Plastic acrylic sheet is durable, long-lasting and available in opaque and transparent colors. Those working with acrylic sheet know that you can cut it with many types of saws -- but that it is prone to chipping. You can easily wind up with a poorly cut edge if you are not careful. To get a good, straight edge, consider using an acrylic cutting blade on a table saw.
Cutting Acrylic Sheet Between 1/4 and 1/2 Inch Thick
Use a fine-toothed table-saw blade with closely spaced teeth in the triple-chip-grind configuration. It is preferable to use a blade meant expressly for cutting acrylic. These blades are more expensive but produce a smoother cut with few chips.
Push the acrylic sheet through the table-saw blade at a steady pace. Do not force it through the blade. If you push too fast, you may end up with chips. If you push too slowly, the edge of the acrylic sheet can melt from friction.
Clean up the cut edges. Start by removing any large scrap pieces on the edges with the metal file. Sand the edges flat with rough-grade sandpaper. Smooth the edges out with the carbide scraper. If you want to get even better edges, use fine sandpaper and wet polish to finish.
Cutting Acrylic Less Than 1/4 Inch Thick
Clamp the acrylic sheet to the table surface. This keeps it very steady and reduces the risk of it moving while you work.
Score along the surface of the acrylic until the cut is 1/8th as deep as the width of the sheet. On a 1/4-inch-thick sheet of acrylic, the cut should be 1/32 of an inch deep. This may take as many as 20 passes with the scoring tool.
Unclamp and move the acrylic sheet so that the score line is precisely over the table edge. Clamp the sheet in place to secure it. Ideally, the table edge should be a square edge. Avoid beveled tables.
Apply firm, steady pressure to the overhanging edge of the acrylic sheet until it breaks off. If the score line was cut deeply enough, the break will occur there.
Sand the edges lightly with rough sandpaper, progressing to the scraper or fine sandpaper as needed. The scraper may not be an option for very thin acrylic sheet.