Shaping/Molding Acrylic With a Router

Introduction: Shaping/Molding Acrylic With a Router

About: I love creating almost anything. I am a professional magician and guitarist/singer - so much to do so little time! Follow me on Twitter: @bricabracwizard

I managed to acquire some large sheets of very thick acrylic for next to nothing ($15).  I wanted to create a ring of lights for a steampunk/gothic display cabinet I am making.  The best thing about this project is that I found acrylic is very easy to shape/mould with a router - have a look at the results!

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Step 1: Materials & Tools

Thick acrylic sheets (1" or 2.4cm thick) size is dependent on how large you want your ring to be.
Sacrificial wood (for rotating your acrylic on - there will be pictures!)
16 Colour changing LED's + 16 resistors
Transformer (12 volt 1 amp DC) Walwart

Router with router table
Drill bit and drill
Solder and soldering iron
Glue and glue gun
Electric Tile Cutter

Step 2: Cutting the Acrylic to Size

First cut the acrylic to the size you want.  I cut mine into rectangles of approx 50cm x 18cm using an electric tile cutter (with a diamond blade) - don't use water, it cuts better without!  My acrylic also had some old images printed on them, not very good ones I'm afraid!  I made four rectangles.  To clean up the sides I used a straight edged router as you can see in the stack.

Step 3: Plywood With Drill and Routing Outside Edge of Acrylic

Taking a large piece of plywood I cut a hole for the router bit to pass through and then clamped it to the router table.  In the picture you will see a drill sticking up out of the plywood at the radius I wanted to create for the outside edge of the acrylic.  You must work from the outside to the inside!  Drill a small hole in your acrylic equidistant from the edges and rout the outside edges with a straight edge router bit.  I had to do it from one side first as the bit would only go a little over half-way into the acrylic, then I flipped the sheet over and cut the rest of the way.  The outside edge was done first.  Then I used a bull nose bit and created a channel (approx 8mm deep) in the acrylic for the wires I would be connecting all the LED's with, and then the inside edge was routed.  I drilled 16 small holes (after I painted the back) spaced equally around the circumference.  I will be using the acrylic I cut out of the centre for another job I have in mind.

Cutting the straight edges was a little more difficult because I used the fence.  Remember that with a router you mustn't get material between the fence and the bit........but I did.  I don't recommend anyone doing it this way........I pulled the acrylic toward me contrary to the direction indicated on the table and I had good control!  The result is in the second to last picture.

Then using the router bit shown round off the top edges using your fence as a guide.

Step 4: Painting to Reflect the Light!

I masked off the top of the ring and painted the bottom gold to reflect the light upwards.

Step 5: .......and Now the Pretty Lights!

Solder the resistors to the plus side of the LED's.  Glue them in place in the holes you made in the acrylic and wire the LED's in series sets of 4.  Then connect all the sets in parallel to your transformer (walwart).  And now you have a pretty ring of lights.  If you have any questions please PM or comment on this instructable - thanks!

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    6 Discussions


    23 days ago

    Was this just using a classic wood router? I’ve been looking at various materials to build a box mod out of, and acrylic has always been at the top of my list but I felt my router would melt it more than drill it. Any tips or tricks?


    Reply 20 days ago

    Yes I did. Routers a very good for shaping acrylic, but go very slowly so you don't have chip outs. You shouldn't bet any melting at all, it's not like drilling where the bit heats up the material. Good luck.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I drilled the holes after I painted the back. Thanks for noticing, I have now included this in the instructions.