Stained Glass for Beginners -Part 3: Cutting and Shaping Stained Glass

So now you know all the basic tools of the trade, I am going to let you in on the tricks of the trade.

Do you remember the cutting tools I explained in Part 1 of this series?

  1. If you are using the pencil or pistol grip cutter, you’ll want to fill the cutter with four to five drops of oil before cutting – if you choose to use the steel wheel cutter – skip this step!
  2. Use a sharpie to draw your guide line or pattern either freehand or with that handy ruler (can also be used as a guide when scoring!). Oh and if you are working with a pattern you will want to make a couple of copies, one of them will serve as your template beneath the glass and the other you can cut up to guide your cuts. You should number the pieces of the pattern, it makes the process that much easier.
  3. Score the glass – when cutting, the score line should run from one end of the glass all the way to the other end – when cutting glass use a continuous motion and never go over the same score twice Your score line should resemble a very fine hair when cut correctly and the glass should make a hissing sound – sort of like very faint nails on a chalkboard. To see these tools in action check out this video.  
  4. Using running pliers, break the glass, to do this place the running pliers at one end of the score – with the score lined up with the line in the breaker squeeze the breaker, were you wondering why these are called running pliers? A run refers to  the break that is made from a scored piece of glass
  5. If you are cutting a piece of glass that is so small that the running pliers won’t work or if your run didn’t break the whole score line you will need your breaker/grozer pliers to remove  flares, nibs and small pieces from the glass edge
  6. Lastly you will want to smooth the glass, if those stubborn nibs and flares didn’t break nicely, using your handy scythe stone
  • If you invested in a grinder and/or a saw you can use those to cut and shape your glass pieces. Such a time saver and well worth the investment, especially if you like to work with curves! See how easy it is to use a grinder in this video.

Oh, one last thing…here are some tips to keep you safe and sane!

  •  How awesome are your feet and legs? I think mine are pretty swell and I want to keep them that way– so when working with glass, protect your feet and legs by wearing pants and closed toe shoes.
  • When working with textured glass, always score the smooth or shiny side
  • Have fun and get creative with your design!

For some really great free stained glass patterns, check out the Diamond Tech Creative Corner and to find Diamond Tech stained glass supplies in a store near let our store locator be your guide.

Stay tuned, next week we will close the series with the foiling and solder process.


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