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Thread: Plexi for templates

  1. #1
    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Plexi for templates

    I was going to make some templates from plexi but I have had no success cutting it. Fine blade on a band saw not smooth enough chipping. Slow speed saber saw very fine blade no joy cracked the piece. Started hand cutting with a coping saw but way to slow and still not as nice of an edge as I want. Perhaps my sheet is to thin? 3/16 or less. I have also wondered why not use a nice chunk of MDF? If I decided I wanted plexi after the mdf I could use it as a template for a flush cut router bit. Any suggestions or advice welcome.

    Thanks!
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  2. #2
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Plexi for templates

    I have lots of plexi templates. I like being able to see through them to see what the wood looks like when laying out stock.
    I cut them with the bandsaw. Yes, it makes for a messy edge because the heat from cutting melts the material, so I cut oversize then sand to the line using the spindle sander. That has to be done a little at a time allowing the edge to cool, and a burr of melted material has to be removed from the sanded edge, but the resulting templates are accurate, transparent and durable (though they can be hard to find when misplaced...).

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  4. #3
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    Default Re: Plexi for templates

    I make templates out of acrylic sheet all the time. I usually do .100" thickness. Cut it close to the line on my bandsaw. It does melt a little of the edge and that builds up. You can snap off the buildup with your fingers though. I then clean it up with a spindle sander to the lines, along with an edge sander. Never had it break or chip doing it this way.

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  6. #4
    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Plexi for templates

    Quote Originally Posted by sliebers View Post
    I make templates out of acrylic sheet all the time. I usually do .100" thickness. Cut it close to the line on my bandsaw. It does melt a little of the edge and that builds up. You can snap off the buildup with your fingers though. I then clean it up with a spindle sander to the lines, along with an edge sander. Never had it break or chip doing it this way.
    My blade was probably still too coarse but it was the finest I had and I was trying to move faster because of the melt. Thanks, guys. I actually do not have a spindle or belt sander. I do however mount a handheld belt sander on a board and use it sometimes, not the best choice and I did not try it with this.
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  7. #5
    Adrian Minarovic
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    Default Re: Plexi for templates

    I also use clear plexiglass templates, 3 or 4 mm thick. I scribe lines with sharp pointed tool and cut roughly with deep throat fret saw with roughest blades I can get - I prefer scroll saw blades with the two holding pins removed. They cut reasonably fast and clean. I finish the template with files.
    I've also had templates made on CNC, either water jet or router. If you can draw your chapes in computer the cutting is quite cheap (look for signmakers and such).
    Adrian

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  9. #6
    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Plexi for templates

    Seems in this case it was all “operator error” I will give it another shot using the advice here. Seems I was just being to picky and cutting to close with the wrong idea of initial finish quality.
    My avatar is of my OldWave Oval A

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  10. #7

    Default Re: Plexi for templates

    There are 2 kinds of clear plastic available. One is cast, which cuts clean and the other is extruded and cuts like snot.
    Impact resistant plastic, such as lexan is extruded and is difficult to machine.

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  12. #8

    Default Re: Plexi for templates

    I find that lexan or polycarbonate is superior to plexiglass. Its a lot less brittle. You got to use a good sharp blade. Without exception, I always need to refine a template using my spindle sander and sometimes via a lot of hand work. I use 3/8" lexan for my master templates. I get my lexan from a local manufacturing operation from their scrap bin. I make it worth their while as they get a recycle price by the pound. Most of the time its just coffee and a dozen donuts but once in a while, I come through with something better.

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  14. #9

    Default Re: Plexi for templates

    I use 6mm polycarbonate for templates. Previously I have used Perspex for other things always had trouble with cracking around drilled holes. So just avoid it for templates I prefer not to put a lot of time and effort in for it to crack.

  15. #10

    Default Re: Plexi for templates

    Thin acrylic is brittle but a fine blade in a handheld scroll saw (jigsaw to some people) will work, but Lexan (polycarbonate) easier to work with and isn’t going to shatter if abused. Some bandsaw-blade combinations are too erratic to work with. Lexan also tolerates vibration from sanding and grinding better. Main thing with brittle materials is to clamp them down top and bottom, with plywood, say, to cut down on vibration. Also, I think leaving the protective plastic film on any of these materials also helps those issues. If transparency isn’t critical, ABS is cheap and machines smoothly.

  16. #11

    Default Re: Plexi for templates

    Two words....

    La
    Zer

    More seriously, here's what you should do:
    Make an MDF template. Then tape your acrylic to the MDF. Then flush trim the acrylic to the MDF.

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  18. #12
    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Plexi for templates

    Quote Originally Posted by Marty Jacobson View Post
    Two words....

    La
    Zer

    More seriously, here's what you should do:
    Make an MDF template. Then tape your acrylic to the MDF. Then flush trim the acrylic to the MDF.
    Money! HAHAHA, I have looked ay some. I wonder how well one would work handheld.

    I already bought the mdf!
    My avatar is of my OldWave Oval A

    Creativity is just doing something wierd and finding out others like it.

  19. #13

    Default Re: Plexi for templates

    Years ago I worked on racket ball court doors and cut sheets of 1/2" plexiglas into small door lights. Good horsepower, sharp blades on an industrial panel saw and recut to size on a sliding table tablesaw, finished with an edge sander. No issues. Never worked with thinner plexiglas. Nasty fumes and dust.
    Play it like you mean it.

  20. #14

    Default Re: Plexi for templates

    Quote Originally Posted by John Bertotti View Post
    Money! HAHAHA, I have looked ay some. I wonder how well one would work handheld.
    Unfortunately, a laser would be very dangerous to use handheld. The laser is invisible, and just like a flashlight bounces all over the room off of any shiny surface, the laser bounces all over the place too. In fact, many surfaces which appear dull and non-reflective are actually mirrors in the wavelength in which the laser operates, and you can end up starting fires (or causing blindness) in very surprising places and in a very short amount of time. A laser of small enough output to be safe to use handheld would not do anything to a piece of wood.

  21. #15
    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Plexi for templates

    Quote Originally Posted by Marty Jacobson View Post
    Unfortunately, a laser would be very dangerous to use handheld. The laser is invisible, and just like a flashlight bounces all over the room off of any shiny surface, the laser bounces all over the place too. In fact, many surfaces which appear dull and non-reflective are actually mirrors in the wavelength in which the laser operates, and you can end up starting fires (or causing blindness) in very surprising places and in a very short amount of time. A laser of small enough output to be safe to use handheld would not do anything to a piece of wood.
    I was just being goofy, I actually work with some lasers in some of the industrial equipment I work on, we are moving away from them for cost reasons and becasue of the hazards with it, now using LEDs we were not cutting with them but imaging with them. Nevertheless it would be fun to play with!
    My avatar is of my OldWave Oval A

    Creativity is just doing something wierd and finding out others like it.

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