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
All this is much easier to explain in the