----Cradle of the Sun Tips

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

Supplies & Equipment:


Foil-Copper foil comes in a 36 yard length roll of thin foil with adhesive on the back. Widths range from 5/32" to 1/2". Most commonly used are 3/16", 7/32" and 1/4". The size used depends on the thickness of the glass. In addition to bare copper, there are foils that are colored silver or black on the adhesive side. These would be use on transparent glasses in conjunction with the type of patina being used. You should match the visible inside edge of the foil with the patina being used.

Flux-Used to remove oxidation and act as a wetting agent to break down the surface tension of the solder, flux is necessary to get solder to stick to the metal. While there are several types of flux, I prefer liquid oleic acid for soldering lead and zinc chloride based flux for foiled projects. Return to top:

Lead-(Often called Came) There are two basis types of lead: hard lead and soft lead. Soft lead is 100% pure lead with nothing added. Soft lead strips need to be stretched in order to remove the propensity to stretch and sag. Hard lead has antimony added which stiffens the lead and is in effect pre-stretched. This results in a stronger finished panel. The advantage of soft lead is being easier to bend and shape to curves and that stretching removes any kinks in the strip. The advantage of hard lead is the added strength and not having to stretch it. It will, however, need to be kept straight until use. It is still malleable enough to conform to most curves. Here at Cradle of the Sun, we only sell hard lead. Lead is either H or U shaped and is sold in 6' strips. U shaped lead would only be used on the outside of a panel. H shaped lead could be used either on the interior or edge of a panel. The lead top and bottom are the flanges and the width of the flange is the nominal size of the lead. Most commonly used sizes are H shaped 3/16", 1/4" and 3/8". Return to top:

Nails-Horseshoe nails are normally used to temporarily hold glass and lead in place while assembling the panel. The flat side of the nail goes against the lead. If the final lead is in place, try to put nails where there will be a solder joint. This will hide any "dings" in the lead. If no lead is yet in place, use a piece of scrap lead to protect the glass from chipping and to raise the glass to a common level before placing the nail. When pulling a nail, rock it in the narrow, side-to-side direction in order to prevent bending the tip. An even more convenient nail is the round German nail which is hardened steel and sharply pointed. This nail can be started with one hand which is handy when your other hand is busy holding everything together. Use a twisting motion to pull the nail. They are more expensive but worth it in my opinion. Return to top:

Paper-Needed for drawing your design and for making necessary copies, paper comes in several types. For drawing the original design white paper (with or without grid lines) is used. Copies of the original are made on oiled paper and brown paper. The oiled paper is heavy weight and oiled to keep water from the grinder from distorting the paper. The brown paper is used to make two additional copies. One is used to assemble the project, the other is used as a holding pattern to place the cut pieces of paper and then the cut pieces of glass. This eliminates the need to number all the pieces if the project can stay on the same board from start to finish. Return to top:

Patina-There are three options for final solder color in a foiled piece. The solder can be left silver by doing nothing. It can be colored copper or black by applying a chemical patina to the solder. Wetting a rag with the patina then wiping it on the solder changes the color right away. This is only a surface treatment so abrading the solder with steel wool would remove the patina. The solder must be clean for the patina to work properly. It is best to clean the project immediately after soldering it and applying the patina right away. If it is blotchy, the solder is not clean and using fine steel wool to clean the metal before reapplying the patina should improve the appearance. Normally lead projects will not need a patina. The puttying process automatically darkens the lead to a nice black finish. Copper patina will not work on lead.Solder-The solder used with stained glass is normally tin/lead solder between 50/50 and 63/37. These numbers refer to the ratio of tin to lead. The mixture of tin and lead melt at a lower temperature than tin or lead alone. The lowest melting point is the 63/37 mixture. The highest practical melting point is the 50/50 mixture. Remember, you're soldering lead and don't want your iron to be melting it. The 50/50 solder is normally used for leaded projects as it is the least expensive of the group. Some claim the 60/40 and 63/37 solder make a smoother bead and prefer to use those solders when doing copper foil or decorative soldering. Solder come as solid core (no flux in the solder) 1/8" wire. Flux would need to be used in the soldering process to get the solder to stick. Return to top:

WorkBoard-Ideally made of 3/4" plywood that has two 3/4" high strips of wood 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. Return to top: