Help with cutting sheet styrene

Discussion in 'Scratchin' & Bashin'' started by tomd81, Aug 29, 2006.

  1. tomd81

    tomd81 New Member

    Need some help with cutting sheet styrene! When I use the scribe and snap method, I never seem to get a straight cut. I am using a metal straight edge and the back side of an exacto knife. I just can not seem to get a straight line.

    I have been mainly working with 0.020 and need to cut some 0.040.

    Any suggestions?

  2. tverskaya

    tverskaya Member

    My experience is that for some reason xacto knives are too fine to be used in conjunction with an edge. The blade seems to be so thin that it doesn't follow the ruler. Also, I might suggest you to just use the sharp edge of the blade and run it lightly.

    If possible, draw the line you need to cut with a mechanical pencil and a ruler, take a deep breath and cut without a guide. With 0.02 and 0.04 you should get pretty far without having to snap, too, when using the sharp edge of the blade.
  3. TruckLover

    TruckLover Mack CH613 & 53' Trailer

    There was a thread about a machine that you could get at Staples?? I can't remember, Ill look for the thread. I think it was called "re-inventing the wheel" but I don't know for sure. Lemmy go look. BRB.
  4. TruckLover

    TruckLover Mack CH613 & 53' Trailer

    aahhh that was easy. The thread was by jim currie and the little machine is called a rotary paper cutter:

    I no what it is like not to get straight lines. It happens to me all the time.:curse: :curse: :curse: :curse: :curse: :curse: :curse:
  5. tomd81

    tomd81 New Member

    Josh and everyone else:

    Thanks for that link! That was very quick.

    I actually bought that paper cutter last year for a couple of the kid's school projects. And never thought to use it for styrene. I will try it later on tonight.

  6. TruckLover

    TruckLover Mack CH613 & 53' Trailer

    No problem Tom :)
  7. jim currie

    jim currie Active Member

    Tom I've been using mine for weeks now and I can say that it does great, thin sheets will cut with two or three passes and with the thicker two or three passes will score it for snapping.
  8. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    I use a utility knife and a steel carpenter's square for cutting large (4'x8') sheets of .060" styrene. One or two passes of the knife will do the trick.

  9. Canopus

    Canopus Member

    I do a heck of a lot of scratchbuilding, in fact, most of my modelling seems to be scratchbuilding or kitbashing of some sort.

    What I have found in all my years of experience is that firstly, plastic quality matters. Plastikard sheet for instance will give a clean, non-grained cut, where as Evergreen sheet will grain. The grain tendancy is useful for simulating wood, but it also means that the snap-cuts are never straight, and require sanding which is difficult on small pieces without sanding your fingertips off.

    For anything below 1mm styrene, using a ruler draw your line in pencil. Use a craft knife (not xacto) and cut down hard, keeping your eye on the line just in front of the knife... you'll find that the knife blade will automatically follow your eye. After the first hard cut, do a couple passes, and a hard cut at the ends of the line (since these tend to be shallower), then snap.

    For 1mm, use surgical or sharp scissors to cut pre-drawn lines. For fine strips or detailed areas, use a dremel to cut apertures (holes) and a craft knife using the above technique.

    For thicknesses greater than 1mm, use a craft knife to start the cut, then use a hobby saw to continue it, then snap it off and clean up the edge.
  10. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    I use a new single-edge razor blade and a steel ruler to cut styrene. It is amazing how fast the seemingly soft plastic will dull a blade. I use a new one for each project at minimum, and often use two or three to get one thing done. You can get them cheap from

  11. tomd81

    tomd81 New Member

    I would like to thank everyone for thier suggestions. Josh pointed me to a thread that Jim posted about using a wheel based paper cutter. I bought one of these for one of the kids project last year, and just used it. I sliced through 0.040 like it was butter.

    Thanks again!!
  12. JAyers

    JAyers Member

    I discovered a great plastic cutter last year; it's not cheap, but unlike Micromark tools, highly useful for other jobs: A Ryobi tabletop bandsaw, from Home Depot, for about $109. I have two blades, a 1/4" and a 1/8". The smaller is great for plastic work and you can clamp a fence for straight cuts. Then switch out blades for working on your cookie cutter frame work. It works on plexiglass, too. Currently, I'm trying to figure out if it will cut brass. The uses on the model railroad are limitless, and you can use it for woodworking and carpentry. This bandsaw is really a great multitasker and can cut material of any thickness from paper thin to about three inches.
  13. shortliner

    shortliner Member

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