View Full Version : Putting together acrylic boxes... Tips?

Shaddy Dedmore
07-21-2004, 10:31 AM
I'm putting together some boxes, and was using "Weld-On" acrylic glue 3. It's so thin it runs right out of my container, and all over my pieces, if I leave it alone, sometimes it evaporates without a noticable trace, but other times it's pretty apparent. Tried a thin gaged needle syringe, same thing.

I also tried the 4, it's a little thicker, but takes longer to set up.

What are your processes for gluing up boxes? Do you use a slow setting glue and put the entire box together and clamp/rubberband together. Or do you use a fast setting glue and add pieces together individually.


Ted Shrader
07-21-2004, 11:19 AM
Shaddy -

It has been a bit since I did an acrylic box, but here is what was successful for me.

Fit and clamp the pieces in place with light pressure.
Use a needle type dispenser. Let a drop form on the end, then touch it to the joint and let capillary action draw the glue into the joint.
Don't touch the tip of the needle to the acrylic
Apply from the inside of the box.
Apply very sparingly. The "glue" is not really glue - just a solvent to melt the acrylic. The pieces fuse together when the solvent flashes off.

Good luck,


Don Abele
07-21-2004, 1:34 PM
Shaddy, I just finished up a project involving an acrylic box. I have worked with it quiet a bit in the past. As Ted said, you have to clamp the pieces up with just enough pressure to bring the edges together - do not over clamp. Then use a fine pointed dropper or syringe to slowly dispense the solvent into the joint seam. Capillary action draws it in - pay attention so you don't over fill it. This makes a mess and can lead to a poor joint. I usually leave it clamped for about 15 minutes then move on to the next piece. I have some Lexan guards I made a while back that have taken a beating and have never had a joint fail.

Shaddy Dedmore
07-22-2004, 1:26 AM
Thanks guys, I have two mini adj clamps that I used (don't have any rubber bands). And I wedged a waded paper towel between the bottom of the box and the bottom clamp to hold the bottom piece in. I used a syringe and just put a hint of a drop on the joints. Soaked right in like you said it would. I used about 98% less liquid and it holds better and didn't leave residue all over the sides. Also only took a couple minutes, then I just set it aside to cure.

Can you tell I'm excited? I'll have to call my mom, I CAN learn new things.


Keith Outten
07-22-2004, 6:56 AM

I use hair bands to clamp small boxes together when glueing them. Hair bands are inexpensive and work really well for acrylic as they won't apply too much pressure. I tried rubber bands but it was too difficult to adjust the number of bands to get the right pressure.

For the tops I often use different thicknesses and colors of acrylic, often a 3/16" base which I vector cut and drop in a 1/4" thick oval. I have a large box of small spring clanps for glueing tops and often work about 20 boxes at a time.

Rick Fitzpatrick
08-17-2004, 4:29 AM
Howdy guys, newbee here, but I saw this thread and thought I'd toss my .02 in.

Here is a few tips. First, for quality plex work you need a good plex cutting blade, and a router table with a uppull double bearing flushtrimmer and a 1/2" or 3/4" thick plex fence that acts as a jointer off feed table. Those two things alone are worth thier weight in gold. But there is more, but those come later. The fence is EASY to make. I'll tell you how later too.

Ok, for starters, I am NOT a plex guy, but I do some. I have however, worked in a high end store fixture mill, which had a great plex dept. I watched the guy for 10 years, and learned a lot of tricks. But it would be difficult to list them in a single post. But here is a few.

We used to build plex jewelry trays for the showcases at Macys. These fit 2 per drawer in the backislands. Made them 100 at a time. A box is just a tray with a lid. 2 sides, a back and front, and a bottom and a top. Here is the way to machine them.

For a simple plex box, you need to remember the most important thing of all is squareness in machining. Plex doesn't give like wood, and you can't fill the joints with a filler and sand it off. The edge, and the cuts ALL have to be perfectly square. Thats the key. But there are some machining involved to help with these. But time spent in squaring your table saw miter fence, rip fence(no trailcut), maybe a radial arm, or chopsaw, what ever you use to cut.
In the shop, the only saw they used was a tablesaw, even for crosscutting to length. But they used a double slot miter sled for crosscutting.

One of the key tricks, is to cut everything 1/16th inch oversize, and then joint off the excess on a router table. You start like this.
Say you were building a box, 8" long, 6" deep(wide) and 3" high. This is how you would cut the parts. First of all, you leave the protective paper ON the plex while you cut. Now depending on what material you have, usually 1/4", you would rip your sides, front and back to the same width. In this case, subtracting your top and bottom 1/4" would leave 2 1/2" for the width. But we are going to ADD 1/16" to that width, for jointing 1/32" off of each of the 4 edges later. Now, depending on what size of material you are cutting FROM, rip all the pieces from one wide piece, or one single long piece to cut all four pieces to length from.
Once you have these cut to width, now its time to decide which will have the ENDS exposed. The front, or the sides(ends). Usually, on trays, they are like drawers, where the sides run through, and the front and back fit between them, with butt joints. Same with this box. Either your front is full length, or the sides are full length, does that make sense? Its the same either way, depending on how you look at it. In this case the 8" dimension is the front and back, so for this I'll just say we want the front and back to be full length. So, in this case, we will cut the front and back, from the ripped material, 8 1/16" long. Now, for the ends to fit between the front and back, deduct 1/2" for the thickness of the front and back, and add 1/16th to make 5 9/16".
Ok, now, for the top and bottom, you need 2 pieces, 6 1/16" x 8 1/16" .

Ok, remember that fence? Here is how you make it. I used 2 pieces of 1/4" x 4" x 30" clear plex. I solvent laminated them together or use 1/2" or 3/4" thick plex. Ok, now IF you have a plain ole router table with a flush cutting bit, and an EXISTING wood fence, thats perfect. Set your wood fence to route off 1/32" of material. Now, normally, if you were to route an edge off of material like a jointer, once the material you are machining passes the bit, you now have a 1/32" gap between the material that has passed the bit and the fence. A jointer makes up for that by haveing an OFF FEED table that is flush with the blade. That is why we are machining this plex fence to MAKE a jointer fence that has a 1/32" OFF FEED flush with the carbide teeth on the bit. Ok, after you have is plex fence CUT to size, now we will joint off 1/32", but only ONE HALF the length of one edge. Does that make sense? Once you reach the half way mark, remove the plex from the router table. See the 1/32" difference in width? The wider half will serve as the OFF FEED end of the fence. Cool huh? Now, take a router, and cut away a 1/2 circle, about 1/1/2" in diameter right at that transition point in the plex fence, for the bit clearance area. There are other things you can do, but that is the basic fence. Now clamp this to the router table, where the OFF FEED is flush with the OUTSIDE cutter or flute, when it is perpendicular with the fence. See the CAD drawing. Now you have a plex JOINTER!!. See the attatchment.

Well, I hate to say it, but this is only my second post, and its already late, so I'll have to finish this tomorrow. Like Arnold says,. "I'll be back". Ha! BTW, if this is old hat to you, just say so and I'll gladly shutup:D Haven't had a chance to see where people are at here. PS, I'm a CAD detailer, hence the CAD file. I use it all the time for illustration.