Q: I would like to replace some glass window panes with shatter-resistant plastic. What's the difference between Plexiglas and Lexan? And what is the best way to cut them? - Paul Freitag,Cheverly, MD
A: Clear sheet acrylic (Plexiglas) is used where ease of workability and bending is important. Because of its superior impact resistance, polycarbonate, such as GE Lexan, is used in the machine industry for guards. Both can be used for windows, but the polycarbonate tends to yellow less in sunlight.
Plastics supply houses and home centers will often cut the sheet stock for you. The easiest way for you to make clean, straight cuts in either material is on a table saw fitted with a 60- to 90-tooth triple-chip carbide blade. Wear a full face shield and feed the stock slowly to reduce chatter. You should saw material that's 1/4 in. thick or more. However, you can score and snap 3/32-in. stock. Score deeply by making multiple passes with a sharp utility knife. Then sandwich the stock between a piece of lumber and the edge of your workbench and snap away from the score. - HANDY