Instructables

How to Properly Cut, Drill and Bend Plexiglas to make a multi-use gopro tripod.

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This instructable is in the "UP!" contest and I would love it if you could take the time to vote if you feel I deserve the vote, thanks! Enjoy! 
 
I had been doing some work with plexiglas lately and found some good ways to score and cut, drill holes in, and bend plexiglas. I wanted to create an instructable on how to properly perform these tasks but thought I needed to actually make it into something to make it interesting.

Plexiglas is a very cool material, a clear, tough plastic that can be used for a variety of projects from see through cases, to a pseudo blast shield, to the tripod I will teach you how to make. While it's not technically a tripod it serves some similar purposes. By itself it can hold the gopro on top to gain a little more height. The gopro can also be hung underneath if you are trying to show how to repair something on a car and the plexiglas will protect the camera from harmful slag while welding or grinding. Also with the new wifi live view function through wifi on the Hero3 cameras the "tripod" can actually be used as a cover over the gopro that holds your ipod or phone on top. 


 
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How would one cut small squares out of 1/8" plexiglass sheets by hand? I have no power tools (except a hand drill). Could you score both sides in the shape of say a rectangle, then hit it with something to "pop it out" or would that crack the sheet? I do have a coping saw so I imagine I could drill holes in the 4 corners of the rectangle or square shape and then use the coping saw to hand saw it out. Is there anyway to simply score the shapes and then "pop" them out? Thank you.

dmo_act8 months ago
how about plastic welding plexiglass? Does anyone have any experience with this?
eelco_g9 months ago
I have good experience with brad point drill bits. They have a small center spike and two cutting teeth. These start cutting the hole on the outer diameter instead of pushing material away from the center. Use them at very low rpm because you want to cut the plexi, not melt it.
Less RPM is always better, since heat causes the plexiglass to melt and grab the bit, which eventually leads to shattering. When do it on a mill, I give it something around 300-400 RPM, which, most of the time, doesn't even require a pilot hole if you go slow.
Ben The Builder (author)  Technoshaman1 year ago
With the standard bits I was using it seemed to work better to get the bit moving pretty good. If it was moving too slow, when I grazed the surface of the plexiglas it would bite in really deep, when I spun it at higher speeds it would begin to scrape more than bit in immediately, thanks for the input.
And thank you for this article, even though I punched many holes through plexiglass, I came here to learn how to bend it (finally a good use for my heatgun) ;) And if you go down very very slow, the bit "shaves off" little chips, first carving a nice cone (the bit should be real sharp), which gets wider and wider finally creating a hole. Now, I gotta go get me some plexiglass sheets, time for work ;)
sickchuck1 year ago
The best way to drill ANY plastic is to regrind your drill bit to a ZERO DEG. rake The cutting edge from the tip to the corner needs to be inline with the shaft of the bit. This makes it into a scraper instead of a cutting tool and will not blow out the back side if it is sharp. The only exception to this is if the tip of the bit breaks thru before the full width of the bit is in the hole it could still blow out.
Ben The Builder (author)  sickchuck1 year ago
To be fair that would be a good method but then it's hard to get it to stay in one place, and also I wanted to do it with regular bits and the 2 step method seems to work well for me.
The bit is still POINTED, just there is no rake on the cutting edge.
I agree. Scraping angles, and also running wet and you can make a hole with a virtually polished bore.
niebyl20021 year ago
I wonder if heating plexiglass (just a bit) would prevent cracking. I think there will be less stress. Never tried it though.
Benwa1 year ago
Not bad, I could never get the score/break to work properly. I'll try again. I usually tape both side with masking tape, mark my line and use a jigsaw with a metal cutting blade. I'll clamp a level in the proper place to use as a guide. Keep saw butted against level and you can rip a nice straight cut. Tape seems to minimize the chewed edge.

If I want to mount hardware on plexi, like hinges or clasps... pop rivets are your friend. Screws tend to break it. Nuts & bolts look too "frankenstein" for my tastes. Drill hole just big enough for rivet, try to put a washer on the back side (I've done it without them with fine results) and pop it. A nice solid and clean looking fastener.

The only other tip I have is to use scrap pieces to test a technique first. There's nothing worse than to be on the last step and crack your finished piece because you didn't factor in something.
Great instructable especially about bending plexiglass. A couple of things I have tried with success is drill through the plexiglass with wood underneath you will find it doesn't crack and creates a clean hole. Because I have an electric tile cutter when I cut plexiglass with a diamond blade it cuts it quickly and cleanly...don't use water!
I just scored and broke a 2 ft. long by 4 inch wide piece of plexiglass--and it worked great!!

Thanks for the good instructions.
Be careful, and always use your correct tools. Got sliced trying to cut plexiglass, scoring them with my house keys. Tried breaking it, got a nice cut near the ball of my thumb for the trouble.
Ben The Builder (author)  astroboy9071 year ago
Gloves are also not a bad idea, but but being careful and not rushing it should keep you safe.
ringai1 year ago
Thanks for the nice explanation of bending. I've tried it a couple times and it didn't quite turn out for me. I think perhaps using that fan-shaped flow director would have helped. I used a hairdryer with just its round opening and probably didn't have the plastic heated right.
Phil B ringai1 year ago
I second what you wrote about heating for bending. I have tried it and got bubbles in the Plexiglas, or even singed it a little brown. I know there are special hot wire heaters that are thermostatically controlled, but most of us do not have those.
Ben The Builder (author)  Phil B1 year ago
This may be a brand thing, everyone makes their acrylic or Plexiglas a little differently but it sounds like you may be getting it too hot, it really doesn't take much heat.
Correct. I have found that it is best to direct the heat to the area that you want, at the lower temperature setting for a longer time. This lets the heat transfer all the way through the thickness of the material.
Ben The Builder (author)  ringai1 year ago
This heat gun works incredibly well for this task. It has two temperature settings and the low one I think is still hotter than a hair dryer. As with bending most things it helps to heat, and try to bend and repeat because then you get it bending as soon as possible, and also with the hair dryer you could probably try the method where you tug to pull the curve tight and the flatten it down on a workbench.
Barb371 year ago
THANK you for your concise instructions! You’ve done a superb job of integrating embedded notes, photo’s, and written directions. I’m a Plexiglas novice with a project in mind, and your be-careful and in-my-experience tips inspire confidence. How thick is the Plexiglas used in this project, and how thick is TOO thick for this project’s instructions to be practical, please?
Ben The Builder (author)  Barb371 year ago
I'm glad you found them helpful. The plexiglas I used is roughly 1/16th of an inch thick. You could probably use similar techniques for thicker pieces, but you will need more heat and you'll need to be much more patient. As far as scoring and breaking, the thicker it gets the harder it becomes to cleanly break and I would imagine drilling would get harder. How thick of a sheet were you planning on using?