Acrylic Project----Never used Router before - Router Forums
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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 04-05-2010, 10:47 AM Thread Starter
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Default Acrylic Project----Never used Router before

I am building a 36L X 16W X 16H 3/8" acrclic aquarium. I want to use a router to finish the edges. I need to have the edges perfectly square in order for the joints to hold.
My plan is to use an old Sears router I inheriited (model # 315.17380). This router is in the neighborhood of 30 years old. I have the old router table but it appears to be nothing more than a two foot high table with a hole in the middle.

I would like a recomendation on a newer and more reliable router table that would accommodate this router.

Add on top of this I am someone who has never used a router before and will have to learn how to use the equipment first.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 04-07-2010, 10:13 AM
r32
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I have limited experience using a router with acrylic and I currently am looking for a table too. But...be careful with the acrylic. Do some research on what bits specifically work well with acrylic. The guys from this company have been very helpful with acrylic projects that I've worked on in the past, and they make recommendations on how best to go about things.

TAP Plastics

They can also make custom cuts for you for a very reasonable price, and send you the acrylic.
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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 04-07-2010, 10:27 AM
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I have heard that some saw blades leave a clean enough cut to allow immediate joining without any additional work.

Just make sure that your table is 90 degrees to the bit or blade. This will go a long way to strong seals/joints.


Just remember what my father always said, " Half the people in this world are below average!", and everything in life will make a hellova lot more sense.
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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 04-07-2010, 10:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mbrady View Post
I am building a 36L X 16W X 16H 3/8" acrclic aquarium. I want to use a router to finish the edges. I need to have the edges perfectly square in order for the joints to hold.
My plan is to use an old Sears router I inheriited (model # 315.17380). This router is in the neighborhood of 30 years old. I have the old router table but it appears to be nothing more than a two foot high table with a hole in the middle.

I would like a recomendation on a newer and more reliable router table that would accommodate this router.

Add on top of this I am someone who has never used a router before and will have to learn how to use the equipment first.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Hi Mike - Welcome to the forum
"I have the old router table but it appears to be nothing more than a two foot high table with a hole in the middle."
Sounds like it could be a functioning router table to me.
Seriously, that table could probably me modified to make it perfectly good. Not knowing what the thing looks like I can't make any recommendations at this point. Modifying the table may give you an opportunity/excuse, to get familiar with the use of the router also.
My major concern is with your router and what you are planning on doing. A 30 year old Craftsman is likely a fixed speed, 25,000 rpm, 1-1/4 - 1-1/2 hp. When working with acrylic, I believe a variable speed unit is really a necessity. There are several good ones in the 2hp range on the market with variable speed. Many are priced reasonably, ie ~$150.
Well, anyway, first things first. Can you post a picture of your table and we can go from there?
If you are set on buying one, there are a lot to pick from. And a dizzying array of options, from nothing to everything (prices to match).
Keep us posted

John Schaben

The problem with experience is I usually get it immediately after I need it.
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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 04-07-2010, 11:18 AM
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My brother is a machinist and is often asked to make acrylic guards to keep fingers out of the works.

He's fussy so his guards look as good as the machinery he builds. He uses a tablesaw/bandsaw to cut to size then uses several grits of sand paper to clean up the edges, ending with 400 or 600 grit..

After glue-up he 'flame polishes' the exposed edges to make them perfect. I'm sure there are a number of sites on the 'Interweb' that will explain these processes better than I have.

....
Just got off the phone with the bro. He says he only uses Lexan or equivalent. Lexan is much more scratch and crack resistant than acrylic.

He also says he can form the Lexan in the shop brake! I can't imagine bending any plastic without heat, so I'm going to have to visit his shop to see how he does it.

Good luck with your project and welcome to the forum!

J.D.
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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 04-09-2010, 06:25 PM
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mbrady

I build sump and display tanks for money and there is a little trick to building a good tank with no bubbles.

Since this is your first tank, I would suggest building the sump first so if you screw up it won't be that bad. DO NOT use Weld-on #16 as that is for big gaps, like 1/16" but no bigger. Use Weld-on #4

Cut your plastic (hopefully it's at least plex G (clear cast) as Lexan is not for aquariums) 1/16" over size then route the sides taking small bits at a time. The trick is to rout all the pieces, all the same side, the same size.

Then when you are ready to assemble it





To answer your question, I mount my router like this, that is a 3 1/2hp Roybi RE600, that old Sears router has probably seen better days and IMO would not leave a good finish on acrylic.



24" cube

180gal

my current tank
My DIY 80gal reef - Reef-Solutions

And please don't flame polish the tank - this is bad advice from non aquarium builders. What happens is that you will change the molecular structure of the plastic and if you use a cleaner with ammonia it will start to crack and haze. Don't believe me just try it on a piece of scrap and see what happens. This is ok for other purposes not holding water.

Last edited by lemonyx; 04-09-2010 at 06:36 PM.
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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 04-09-2010, 10:23 PM
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Charles,

Do you have a recommendation for smoothing / polishing the edges, short of flame polishing? Ever-finer sandpaper until you get to 2500 grit or something lime that?

Check out that new high-tech cordless router.. wireless and no recharging required!!
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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 04-10-2010, 04:26 AM
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20 years ago when I was in high school, we would sand smooth and then use some buffing compound and of course a buffing wheel on a drill or grinder to polish the edge of acrylic.
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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 04-10-2010, 11:39 PM
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The sandpaper is the only way to get a nice glass smooth finish. The wet/dry paper up to the 1500 grit, but I stop at 1200. After the sandpaper you can use a hand buffer (the one for cars) and some Novis acrylic polish to finish it off.

But I'm too lazy for that and pay the wife to do it.
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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 05-09-2010, 01:17 AM
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My experience with flame polishing is that the outcome is only as good as the sanding done first.
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