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How To Cut Acrylic Sheet With A Dremel (Quickly & Easily!)
Acrylic sheeting is used in a wide range of projects. It can be used to make new furniture, add finishing touches to your home, or even make a sign. Cutting that sheeting, though, can be difficult. You might not know which tools to use. Acrylic sheets can be cut pretty easily with the use of a Dremel. Surprised? Us too. Here’s how it can work for you.
To cut an acrylic sheet with a Dremel, follow these steps below:
- Measure out your acrylic sheet, and set up your Dremel with the right cutting bit.
- Use clamps to mount the acrylic sheet off a workbench.
- Use the Dremel to saw through the sheet, using a water sprayer to keep the area wet.
- Clean up the area once you’re done cutting.
If you’ve ever seen a Dremel cut through things, it might not surprise you that you can cut acrylic sheeting with it. However, there’s more to this than meets the eye. This guide will give you the details you need to know in order to do it right and avoid melting your acrylic.
Table of Contents
- How Do You Cut Acrylic With A Dremel?
- Is Using A Dremel The Best Way To Cut An Acrylic Sheet?
- How Do You Clean Up A Rough Edge On Acrylic?
- Related Questions
How Do You Cut Acrylic With A Dremel?
While we’ve given you the basic walkthrough of the procedure in our introduction, there is more to this process than initially meets the eye. In order to cut acrylic sheeting well, you will need to know some details about how to set up your Dremel, clamp it, and cut it. To make things easier, we’re going to discuss each matter in its own section.
Step 1: Choosing The Right Dremel Bits
Before you can do anything with an acrylic sheet, you will need to make sure that you set up your Dremel correctly. One of the most important things to remember is that you will need the right Dremel bit and kit. There are several options that you can choose from…
- The Dremel 561 Cutting Bit. This can be found in the Dremel 565 All-Purpose Cutting Kit, and it’s considered to be the standard. For the sake of this article, we’re assuming that you’re using this. Do not use the 545, since that’s for cutting glass.
- The Dremel EZ476 Cut Off Wheel For Plastic. If you choose this one you will need to cut on an angle. Don’t freak out if you notice that your cut off wheel starts to shrink as you use it. It’s supposed to happen.
Step 2: Setting Up Your Dremel For Cutting
Now that you have the right kit for the job, it’s important to make sure that your rotary tool is set up properly. Thankfully, this is pretty easy to do:
- Start by locking your Dremel bit onto the wheel. You should take this time to make sure that the bit is sharp and not worn out.
- Set the speed. The 561 bit should go at a speed of 8, since it can melt acrylic if it’s any higher up. The Cut Off Wheel, on the other hand, is made for plastic and can be run at full speed.
- Put on some gloves. Sure this isn’t actually Dremel setup, but safety first.
Important Notes About Cutting Technique
Cutting with a Dremel isn’t like cutting with a saw. It involves a little bit of technique. Here’s what you need to know in order to cut your acrylic sheet properly:
- Make sure that you secured your sheet to the workbench and measured it out. Mark off the area you want to cut, and make sure to have that portion hang off the side of your workbench. Having the other part of your acrylic sheet (the part you want to keep) hanging off will actually put it at risk of cracking if it falls.
- Grab some water, because you are going to need it. Unlike cutting copper with a Dremel, cutting acrylic means you run the risk of melting. In order to prevent the acrylic from heating up to that level, you will need to regularly spray down both the Dremel and the sheet with water. You might even want to recruit someone to keep it wet.
- When cutting the sheet, don’t force your Dremel. Much like anything else with a saw, forcing things will make your cuts look bad. In some cases, it may even crack the acrylic sheet. Let the Dremel do the work, and focus on steering it in a straight line.
- Check to see if you need to replace the Dremel bit between cuts. If you have a lot of cutting to do, then you probably will need to switch Dremel bits in between cuts. Inspect the bit. Does it look capable of cutting? Is it blunt? A bit that goes bad is a safety hazard, not to mention a bad cut for your acrylic sheet.
- Never pause in the middle of cutting your acrylic sheet. It usually will cause the entire cut to feel or look jagged.
Is Using A Dremel The Best Way To Cut An Acrylic Sheet?
Believe it or not, most people do not use Dremels to cut acrylic. However, it’s good to know how to do it, just in case you don’t really have any other tools nearby. If you are like most other builders, though, you probably use one of the following for most of your acrylic cutting:
- Hand Saws. Always the go-to, hand saws are a cheap and affordable way to make the cuts you need at the pace you want.
- Jig Saws. This can be a good option in a bind, though it does have the potential for melting. (The same can be said about most other electric saws, just so that you know!)
- A Scoring Knife. If you are brand new to using acrylic sheeting, then you probably should opt for a scoring knife. This is considered to be the easiest option out of the bunch.
Is Using A Dremel On Acrylic Dangerous?
Acrylic is also known as plexiglass, and it’s one of the most easy to work with polymers out there. Despite its easy to use reputation, there are rumors regarding its safety. People often mistake plexiglass for fiberglass. Cutting fiberglass or sanding it down can be dangerous, since fiberglass shards can leave painful splinters.
However, you’re probably not going to have that problem if you’re dealing with acrylic. It’s a completely different material that will have totally different traits. You’re in the clear, here.
How Do You Clean Up A Rough Edge On Acrylic?
Sometimes, even the best cutters will have an edge that is just a bit too rough. If you have a bad cut or a jag, you can still salvage that sheet. Here’s what to do:
- Grab a 180-grit piece of sandpaper and start sanding down the area. Long strokes work best.
- Rinse the sandpaper as necessary, switching out as you smooth things out. You should probably sand down the entire edge to make sure that it’s even.
- Once the edges are leveled out, switch to a higher-grade of sandpaper. A 260-grit sandpaper piece or higher will give you that perfectly polished look and feel of a professional cut.
- Rinse off the edge of the acrylic sheet once you are done. Use your finger to determine if the acrylic’s edge is smooth enough to your liking. If not, do another round with a higher grit sandpaper.
Do you need a special drill bit to cut through acrylic?
If you want to drill through acrylic, then you will need to have a specialty drill that is marked for use on acrylic or fiberglass. Regular metal will cause your acrylic to chip, crack, or even shatter depending on the speed. This is because metal drill bits are meant to “bite” into the material that they are cutting.
In order to get a smooth, clean drill into acrylic, it’s important to have a drill bit made out of a material that is softer and less likely to chip and snag on metals. That’s why many acrylic drills have a slightly sanded edge.
How deep can a Dremel cut?
While many homeowners have used their Dremels to do a lot of things, there is still a limit to how much this rotary tool can do. When it comes to cutting, Dremels are actually not very good for deep cuts. In fact, the deepest that a Dremel can cut is around 3/4 of an inch deep.
So, while this could be a good tool to use when you’re cutting boards, trying to cut a two-by-four is not going to work with this. You will need a regular hand saw in order to cut through most wooden boards.
What Dremel bit should I use to cut into plastic?
If you need to cut a piece of plastic using a Dremel, then you will need to use the Dremel 561 bit. Much like its use in acrylic cutting, the 561 bit is meant to be a gentle cutter that drops the chances of plastics being chipped. With that said, it still takes a gentle touch in order to cut plastic with a Dremel bit.
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