Saturday, September 5, 2009

Stained Glass: Getting Started With The Basic Tools

To begin making stained glass, you first neet to acquire a few basic tools and supplies.

  • A Glass Cutter
  • Lubricant
  • Pliers
  • Shears
  • Soldering Iron
  • Grinder
  • A Worktable

  • Glass Cutters come in a variety of shapes and sizes.

The very basic cutter has a 114 degree steel wheel angle, a ball end, and is intended to cut hard glass. These cutters are sold for under $6. and can be found in any hardware store.

Various oil dispensing glass cutters that feature comfortable contoured handle designs, and a 140 degree tungsten carbide cutting wheel, are preferred and used for general purpose cutting. These are in the $20. to $40. plus price range, and can be found online, or at businesses catering to stained glass enthusiasts.

  • A lubricant is needed to provide optimum cutting performance, to make crisp, sharp cuts, and to extend the life of the glass cutting tool.
Environmentally safe cutting oils are sold in various sizes usually under $9. Mineral spirits can be also be used and is readily available.

  • Two types of pliers will also be needed.

Running Pliers have concave and convex jaws. The jaws of these pliers will "run" a score line from one end of the glass to another. The curved jaws exert an even pressure on both sides of score line to start and run a break. This results in a clean break along the scored line. Running pliers usually can ge purchased for under $10.

Grozer or Breaking pliers are used to remove small pieces of glass that remain after the glass has been scored and broken. Most of these pliers have a 3/8" curved, serrated jaw and cost in the $6. to $10. range.

  • Shears are used to cut foil and lead came and cost anywhere from $7. to $20.
  • Soldering Irons come in a variety of Watts, shapes and sizes.
Weller W100PG

The Weller W100PG, 100 Watt Soldering Iron is a professional stained glass iron, specifically designed for all types of stained glass work. The temperature is controlled by changing the tips. It comes packaged with one 3/8", 700 degree tip, and a rest for the soldering iron. The price for the iron is in the $70. range, with extra 600 to 800 degree tips costing approximately $12. each.

There are hundreds of types of soldering irons available for more specific applications. You can purchase what your budget dictates and upgrade when you become more comfortable with the process.
  • Grinders come in many price ranges and brands but all do the same thing. They are used to finish grind to size the stained glass to match the pattern.

Gryphon Twister

Glastar G14

A compact, economical glass grinder that provides all the power and performance features you need in one machine is the Glastar, G14 Diamond Star Grinder. It is equipped with a 3/4" plated diamond head, tool drawer, open-grid 9-1/4" x 8-1/4" work surface, 1/18 HP motor, has a five year, unrestricted, no-fault warranty on all parts and labor.

If money is not a problem, the Gryphon Twister Grinder is the Cadillac of grinders. It offers advance comfort with a rotating base that converts from horizontal to inclined.

This allows you to sit or stand while grinding and reduces the "stoop" fatigue factor. It comes with additional bits, face shield, and costs about $175.

  • Last but not least is a good worktable to make your artistic creations on.

For this you can use a counter top, an old door, or anything else that comes to mind. I recommend that you purchase a heat proof work surface to protect whatever you decide to use as a work table. A light weight piece of stainless steel with an insulating back can be purchased for under $10. and is available in many online stores.

Once you gather the basic tools, you can begin acquiring the rest of your supplies and start creating your stained glass project.

That will be covered next.