Still Learning

Comparison of the cuts in acrylic by different blade types.

It shouldn’t be surprising to me when I learn something but I always get a thrill when something new takes root in my brain. Recently I read the book Every Tool’s a Hammer by Adam Savage of Mythbusters fame. In the book he gives a lot of cool advice in a “tricks-of-the-trade” manner.

At one point he excitedly mentions how he learned from Jamie Heinemann (his boss at the time) that cutting acrylic on a table saw requires a special blade to get good quality results. He goes on to describe the blade with less than exact or explicit terminology. The words he used didn’t match the verbiage used by the saw blade manufacturers but he provided enough information for me to find the blade he was describing.

It’s understandable that he didn’t get overly technical describing the blades, that’s really not the point of his book. What is strange is that in all of the woodworking/DIY publications I’ve read, never once have I seen it mentioned that there is a special blade for acrylic/plexiglass. The authors always used a standard carbide blade.

Diablo by Freud Plastic-Cutting Blade

Armed with that narrow spectrum of information I always tried to make a General Purpose blade work when I cut acrylic on my table saw. As you can see in the picture above (left piece), that produces less-than-satisfactory results. On the right side in the picture there’s a piece of acrylic cut with the, Plastic (and Non-Ferrous Metal) blade.

With the new blade there’s no chipping or melting of the plastic. This is going to make cutting plastic so much easier! Plus the blade is designed for cutting aluminum (and other non-ferrous metals), too. That ought to be interesting.

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