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Framing Tip: Cutting Acrylic on a Tablesaw

May 8, 2016

One of the unique tricks to building a frame for a drawing is cutting the acrylic glazing sheet. The tool most often recommended for this procedure is a special hooked knife designed just for this, but I can’t comfortably tell you the number of times that has gone wrong for me. You have to score the acrylic in several passes, it’s hard to keep a straight line on the smooth sheet, and it almost never snaps cleanly. Fortunately, I’ve discovered it’s much easier to do this with a tablesaw. Acrylic will not cut like wood, however. If you try to cut all the way through, the blade will just destroy the sheet. Here’s how I do it.

acrylic_tabelsaw1

First, I’ve cut some cardboard to the size of the frame interior to use as a guide, taping it to the edges of the acrylic. I’ve also taped some newspaper to the front to protect the acrylic from getting scratched while pushing it on the table.

acrylic_tabelsaw2

Set the blade depth to cut no more than halfway through the acrylic. Just like using a knife, you only want to score the sheet, not cut all the way through in one pass.

acrylic_tabelsaw3

The acrylic snaps off easily. There will be a few rough burs along the edge, but that will scrape off easily with a utility knife, and get smooth with some sand paper. You can also flip the sheet over, and carefully saw off any excess on that side.

acrylic_tabelsaw4

Here the sheet is placed in the back of the frame. By the way, that’s my new frame I bought the other day all glued together. I just need to insert the artwork and fix the backing.

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