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making a clear subbase- dumb question

2385 Views 4 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  rprice54
I'm about to make a couple of clear subbases for my router. I've already looked at this thread which is pretty similar to what I want to do. two questions:
1) any particular plastic material to use/not use?
2) (and here's the dumb question) Am I going to mess up any of my cutters/bits/blades working on the stuff? I guess it can't be much harder than wood, but I don't want to go ruining expensive bits and blades trying to save a few bucks on a base.
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Most glass shops carry 2 types of plastic. Acrylic [Plexiglas and Lucite are brand names] or Polycarbonate [Lexan]. Polycarbonate can be cut, routed or drilled just like wood. And is a lot stronger. Special bits are made for drilling Acrylic to prevent chipping but I have made my own as they are just regular bits ground at a much sharper angle. Also over time Acrylic tends to crack from any holes you've drilled. Whichever you choose if your going to rough it out with a bandsaw or jigsaw, use a fairly coarse wood blade. Most people try a thin fine tooth blade but often the cut will melt back together behind the blade.

I have clear polycarbonate bases (Lexan) 3/8" thick and they are rigid, rigid, rigid.
I receive them blank and drill them to suit. I get them mounted on the router first before attempting the center hole. Regular twist drills seem to work just fine but I always clamp a piece of wood on the backside when drilling. Never had it chip out, but never drilled it without the backer either.

Then I just put whatever's handy and pointy... like a countersink bit... into the router and lower the bit to contact the plate and make me an "unmistakeable centerpunch". Then I remove the plate from the router and drill the center hole in a drill press. And for that I've simply used a 1" hole saw. For smaller holes I use regular drill bits or anything I'd use for wood. I usally keep teh speed down because, as was stated earlier, the plastic WILL melt, but with the polycarbonate I think it would take a lot of heat. I haven't had problems doing it this way.

OH... and from building model radio controlled airplanes I have this neat tool that was used for centering the mounting bolts for engines. Cone-shaped, hollow business end kinda auto-centers in a hole. And a spring loaded drill slides through the cone to give you a nicely centered starter hole for mounting to your router.
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Use the polycarbonate, the acrylic tends to sag after a while,neither will harm your bits.

thanks for the tips, I found some 1/4 polycarbonate- it was cheaper to buy multiple pieces from one shop's scrap than a single piece at the local hardware store, anyone wanna buy some polycarbonate?

I'm gonna make at least two bases, and then probably some templates out of the rest.
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