a difference between a nice, clean cut and one that is going to split or splinter.
For some tools, you may need to use a cut-off wheel and, believe it or not, the best choice is one that is made for cutting aluminum. On the other hand, using a fine tooth saw blade that is carbide tipped is going to be a great option in the common tools that are used, the circular saw and jigsaw.
Before we begin looking at some of the different tools, it’s a good idea to discuss safety. Fortunately, polycarbonates are not listed as a carcinogen but they can be an irritant to your eyes, skin, and respiratory tract.
Make sure that you wear eye protection in the form of safety glasses or a face shield (or both) when cutting polycarbonate sheets. You can also wear a disposable particulate respirator, such as an N95 to protect your respiratory tract. That is especially important if you have any type of respiratory diseases, such as asthma or COPD.
Let’s take a look at some tools and see which are best suited for cutting polycarbonate.
Can You Use Laser To Cut Polycarbonate?
Lasers are a tool that is commonly used for cutting a wide variety of items. Can they also be used to cut polycarbonate?
You should not use lasers for cutting polycarbonate. They may cut the plastic but at the same time, they will also melt the edge as they cut through it. Rather than leaving you with a clean cut, it will leave behind a messy cut of melted plastic. It could also ruin the cutting surface as well.
This is why it is so vitally important that you take care when doing any type of DIY project. There are some things that may seem like it is a good idea but when you get down to it, they can cause more problems than what it is worth.
Can You Use Jigsaw To Cut Polycarbonate?
Jigsaws are a common tool that is used by many people for home DIY projects. Is this also a tool that should be considered for cutting polycarbonate?
Jigsaws are one of the top tools that are used to cut polycarbonate at home. You can use them to cut a long, straight line or you can use them for cutting a variety of odd shapes and even tight circles.
Before using a jigsaw, you want to ensure that you are using the right type of blade. To keep the polycarbonate from fraying along the edges, you should use a fine tooth blade and run the saw at a slow speed as you cut through the piece of plastic.
In addition, most polycarbonate sheets that are new will come with a protective film over them. You should not remove the film before cutting with a jigsaw because doing so could end up causing damage to the plastic as you are cutting it.
Can You Use Knife To Cut Polycarbonate?
Utility knives are very common for use in home DIY projects. If you have to cut a sheet of polycarbonate, can a utility knife be used for that purpose?
A polycarbonate sheet can be cut with a utility knife but the knife will not cut entirely through it. Rather, you should use a straight edge and score the polycarbonate sheet as deeply as possible, and then use the edge of a table to snap the plastic along that line.
The principle of cutting a polycarbonate sheet with a utility knife is very similar to cutting many other items with a utility knife. When you score the sheet, you are essentially weakening it along that line. You might even find that it is beneficial to cut the sheet on both sides, further weakening it and making it easier to start off.
This is an excellent way to cut a sheet of polycarbonate but it may not offer the clean edge that is available with a circular saw or jigsaw. On the other hand, if you are only cutting the sheet and the edge will be hidden behind some framing, it’s a good option to consider.
Can You Use Router To Cut Polycarbonate?
Routers are tools that are often used for woodworking. The bit can shape the edge and sometimes, it can even cut a piece of wood and remove some waste. Should you use a router for polycarbonate sheets as well?
You can use a router for cutting polycarbonate but you have to use the right type a bit. You want to cut the piece but not melt the edge and at the same time, you want to ensure that you weren’t clogging up the blade of the bit with small chips of plastic.
If you are comfortable using the router, you might find that this is a good option. At the same time, however, you would want to have a guide in place in the form of a straight edge that is used for guiding the router so that you cut a straight line.
A plunge router can also be used for cutting polycarbonate in place if you need to remove a section to install something, such as a radio.
Can You Use Dremel To Cut Polycarbonate?
Dremel tools are commonly used around the home for crafting and other simple DIY projects. If you have one of these tools, should you consider using it for cutting polycarbonate?
A Dremel tool can be used for cutting polycarbonate but perhaps not in the way that most people consider. Because of the high speed of the tool, it would likely melt the plastic and at the same time, it is hard to keep it on track and cut a straight line. You can use a Dremel tool for scoring the polycarbonate so it can be snapped.
Essentially, a Dremel will cut the polycarbonate but you have to use the right type of blade and you need to take your time. Sometimes, it is just easier to use another tool because you will likely ruin one of the blades and you run the risk of ruining the sheet of plastic.
Can You Use Table Saw To Cut Polycarbonate?
A table saw can quickly cut through almost any piece of material. Is that also true of a polycarbonate sheet?
If you use a fine tooth blade on a table saw and run it at a slower speed, you can easily cut through a polycarbonate sheet. It’s great for making long, straight cuts very accurately. You should check the blade on a regular basis to ensure that it does not need changing.
Safety is important to consider when using a table saw because many people tend to remove the guards. They may seem like they are in the way but it only takes a moment for the unthinkable to happen and suddenly, you’re on your way to the hospital.
