Thursday, June 2, 2011

How To Cut Plate Glass Correctly For Beveling

Harvest Grain Yellow Bevel ClustersLearning how to cut plate glass correctly can be a tad more difficult than cutting the different types of stained glass you normally use for suncatchers.

The main difference between the two, is the thickness of the glass.

Beveled glass is usually made by taking 1⁄4"thick clear plate glass and creating a one inch bevel on one side around the entire periphery.

Once the bevels are cut, they act as prisms in the sunlight that create a color diffraction that highlights the glass work and provides a color spectrum which is absent in clear glass.

Cutting plate glass is different from cutting thinner glass because the break must travel completely through the thickness of the glass, as well as along the score line on the surface of the glass.

If the break doesn't go completely through the thickness of the glass, there will be a point somewhere along the cut where you will lose the clean break and have a jagged edge.

When you first start cutting 1/4" plate glass, it might look like the break is going through the entire thickness, yet the glass still doesn't break apart easily. This is relatively common problem when first learning how to cut plate glass.

Plate glass is softer than art glass. This means that you do not need to press as hard with your cutting tool when scoring the glass.

Many beginners make the mistake of pressing too hard and chipping the surface. Light pressure is all that is needed for a crisp score line.

The trick to a clean plate glass cut is to firmly tap the glass opposite the score line with the ball end of your glass cutter until you see a crack begin to "run".

Tapping releases tension along the score line and allows for a clean break on the scored side of the glass.

You might occasionally find some chipping on the side opposite the score which is sometimes created by tapping. This is relatively normal when learning.

When learning to cut plate glass correctly for beveling purposes; the chipped side is always the side you should plan to bevel.

As with stained glass, the more waste glass you have around your finished pattern, the easier it is to tap out the piece you need for your bevel.

Cut plate glass the same way you would cut stained glass.

Cut out your inside curves first and then get rid of the straight cuts and inside curves. Use your running pliers after tapping each line you score.

Long straight cuts on plate glass are the easiest to make.

Use a straight edge to score your line and then put your glass cutter underneath the scored line about an inch or so from one end. Then with your hands on both sides of the score, push downward sharply.

Do this on a short pile carpet or padded surface, NOT on a hard base floor or counter top.

You can also use a piece of dowel or anything else of like size as a fulcrum for making the break. Just keep in mind that this technique only works on plate glass 1/4" and under in thickness.

To make narrower straight line breaks, use your running pliers or firmly hold the piece of glass against the edge of a firmly mounted counter top with the score line opposite the counter top edge and push sharply.

It's always a good idea to wear gloves if you're not used to doing this.

The video below shows how easy it is for the professionals to cut plate glass correctly.

Learning how to cut plate glass correctly for beveling stained glass suncatchers is not that difficult, like anything else it just requires a bit of practice.


  1. Thanks! I have 2 1/4 inch lrg. glass shelve that both chipped at one end and was looking to save them instead of throwing them away. The only thing is, the glass shelves have a sanded looking edge on them. How would I go about making the cut edges look sanded so they match the other edges?

    1. The professional glass shops use electric sanders with medium to fine grit sanding disks.
      If you don't have an electric sander, you can achieve the same look by using a sheet rock sander with 80 grit paper,
      Start sanding lightly across the cut edge to "ease" the sharp edge. Then sand the length of the edge.

  2. That's 2 shelves and both are 1/4" not 2 and 1/4 inch thick by the way in case I wasn't clear.

  3. Any chance you'd do a how to on beveling curves?