Saturday, July 16, 2011

How To Cement Your Lead Came Projects

When using the lead came technique to create your stained glass projects, an important step you need to learn is how to cement your lead came projects.

After all the joints of your lead came project have been soldered on both sides and the finished piece is much larger than a small suncatcher, you need to cement the lead came.

The cementing process will strengthen and waterproof your finished project.

This process is absolutely necessary for large projects like glass windows, doors, or
decorative wall hangings.

Learning how to cement your lead came project isn't really rocket science but there are some steps you need to follow if you expect your project to have a professional look.

Natural Color Cement - 15 Lbs
  • First, either whip up a batch of cement or purchase a "ready to use" cement that is specifically designed for use with stained glass.
  • Next, using a natural hair bristle brush, force the cement under all the lead came leaves of your project.
  • Force the excess putty out of the leaves from the lead came if you have used flat came. Do this with your lathkin or a smooth piece of wood.
  • Now using a sharp pointed dowel, remove any excess cement from around the joints.
  • Next, scrub your project with a dry natural bristle brush after sprinkling some fine sawdust or whiting over the project. This polishes your project and cleans away any remaining oils, dirt or grimy grease.
  • After you have completed one side of your project, turn it over and repeat the process on the other side.
Place your project on a flat surface, let it air dry for 24 to 36 hours and you're finished.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Foiling Your Stained Glass Suncatcher Project

Once you have all the pieces of your pattern cut out, you are ready to start foiling your stained glass suncatcher project.

Every piece of glass must be correctly wrapped in copper foil in order for your finished project to hold together without falling apart.
  • To start, it's important that all the pieces of your pattern are free from oils and glass particles. Failure to thoroughly clean each piece of glass could prevent the foil from properly adhering to the glass.
  • Once your glass is cleaned, remove the paper backing from the back of the foil as you work along the edge of the glass.
  • Center the glass on the foil so that the overhang on each side of the glass is as even as possible. Then carefully wrap the foil around the edge of each piece of glass. Overlap at least 1/4" of foil from where you started your wrap and cut off the excess.
  • Next crimp the foil tightly around the edges of the stained glass.

    Use a foil crimping tool, a fid, a blunt piece of wood or just your fingernail to burnish the foil on both sides of the outside edge of the glass so that it sticks firmly and evenly to the glass.

    Your finished edge should be smooth without any noticeable crimps or humps. The strength and appearance of your finished stained glass suncatcher will be ruined if you do a sloppy wrap job.
  • When you're satisfied with all your wrapping and burnishing, you are ready to position the pieces of glass on your pattern.

    • If you are making a panel, use strips to keep your pattern square.
    • If you are making a free form suncatcher project, hold the pieces in place with plastic headed push pins or nails if you are using a wood backer board.
  • After your pieces are positioned to your liking, it's time to tack solder all the joints in your project.

    Melt enough solder onto each joint to hold the pieces firmly together. You don't need to be super neat during this step, just use enough solder to keep your pieces from sliding apart. The "tacks" will be remelted when you finish your seams.
  • Next, use a brush to apply flux along the foiled seams of your project.

    Make sure not to use too much flux and that you don't flux portions of your pattern you don't expect to be soldering in one sitting.

    Soldering flux left too long on copper will cause it to oxidize and tarnish. In this condition it is difficult to solder a decent looking joint without needing to clean or re-foil the glass.

    If you do get called away from your project after the flux has been applied, try using some household white vinegar mixed with table salt and some water to remove the oxidation.
  • After you're finished tacking up your project, you are ready for beading.

    As the name implies, with the tip of the iron held horizontally to the seam, you slowly move the soldering iron and the solder along the joint to form a rounded bead.

    Apply just enough solder to form a bead along the seam.

    • Too much solder or an iron that is too cool will cause an uneven ridged bead.
    • Using too little solder or too hot an iron will cause a flat seam with no bead.

    Experience and practice are the best teachers here. After a while you will learn how to solder a uniform bead on both sides of your pattern.

    For strength, always bead both sides of your project.

  • If your project is a panel and you don't plan to frame it or use U lead came on the outside edges, you will need to give the outside edges of your project a more finished appearance by beading the edges.
    Beading the edges is a two stage process; "tinning" and final beading.

    • Apply a thin coat of solder to the edges of both sides of your project. This is called "tinning".

    • Next, bead the edges by holding the edge you need to solder horizontal to the work table.

      Melt enough solder to the edge, so that it slowly rolls down the sides of the foil to form a uniform rounded edge.

      This takes practice to perfect but creates a professional look and improves the strength of the finished piece.

    Stained glass suncatchers with rounded outside edges must be beaded a little bit at a time. On curved edges, try beading only about an inch at a time.

    Let the solder set and then come back to add another inch or so to the bead, remembering to keep the edge you are working on horizontal to your table until the entire edge is beaded.
  • After your edges are all beaded, you can add loops to hang your stained glass suncatcher project.

    Curl a piece of copper or brass 18 or 20 gauge wire around a pencil and form a loop. Cut back about 1/4" from each end of the loop intersection.

    Tin the loop and tack it onto the edge of your project where you want to place your hanging chain.
  • The last step in foiling your stained glass suncatcher project is to wash your project with a mild detergent in warm water to remove all the remaining flux.

    You can use a commercially made flux remover but soap and water is cheaper and does the same job.
If you like, you are now ready to apply patina to your stained glass suncatcher project to change it's appearance.

The chemicals that are available are corrosive so wear rubber gloves and wash your hands after working with patina.

When you have the look you desire, wash and dry your project and apply carnuba or bees wax to seal and protect your finish.
Foiling your stained glass suncatcher project is arguably the most important step for creating a professional looking project.

