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Thread: Stained Glass - Getting started

  1. #1
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    Stained Glass - Getting started

    I've had a few people ask about learning to do stained glass. So I thought I'd post some suggestions and list out things you'll need to get started.

    Take a class
    • It's well worth the cost to take classes. These folks have been doing this for a while and can show you lots of techniques and tips that will save you lots of heartache.

    Safety first!
    • Always wear safety glasses.
    • Do not breath glass dust, this can kill you. When grinding glass, be sure you are using water on the grinding bit to prevent dust from getting into the air. Breathing glass dust can result in a disease call pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanokoniosis or silicosis for short ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silicosis )
    • Work in a well ventilated area. Lead and the fumes from soldering are not good to breath.

    Basic methods of doing stained glass
    The two basic methods of doing stained glass (there are others) are leaded and foiled.

    • Leaded glass is a method that uses actual lead strips, called came, that have channels cut into them that allow you to assemble glass pieces together much like a raised panel door. The ends of the lead are then soldered to hold the project together.
    • Foiling glass involves using an adhesive backed copper foil to wrap each individual piece of glass used in the project. Once all pieces have been wrapped, they are laid out as they will be in the finished project. Each piece is soldered together with a bead of solder covering the foil wrapping. Smaller projects will stay together without additional reinforcement; however larger projects may require a frame added to support the weight of the combined glass pieces.

    Basic tools needed:
    • Glass cutter (a self lubricating type)
    • Breaker pliers (sometimes called runners)
    • Grozer Pliers
    • Safety glasses
    • Glass grinder (with a water reservoir)
    • Soldering Iron (100 Watt recommended)
    • Rest for the soldering iron, one with a cleaning sponge is recommended
    • Flux Brush
    • Flux
    • Chemical resistant gloves
    • Solder (60/40 or lead free)
    • Horse shoe nails
    • Glazing Hammer (soft tip)
    • Brass bristle wire brush (for removing oxidation)
    • A glue stick (for gluing your pattern pieces to each piece of glass to cut)
    • A light table (optional)

    Additional tools for Lead
    • Lead nippers (cutters)
    • Lead vise (for stretching lead came)
    • Lead Shears (optional, for cutting out your pattern) **

    Additional tools for Foiling
    • Fid or Burnisher
    • Foil Shears (optional, for cutting out your pattern) **
    • Foil dispenser (optional)


    **The Lead and Foil shears mentioned above are special scissors that have an extra blade (different widths for each type). They are used to keep your pattern to its original size by cutting out the waste from each piece that would be the width of the came or foil.


    Tips
    • Places like Hobby Lobby carry glass, but once every few months they have glass sales where the glass is half off. I’ve found their glass to be acceptable for most projects, but it is a lower grade of glass and can be more brittle. They are also a good source for the supplies, but check around with your local shops and the internet.
    • Be sure to use soap and water to clean your projects well. The flux contains an acid that will continue to tarnish your work if not removed completely.
    • I do most of my work on a particle board work surface (24” X 24” X ½”) that has two 1” X 2” rails nailed on the bottom and left sides to give me a right angle to work and assemble against. The particle board gives me a surface that I can hammer in the horse shoe nails to hold my work in place for soldering and assembly.
    • When cutting glass, start about 1/16” in and stop about 1/16” short of the edges of the glass, do not roll over the edge as it can dull your cutter.
    Darren

    To a small child, the perfect granddad is unafraid of big dogs and fierce storms but absolutely terrified of the word “boo.” – Robert Brault

  2. #2
    Alan DuBoff is offline Former Member (by the member's request)
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    Last edited by Alan DuBoff; 02-27-2008 at 09:24 AM.

  3. #3
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    Hi Darren ,
    It is nice of you to introduce stained glass to the forum. It has been a joy to me since a class I took at Colorado Mountain College back in the 70's.
    Stained glass is a great addition to a home. Can be worked into a number of woodworking projects too. Let us see how this goes.
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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alan DuBoff View Post
    Darren,

    I think I have most of what I need. If I wasn't going to use a grinder, I 'spose I could cut it with a glass cutter by hand, and use came????

    I know a person that has some glass equipment, and have contacted hi m to see if he's still interested in selling it. He primarily makes hand planes, but at one point had been interested in glass. I believe he has a water grinder.

    What is a fair price on a used grinder? I'm sure it depends on the quality.

    What type of grinder do you recommend?
    Alan,
    I would recommend a grinder even with using came. A grinder's biggest job is to get your pieces to fit together properly. Glass is unpredictable sometimes, so you can't always count on a straight break.

    I use the inland wizard (about $120 new), but when I need a new one will probably buy a larger model like the Glastar II. For hobby work, even the smallest and cheapest should work for you ($75 - $100). There is also a stone you can buy to file by hand ( less than $10), but make sure to dip it in water every couple of strokes (no dust).

    Glass work is much like woodworking, you can do without some tools, but the right ones make it so much easier and enjoyable.
    Darren

    To a small child, the perfect granddad is unafraid of big dogs and fierce storms but absolutely terrified of the word “boo.” – Robert Brault

  5. #5
    Alan DuBoff is offline Former Member (by the member's request)
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    Last edited by Alan DuBoff; 02-27-2008 at 09:23 AM.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darren Wright View Post
    Glass work is much like woodworking, you can do without some tools, but the right ones make it so much easier and enjoyable.
    No truer words

    I fully agree with Darren on taking a class. Find a local shop were you can get hands on advice when you're first starting out too. Every local shop I've ever run across also gave classes too. I'd recommend starting with small foil projects and learn the basics of cutting, fitting and soldering before trying to tackle a came project. Came can introduce it's own frustrations which can compound the learning curve.

    A grinder really isn't optimal if you want quality. Yes, you can get by with just a glass cutter, but if you want good clean, tight joints and joints that are uniform, the grinder is the only effective way to get there.

    Mike

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