How to Cut Glass - The Basics | Delphi Glass
How to Cut Stained Glass
Stained glass is colored glass that is cut and placed into mosaic pictures and is a form of painting that has been used for almost a thousand years. It is generally used in window hangings, lamp shades, mobiles, bird baths, and many other art sculptures and pieces. Although cutting glass can seem intimidating, it is actually easier than it looks. With some practice, you can cut stained glass like a professional! Remember to always wear safety goggles when cutting glass to protect your eyes.
Practicing with the Cutter
Practice holding the cutter.Hold the cutter between your index and middle fingers, with your thumb at the back. If this is uncomfortable or difficult for you, hold it like you would hold a pen or pencil. There is no right or wrong way to hold the cutter; find something that is comfortable for you.
Make a score line.A score line is the cut that is made in the glass. Hold the cutter perpendicular to the surface of the glass and push or pull along the surface to create the cut. Practice cutting with enough pressure that you hear a “zip” sound as you use the cutter on the glass surface.
Practice cutting with enough pressure.Using cheap glass, practice scoring the glass with your cutter several times, taking care not to go over any previous score lines. It will take some practice and experimentation to get this right.
- Without enough pressure on the cutter, the sheet glass will not break.
- The glass won’t break cleanly with too much pressure.
Cutting Straight Lines
Clear a flat surface.The surface should be a table or countertop that has plenty of space for your glass. It should be clean and clear of any unnecessary items or tools.
Place the glass on the surface.Be careful when handling the glass, so that you do not accidentally drop or break it.
Mark the line.Use a marker to draw the line where you intend to cut the glass. There are plenty of markers available that are designed for writing on glass that you can use for this purpose.
- Use a ruler to help you draw a line that is perfectly straight by placing the ruler right next to the pen as you draw.
Dip the cutter into oil.Lubricating the cutter will prevent the blade from dulling and make scoring the glass easier. Be sure to dip the cutter in oil before each cut.
- Oils traditionally used for glass cutters are kerosene oil, motor oil, and lamp oil; however, any type of oil could work. You could also use coconut oil, olive oil, or avocado oil. It is completely up to you!
Score the glass.Scoring means slicing the glass with the cutter. Hold the cutter perpendicular to the surface of the glass and slide it firmly along the cut line. Use enough pressure to make a line but not so much that you leave a white residue (which means the glass won’t break cleanly). You will know that you are using the right amount of pressure if you hear a “zip” sound as you cut. It will help to practice making cuts on cheap sheet glass first.
- You do not need to cut the score line very deep. Using too much pressure could prevent the glass from breaking evenly.
- Be sure to cut from one edge to the other. It is not possible to break the glass evenly if the cut is not from edge to edge.
- Do not cut over a previously cut score line if you make a mistake. You will need to cut another score line. Doing so will ruin your cutter.
Position the glass.Line up the score line with the edge of the table. The largest piece of glass should rest on the table and the smaller piece should be off the table.
Break the glass.For large pieces of glass, lift the glass one to two inches off the edge of the table and then bring down firmly with both hands. The glass piece should break off against the edge of the table.
- The larger piece should be on the table and the smaller piece in your hands.
Bend the sheet of glass with your hands.For medium sheets of glass that can hold in your hands, you may be able to simply bend the glass in each hand until it breaks and you are holding a piece in both hands.
Use glass breaking pliers.For small pieces of glass, use pliers instead of your hands to break off the glass. Hold the largest piece of glass with your non-dominant hand and use your dominant hand to grip the pliers.
- Position the pliers in the center of the glass, running parallel to the score line.
- Using the pliers, push down on the smallest piece of glass, as if you are making a folding motion along the score line.
- The glass should break off cleanly.
Clear a flat surface.Clear any unnecessary items from the table so that you have plenty of space for your glass.
Place the glass on the surface.Handle the glass carefully so that you do not accidentally drop or break it.
Draw the line.Use a marker to draw where you intend to cut the glass.
Dip your cutter into oil.Lubricating the cutter will prevent the blade from dulling and make scoring the glass easier. Be sure to dip the cutter in oil before each cut. You can use any oil that you are comfortable with using!
Score the glass.Use the cutter to cut the glass by holding it perpendicular to the glass and slicing it firmly.
- For curvy lines, you can score the glass by pulling the cutter toward you or pushing it away from you as you make the cut. It is recommended that you push it away from you so that you can see the line you are cutting at all times. Do what is most comfortable to you.
- Be sure to cut from one edge to the other. It is not possible to break the glass cleanly and evenly if the cut is not from edge to edge.
“Knock” the glass.Now that you have made the cut, hold the glass up and use the steel ball on the non-cutting end of your glass cutter to tap firmly along the length of the score.
- The score should be facing you for this step.
- If the score line becomes brighter, it is due to the internal cracking of the glass and means that you are successful.
- The glass may spontaneously separate after one or two taps. Be prepared for this by holding the glass with your free hand on either side of the score.
Break the glass.Hold the glass with each hand on either side of the score line. The side of the glass that is opposite your hands should rest on the table.
- For small pieces of glass, use pliers to separate the pieces.
- If you are using your hands, place your thumbs parallel to the score line and curl your fingers under your thumbs, beneath the glass.
- Fold along the score line but do not yet break it. Do this along the length of the score line. This will loosen up the score line even more.
- Turn the sheet 180 degrees and repeat the folding motion until you feel the pieces loosening.
- Separate the pieces with a downward motion.
- Curved lines can be more difficult to break than straight lines. If it doesn’t break as you are tapping, it may take some extra effort to separate the pieces.
QuestionDo I cut wavy stained glass any differently than smooth?Top AnswererWavy glass can be cut in the same way. Mark the cut line and follow instructions as described in the article.Thanks!
Do I put anything on the table under the glass when I get ready to cut it?
- Any type of oil can be used to lubricate the glass cutter, including cooking oil.
- Maintain constant pressure throughout each score in one continuous movement. Applying uneven pressure or starting and stopping a score line can cause the glass to crack.
- Always use a small handheld broom/brush and a dustpan to clean your work area after cutting stained to remove tiny glass fragments.
- If you want to make shapes cut some paper in the shape you want to make and put the paper on the glass and cut around the paper using the paper as a guide.
- Do not score the same line more than once. This will ruin your cutter and may cause the glass to crack. If you make a mistake while scoring, keep going and cut off the excess glass afterwards using additional score lines.
- Always stand while cutting glass to give your body more control and leverage.
- Be sure to wear safety goggles when cutting glass.
- Be extremely cautious when working in areas where glass has been cut. There will be tiny fragments of broken glass that can cut your fingers or get into your eyes.
Video: How to Cut Stained Glass
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