If you’ve ever cut plastic before, you know how difficult it can be to locate the right equipment for the job. However, it’s not just about getting the job done when cutting plastic or thin acrylic.
To cut safely and get a clean-cut, you need the proper techniques and the proper tools. Unfortunately, the methods needed to cut hard plastic without breaking it are something you can’t buy from hardware stores or hobby stores.
Cutting through plastic using the wrong tool, such as a hobby knife, can leave you with a wavy line, or worse, a cut. It’s impossible to get a good grip on plastic since it’s so slippery. However, to become proficient at cutting plastic without breaking it, there are things to do.
In our guide, we have all the ways you can cut thin and thicker sheets of this versatile material. In addition, you can learn how to cut hard plastic without cracking it, whether you have plastic pipes or plastic sheets.
By the end, you’ll learn how to cut plastic without a saw, cutting thick sheets with a saw, and how to have a smooth finish. (Learn How To Cut Brass)
What is the easiest way to cut hard plastic?
A saw or a length of string is the ideal tools for cutting hard plastic. Hard plastic can be thin or thick, but brittleness can be the same for both. Plastic pegs and toys are examples of hard plastic.
Using the wrong tool to cut fragile hard plastic can cause a fractured edge and not a straight cut as you expected.
Cutting thick hard plastic with a saw such as a hand saw, jigsaw machine, or table saw effectively cut thick hard plastic.
You will need a blade with a high tooth count for any saw you use to cut hard plastic sheets. You can also find cutting small bits of hard plastic with string is a great alternative.
Here you can see the easy-to-follow steps for slicing plastic with polyester thread.
How To Cut Hard Plastic with String
Cotton thread is used to sew PVC pipes, toy automobiles, and model figures. The principle is straightforward. A piece of cotton is used to construct a saw-like blade.
- Use masking tape or a clamp to secure your plastic piece onto your work surface.
- Get a needle and a set of pliers. Grip the needle and then heat it with a lighter using the pliers.
- Make a hole in the plastic anywhere along your cut line with the hot needle.
- Pass one end of a spool of cotton thread through the hole you just made. Keep the spool end on the piece’s top side.
- Wrap the free end of the working thread around one hand and give yourself about a foot of it.
- Pull the thread until it is taut, then cut your plastic piece with it as if it were a saw, pulling the string back and forth.
It takes time and effort, but a piece of cotton thread may produce a neat cut in plastic without breaking it. However, too much pressure can easily shatter the plastic, just as it does the thread.
Begin moving the string back and forth in a slow, back-and-forth manner. Repeat the operation until you’ve made a slight cut in the plastic.
Once you see the thread is worn out, replace it. To cut plastic, use polyester or nylon thread, and wear thick gloves as key safety measures. (Learn How To Cut MDF)
Best Tool to Cut Thick Plastic
A saw is an ideal instrument for cutting thick plastic over 1/4 inches. Plastic pipe, plastic skirting, and Perspex sheeting are all examples of thick plastic. A fine-toothed saw, a jigsaw, and a table saw are the three best types of saws for cutting thick plastic.
Precision plastic cutting requires fine-toothed saws.
Cutting thicker pieces of plastic, such as piping, with a jigsaw is excellent, although a jigsaw technique may not provide perfect results. On the other hand, cutting through larger plastic pipes or thick plastic blocks is a breeze with a table saw.
How To Cut Plastic with a Saw
A few types of saws can cut plastic without breaking it. Cutting flat or thick pieces of plastic using a saw is a suitable option. Plastic can be cut with a hacksaw, fine-toothed saw, circular saw, or jigsaw.
A plastic cutting blade is required if you use a hacksaw or circular saw. Avoid using large-toothed saws or blades since they will crack or break the plastic and leave rough edges. To cut plastic, you’ll need a saw with a fine-toothed blade.
If you make going to cut your plastic with a hacksaw, jigsaw, or fine-toothed saw, secure it to a flat surface or work surface first.
When cutting plastic with a saw, wear eye protection and make sure the plastic is held, and to minimize melting, don’t apply too much pressure. Draw your cut line and cut slowly.
Here are the different saw techniques you can use:
The Hacksaw Technique
Because this tool is lightweight and tiny, it may be used with just one hand. Moreover, it’s an excellent choice because it doesn’t consume any electricity to melt the plastic.