Monday, July 4, 2011

How To Properly Solder Your Lead Came Suncatcher Projects

How To Properly Solder Your Lead Came Suncatcher Projects

Learning how to properly solder your lead came suncatcher projects is not difficult but there are some tricks you need to be aware of.

It's true that anybody with a soldering iron and some flux can solder but to make your stained glass project look really professional try out this method of soldering lead came.

Temperature is extremely important.

Regardless of what type project you are working on, the temperature of your soldering iron is critical.

An iron that is too hot will cause the solder to actually bubble. An iron that is too cold causes uneven solder joints.

Test the temperature of your soldering iron on a piece of lead came. If it melts the lead came your iron is way too hot.

Reset your thermostat and wait a few minutes until the temperature evens out and try again.

The iron should be hot enough for the solder on your project to flow evenly but not so hot that it actually melts the lead came.

Brush soldering flux onto the lead came joint, place the solder over the joint and apply the flat surface of your soldering iron over the solder until it melts and just covers the intersection of the lead came joint.

A common error newcomers make is to apply too much solder to the joints.

This causes a ball or a ridge to form at the intersection of the joint and makes the finished piece look very unprofessional.

I can't stress this too much; DO NOT use an excessive amount of solder on the lead came joints.

Use juse enough solder on the joins to keep it small and flat around the edge.

Once one side of your project is complete, turn it over and solder the reverse side.

When your iron is at the correct temperature, you won't have any problems with solder bubbling, balling, ridging or flowing through to the other side of the piece.

A good soldering iron and thermostat will make the job of soldering easier but nothing replaces a lot of practice.

Inland Studio Professional Soldering Iron Mika 100w Studio Line Soldering Iron - International Voltage

Hakko 556 Soldering Iron

Click on the pictures for an item description.

Mini Phaser Temperature Controller Mika Tempright Temperature Controller

Remember, "practice makes perfect!"

Learning how to properly solder your lead came suncatcher projects is a very important step that you must master if you plan to create professional looking stained glass products.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Be Sensible When Working With Lead Came

Making stained glass suncatchers is fun and easy but you need to be sensible when working with lead came.

Lead came is not inherently dangerous but it is made from lead, which is toxic to humans and animals. However, as long as you take some sensible precautions when handling lead came, working with it will not pose any problems to you or your family.

Here some things you you should avoid when you are handling or working with lead came or any other lead product.
  • Don't eat while handling lead came or lead solder.
  • Don't smoke while handling lead in any form. In fact just don't smoke.
  • Don't drink while handling lead in any form.
  • Don't put your fingers in your mouth while handling lead came or any lead products.
  • Don't let your kids play with the lead while you are working.
  • Don't allow your dog or cat to play with lead came.
  • Keep lead away from any food preparation area. If you are cutting lead came on a wooden or fiber cutting board, it's not a good idea to cut up vegetables on the same board.
  • Pregnant women should avoid contact with any lead product during the course of their pregnancy.
Here are some things you should do when working with lead products that will ensure your safety.
  • When soldering lead, use either a fume extractor or a fan directed towards an open window. It's not a good idea to breath in fumes when soldering anything, especially lead.

  • Solder Fume Extractor Bench Top Fume Extractor

  • When working with lead came or soldering your foil, it's a good idea to change your clothing when you're through soldering. This is especially important if you start making dinner or changing your baby's diaper when you have been soldering.
  • Wash your hands. This applies when working with lead products or just about anything else. Lead particles and germs are not good for you or your family.
Keep all lead products away from your children and pets. If they can't get into it, they can't be hurt.

This is just common sense, but we often forget to do these things when we're in a hurry.

Be sensible when working with lead came and you won't have anything to worry about.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Lead Came Tools You Need To Make Your Stained Glass Projects

Here are some lead came tools you need to make your stained glass projects easier to construct.

As with any other project, constructing stained glass suncatchers using lead came is easy when you have the right equipment.

Depending on your experience and budget, there are many different types of stained glass tools and variations that you can use for constructing your projects.

The following suggested list of tools and supplies are used primarily in lead came stained glass construction.

  • A Leading Knife
A sharp leading knife is one of the basic lead came tools you need to make your stained glass projects and to cut the lead came into usable lengths. The end of the leading knife is used to tap the stained glass into the came channel.

Fan Out Lead Knife
  • A Sharpening Stone
A good sharpening stone is something you need to keep your leading knife as sharp as possible at all times.
  • A Good Pair Of Lead Nippers
A good pair of lead nippers is one of those "must have" lead came tools. Nippers are needed to cut straight and trim the came.
  • A Came Bender
The came bender tool is normally secured to your workbench and is used to prevent crushing the channel and scratching the face of the came.
  • A Came Notcher
A came notching tool cuts U shaped metals at a 45 or 90 degree angle without going entirely through the back of the came.
  • A Came Saw
A good circular power came saw is needed if you intend to cut harder metal came like brass, zinc or copper. For beginners or those on a limited budget, a less expensive Clean Cut - Mitre Box will do essentially the same job.

Clean Cut - Mitre Box
  • A Lead Vise
A Lead Vise is needed to hold one end of the came as you stretch it to remove any kinks and improve it's tensile strength. One end of a came piece is held by the lead vise while the other end is being held and pulled using a pair of pliers.

Lead Vise
  • A Fid
The Fid is a simple tool used to open crushed channels so the stained glass can be more easily fitted into the channel.

  • Horseshoe Nails
Horseshoe nails are used to hold the pieces of stained glass in the channel as you lead up your pattern. They are necessary to hold your pattern in place until you solder up the joints.

The lead came tools you need to make your stained glass projects can be found at any stained glass supply house.