What's the procedure for cutting ACRYLITE® acrylic with circular saws?

For table type saws or panel saws with the blade mounted underneath, the blade should protrude approximately 1/8 inch to ½ inch above the work pieces. The optimum setting will vary with sheet thickness (see Table 1). On overhead blade-mounted panel saws, the blade should protrude 1/32 inch through the material. These settings should yield a smooth cut and minimize edge chipping by providing a favorable cutting angle for the cutting edge of the saw blade teeth. In general, larger blade clearances will reduce tooth engagement slightly resulting in less heat generation and, in some situations, reduced melting while smaller blade clearances provide better cutting and chip control resulting in less likelihood of chipping on the bottom of the cut. Excessively low blade clearances, often in combination with a dull blade, can cause chipping at the top of the cut.

Feed the material evenly through the saw. Uneven feed rates will produce melted spots or chipping on the plastic. Typical feed rates for ACRYLITE® extruded (FF) sheet are 100 to 300 inches per minute. However, with some specially designed saw blades (such as the “NO MELT” saw blade from Forrest Manufacturing Co.) feed rates as high as 600 inches per minute can be used with success.

When cutting on a table saw, care must be taken to ensure the operators safety. Always follow the precautions outlined in the manual provided by the saw manufacturer and consult the saw blade supplier for recommendations on the proper use of their saw blades. Safety precautions should also include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Always wear protective safety glasses with side shields.
  • Ensure all guards are in place and operational.
  • Do not wear loose fitting clothing or jewelry and tie back long hair
  • Ensure work area is clean and free of slip hazards.
  • Ensure the correct saw blade is mounted for the material being cut.
  • Ensure the saw blade is in good condition, is properly mounted, rotates in the correct direction, is correctly aligned and is set at the proper height.
  • Never place hands within four (4) inches of the rotating saw blade. If small pieces must be cut that could require the hands to be closer, then consider alternate methods of cutting, feeding or fixturing the material for safer handling.
  • Never force-feed material into the blade. If the motor slows down, the material begins to “ride-up” or if excessive vibration is encountered, discontinue cutting and turn off the power.
  • Never position your body directly behind the saw blade during operation and be sure no one else is working in the area behind the blade.
  • Never utilize the fence for sizing cuts less than 2.0 times the length of exposed saw blade. For shorter cuts use a miter gauge to guide the material.
  • Never use the miter gauge and fence together.
  • Never draw the material backwards during cutting.
  • Always hold the material firmly while feeding.
  • Stop the saw frequently to clean up cutoffs and sawdust. Be sure the saw blade has stopped completely before cleaning. Do not attempt to remove waste while the saw is running. 
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