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What the right material for me?

Hey Community!

What type of material is best for making robots, small boxes, and platforms?
What inexpensive tools can I buy for cutting them?

1/4 or 1/8 inch acrylic would be perfect, but I don't have a laser cutter. Can you cut small pieces of acrylic with a handsaw?
Same thing with wood, I have no idea how to make cut small pieces properly.
Metal? Is that even an option?

Wood seems to be my only option but I don't know where to get it or how to cut it.
If I buy 1/8 inch ply I cutting plywood is annoying, since it's made up of layers.
Is 1/8 plywood what I want to use? Is there some other type of thin wood I should use?
Basswood is OK but most of the time it's too thin and very expensive.

I have a good dremel but trying to cut along a strait line with those dumb grinding wheels is very difficult.

Where can I buy really small nuts, bolts, and washers to use with wood/acrylic?

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hunter9993 years ago

Check your local hardware store.

JM19993 years ago

Cool project

lewisb423 years ago

If it fits your budget, a good jigsaw is the best starter tool for this job. It will cut wood, acrylic, and aluminum as long as you have the right blades. Might do polycarbonate (lexan) as well. You can use a fence with it to cut straight lines.


Barring that, you can do a lot with a hand-held miter saw or japanese pull saw for cutting small pieces of wood for building bots. Both will cut reasonably straight on small pieces. Get a miter box to help out here.

You can cut aluminum bar and rod stock to length with a hacksaw. I wouldn't recommend long cuts in plate with it unless you want to spend a lot of quality time with a file or grinder.

HavocRC (author)  lewisb423 years ago

I don't think you get it, a jigsaw's blade is much too big for small cuts on cabinet grade plywood. If you are cutting against the grain the up and down of the blade splinters the wood making it useless.

A miter would help-

Are you mistaking a reciprocating saw/sawzall for a jigsaw? Maybe you just used a really bad jigsaw. It is part the skill of the operator and knowing to use the right speed, feed, and type of blade. Put down masking tape over your cutline, mark it and then cut. It helps prevent tearout. Cabinet grade plywood should not splinter as bad.

caitlinsdad3 years ago

You might want to get a coping saw. It can cut wood and plastic. It has a long thin blade so you can cut tight curves easily. Get a selection of files, rasps, surform tools and reamers to supplement the sandpaper for finishing off rough edges.

Get yourself a drill and jigsaw if you need powertools to make holes and cut. The small projects you see from a lasercutter is craft or cabinet grade plywood, the good stuff. Usually found in small pieces at the craft stores for modelmaking. Luan plywood at the home centers are usually rougher grain house construction type but you might find the better grade underlayment type or use MDF which is a compressed block of sawdust and has no voids, gaps, or layers.

HavocRC (author)  caitlinsdad3 years ago

Jig saws are too big for cutting delicate wood and it's very hard to cut in a straight line with a coping saw. Neither of those are good options for small wood. Cabinet grade, OK thanks!

backsaw and a miter box. metal try square or blade guide jig. scrollsaw.