The steps are as follows:
- To begin, replace the hacksaw’s plastic blade and secure it firmly.
- Place your plastic on a steady work surface and secure it using clamps. When you’re cutting it, this will keep it from moving about.
- Hold the hacksaw in your dominant hand. Use your other hand to direct the saw in the proper direction.
- Begin by making little slices, which may be hard at first because of the plastic’s slick texture. Then, to cut the plastic, use a back-and-forth motion.
Use fine tooth blades to make clean, precise cuts without putting in too much effort. When cutting plastic material, wear eye protection as well.
Sawing Plastic with Circular Saw
- The first step is to swap out the wood cutting blade for a circular saw blade that cuts plastic.
- Place the plastic sheet on a solid workbench and secure it tightly.
- After that, connect the circular saw to a power source and wait for it to speed up.
- Then carefully work your way up to the blade. Slowly push down on the thick piece of plastic until it is completely cut.
Note that the blade’s fast speed uses a lot of heat, which can quickly melt the plastic. As a result, use a non-melt blade to avoid melting your material.
Circular saw techniques are best used on thin sheets rather than thick blocks. This is because cutting too thick plastic means the circular saw blade will create too much heat and melt the plastic like a hot knife.
Cutting Plastic with a Jigsaw
It’s a quick and easy way to cut hard plastic without breaking it as long as it doesn’t wobble. It’s perfect for heavy-duty plastic cutting, and all you’ll need is a sharp blade and a clamp to keep the plastic in place.
- Start by using the clamp to secure your workpiece.
- To start the jigsaw, pull the trigger.
- Wait for the saw to reach high speed before pressing the blade against the plastic with a steady hand and cutting.
Can You Cut Hard Plastic With Scissors?
You may think cutting plastic is possible with scissors if it is thin, yet it isn’t. Cutting hard plastic takes more force than you can deliver using a pair of scissors.
Besides this, your scissors would slip against the smooth plastic rather than cutting heavy-duty plastic.
A utility knife is the best tool for cutting thin plastic of ¼ inches or under.
Examples of thin plastic are plastic banding, packaging, and plastic sheets.
The ideal alternative is a utility knife, which has a firm grip and control. A utility knife is comparable to a glass scorer. It cuts a shallow cut in the plastic, making it easier to snap or cut through it.
It is possible to use a hook knife, yet you may not get the straight line that you need.
Use a Hot Knife for Cutting Hard Plastic
You may make a hot knife out of a soldering iron tip to cut hard plastic.
- Flatten a soldering iron tip with a mallet or hammer.
- To cut through strong plastic, use the modified tip.
- The hot knife procedure reduces the likelihood of your plastic breaking.
You can use it to make curved cuts; however, you need to remove the melted plastic from the edge of the cut left by the hot knife. If you need to cut PVC and be precise or cut PVC pipe, then a hot knife isn’t suitable like all the tools listed here. (Read Best Way To Cut Vinyl Siding)
Drill to Cut Through Hard Plastic
Although a drill cannot cut plastic, it can drill holes, allowing you to cut it. You can use a drill to make little holes along your cut line before making the final cuts with a separate tool. Use a slow-speed corded power drill and a small drill bit.
After drilling holes, cut the remaining plastic with a utility knife or fine-toothed saw from the above methods.
The drilling procedure decreases the likelihood of the plastic breaking and makes cutting along the line and through the plastic easier.
- Attach your small drill bit to the drill
- Secure your plastic sheet with clamps on a stable work table.
- Make a straight line to guide you to get a clean straight line.
- Plug your drill into a power source and switch it on
- Drill the plastic in the same direction as the line you drew previously. Make the holes as close together as possible to weaken the plastic’s structure. The final product will resemble a series of dots that must be joined.
- This is when a sharp knife and a straight edge come in handy. First, cut the leftover portions between the drilled holes using your knife to connect the dots of the holes you drilled.
- Although the drill machine procedure is time-consuming, it ensures that the work is completed accurately and without breaking the plastic.
To protect your hands from the blade as you cut from one hole to the next, put on gloves that are thick enough for protection yet still allow you to grip the knife.