Glass Cutting - Soldering - Leading - Glass Creation/Selection - Tools
Supplies/Equipment - Puttying- Misc
Glass Cutter - Soldering Iron - Lead Knife - Breaking Pliers - Lead Dikes - Glass Grinder
Running Pliers - Fid/Lathkin
"Disposable" Cutter-An inexpensive dry cutter used for a few projects
then discarded as it becomes dull. This type of cutter should
be dipped into cutting oil between every score.
Comfort Grip Oil Cutter-A pencil shaped cutter with a carbide wheel that
stays sharp for several years of regular use. The handle is an
oil reservoir that feeds cutting oil through a wick to the wheel,
automatically lubricating the score line. This cutter will require
less pressure scoring glass than a dry cutter. It produces better
cuts with fewer failures resulting in less wasted glass.
Pistol Grip Oil Cutter-An oil cutter as above but with a handle held overhand
like a bread knife. Useful for those with weaker hands.
See Cutting Glass Return
The iron used to solder must be of a high
enough wattage to readily melt the solder and be able to reheat
fast enough to maintain the necessary melting temperature. The
tip can't be so small it can't maintain the heat nor so big it
covers more area than wanted.
I carry Weller brand soldering irons in two
Weller 80w-This red handled iron comes with
two sized tips. It should be used with a rheostat in order to
prevent overheating while it is idling.
Weller 100w-This blue handled iron maintains
a constant 700° and readily recovers the heat used in melting
the solder. There are several sizes of tips available for this
see Soldering Return
The lead knife is (Surprise!) used to cut
the lead strips. The important things to remember are to lubricate
the blade and to maintain the proper angle of attack.
The blade is lubricated by wiping it through
beeswax. Beeswax is slightly sticky so it will adhere to the
metal better than ordinary wax. This greatly increases the ease
with which the knife will slip through the lead.
The proper angle of attack is maintained by
keeping the blade in contact with the table while slipping/sliding
through the lead. This approach will prevent the lead from collapsing
and being crushed.
The lead knife is also useful in positioning
the lead around the pieces of glass, usually by pushing on the
heart of the lead.
The knife we use is the FanOut brand which
is held as though stabbing.
I consider this a necessary tool because lead
dikes can't achieve steeply angle cuts readily. Return
The breaking plier is a special stained glass
tool that has smooth jaws which meet at the tip of the plier.
This enables the tool to reach over the top and bottom of the
glass with the tip coming into contact with the glass exactly
against the score line. The plier handles are at right angle
to the score line. The edge of the glass needs to be close enough
(within 3/4") to the score line in order to use this tool.
It is used in lieu of your hands when the piece being broken
off is too narrow to be comfortably grasped by hand. When bending
the glass, the top jaw comes down flat against the surface of
the glass (that's why we want the smooth jaw) and as more bending
pressure is applied, lateral/pulling pressure is applied. This
tool can also be used to groze the glass by carefully nibbling
away the edge.
I consider this a necessary tool. Return
Lead dikes are used to cut the lead strips
(came) when the angle to be cut is not too severe. The cutting
edge of the tool has been flatttened one side and is very sharp.
This is a tool where you get what you pay for. The best dikes
in my experience are the FanOut brand. You should look for a
cut on the lead that is perfectly straight across. They should
be spring loaded to return to the opened position readily. The
jaws should move freely and easily. They should be large enough
to span 3/8" lead. Larger dikes are able to cut steeper
angles. The tool is held with the jaws pointing down and the
flat side of the tool facing the side of the lead you want flat.
The lead is held oriented as it will be used.The tool will be
cutting into the sides of the lead strip, not from the top and
bottom of the lead flange. When cut, the top of the lead flange
should be directly over the bottom flange. If one flange extends
beyond the other, there will be a gap where the leads meet. Return to top:
Glass grinders are an optional but very handy
tool. A spinning diamond coated cylinder extending above a grid
surface can rapidly and accurately grind glass to the desired
shape. Don't purposily cut glass large with the intention of
grinding. Ideally no grinding would have to be done. It should
be used only for minor adjustments or for grinding tough-to-cut
inside curves. The diamond bit must be kept wet in order to reduce
wear on the diamond and prevent glass dust from developing and
being inhaled. There are several grits available. "Fine"
grinds slower but leaves fewer chips in the glass. "Coarse"
grinds very fast but leaves larger chips. "Standard"
in a central compromise. Return to top:
Running pliers are used to run a relatively
straight score line by bending the glass uniformly on either
side of the score line. The pliers I prefer are the metal runners
with coated jaws. The alternative is a plastic running pliers
but the elements doing the bending tend to compress over time
and don't have as much leverage. The metal pliers maintain a
constant shape. The proper use is to position the center line
on the top jaw of the pliers in line with the score line. The
plier handles are in lined with the score line.The score line
needs to be far enough in from the edge of the glass that the
plier don't extend beyond the edge. In other words the entire
jaw needs to be on the glass. Failure to comply will result in
unequal pressure and the coating on the jaws being damaged.
Another type of running pliers are the RingStar
which is non-directional. It's very effective on curves and easy
to use. Instructions for use are illustratred on the back of
its packaging. Return to top:
Fids and lathkins are used to open flanges
in leads, flatten foil against glass, straighten out lead cames
and other misc. leading and foiling activities. Modern fids and
lathkins are made of plastic to easily slide against the metals.
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