Too often do we hear about customers taking their new plastic sheets, whether it be acrylic/plexiglass, polycarbonate or ABS, and reporting to us that their power tools created big cracks or irregular cuts. If this has happened to you, you’re definitely not the first and won’t be the last.
A common misunderstanding is that your basic drill bits and saw blades you’ve used on wood can be used the same way on plastics. This is entirely false and can cause you to waste plenty of time and money. Your plastic pieces will inevitably chip, crack or leave very rough or uneven edges.
Special plastic drill bits will have sharper tips with a 0-degree rake, which prevents the drill bit from grabbing onto the product and chipping out pieces. It has a more gradual and smooth entry into the plastic which then leaves a more precise and clean drill hole.
Tips for Drilling
- It’s best to use some soft scrap pieces of wood under where you’re drilling your holes. This helps prevent the other side of your plastic product from fraying out or accidentally slamming your drill into the plastic once you’ve breached it completely.
- Fasten your sheet down to prevent unwanted movement.
- Reduce the speed of the drill when removing it after the hole is made.
- Try not to drill too close to the edge of your sheets. While plastic drill bits do reduce the amount of stress when creating a hole compared to a regular bit, you still run the risk of creating a stress fracture. A safe distance is about 1/4″.
Special plastic saw blades have between 60-80 teeth, depending on the diameter of the blade. Also, the teeth have, again, a 0-degree rake as well as a 90-degree angle. A wood saw blade has more of a hook-shape to its teeth that tears into wood. The plastic saw blade’s teeth has more of a grinding effect to prevent chipping.
Tips for Sawing
- You will want to raise the blade about 1/4″ above the material in a table saw, in order to clear the plastic entirely
- Keep your hands as far from the blade as possible. If needed, use a scrap piece of plastic to push your product through the blade
This should go without saying, but it is ill-advised to ignore any general safety precautions when operating dangerous equipment such as drills and saws. Always wear the proper gear and work in a safe environment.
Visit our online store or visit our Santa Ana location to get yourself stocked with the right tools for the job!