By all means, use a table saw for cutting polycarbonate but do it the right way.
Can You Use Circular Saw To Cut Polycarbonate?
Circular saws are probably one of the most common power tools that we have at home. If you have to cut polycarbonate, can a circular saw be of use?
Out of all of the different tools used to cut polycarbonate, a circular saw is the most commonly considered. You can cut a long, straight line in the plastic sheet and end up with an edge that you can be proud of. At the same time, however, it’s good if you have a circular saw with a variable speed so you can run the blade at a slower speed.
If you are going to use a circular saw, it’s a good idea to use a guide so that you cut the edge as straight as possible. You should also never remove the protective sheeting over the polycarbonate because the circular saw can scratch the plastic as it is running over it.
Can You Use Grinder To Cut Polycarbonate?
Angle grinders are often used for cutting and sometimes, we try to do some delicate tasks with them. Should you consider using an angle grinder for cutting polycarbonate?
You can use an angle grinder to cut polycarbonate but you have to do it the right way. Because of the speed of the tool, it can melt the plastic as it is cutting. Use a cut-off wheel made specifically for cutting aluminum and control the speed by cutting at the lowest speed possible.
One of the problems with cutting with a grinder is that it is very difficult to guide. You can use it for cutting straight lines or curves, but if you don’t have control over the tool, you are unlikely to be happy with the finished product.
Can You Use Scissors To Cut Polycarbonate?
We use scissors to cut both large and small items around the home. If you have the right type of scissors, can they be used for cutting polycarbonate?
A pair of heavy-duty scissors can be used to cut thin pieces of polycarbonate. More than likely, however, you are going to be unhappy with the end result, especially if you try to use the wrong type of scissor or are cutting a thick piece of polycarbonate. It’s better if you use another tool, such as a circular saw or a utility knife.
Copyright protected content owner: ReadyToDIY.com and was initially posted on August 13, 2022.
Scissors can quickly become cumbersome if you try to cut something too strong for them to handle. There are scissors that are made specifically for cutting heavy-duty items, and that can include the thicker piece of polycarbonate in some cases.
The bottom line is that you can use scissors but they are not the best tool for the job.
Can You Use Hacksaw To Cut Polycarbonate?
We might have a variety of saws available but if you have a hacksaw, can it be used for cutting a polycarbonate sheet?
Hacksaws make a surprisingly good tool for cutting polycarbonate. As long as you can guide the blade properly and use a new, fine tooth blade, it will cut through the polycarbonate and leave behind a clean edge.
The problem with using a hacksaw for most people is that they only use a small part of the blade. Make sure that you are using the entire blade on both the up-and-down cut and it will work much better for you.
How To Cut Polycarbonate Correctly And Safely
It is important to understand the proper methods used for cutting polycarbonate before you get started. It will help you to prepare in advance and to make a success of this project.
One important factor for cutting polycarbonate is the choice of tool that you will use. Generally speaking, you can use a circular saw for long, straight lines and a jigsaw for curved or unusual lines. If at all possible, choose a tool with variable speed so you can cut at a lower speed and will not be melting the thermoplastic.
You should also gather any other material you need, including masking tape, safety goggles, and clamps. Having these items on hand in advance will help you to cut polycarbonate correctly and safely.
The following are the steps you will use to cut polycarbonate sheets with a jigsaw or circular saw. The instructions will be similar for using other methods of cutting:
Step 1: Secure the Polycarbonate – Regardless of whether you are cutting a large or small piece of polycarbonate, you should secure it carefully before beginning the process. This can be done with some C clamps or other types of clamps. Be careful that you don’t damage the plastic by clamping down too hard without using a barrier, such as a rag.
Step 2: Mark the Line – The polycarbonate sheet will likely come with a protective film over it. You should leave that film on the polycarbonate because you can scratch or otherwise damage the sheet if you don’t.
Rather than marking the line on the protective film, use some masking tape or blue painter’s tape to cover the area where the line will go. You can then mark the line on the tape and it will give you extra protection so you don’t scratch the plastic.
Step 3: Cutting – Regardless of whether you are using a circular saw or a jigsaw, choose a fine tooth saw blade. It will be enough to easily cut through the polycarbonate sheet while at the same time, doing so cleanly so you have a nice edge.
As we mentioned previously, it is always a good idea to have a tool with variable speed controls. It is better to cut the polycarbonate at a reasonably slow speed to keep it from damaging the edges as you are cutting. It’s good to check this in advance so you know how quickly the blade will be moving.
Essentially, that is all that is involved in cutting a sheet of polycarbonate. It isn’t difficult to do and when you do it properly, you will be happy with the end result.
Copyright article owner is ReadyToDiy.com for this article. This post was first published on August 13, 2022.
You can use almost any tool to cut polycarbonate but the best choices are either a circular saw (for long straight cuts) or a jigsaw (for curved or unusual shaped cuts). Use a fine tooth saw blade and run the saw at a lower speed when cutting the plastic.
ReadyToDIY is the owner of this article. This post was published on August 13, 2022.