----Cradle of the Sun Tips

Glass Cutting - Soldering - Leading - Glass Creation/Selection - Tools Supplies/Equipment - Puttying - Misc


The procedure for leading up a panel is simple when approached in a methodical manner. Start with a work board or table that has two 3/4" thick strips of wood attached at right angles to each other in one corner. I use a "base" board about 2 1/2" wide (in order to have a little work area to cut leads, etc) and a vertical side (to the left for right-handers) about 1 3/4" wide. They need to be longer than the dimensions of the pattern you are assembling. Place the "assembly" pattern paper (which has been trimmed to the outside lead line on two sides) against the wood strips. Use some horseshoe nails to hold the pattern in place. Make a straight cut across the outside lead strip and put that trimmed end into the corner and along the bottom wood strip. The lead should be about 1/2" longer than the pattern. Then butt a trimmed piece of outside lead along the vertical wood strip. Hold these in place with horseshoe nails. Try placing the nails only where a lead line will be soldered in order to cover any nicks the nails might make. Both outside leads should be about 1/2" longer than the pattern. Place the first glass piece into the lead channel. You should be working from the lower left corner toward the upper right corner of the pattern. Hold the glass in place with a scrap lead and nail. The scrap lead will prevent the nail from chipping the glass. It's important all glass is held in place with nails so no shifting occurs while working in another area of the panel. Cut the leads exactly as the drawing indicates. In other words, where one lines runs into another, that is generally a stopping/starting point for the lead pieces. Cut the ends of the lead (assuming 3/6" lead is being used) 1/8" back for the edge of the glass and parallel to the next piece of lead. This will allow the next lead flange to overlap the glass and just kiss the first lead as it passes. When all interior leads are in place, the top edge lead is cut slightly long (+1/2") and put into place. It should overlap the glass and just hit the ends of the interior leads. The interior leads should not be preventing the outside lead flange from overlapping the glass. The glass should be against the heart of the outside lead. Place a narrow strip of wood against the top outside lead and hold it in place with horseshoe nails against the outside edge. Check with a square or by measuring to be sure the just placed lead is at right angles to the left side of the panel. If adjustment is necessary, whack the wood with the hammer end of your lead knife to get it into position. Next place the last outside lead into place. This one will need to be cut to an exact length to fit between the top and bottom leads. Again, place a wood strip against the side and adjust as necessary to insure it is straight and square. Next step is soldering.

Misc leading tips and summary:

Ends of the lead strips are cut parallel to the next piece of lead.

Hold the lead knife loosely like a dart and throw the hammer end at the nail head rather than gripping it tightly and trying to guide your whole forearm to the nail head.

Keep you finger and thumb around the nail as you hammer in case you miss the nail. You'll hit your finger/thumb rather than the glass.

Put the nail point into the paper pattern and slide it up against the lead in order to avoid putting the nail through the lead flange.

Flattest side of the horseshoe nail goes against the lead. When removing, rock it side-to-side to loosen in order to avoid bending the tip.

There are round German pointed nails (which are what I use) that can be started one-handed (they're very sharp) and don't get bend. They're hardened steel. These you twist to loosen.

Push the lead against the glass using the lead knife against the heart of the lead.

On inside curves, roll the lead against the glass but curving it into a smaller diameter curve, then back against the glass.

Be aware that there are brass reinforced lead strips. These help strengthen the finished panel and potentially reduce the need for windbars.They come with a 3/16" or 1/4" face and look just like regular leads once in place.

See Lead Knife for more details on using the tool.

All this is much easier to explain in the video. Return to top: