Working with acrylic is one of those things you either love or hate - personally I enjoy working with acrylic or plexi as it always provides new challenges. For this window mod we will be focusing solely on the basics of cutting straight lines.
When measuring the acrylic up for the window take an extra moment to measure everything accurately. Another thing to keep in mind, when using a large panel, try to plan out cuts so you have the least amount of waste possible. The acrylic needs to be cut larger than the panel gap to allow for mounting so add around 1.5" to your original panel measurements. For example, if your case panel is 26x50 inches, your acrylic will need to be cut around 27.5 x 51.5 inches.
Before getting to any cuts I would first like to point out the main problem encountered when cutting or drilling acrylic or any other type of plastic. That problem being when chopping up acrylic the heat caused by power tool blades will cause your materials to melt. This leads to burnt, melted and generally untidy edges and makes to whole process a lot more work. But the answer to this problem is a simple one... water. Keep in mind we are using power tools so proceed with caution keeping in mind that only a MINIMAL amount of liquid is used.
Using a small atomizer (spray) bottle to occasionally mist the cutting surface is an easy way to control the heat. Please note that if beads of water are flicking off your blade you have used way too much - stop what you are doing and wait for everything to dry! Utilising a wet cut method will also polish the edge of the acrylic as you cut giving a finish with a closer to clear optical clarity.
Over the years I have tried using all types of different jigsaw blades for cutting acrylic, from metal and wood blades, with combinations of blunt and new. Nowadays I use a slightly blunt metal blade which seems to cut the best for my needs. You may want to try a few different blades yourself on some scrap to test results. So for my cut I will continue to use the same blade I used to cut the case panels. Spray the sheet with some water from your sprayer and proceed to slowly start cutting the acrylic. Cut slowly letting the tool take the entire work load, making sure not to apply too much pressure to the sheet or blade.
Like most long cuts aim for one long single cut paying careful attention to your guide lines, while at the same time being mindful of melting and countering with a misting of H20. If enough water has been used and you have taken your time you should end up with a nice clean, clear cut. However, if you do end up with some less than desirable edges, they are relatively easy to clean up. Using some low grit wet and dry sandpaper give those haggard edges a once over, again it pays to keep the surfaces wet as the acrylic will be a lot more manageable.
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