HDPE is a form of plastic that has been able to replace the want of wood in construction works or other aspects of life. High-density polyethylene is a material that can be seen in the bottle, pipe, and wood replacement industry. But can you cut HDPE with a circular saw?
A circular saw can be the ideal option for cutting HDPE plastic. Especially for a straight cut, a circular saw has proven its worth. It can also be used for a swift and accurate bevel cut.
A circular saw can provide you with the smoothest HDPE cut, but you also need to be careful to use such a tool. Why? Let’s find out.
Cutting HDPE With Circular Saw
There are different tools in the construction industry that can cut HDPE. As HDPE is a material that can be and needs to be shaped in many forms, different tools are used. You might think a straight cut must be the easiest cut for HDPE, and you can simply use a tool and cut it.
However, it takes more caution and experience to cut the HDPE in a straight or bevel way. The smoothest way to cut the straight line is to use either a circular saw or a table saw. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are certain issues you must follow for a clear, straight cut.
Circular Saw Blade For Cutting HDPE
There are numerous kinds of blades for circular saws. You must have realized by now that not every type of blade can be suitable for HDPE material. There is only one certain type of blade that should be used to cut HDPE.
Acrylic Cutting Blades
The plastic cutting blades or popularly known as Acrylic Cutting Blades. They are alike wood-cutting blades, but their formulation is certainly different than others. The main difference between wood cutting blades and acrylic cutting blade is the number of teeth each blade have.
While a wood-cutting blade has 40 teeth, a plastic-cutting blade has around 60 teeth. If the HDPE panel is less thick than 25mm, the number of teeth should be increased to 86-90. The thicker the material is, the smaller number of teeth HDPE requires for swift and smooth action.
Configuration of teeth
But the number of teeth is not only a valuable factor. You also have to take the configuration of each tooth into account. For cutting HDPE, the best teeth configuration is an Alternate Top Bevel/Raker (ATB/R). This configuration has both ripping and crosscutting teeth in five-tooth clusters.
If you can’t find this configuration, you can also opt for Tripe-Chip Grind (TCG). This sort of blade has beveled teeth. Including the configuration of the teeth, the texture of the blade also plays a crucial role in cutting the HDPE.
For cutting HDPE, the circular saw blade must be carbide-tipped. They are varnished and polished blades made from rust-free steel. This sort of blade ensures minimum abrasion of the HDPE and comes with various numbers of teeth, configurations, and blade widths.
The most crucial attribute of HDPE is that they are flammable and the resistance and friction between the material and the blade can cause some ignition. Hence, the blade must be a ‘no melt’ blade.
A carbide-tipped no-melt ATB/R blade circular saw is the best kind of saw there is to cut and process the HDPE. They are specifically created for cutting layers of plastic material which are dense and flammable. If you are looking for a perfect circular saw blade for cutting HDPE, might I suggest this
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The Speed Of Cutting The HDPE
We sometimes confuse productivity and measure it only with speed. The faster we go, the more productive we are. While this rule may be applicable in appropriate places, this is certainly not appropriate here.
You must not rush the process of cutting HDPE with the circular saw. Plastic and nylon materials are considered soft materials, no matter how hard or dense they seem. When you push the material into the blade too hard, and too fast, it can either catch on fire or start chipping.
When you go too fast, the friction can get so intense that the HDPE can melt and freeze on the blade. It will be next to impossible to separate the HDPE and the blade in such a situation. Also, if the speed is too high, the blade may change its route and cut the material in the wrong direction.
If you are handy with construction tools, you are certainly familiar with the term Feed Rate. This is basically the velocity of the cutter, which is forwarded toward the cutting piece. In gist, it defines the speeds and feeds between the blade and the HDPE.
The feed rate is calculated by the rpm unit. While you cut the wood with a circular saw, the feed rate is around 4,500 rpm. But this is much lower in the case of plastic. The feed rate should be around 3000 rpm.
The best result of cutting HDPE with a circular saw will come from cutting it with a slower cutting speed but with a fast and steady feeding. The perfect proportion of speed and feed fetch the desired cutting of the HDPE.
Rake angle denotes the angle you are putting your blade on your material. This also is another setting tone of the HDPE cutting. There are three types of rake angles, zero or neutral, positive, and negative.
When you are cutting a piece of HDPE, the blade’s direction is very crucial. You need to identify how you want to dissect the material and then set your angle. If the angle in on zero or neutral, that is a straight cut, and if that’s positive or negative, that is a bevel cut.
When the blade and HDPE collude, friction between them creates vibration. Excessive and unbridled vibration will lose the stability of the circular saw, and you might chip the cut or deter the route.
That is why you must place the HDPE piece securely so that it won’t move and fixate nicely. Also, use the circular saw you are most comfortable with. Left-side blades are more popular for the stability of the circular saw.
Some Tips To Remember
- The thicker the layer of HDPE is, the smaller number of teeth the blade should have.
- If a thick layer is cut with a spiky and toothy blade, the excessive friction may ignite a spark and cause the HDPE to freeze and melt.
- A Circular saw should be used to cut for only straight and bevel cuts for the HDPE. If you want more arched and wavy cuts, circular saws are not appropriate.
- Not every blade is eligible for plastic cutting. Don’t use the same blade for cutting wood to cut the HDPE, as they are denser and ignitable.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the ways to cut HDPE?
There are not one or two but six different tools you can use to cut the HDPE. However, you can’t cut each cutting with each tool.
Every tool has its unique attributes. The six designated tools are the table saw, circular saw, miter saw, jigsaw, router, and reciprocating saw.
What are the types of tools to cut HDPE?
For a round or bend cutting, the jigsaw is the best. For a small and medium-sized HDPE, a miter saw works best as you can concentrate on the feed rate and rake angle.
If the pieces are very small and you need to cut them into equal pieces, the router is the best. And lastly, the reciprocating saw is for demolishing pieces of any shape or size.
So, can you cut HDPE with a circular saw? Well, undoubtedly, you can. Not only are they eligible for the HDPE cuts, but they also cut the most basic and demanded cut for the HDPE. For a safe and smooth HDPE cut, you must follow the instructions above.