A piece of plexiglass can be cut with many toolsBut using a Dremel with the proper accessories can make the process quite simple. Because of the flexible nature of Plexiglas, lightweight hand tools like the Dremel are a better choice than more complex power tools. We will show you how to cut plexiglass with Dremel tools.
The Dremel rotary tool can be used for many different tasksThis makes them a handy tool to have around the house. In addition to cutting materials from plastic to tile, they are also excellent for filing rough edges or sharpening other tools.
How to cut plexiglass with a Dremel?
Plexiglas comes in different thicknesses. Since the Dremel is compact and limited in cutting depth, it is not recommended to cut Plexiglas thicker than 6mm. For thicker pieces, it is better to use a band saw.
- Dremel rotary tool
- Dremel accessory (there are several options)
- Dremel 561 Multi-Purpose Cutter Bit
- Dremel 565 Multi-Purpose Cutting Kit
- Dremel EZ476 1 1/2 inch EZ Lock Plastic Cutting Discs
- Tape measure
- T-square or ruler
- Fine tip marker
- Water (in a spray bottle or cup)
- Fine grain sandpaper
- Sanding block
How to cut Plexiglas
Before proceeding with the actual cutting, make sure your workspace is clear and you have room to move around. We recommend that you use a workbenchbut any flat surface to which you can attach the material should be fine.
After measuring, use your Dremel to cut along the marked lines you made. Cut very slowly so as not to chip the plexiglass at any point.
Use water in a spray bottle frequently to prevent the Dremel from overheating. The water will make the cutting process much easier.
Start by securing the Plexiglas with clamps to prevent slippage. Any movement, whether during measuring, marking or cutting, can create a situation where the final cut is not the desired one.
Using a tape measureUsing a ruler, or a ruler if the piece is small, measure the distance of your first cut. Mark the start and end points with a fine marker.
Using a T-square or ruler, draw a line between the two marks. A T-square set on the edge will help mark the 90 degree lines more accurately. This line is where the cut will be made.
2. Prepare the Dremel tool
There are different Dremel accessories that you can use to cut Plexiglas. Choose based on what you already have, or your specific use case.
The 561 multi-purpose cutter bit can do the job on its ownbut you will have to work very carefully. Attach this drill bit directly to the Dremel.
Dremel also offers the versatile 565 cutting kit, which includes a few cutting bits (including the 561) and a support that holds the Dremel in a vertical position, so that the cuts are not bevelled. We recommend this kit when making multiple cuts.
There are also the EZ476 1 1/2-inch EZ Lock plastic cutting wheels from Dremel. Instead of manipulating the Dremel directly upward with the cutting bit, you use cutting discs with a side action.
For very thin plexiglass or quick cuts, this may be the best choice. You will also need a chuck to connect it to the Dremel.
If you are using the 561, set the Dremel speed to 6 or 8. A lower speed may not cut the Plexiglas, and a higher speed will melt the material rather than cut it. The EZ476 cutting disc can be used at full speed.
3. Cutting the Plexiglas with the Dremel
Check your set-up and adjust it if necessary to make sure the line you need to cut does not extend past the edge of the workbench. The piece you are cutting should be above the edge, as a fall when cutting could damage the acrylic.
Start cutting along the line you drew when preparing the plexiglass. Make sure the cutting attachment is straight up and down, not tilted.
Follow the line in front of the tool instead of focusing on the cutting edge itself, this will help you stay in a straight line. Use gentle, slow pressure, as pushing harder in different places can make the cut uneven.
Keep a spray bottle or cup (unbreakable) handy and regularly wet the Plexiglas and the cutting attachment. It may be easier to have someone else do it for you while you cut.
This will cool the bit and help prevent burns and melting points. The water also lubricates the cut, making it easier to penetrate the material. The final result will be smoother than it would be without the use of water.
Continue for the duration of the cut. Try not to pause in the middle and start over, as this often ends up making the cut uneven.
Repeat the process for subsequent cuts, double-checking your marking and adjusting your setup if necessary.
Clean the plexiglass
The edges of the Plexiglas probably have roughness, cuts or irregularities that you need to clean up. Use fine-grit sandpaper attached to a sanding block to get the sharpest edges.
It is best to leave the plexiglass attached to the table so you have a good base to lean against. You may need to turn the piece over to clean the other side separately.
If there are jagged cuts outside the cut lines, coarse sandpaper on a sanding block will probably be enough to straighten them out. If it is necessary to cut away the excess material that was missed, reassemble the Plexiglas and cut again.
Although it is a small tool, the Dremel has a surprising powerand injuries are possible. Follow the basic safety rules of the Dremel whenever you use it. Be sure to treat it like any other power tool. You must wear safety glasses because you are cutting small pieces of material.
Check that the electrical cord can reach far enough to work easily in the space you have set up. Examine the cord for exposed wires or damaged insulation. Keep the cord away from the rotating bit.
Do not plug in the Dremel until you are ready to use it. When changing accessories, unplug the unit to prevent accidental starting.
Tips for using the Dremel to cut Plexiglas
If the cuts are very difficult to make
- Check the cutting attachment to make sure it is properly attached.
- Check that the attachment is sharp.
- If the Dremel is cordless, try replacing the battery.
- If the material is too thick, you may need to use another tool.
If the Dremel melts the acrylic instead of cutting it
- Try using more water.
- Reduce speed.
- Let the Dremel do the work. If you force it, you will get excessive melting or even burning. It can also damage the tool.
- Learn how to attach Dremel bits and what each accessory is used for before you try to use them the first time.
- Check the tightness of the bits after each long cut.
- Coupe discs shrink when you use them! That's what they're designed for, so don't think you're doing anything wrong. Have a few on hand so you don't have to stop your project in the middle and have to run to the store.
Conclusion on cutting Plexiglas with a Dremel
Cutting Plexiglas with a Dremel rotary tool is easy to do, but also easy to mess up.
Take your time, move slowly and follow the lines with a steady hand. It is important to be well prepared and familiar with your tool.