Plexiglass is often compared to regular glass but it is actually a safer, cheaper, and easier-to-install option. So if you have access to it, there’s no reason not to get it. The material lets 90% of light in to brighten up the room.
However, a lot of people don’t understand what plexiglass is, how to use it, or how to cut it for projects. But once you learn these things, a whole new world of possibilities in the home improvement niche is opened to you.
What Is Plexiglass?
Plexiglass is a clear acrylic sheet that is often used as a generic term despite the name Plexiglas being a brand of plexiglass. You see, acrylic was created in the early 1900s and Plexiglas was one of its first products.
There are now many more brands of plexiglass, but just as cola, which was originally Coca-Cola is often used for other brands, so is plexiglass. So when we use the term, we mean the product, not just the brand.
How To Cut Plexiglass
Cutting plexiglass isn’t all that different than cutting glass. The most important part is to make sure you wear gloves that can protect you from cuts and gouges. Plexiglass is dangerous in that way, just like glass.
While you can use a table saw, if you know how to use a table saw, you know how to cut plexiglass. But if you’re inexperienced, it’s safer to cut it by hand, so we’ll teach you how to do that as it is the safest way.
If you’ve never used any type of cutting tool in construction, find a friend, even if they aren’t a professional, to guide you. This is serious business and shouldn’t be taken lightly, especially not at first.
Step 1: Gather Materials
After you make sure you have good working gloves, gather a cutting tool A scoring tool, box cutter, or plexiglass cutting tool will work. Then grab a measuring tape. This is all you will need unless the plexiglass is thick.
In that case, you will use a table saw. If you have never used a table saw before, find someone who has and have them help you out for the first few cuts. This isn’t something you should teach yourself how to do.
Step 2: Measure And Mark
You can either use a marker or simply your cutting tool to mark your plexiglass. But first, you need to measure. Find out the size you need for your project and write it down. Then measure again to match.
You can make tiny little cut marks where the line is or run along with it with a thin marker or writing tool that can mark the plexiglass. Dry erase will wipe right off so it can be a good option for temporary marks.
Step 3: Scoring And Cutting
Now it’s time to get to cutting. Start by scoring the line with your cutting tool. Start by making a shallow cut, making it deeper and deeper each time you run your knife along the line. It can take a few times to get it deep enough.
Keep cutting until you’re at least 3/4 of the way through. Then, move the piece to the end of the table and gently apply pressure to the other side. If it breaks off, then good. But don’t apply too much pressure.
If it doesn’t break, keep cutting. If it does break smoothly, then get some sandpaper and gently smooth off the edge. That’s it! You’re done. This is very similar to cutting drywall and even can use the same tools!
Difference Between Acrylic And Plexiglass
A lot of people get two terms mixed up: acrylic and plexiglass. Acrylic is a type of clear plastic that is very versatile. Plexiglass is made from acrylic plastic. So in terms of differences, it’s a lot like cement vs. concrete.
Because cement is an ingredient while concrete is a recipe with cement in it. Acrylic is the ingredient in this case with plexiglass being a more specific type of acrylic used in construction. Acrylic is a more broad term.
When used to describe the material we are referring to, but acrylic and plexiglass are appropriate. However, if you say acrylic, people may ask for specifications. This is why we prefer to say plexiglass.
Projects You Can Make With Plexiglass
Unlike working with glass, working with plexiglass is easy. You can use it for almost anything and there are very few accidents involving injuries that weren’t caused by using a tool the user wasn’t comfortable with.
So make sure you never use a tool you’ve never used before without supervision from someone you can trust. If you do this and wear protective gear, too much is better than not enough, then you should be good!
Plexiglass can be used for all sorts of projects. You can use it for furniture, walls, showers, and so much more. While you can come up with your own genius ideas, here are a few for your to draw inspiration from.
Plexiglass Window Shelves
Here we have one of our own projects where we mounted gorgeous plexiglass shelves on our windows. What we did was spray paint our brackets and screws gold to add class and character to the shelves.
Then we mounted the shelves as normal. We cut the plexiglass to fit beforehand and used 3/4 in plexiglass for strength without getting it so thick that it was cumbersome. You want plexiglass to be strong yet airy.
Movie Ticket Display
Some of the best memories are made going to the movies. But movie tickets alone are not that attractive to display. But you can make a simple, yet alluring movie ticket display with plexiglass and card stock.
A Beautiful Mess does a great job with this project! They made copies of their tickets so they could keep their originals in a space spot stashed away. You can’t tell the difference at all! The colors here are amazing and customizable.
Contemporary Pencil Holder
Talk about attractive! This plexiglass pencil holder is useful and it looks amazing. Anika’s DIY Life created this with a simple wood frame opposite a similar open-top plexiglass frame. That’s all there is to it.
The plexiglass here is thin and really easy to work with. You can use just about any type of construction cutting tool for this type of plexiglass which can be purchased at just about any department, hardware, or craft store.
Abstract Fruit Bowl
This fruit bowl looks like it cost hundreds of dollars and can only be purchased at an art show or world markets. But if you have a heat gun on hand, you only have to pay a few dollars for this project.
Using just a heat gun and some pliers, Stacy Risenmay created this bowl in minutes. It is simple, elegant, and high-end. Plus, it’s safe to use with kids because it’s made of plastic and not glass, despite its appearance.
Acrylic Desk Tray
Catch-all trays are trending right now. You can get them in glass, leather, metal, and even agate. But this acrylic plexiglass tray is just about the cheapest of them all, though you wouldn’t know that by looking.
All you need is a heat gun and a block to shape the plexiglass around. You can even buy the pre-cut plexiglass in a square shape. Ashley Phipps makes this project look easy but it will take practice to master.
Toy Storage Bin
This bin by The Handyman’s Daughter was created for LEGOs, but it can be used for anything. Special trays were cut in the wood below to accommodate the LEGO bases but they can be used for other things too.
This project takes a little more work but the plexiglass aspect of it isn’t all that difficult. You just need to cut holes to screw it into the wooden base. Doesn’t this look so adorable that you’d buy LEGOS just to store them?
Simple West Elm Wall Shelf
Ursula of Homemade By Carmona decided that $700 was too much for a wall shelf, despite falling in love with it. So she made her own for under $15. Yep, that is without a 0. Which is an amazing feat!
All she used were laminate shelves and thin plexiglass to create this shelf. It took less than an hour to make and is super easy if you have experience with plexiglass. This thing can be up in an afternoon easy!
Is Plexiglass For Me?
If you don’t like the look of plexiglass, then cross it off the list. But this is pretty much the only downfall to it. Other than that, it’s durable and attractive to most people who will assume it’s glass at first glance.
If you want a cheaper, safer, and more versatile alternative to glass, then yes. Glass is very hard to DIY with but plexiglass is easy to use. Even a beginner can learn to craft new projects with plexiglass.
It’s actually a great thing to start with as long as you begin with thin pieces and wear protective gear. Plexiglass is a wonderful material that should be appreciated, both by professionals and hobbyists.