If you’ve cut plastic before, you know that finding the best tool for cutting plastic can be challenging. Cutting plastic is not just about getting the job done. You need to find the right tool, so you can cut safely and get a good clean cut.
Using the wrong tool can result in a poor cut, and can also be dangerous. Before we get into the best tool for cutting plastic, here are some of the worst tools for cutting plastic.
- A hot knife: Using a hot knife to cut through plastic exposes you to the risk of a nasty burn, or the plastic catching fire.
- Power tools: Using high RPM (revs per minute) power tools will melt the plastic you are cutting through, running the risk of getting a burn.
- A kitchen knife: Kitchen knives are not designed to cut plastic. Using one can be dangerous and ineffective.
- Traditional sharp utility knife: Traditional utility knives have super sharp edges that may be good for cutting materials, but are also a serious safety threat.
Now, let’s shift our focus to the best tool for cutting plastic.
Best Tool For Cutting Thin Plastic
The best tool for cutting thin plastic (¼ inches or less) is a utility knife. Examples of thin plastic are plastic banding, plastic packaging, and plastic sheets.
A utility knife is the best option because it provides a good grip and control. A utility knife works in a similar way to scoring glass. It creates a shallow cut in the plastic, which makes it easy to either break the plastic or cut through completely.
However, not all utility knives are created equal. Remember, cutting is not just about results; it’s also about safety.
Slice® manufactures some of the safest utility knives on the market. For cutting through thin plastic, we recommend our range of utility knives, including the 10558 Smart-Retracting Utility Knife, the 10554 Auto-Retractable Utility Knife, or the 10550 Manual Utility Knife.
We also recommend using one of our pointed tip blades like the 10528 Pointed-tip Utility Knife Blade if you need to initiate your cut with a puncture, such as in the middle of a sheet of plastic.
If you prefer a traditional handle, the 10490 Manual Metal-Handle Utility Knife comes with a thinner 10524 Utility Blade and has optional 10525 and 10523 blades.
Best Tool For Cutting Thick Plastic
The best tool for cutting thick plastic (thicker than ¼ inches) is a saw. Thick plastic examples are plastic piping, plastic skirting, and Perspex sheeting. The three best types of saws for cutting thick plastic are a fine-toothed saw, a jigsaw, and a table saw.
- A fine-toothed saw works best for precision plastic cutting. If you need to make multiple non-linear cuts, this saw will serve you best. Fine-toothed saws also yield the smoothest cut.
- A jigsaw is ideal for cutting thicker pieces of plastic like piping. However, a jigsaw may not give you clean results. Once you cut, you may need to use a deburring tool like the Slice® 10513 manual pen cutter to deburr the edges. (Watch for our new deburring tool to be released in 2020).
- A table saw excels in cutting through bigger plastic pipes or thick plastic blocks. Be careful to use a non-melting blade.
Best Tool For Cutting Hard Plastic
The best tool for cutting hard plastic is a saw or a piece of string. Hard plastic can be thin or thick but differs from the rest because of its brittleness. Hard plastic examples include plastic pegs and plastic toys.
Cutting brittle hard plastic with the wrong tool can result in a fractured or broken edge. Using a saw or a piece of string depends on the size of the cut, cut direction, and the level of precision.
- Cutting hard plastic with a saw: You can effectively cut thick hard plastic with a hand saw, jigsaw, or a table saw. For each type of saw, pick a blade with a high tooth count, which will give you a smoother cut.
- Cutting hard plastic with string: A piece of string is your best option for cutting small pieces of hard plastic. For example, when making hand-made plastic toys or other hard plastic craft goods.
If you’re looking for the best tool for cutting plastic your choice will depend on three things:
- The type of plastic you’re cutting.
- The level of precision you need.
- Your preferred level of safety.
Since not all types of plastic that you use will be the same, we recommend trying different tools. Make a small cut with each tool to see which one gives you the best result. You may need to combine multiple tools to get it right.
No matter what tool you end up using, always remember that the best tool for cutting plastic will give you great cutting results and keep you safe.