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How to Cut Plexiglass in 4 Steps or Less

Caroline Gilbert
Written by Caroline Gilbert
Updated November 11, 2021
A milling saw cutting through a piece of plexiglass
Moose – stock.adobe.com

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Taking on a DIY project that requires cutting plexiglass, but not quite sure where to start? Whether you’re making a custom table top, picture frame, window, or dry erase board, cutting plexiglass doesn’t have to be complicated. Use this guide to learn how to cut plexiglass with tools you have at home. 

Difficulty: Easy (2/5) The difficulty of this DIY depends on your skill set and experience. If you have experience using saws, this task should be relatively easy. However, if you’re new to using tools, cutting plexiglass may require trial and error. 

Total Project Time: 30 minutes The more DIY experience you have, the quicker you can get the job done. Project time will vary depending on the complexity and volume of the shape you are trying to cut.

Cost: $10–$30 per square foot.

Tools

  • Stable table top, work bench, or saw horse

  • Ruler

  • Dry erase marker

  • Construction/work gloves

  • Protective eyewear

  • Construction mask

  • Utility knife, box cutter, or glass cutter (if you’re cutting by hand)

  • Spring or “C” clamp

  • Handsaw, tablesaw, jigsaw, or dremel tool (if you’re cutting with a power tool)

  • Uncoated fine-tooth saw blade

Materials

  • Acrylic polish

  • Coarse grit sandpaper

  • Fine grit sandpaper

  • Extra plexiglass (Optional, in case of mistakes or cracks)

How to Cut Plexiglass with a Utility Knife, Box Cutter, or Glass Cutter

hand cutting plexiglass
Qzian – stock.adobe.com

Yes, it’s possible to cut plexiglass with just a sharp knife—though it might take a little more time and elbow grease when compared to using a power saw. Keep in mind that this method works best with plexiglass sheets 0.5 centimeters thick or less. 

1. Mark a Cutting Line

Put on your construction or utility gloves and start by laying the plexiglass sheet flat on a stable countertop, work bench, or table. Use a spring clamp or C clamp to keep it in place. Then, mark the line you want to cut using a dry erase marker and a ruler. 

2. Cut Over the Line

Press your knife down over the line you drew with moderate pressure until you’ve made a significant mark. Keep cutting along the line until you’ve made a significant groove. Flip the plexiglass sheet over and cut along the same line, just on the other side. 

To make sure you’re cutting in a straight and even line, keep the ruler on the plexiglass surface and run the knife along the ruler edge. 

Be extra careful to not cut your fingers during this step.

3. Snap the Cut

Unclamp the plexiglass and slide it down the table until the cut aligns with the table edge. Use moderate pressure to snap the plexiglass. If it doesn’t break off right away, run the knife along the groove a few more times and try again. 

4. Sand the Edge

It’s time to finish the cut by sanding the cut edge to make it smooth. Start with a coarse-grit paper, and move to a super-fine grit to finish. For the best results, wet sand the edge by dampening a piece of sandpaper. For best results, sand in one direction instead of circular or back-and-forth motions. Avoid creating too much friction while sanding—heat can warp plexiglass quickly. 

How to Cut Plexiglass with a Saw: Hand Saw, Table Saw, Jigsaw

Cutting plexiglass with a saw is a very similar process to cutting it with a knife—the prep and setup stay the same; only the cutting step is different. 

The biggest benefit to cutting plexiglass with a saw rather than a knife is that you can get a more precise cut with less effort and less time. 

Before getting started, it’s important to make sure you’re using an uncoated fine-tooth saw blade. This method will create a lot of dust, so always wear eyewear and a mask to protect yourself from airborne debris. 

1. Mark a Cutting Line

Start by laying the plexiglass sheet on a flat and stable surface—we recommend a sawhorse or two tables. Using a spring or C clamp, secure the plexiglass in place so it doesn’t move while you mark and cut it. Then, mark the line you want to cut using a dry erase marker and a ruler. 

2. Cut Carefully

Start from the edge of the plexiglass and use your saw along your marked line to cut slowly and precisely across the sheet. 

If you’re cutting a shape toward the center of the plexiglass, start by using a drill and bit to create a hole along the cutting line. From there, place the saw blade into the hole you just created, and slowly guide the saw along the outline until your desired shape has been cut out.  

3. Sand the Edges

Finish the cut by wet sanding the edges with coarse-grit paper. For final touches, use a super-fine grit paper. Remember—be careful to not create too much friction. Heat can warp plexiglass, making it unusable. 

Plexiglass: What You Need to Know

Before getting started, it’s important to learn a little bit about plexiglass to avoid unwanted scratches and braking. 

  • Plexiglass scratches easily. It doesn’t take much for plexiglass to scratch, so be careful to keep cutting tools away from the surface. 

  • Plexiglass has a layer of film. Since plexiglass is so prone to scratching, it most often comes with a layer of protective film. Wait until you’re finished cutting to remove it.

  • Plexiglass is shatterproof. Unlike traditional glass, plexiglass is shatterproof, so you don’t have to worry about it breaking into sharp pieces while working with it.

Plexiglass Cutting FAQs

Some quick answers to common questions about cutting plexiglass. 

What is the Best Way to Cut Plexiglass?

This all depends on the tools you have on hand and whether you’re trying to cut a straight line or shapes. 

The best tool to use for straight lines is either a circular saw or table saw. When cutting shapes, a jigsaw will be the easiest and most precise tool to use. 

Can You Cut Plexiglass by Hand?

Yes, you can cut plexiglass by hand using a sharp knife or blade (utility knife, box cutter, glass cutter, etc.). 

Can You Use a Dremel Tool?

Yes, you can use a dremel tool to cut plexiglass. Follow the instructions under “How to Cut Plexiglass with a Saw,” and use a dremel tool with a 561 bit instead of a saw.

Can You Cut Plexiglass Without It Cracking?

This material is shatterproof and much stronger than regular glass. However, it is still possible to crack the plexiglass while cutting it. To prevent cracks and unwanted splitting, stick painter’s or gaffer’s tape along both sides of the cut line. It’s also important to use a sharp blade—a dull blade has a greater chance of cracking the plexiglass while cutting.  

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