Sawing or Cutting Plastic?

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by RobertInOntario, Apr 2, 2007.

  1. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    I'm currently modifying the body of an old loco -- I've described this here on another thread (

    So far, it's going well, but no matter what I do there will be some discrepancies. I'm reshaping the loco by using polystyrene strips and a tube of modeling filler that I bought (after describing my project) at a LHS. I'll sand and repaint the loco near the end of the project.

    Can anyone recommend the best type of saw for cutting through plastic? I'm thinking that almost any type of small modeling saw would work -- even the small saws that Atlas sells for cutting track? For example, the smoke stack is too short on this loco so I was planning to saw it off and replace it with a similar one that I've removed from a defunct loco.

    I also need to cut away or modify part of the body just above the front driving wheels and would need a very small saw for that -- almost an ultra-small keyhole saw! But I think this would be too hard to do and I might simply have to tolerate this discrepancy.

    At any rate, I'm taking my time, learning and having fun. Thanks for any advice!

  2. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    The razor saw is a good choice, but is like a saw-zall for finish carpentry...! You will need to have a set of files to dress your cuts to the final dimension. But that razor saw will go through anything it encounters, including your finger, so be careful! ;) :D

    As for the small area that needs modification - can a larger section be cut away for modification and then re-assembled into place? OR maybe you can drill a small hole, and put a round file in to make the "cut" as required?

  3. Robert, Also the X-acto Co makes small razor saw blades that fit their knife handles. I don't recall the numbers of them but I think they make two sizes. Joe
  4. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    Thanks, Andrew & straight-track. Both of these sound like good ideas. I realize that if I used my Atlas saw that I'd have to do some filing and sanding. I'm also intriqued about the X-acto saws as well -- could I get those at any art store or maybe one of my LHS's would carry them as well? Thanks, Rob
  5. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

    Hi Robert - the Atlas saw should work - it just takes patience. The trouble with plastic is that you can't really use power tools unless they are variable speed - if they go too fast then they melt the plastic. :curse:

    I know some people have used the cutting disc on a dremel tool at a very slow speed setting.

    Hope this helps.

  6. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    Thanks again, Andrew. I'll certainly look into this drilling option as I do have some round files I could use. Cheers, Rob
  7. Robert, Yes any where they sell the craft-knives should carry the extra types of blades as well. Also the rotary tool suppliers for the dremel have a very small fine toothed circular saw blade too. Extreme care with this though ! It can catch and seriously injure you. Joe
  8. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    Another saw to use for some applications is the jeweler's saw. I think they are generally available at your local hoddy shop. The jeweler's saw looks like a coping saw, except the blade looks like a wire with very small teeth. It is able to make extremely fine cuts. For instance, if you wanted to remove the plastic grilles from a model of an sd40-2t to replace them with brass see through grilles, you would drill a small hole in one corner of the plastic grille. You put the saw blade through the hole, install it on the saw, and then cut the the grilles out. When you finish, you would have a square hole inside the grille of the model and then go on to the other side. It is an essential tool if you want to cut out a part of the body in the middle of the body without cutting through other parts ot the body that you don't want to damage.
  9. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    This sounds really good -- I'll check them out at 1-2 LHS's then. Maybe I'll look them up on the web as well. Are they hard to use -- do they require much skill? Thanks! Rob
  10. Renovo PPR

    Renovo PPR Just a Farmer

  11. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

  12. Doc Holliday

    Doc Holliday Member

    Personally, I'd use the Atlas Super Saw. I use mine for everything, wood, plastic, track. I even used it for some oak florring I was installing and needed a precise cut. I wish I ordered a dozen. Becareful with other razor saws. I bought on at my LHS that had two very thin blades side-by-side, sandwiched in the spline. It worked ok for the first couple of cuts. After that, the blades separate so anything I cut ends up with a wider cut and a thin slice between the blades.
  13. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    Thanks -- That's what I was about to use but wanted to check first. As mentioned, I'll definitely do some sanding and filing after, and will still check out a couple of the other options. But I'm also trying to keep costs down and already have two of these Atlas saws ... Thanks again! Rob
  14. Hoi Rob,
    I have recently perchsed a small band saw and I fiind that it works well with plastic, wood and even thin alluminium. The saw kost me €45,00, that is about $48,00 US, it's the best
    €45,00 that I have spent in a long time.
    Good luck with your model.

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