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Plastic show cases

Has anyone ever made acrylic or plastic show cases? What type
of problem cutting and assembling have you had? I am going to
one show next year and thinking of inexpensive design for show
cases and light weight. Any help or suggestions?

I have never made acrylic show cases but I have done a lot of
shows with one and I’d never get another because: 1. they
attract dust like crazy, 2. They scratch very easily and after
a while you end up with an unsightly permanent haze on the
surface which, of course, makes viewing your merchandise
difficult. If you do go ahead and make some cases, please wear a
really good mask. Plastic dust in the lungs is forever. Martha

Ron we tried Plexiglas and found that it was difficult to cut
(ruined more than one saw blade) as well as it scratches real
easy. It is lighter to carry, but we never did find a way that
it would not scratch. Most cleaners (they make a special one for
it) will make it worse-must use a soft cloth not paper. In the
heat it bowed real bad and just normal use we had to discontinue
it after just a few shows. The edges are also difficult to get
smooth. We had some cut by a professional glass cutter and they
did worse than we did. This is why we ended up uses glass.
Designed out own and had them cut to size. jb

J. Byers

Note From Ganoksin Staff:
Looking for a galss cutter tool for your jewelry projects? We recommend:

Hi Ron,

Check with your local hardware store (Ace in my area). They have
an assortment of plastic shapes, tools & booklets on using
plastic to make various types of items.

Plastic isn’t difficult to work with. Sheet plastic is usually
cut similar to glass, it’s scored, then broken over a square
edge. The best type of joints are usually made by solvent
welding. The pieces to be joined are placed in contact with each
other & a solvent is applied to the joint with a syringe,
capillary action wicks the solvent into the joint.

The only difficult part of plastic joinery is holding the parts
in position before the solvent is applied & while it cures (aprox
5-10 min). There are any number of tricks that help solve these

Most plastics are readily formed (bent, domed, dished, etc.)
with low heat. This attribute extends the design possibilities.

The easiest way to learn is to just jump in! For about $20.00
you can get the books, tools, solvent & material for a small
project (learning experience).


My experience with plastic cases is definitely something I would
not ever do again! I built some when I first started doing shows.
They scratch and mar easily and look old and beat up - something
you don’t want if you are selling jewelry. Getting straight
clean edges is a pain unless you have a good table or scroll saw
with new blades - and - you are experienced using it to cut
acrylic. As to cost, at an absolute minimum you need to use 1/4"
acrylic sheet (1/8" isn’t sturdy enough) which is fairly costly.
As for assembly, it depends on your design for the case, but
unless you are a pretty good woodworker and build fittings for
the plastic to sit in you will have to use something like
methelyne chloride to bond the pieces together. A couple of
misplaced drops of that on the case will leave ugly blotches
which cannot be buffed out without leaving an uneven surface and
too many fumes up your nose will leave your brain less than
sharp. Now the last thing is that 1/4" acrylic cases won’t be
lightweight. All in all I would suggest you find someplace to
rent a case if you are only doing one show, and buy/make glass
cases if you’re doing more shows.

If you’re still not convinced ( and I wasn’t either having been
given the same advise) design the case, and let the plastic store
build it for you, but then it won’t be cheap. Good luck,
whatever you decide!

Nancy <@Nancy_B_Widmer>
ICQ# 9472643
Bacliff, Texas US on the Gulf Coast just blocks from Galveston Bay

Has anyone ever made acrylic or plastic show cases?  

I have made a variety of items with acrylic sheet (we call it
Perspex, but I think you call it Plexiglass) from up to 6"
diameter spheres for atomic models , to 2’x3’ cases for the local
Nelson Art gallery. To cut sheet I bought a special saw for my
circular sawbench, made for the job, and it doesn’t chip the
plastic, nor melt or burn it. For cutting circles I used a
variable speed jigsaw with a fine tooth blade and dribbled
cutting fluid on it as I went. To smooth the edges of the
sheets I used an ordinary woodworking plane, but very sharp with
the blade set for a fine cut, followed by about 250grit then
400 wet-and-dry papers, and finally a hand polish with ordinary
Brasso metal polish, though you can buy special acrylic polish.
You can also polish the edges with a flame - but you need to be
very careful! Acrylic glue is the plastic dissolved in a suitable
solvent. I used plain chloroform because the models were for a
Chemistry Department where I worked, and therefore chloroform was
easy to come by and it is very good indeed. The glue can also be
bought in some craft shops or from the acrylic suppliers. One
can also buy special clips which are really for glass cases,
but work well for acrylic, and with the use of these, one can
assemble cases and break them down quickly for storage. In case
you are wondering, I made the spheres , one half at a time, by
heating the sheet in an oven and using a vacuum pump to suck the
sheet into holes of the right size in an airtight box, then
trimming with a band saw when cold. That’s only one of the
techniques I had to discover and use as a Science Technician!

       / \
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   /  /                                
 /  /__| \      @John_Burgess2

At summertime Nelson NZ

Don’t cut too fast. The plexi will cut, but if you go too fast,
it heats up and will snap your blades fast. I found that if I
kept a slow steady pace that it cut easily. The only problem
with plexi is that it scratches up. There may be a substance
that polishes out scratches, but it probably dulls the finish as

Good luck,
Susan E.
Dallas, Texas

Ron, try contacting Ain (sp?) Plastics in (I believe)
Philadelphia. They supplied all the materials we used to make
museum vitrenes years ago. Their catalogue alone is worth the
call ( 1-800-431-2451).

I agree with the problems with plastic cases. I have one shelf
type case with a plexi front becuse the case warped a little and
cracks glass. this was a temp to get through the summer, will
build replacement before spring.

saw blade is wrong tool to use. find a metal straightedge, run
a sharp blade along it 2 -3 times and snap the sheet across a
sharp corner. use a desk edge and push down or reverse the sheet
and pull upwards against your straight edge the idea is to bend
away from the partially cut side while supporting the part you
are trying to keep. this gets rapidly harder to do neatly as
your sheet gets thicker, but up to 1/4 inch still beats saw

lots easier, many hardware stores will cut at no charge if you
buy the pastic there. unless it is tiny, keep the ‘scrap’ pieces
for future projects

glass is usually abetter choice. if breakage is a problem try
double strength. tempered is better yet, bet often not

plastic does have its uses, nice for a cheap try of new design

sorry if this rambles, i’ve had a hard week, at least the well
is working now

Dan at Birdwalk Farms

I have made cubes with plexiglass. Find a plastics dealer. You
may find that they have a scrap bin at substantial discounts.
I’ve bought scraps as large as 2’ X 2’. I use a band saw or
table saw with a regular ply-tooth (?–the one used for thin
plywood-read the label) blade. Leave the peel-off paper on the
plastic to prevent scratching. Your plastics dealer should also
have the adhesive which is really a thin solvent. Mine was in a
bottle with a needle type point. Run it carefully along the
edges and join together. You will need to clamp it until it
cures. Be careful with the solvent as it will mess up the
surface of the plastic if it gets on it. Plastic can be easily
curved or bent. There is an electric heating strip available
which heats one area which can bent when it reaches the correct
temperature. A heat gun may also work, though I’ve never tried
one. It burns really easily so you must really take care when
doing this. I get all my supplies from Read Plastics in Rockville