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Edges can be "flame polished" quickly and easily. Use your propane torch. Just pass the edge of the plastic through the flame. When you do it just right, the heat melts the plastic enough to smooth out the roughness and add a sheen. It's like an ice cube that's just started to melt.

Don't let the flame dwell on one spot. The melting progresses to the bubbling, warping, gooey-mess stage in the blink of an eye. Sweep the flame over the edge. Examine the result. Sweep again, and examine. Keep it up until you have the edge appearance you want.

a brush or syringe. So long as the joint is perfectly matched, capillary action pulls the solvent into the joint. There it softens the plastics, allowing them to intermingle and, as the solvent evaporates, to fuse. If the joint is not perfectly fitted, the solvent will be pulled in only here and there, and the bond will be spotty.

You can circumvent this somewhat by soaking one part in a shallow puddle of the solvent, then pressing it to the other part. Still, when using the solvent, it's best to have tight-fitting joints.

The acrylic cement, on the other hand, works best in gappy joints. Two constituents, a resin and a hardener, are mixed, and the resulting syruplike cement is applied with a syringe. Usually, it will form a reinforcing fillet along the seam.

Polishing the Edges

If you are as meticulous about finishing your jigs and fixtures as you are about finishing your woodworking projects, you may want to smooth and polish the cut edges of your plastic baseplate. It's a several-step process, and if you're like us, you'll probably compromise by scraping the rough spots and beveling the edges just enough to eliminate their sharpness.

Uncompromising? Then scrape 3nd file the edges to remove rough edges and tool marks. Sand those edges next to remove the scars of scraping and filing. And finally, buff and polish the edges to bring them to a high gloss.

For the first step, use a regular cabinet scraper. Clamp the plastic between wooden cauls in a vise. Position the scraper across the plastic's edge, lilting it back toward you at an angle of about 60 degrees. Pull the scraper toward you; never push it away. Use moderate pressure and long strokes to avoid creating depressions in the piece. Use a file to smooth interior cutouts where a scraper won't fit. Smooth-cut rasps and bastard-

cut mill files arc best. Rub chalk over the file to keep it from sticking.

Sanding is next. Abrasive papers for plastics are available in hardware stores. Because the heat of sanding can soften most thermoplastics, you should wet sand the plastic. Wet the sandpaper and the work at the outset, and rinse them at regular intervals as you work. Repeat the process with progressively finer grades of paper. Using a power sander is okay, so long as you keep either the sander or the plastic in constant motion, avoid extreme pressure, and frequently wet the surface being sanded.

Like sanding, buffing can be done either by hand or mechanically. Use a buffing compound, selecting one used for metal. Apply the compound to the buffer, then buff the plastic with it. Next, wash the plastic with soap and water to remove the abrasive buffing compound, and finally, polish your baseplate with paste wax.

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