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How to Bend Sheet Acrylic or Plexiglass With Simple Tools

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Bend Sheet Acrylic or Plexiglass with a Torch, Embossing Heat Tool or Heat Gun
Neat, even gentle curve bend in sheet plastic made with a simple jig and an embossing heat tool.

Good, even, gently curved right angle bend in sheet plastic heated with an embossing heat tool.

Photo © 2011 Lesley Shepherd

Models and miniatures often use plexiglass or acrylic sheet. Although most miniaturists assume you can only cut and glue flat sheets, it is fairly easy to create curves and bends with a simple jig and common heat sources. Most scale models won't need bends in acrylic more than 1/16 inch thick. The difficulty with small projects, having tight bends close together, is control of the heat source.

To create bends for small scale projects in plexiglass (perspex) or acrylic 1/8 inch and thinner, you can use a small torch (butane kitchen torches work well), a paint stripping heat gun, (usually best on larger projects as you can't easily control the line of heat), or an embossing heat tool, which is a wand that works very similarly to a paint stripping gun, but using a smaller more directed heat flow with a smaller fan. In the tutorial that follows, I demonstrate the use of a simple bending jig using any of these heat sources to soften acrylic enough to bend it. Using these instructions, a modeller can bend anything from paper weight sheets of acrylic, up to 1/8 inch thick material, in sizes suitable for most miniature projects.

Some of the projects you can make with simple straight bends like those demonstrated include modern miniature benches, chairs beds,coffee tables and clear shower stalls for dollhouses. Curved acrylic case covers for bakery displays, and a variety of curved acrylic for bay and shop windows.

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