Tuesday, February 2, 2016

HOW TO CUT PLASTIC PANELS

Several people have emailed me offline to ask about the plastic panels we put on the raised beds and how we cut them.  General comments were that they always thought it was difficult and couldn't figure out the easiest way to do it.  I will admit, the first panel I cut, was an epic fail.  It cracked and chipped and broke and just didn't work. I stopped about halfway through and went to the hardware store to figure out the next step.  







I ended up getting a special tool, see below, that worked like a charm.  I laid each 8 foot panel down on the porch and measured from the end to make a mark at the 4 foot point, one at the bottom edge, one in the middle and one at the top edge.  This let me draw a line with a sharpie using a straight edge metal ruler.  Then I just started cutting, following the line.  They cut almost perfectly and gave us a nice stack of 4 foot panels to use on the raised beds.  I did leave the panels out in the sun for a bit, just by chance as I took them out of the car. 




 Even with the right tool, I wouldn't recommend cutting them on a cold day, the sun softened them a bit. Just go slow and steady as you snip, and don't cut all the way to where they are closed.  Just open them wide, cut by squeezing them until about halfway closed, then open wide again and slide along to make the next part of the cut.  If you make the cut to where they close completely, it makes it hard to follow the line and they can still chip a bit.  Of course, we aren't building a house with these so they don't have to be perfect.  It still cut a pretty decent line.  Hope this makes sense.
Tin Snips to cut Plastic Panels
This is what I used.  
They are tin snips.  The exact name on the package says this:

 STRAIGHT CUT TINNER, 12", CUTS UP TO 20 GAUGE STEEL 


They make them that cut curves, don't get those.  They also make two other smaller sizes that cut a different gauge of steel.  I figured that if these largest ones could cut 20 gauge tin metal, they would cut the plastic panels too.  When we buy a tool we always like to get one that can multitask.  If these will cut the plastic panels now and will someday cut galvanized sheet metal, they'll work great on the farm for years to come!


Multi tasking tools are almost a necessity!


13 comments:

  1. Thank you for this, SO much, I have some and was wondering what to do.

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    1. Thanks, glad you needed the info. Come back soon!

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  2. The right tool for the job! I use them on tin mostly but good to know.

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    1. Yep, the more you know like on NBC, ha.

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  3. Very good tutorial! Your skills set keeps expanding.
    Having the right tools at the farm makes every job go easier.

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    1. Kinda just making it up as we go along but hey, it's working I suppose! Slow and steady!

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  4. Great idea, I've broken so many of these panels over the years, I came here by googling 'how to cut plastic panels' and you helped. Thanks for sharing. Can't wait for Spring to start cutting (we're snowed under right now, ha).

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    1. You must be cold where you are. Hope Spring comes soon (the groundhog saw his shadow maybe warmer weather is coming soon!). Yes, the first panel I cut chipped and cracked and broke. I tried to make the title easy to search on google. Glad you found us. Come back and visit!

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  5. Hubby has a pair of these that he used to cut the metal sheeting for roof of my garden shed. Great cutters to have, but must be patient and take your time in the cutting process. Oh, and have a good pair of heavy duty gloves when handling sheet metal

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    1. Oh yes, I should have said that too, wear gloves, ESPECIALLY with the sheet metal, very very sharp.This plastic can get a big sharp too. Err on the side of caution. Thanks!!

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  6. 1st Man,

    Having the right tool always makes the job better. Great idea for your garden beds :-)

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    1. Yep, invest in it now and keep it for future use, ha. Thanks, I'll have an update on how they are doing soon. Of course, our "Winter" has been so weird...

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