Cutting acrylic silhouette dies?

Who do you recommend for cutting acrylic silhouette dies?

Hi There,

I have some patterns I would like cut into silhouette dies and am
wondering who you recommend for this type of work. I appreciate any
recommendations you can share.

thank you,

I took a workshop in using a hydraulic press and wastaught to cut my
acrylic silhouette dies by using a spiral saw blade, then refining
the cut with files. Alma

Is it really thick? Try a thick jewelers blade and go slow. If you
go to fast (which you will) the plastic will melt and stick to your
blade. Try oil with it. Be creative. Try wax. Ooohhh. try water.
Heavy blade, jewelers saw, flat pin and patients. SD

Who do you recommend for cutting acrylic silhouette dies? 

Lasers! Metalsmith Arthur Hash posted on his blog about laser
cutting them. Assuming you don’t have a laser cutter, you can send
the job out.


Hi Alma,

I learned on the spiral blades too, and always hated them. They
wouldn’t cut a straight line at a bet. Just wandered all over the

When Lee and I started selling the KC saws to the woodworkers, we
started kitting them out with woodworking blades. Which just happen
to be amazing when cutting plastic or hard carving wax. They cut
quickly, and more importantly, straight. (or rather, they cut
where you point them, not sideways.)

We use Pegas #7 skip tooth blades, which is what all our saws are
coming pre-loaded with these days. Rio started carrying them after
hearing us raving, and they’ve got other sizes. (The thing about the
number 7’s is that they’re pretty big. Not for delicate inletting.
But then dies aren’t that delicate either.) Otto Frei has them in #7
as well.

No good for metal, but they’ll do a real number on acrylic or wax.
(Try them on wax. You will be stunned.)


Lynn - they are super simple to cut yourself. Get spiral saw blades
commonly used for wax. They are the best for cutting a sillouette
die of plastic. Use Lexan for the die. This is not difficult.

And if you really don’t want to do it, Dar Shelton at sheltech. net
is the die guru. I don’t think he regularly makes these because they
are so easy to do yourself.

Judy Hoch

I took a workshop in using a hydraulic press and wastaught to cut my
acrylic silhouette dies by using a spiral saw blade, then refining
the cut with files. Alma

If you have only a few to cut, you can do it by hand. If you have
many there are people who will Lazar cut them for you. Google custom
cut model parts for a list of folks who do that kind of work.

Find a low to medium watt laser cutter (jobshop) resource. If it’s
thin material an 80 watt con laser will be sufficient. That kind of
laser can work from a corel draw file, bigger high wattage toys use.
dxf (native arc and radius geometry vs. Tiny line segments which
cause a messy edge) If you are in the LA area might be able to help
you out.


Hi, Lynn Vernon. I remember your name as someone I’ve made pancake
dies for in the dim, but not necessarily remote, past. I also make
silhouette dies, usually out of polycarb (Lexan), and usually as
partof ‘Matrix & Blanking Die Sets’, which are the tools for puffing
metal sheet and then trimming the puffed parts in a pancake die. I
usually put steel faceplates on the silhouette dies to make them
permanent. I might be good for what you want done, but you might do
well with some place that has a CNC laser to burn the acrylic
blocks. I use polycarb because it doesn’t gum up so easily from the
friction-caused heat ofjewelers saws.


Brian, thanks for the about the special saws. You are
right about the spiral saws cutting a jagged edge. I always had to do
filing tomake them smooth. Will check out the ones you recommend.

A bit more on my take on S. dies; I don’t sell peoplesilhouette dies
without steel face plates on them, because I don’t see naked plastic
blocks as being durable enough to charge good money for. In fact, I
just got done using one made from 3/16" polycarb that had it’s
working edge round off after one pressing. Acrylic probably holdsup
better, but I don’t like it because (as posted earlier) it gums up
too easily from friction heat. Plus, it’s brittle, so I don’t like
putting it into a hydraulic press.

When you start doing (puffing) any shape with points and/or delicate
areas, it becomes an even better idea to face the matrix block. A
heart is a good, simple example, specifically, the crease between
lobes. I always have to round off that point -both in the outline of
the heart, and in the radius of that working edge - so that when
metal gets pulled down in over it, the metal doesn’t tear. I file
and sand a small radius all the way around the working edge (extra
at the heart crease) and this creates a permanent surface for metal
to glide over, and it leaves a nice crisp transition linebetween
flat border and puffy (heart). One thing I’ve run into is if I round
(working radius, not shape of heart) that point off too much, it
leaves a raised area on the puffed piece which can interfere with
aligning the part in the blanking die. So, it’s better, past a
certain point, toround the point out heart-shape-wise, so you don’t
have to round the radius too much.

Another thing is about cutting thesandwich of plastic with steel
face plate stuck to it (spray adhesive and alignment pins). It’s not
too bad doing the stack with #1 or #0jewelers sawblades (but it
isn’t fun, either!). With thick plastic, sometimes I cut the
faceplate first and then stick it to the plastic and then use it as
a guide to saw the plastic with a (spiral wax until now, but I need
to try those Pegas ones !) blade that cuts plastic faster. For the
polycarb blocks that I attach to the trim dies, a spiral wax blade
is fine, because I saw that hole (for the puffed part to fall tinto)
biggerthan the size of the part, and it doesn’t need to be exact.