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Plexiglass Construction Methods

A few years ago I helped build two 400 gallon show tanks for a local fish store.  We purchased the Plexiglas from a local plastics supply company along with the solvent.  The secret to bending the material is to use an industrial style heat gun.  Using an oven can warp the sheet of plexi and ruin it in short order.

Our first step was to buy the material pre-cut because of the smooth edge provided.  If you want,  you can buy a saber saw blade from the plastics company designed specifically to cut the plastic.  Practice cuts are essential so as not to chip or crack the plexi for the final product.  I think there may be a special router tool that can be used to easily clean up ragged saw cut, just remember to oversize the saw cuts so you don't run short on material.  Peel off the protective paper from both sides of the area you wish to bend and clamp to a table, overhanging the section to be bent.  Apply heat gun hot air to within an inch or two of the surface along proposed bend line.  When the plexi begins to get hot, check for flexibility.  Use a pipe or tube of the appropriate radius as a guide to bend the plexi around to form a corner.  (To be very precise, you can make a hinged fixture around the pipe to hold and bend the plexi as we did.)  It is important not to soften the plexi too much, this maximizes your ability to control the bending process.  (It would be a good idea to buy some scrap plexi and practice before doing the real thing.)   Use a carpenters square to verify a 90 degree bend at the top and bottom of the of the corner.

Always remember, MEASURE TWICE, CUT ONCE!

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  \ _ /   \ _ /     Richard Wortley  {Tucson, AZ}
  /   \ _ /   \     hextek at flash_net
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