March 6, 2022

How to cut acrylic sheet with Dremel

Measure the size of the piece of acrylic you want to cut using a tape measure. That determines the height of the workpiece of acrylic. Mark the measurements on the acrylic with a black marker, making a mark on each end, and line up a T-square. 

Draw a straight line from one mark to the other along the T-square for a perfectly straight cut. Insert a 561 bit into the Dremel. The bit is for acrylic and other applications. 

Set the Dremel speed to six or eight. Any Dremel speed faster makes the blade go too fast and tear up the acrylic, causing it to chip or crack. Maintain an average Dremel speed that neither damages the tool nor slows you down.

Clamp the acrylic down to avoid moving or swaying while you cut. That ensures that you make a straight and steady cut. Turn on the Dremel and start cutting along the mark made on the acrylic. Move slowly to avoid chipping the acrylic. 

Pour water over the Dremel when cutting, so it does not overheat. That will also smooth out the acrylic and make the cutting process much easier. Continue along the line until you have made the entire cut.

Measure the width of the piece and mark on the acrylic the same way you did in the first step. Draw a line with a marker using a T-square. Repeat the same process when making the second cut. Turn off the Dremel and sand the acrylic edges where you made the cuts. Use fine-grade sandpaper. Sand until the edges are smooth.

Can I cut acrylic with a Dremel?

Yes. Using a Dremel is one of the best options when cutting acrylic. It is easy enough for homeowners to take on. Using appropriate attachments on a Dremel makes the process simple. If you need to cut a piece of plastic using a Dremel, you will need to use the Dremel 561 bit.

Can I use a Dremel to cut plastic?

Yes, Dremels cut on plastic. However, a low speed allows the bit to do the work. If you force it or go for high speed, you will melt the plastic, and it ends up as a mess. Using the 561 high-speed multi-purpose cutters gives you the power to cut plastic and other materials with ease.

How do you cut acrylic sheets without cracking them?

If you cut too fast, the acrylic will melt from the heat the friction creates, and your project will be a mess. Apply a strip of painter’s tape to the cut line to prevent cracking. Tape off the area cut with painter’s tape, then use a sharp box cutter and score back and forth until you can bend and break it apart. The sealing tape should help keep it from splitting.

Use a razor box knife and reverse it, making your marks lay a straight edge on the piece. Score the Plexi several times along the lines. Lay the scoreline barely off the edge of a table and give it a swift snap. Sand a bit.

What is the best tool to cut acrylic sheets?

A jigsaw is one of the best tools for cutting acrylic sheets. It is a small handheld tool that can cut the sheet with a straight blade. The function operates by going up and down in fast motion. If you intend to cut acrylic into a nonlinear fashion, a jigsaw might be the right option for you.

Using the Dremel 561 bit

The 561 bit is a high-speed cutter that gives you the power to easily cut acrylic. 

Step by step guide

  1. Clamp the acrylic sheet down with table clamps to prevent slipping. Any movement when measuring, marking, or cutting can create a situation where the end cut is not the initial cut you wanted.
  2. Measure the distance of your first cut using a tape measure or ruler. Mark the beginning and endpoints with a thin marker.
  3. Using a T-square, draw a line between the two marks. A T-square braced on the edge helps you mark 90-degree lines more accurately. 
  4. Set up Dremel using different Dremel attachments. Choose based on what you already have. Using the 561 cutting bit requires a steady hand. Attach this bit into the Dremel. Instead of handling the Dremel straight up with the cutting bit, you use cut-off wheels with a sideways action. For thin acrylic or quick cuts that do not go a long distance, make use of the mandrel to connect it to the Dremel.
  5. Check your mounting and reset if necessary so that the line you need to cut is off the edge of the workbench. The material should be over the edge so that you do not damage the acrylic. Start cutting along the line you made when preparing the acrylic sheet, making sure the cutting attachment is cutting straight up and down, and not at an angle.
  6. Follow the line in front of the tool, instead of concentrating on the cutting edge, to stay in a straight line. Use a smooth and slow action, since pushing harder in different spots may make uneven cuts.
  7. Use a spray bottle and wet the acrylic, cutting bit. You may need someone else to do this for you as you are cutting. The water lubricates the cutting, making it easier to get through the material. 
  8. Continue cutting the entire cut. 
  9. Repeat the process for additional cuts, rechecking your marking, and changing your mounting.
  10. Clean up the Acrylic sheet since the acrylic edges will have some roughness. Use fine-grit sandpaper attached to a sanding block for the cleanest edges. 
  11. Leave the acrylic clamped to the table for a base to press against it. You may need to flip the sheet over to clean up the other side.
  12. If there are some jagged cuts outside the cutting lines, coarse sandpaper on a sanding block helps straighten them out. When necessary to cut off excess material missed, re-mount the acrylic sheet and cut again.
David D. Hughes
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