Copper in various widths and even sheets. The adhesive sides are in copper, silver, or black.
What width should you use?
Depends, for the average glass thickness 7/32" or 1/4" works best. If you want a unusually thin solder line, then a narrower foil can be used, or wider for a wider solder line. A wider foil may be required for thicker glass or when incorporating gems, nuggets, and rondels/bullseyes.
Why are there different colors of foil?
Copper foil is available with several color backings. The backing is on the adhesive side of the foil so that when the foil is wrapped around a piece of transparent glass the color backing is visible if you look "inside" the foiled area through the glass. This sounds like a small detail, but if you patina your solder lines, a different color foil backing would be very obvious if you used cathedral or clear glass. If you plan on using copper patina the copper foil with no color backing will match, if you plan on leaving the solder in its natural silver color the silver foil will match, or black backed foil for black patina. By using matched foil and solder finish you eliminate having a black solder line with a "halo" of copper showing through the glass.
Shapes - There are two common shapes of lead came used.
- "H-"shaped lead has a double channel and is usually used between two pieces of glass.
- "U-"shaped lead has a single channel and is used for the outside perimeter of panels, mirrors, shades, suncatchers, etc. The face of either type of lead came may be rounded or flat.
STRETCHING LEAD CAME - Before lead came is used, it must be stretched. Stretching removes the kinks, straightens the lead, and makes it more rigid
- 60/40 (Lead/Tin) - This solder is your best choice for copper foil work. The liquid temperature and narrow "pasty range" make it easy to form and maintain consistent high, rounded, beaded seams.
- 50/50 (Lead/Tin) - This solder will produce a much "flatter" bead than 60/40. Because of its higher melting point, 50/50 solder is often used on the back (or inside) of a stained glass project to protect against "melt through" when soldering the front. Because it spreads and flattens out, 50/50 solder is often used when soldering lead came joints.
- 63/37 (Lead/Tin) - You will often find "63/37" solder referred to as decorative or quick set solder. It is primarily used to create dimensional effects in the solder itself and can be "pulled" and manipulated to produce a variety of textures and designs.
- Lead free - Higher Melting point usually, will perform similar to a 50/50 mix.
|Solder Composition Reference Table
||Solid to (F)
||Liquid at (F)
||Pasty Range (F)
**Rosin core solder should be avoided, use solid solder. It can be use, but is harder to clean and may even require hydro carbons to remove, which could affect the adhesive of foils and sealants used.
Books & Magazines
- Design Software
- Resizing Software
Sizing your pattern to fit a specific mounting.
Make sure that the lines of your pattern are of the proper allowance (1/16" for lead, 1/32" for foil) and cut to the very inside of these lines for every piece of glass. There are lead and foil pattern scissors that can be purchased that are designed to cut the correct amount of allowance for the type work you're doing.
Basic Cutting Techniques
- Always use a lubricated cutter, if not self lubricated, be sure to lubricate before each cut.
- Start your cuts 1/32" to 1/16" away from the edge of the glass, end 1/32" to 1/16" away from the edge of the glass.
- Do not stop in the middle of your cut, make a firm, smooth cutting motion from start to finish.
- Do not back-track over your cut.
- For textured glass, reverse and adhere your pattern to the back side of the glass, which is usually flat, cut on this side
- Chip away waste on tight curves using grozers, think of a cut as a heavy car going fast around a tight curve, most likely won't stay on the road.
- Exterior circular cuts can sometimes be tapped off by tapping along the cut with the heavy end of a cutter
- Choose Glass
- Cut out patterns,
- Adhere patterns to glass, arrange by desired pattern
- Cut out glass
- Grind, smooth, & fit pieces together
- Foil pieces or fit came to size
- Assemble pieces on layout board, use nails or tacks to hold pieces in position.
- Apply final finishes (patina/wax or glaze)
Cutter - How to Hold Your Cutter - Hold your cutter however it feels comfortable for you. You may score away from or toward yourself. It may feel a little awkward at first, but with a little practice and experimenting, you will find a way that feels "right" for you.
Reinforcement - When a panel is larger than 2 feet, reinforcing should be added horizontally approximately every 12 to 18 inches to keep the window from sagging or buckling from the pull of gravity. After regular soldering is completed, you can begin to mount the reinforcing bar, which should be one continuous pieces from the left side to the right. The bar is soldered directly to the back of the window to all of the seams or joints that it passes over.
Glass quality - A good price on glass isn't always good, many times they have imperfections and may be more inconsistent (hard/soft/brittle) than a more quality glass.
To a small child, the perfect granddad is unafraid of big dogs and fierce storms but absolutely terrified of the word “boo.” – Robert Brault