What we call acrylic is actually the synthetic polymer of methyl methacrylate. It is an excellent replacement for glass in a lot of situations, like the picture frame being repaired here. It has an impact strength exceeding that of glass (meaning it is less likely to shatter), and has only half the weight. Its only disadvantage here is, it is much more easily scratched than glass. See the Wikipedia article on Acrylic glass if you want more details.
- Cutting small pieces of acrylic is not particularly dangerous, but be careful using the cutter knife.
- Cut acrylic may have sharp edges
Step 1: Tools and Materials
My frame didn't need any tools to take apart, so I'm only going to list what is needed to cut the acrylic.
- Pen - any ball-point or thin marker pen should do
- Ruler or straight edge - better if it is steel, but wood or plastic is OK
- Acrylic cutter or craft cutter - use one strong enough for the job
- Cutting mat - to place the acrylic on when cutting
- Sandpaper - to smooth the cut edges.
Step 2: Disassembing the Frame
Step 3: Measuring the Glass and Getting a Replacement
Once you know the dimensions, get a sheet of transparent acrylic of matching size. If you like, you can even use a tinted acrylic. Make sure the thickness is as close as possible. If it is too thick, you won't be able to close the frame, and if it is too thin, it will rattle around in the frame, and the picture wont be held firmly.
Step 4: Cutting the Acrylic Sheet
Note: Do not remove the backing film when cutting, keep it on as long as possible to avoid scratching.
First, place the sheet on the cutting mat, and draw lines to mark where it is to be cut. Then, using the ruler and cutter, scour the surface along the line. Apply medium pressure to the cutter, do NOT attempt to cut deeply in one go, scour it 7 to 8 times until the cut is deep enough. One surface should be enough, but it is easier to make a clean cut if you do both surfaces.
Extend the cutter only one notch as shown, or you will snap the blade and injure yourself
Once the scour marks are made, place the cut on the straight edge of a table or workbench, so that the part to be broken off is overhanging the table, and place the ruler on top of it. Then, while firmly holding down the portion on the table, sharply push down the overhanging portion to break it along the cut.
Step 5: Cutting Off Short Edges
Be careful not to cut yourself on sharp edges when breaking off the acrylic
Step 6: Smooth the Edges
Sand the corners also by holding them pointed down towards the paper and sanding lightly.
Do not try to scrape the edges with the cutter. I tried this once, and the sheet slipped and got scratched beyond recovery.
Keep the backing sheets on in this step, it is not clear in my photographs (because the backing was transparent)
Step 7: Insert the Acrylic Into the Frame
Step 8: Further Information
This site also gives information about acrylic, and how to work with it.
Acrylic can be used in many more situations than mere picture frames, just use your imagination!