Sunday, August 28, 2011

Making Boxes With Stained Glass

Making boxes with stained glass is not an extremely challenging process, but it does take time and some knowledge to construct them properly.

Stained glass boxes make wonderful gifts.

Every box you create will be to some extent unique.

This means that every stained glass box you give to that very special person, will really be a truly special gift.

Making boxes with stained glass is nothing more than cutting uniform rectangles and constructing them into a three dimensional box shape with one end open.

The most difficult part is making precision cuts and determining the dimensions for all the sides.

The Morton Portable Glass Shop makes the job of making precision cuts a snap and should be one of your investments if you plan to make boxes or panel lamps on a regular basis.

Portable Glass Shop

Not all the sides are cut exactly the same height and width.

If you want your finished box to look like a box instead of a 3D trapezoid, you need to add or subtract the width of the glass you are using from the sides you are cutting.

For instance; a box 5" by 8" by 1 3/4" high, made from 1/8" stained glass, should be cut to the following measurements.

1 pc. 5" by 8" for the top
1 pc. 4 7/8" by 7 7/8" for the bottom (with eased corners).

2 pcs 1 3/4" by 7 3/4"
2 pcs 1 3/4" by 4 3/4"

The front and back pieces of your box must be cut 1/4" less than the actual size of the
top of the box you are making.

The "Professional Boxer" pictured to the left is made by Emerald-Rainbow and can make the assembly of your stained glass box an easier process.

The "Morton Assembly Tray" pictured below can also be used to assemble your box after all the pieces of your box are foiled and tinned.

Morton Assembly Tray
Both systems are relatively inexpensive and both work equally well.

The corners of your box will not be butted together. Instead, the edges will form a "vee" for the solder joint.

This is the reason why each of the sides were cut 1/8" short.

First, tack one corner together at the top and bottom of the joint using either of the above assembly systems. Then continue to tack together the other sides of the box.

Next, solder all of the inside seams of your box together.

Wait a few seconds for each inside corner joint to set before continuing to the next corner or you could lose the shape of the box.

Now start to work on the outside corner seams.

In order to keep the inside seams from getting too hot, use the "tapping" method to solder a bead and fill in the outside corners of the box.

Don't try to run a full continuous bead or you will overheat the inside bead and possibly crack the glass.

Allow several seconds for the outside bead to cool before moving on.

Before continuing, make sure to tin every inside and outside edge on the entire box.

Determine which end of the box is up, and then use the "tapping" method to create a
nice rounded bead on all the outside edges.

Now is the time to attach the bottom of the box to the side frame you just completed.

Tack the four corners and make sure everything is squared up. Then proceed with
soldering all the inside seams the same way you soldered the four corners.

When you are finished with the inside, do all the outside seams.

DO NOT over solder your joints or you could get the underlying foil too hot and melt the glue that holds it to the glass. Worse yet, you could put a hole in the seam if you hold the iron in one spot too long. Work quickly!

Except for the top hinge, your stained glass box is now complete.

You can now construct a hinge for your lid using a hollow tube and a solid rod.

First, cut your hollow tube to the length of the inside of your box using either a Dremel cutoff tool or a fine blade hacksaw. Be careful not to flatten out the end.

Next, cut two rods in the form of an "L" using a pair of electrician's pliers. The long end should be about 2" and the short end about 3/4" to 1".

Use steel wool to clean the tube and then tin it. Use a round toothpick broken in half and insert each half in the ends of the tube so the solder doesn't block the openings.

Center the tube on one end of the top and tack the tube into place on the top and bottom of one edge of the seam.

Once the tube is tacked to the lid, tape the lid on to the box and insert the short end of the "L" shaped rod into each end of the tube.

Next, tack the long edge of the "L" to the corner seam of the box on both ends. Be careful not to solder the tube or you will not be able to open the box lid.

Now finish soldering the seams of each "L" and gently remove the tape holding the lid on the box.

At this point you can tack a piece of chain to the left or right inside corner of the box.

Cut the chain to length so that when the lid is fully open it will open just past the 90 degree point. If the lid opens too far, the box will be top heavy. If the lid does not open far enough, the lid will not stay open on its own.

Now solder the other end of the chain to the inside of the lid's seam.

This allows the chain to fall inside the box when it is closed.

You can also add a piece of filigree for use as a handle, or just twist a piece of wire into an oval, tin it and tack it to the center of the lid's seam.

Be careful not to solder the lid to the box when you do this step.

Your can now patina and wax your stained glass box if you like, or just wash it up and use it as is.

Making boxes with stained glass is time consuming but in reality quite easy.

There is an excellent but lengthy comprehensive tutorial series that explains how to make boxes with stained glass that you should view if you have the time.

The URLs are listed below:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9
Part 10
Part 11
Part 12
Part 13

Arts & Craft Books

Saturday, August 20, 2011

An Easy Method For Cutting Stained Glass Rings

Although there are several methods for cutting perfect circles from stained glass, until recently there has not been an easy method for cutting stained glass rings.

The has got to be the ultimate accessory for your stained glass workshop if you have the need to cut perfect circles, rings and frame borders on a regular basis.

Morton Circle And Border System

Not only does it make cutting circles and borders a snap, it also makes it easy to cut out rings for your stained glass suncatchers, wind chimes, mobiles or wall hangings.

The video below demonstrates how easy it is to use this system for cutting circles and rings for your stained glass projects.

As you can see, this incredible tool makes creating precision circle borders an easy project for even the novice stained glass artisan.

Circle borders for your stained glass projects
up to 14 in diameter are easily created by first cutting strips, trimming the strips to trapezoids, and then placing them in the tool to produce a smooth, even arc cut.

The system includes a PC and Mac compatible CD Rom with detailed set up instructions that makes the calculations for you to insure a perfect fit.

If you wonder what to get a stained glass artisan for their birthday or Christmas present that has virtually every tool imaginable in their shop, you might want to consider this nifty tool.

If there is another easy method for cutting stained glass rings
that is easier and more trouble free than this system, I'd like someone to please let me know about it.

I'll be happy to post your comments.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

How To Cut Perfect Circles From Stained Glass

The easiest way to cut perfect circles for suncatchers, wind chimes, etc. is to use a commercial circle cutter to score a perfect circle.

If you don't care to spend the money to purchase one, you can just score the circle freehand. Just make sure you end the score line where you started the score.

Silberschnitt Pro Circle Cutter

After the score the line, flip the glass over on a piece of corrugated cardboard and press along the line using your fingers until the line "runs" all around the circle score line.

Flip the stained glass back onto your cutting table with the score line up and score a few tangent cuts off of the circle.

Using your running pliers or your fingers, break off the outside tangent scores from your circle until you have a finished circle.

The finished circle should break out easily once the tangent cuts have been broken away.

When done properly, you should have a perfect circle without any rough edges.

The trick to cutting circles in stained glass is to make a series of concentric scores into the circle and then removing them in sequence.

This technique is also used to make sharp concave cuts in stined glass.

Concave curves are difficult to master; but if you remember to make only one score line for the curve, then a series of concentric scores back into the curve and remove the pieces in sequence, you shouldn't have any trouble.

The primary score should be removed last by gently tapping it out with the ball end of your cutter.

Instead of using concentric score lines, some artisans prefer cutting severe concave curves using a crisscross hatch pattern. It's really six of one, half dozen of the other.

If you plan on making a lot of concave, circle or other types of intricate cuts and money isn't a factor; you should consider purchasing either a
Ring Saw
or a Band saw for glass cutting these pieces.

When you graduate from creating stained glass suncatchers and get into Tiffany style lampshades; having a glass grinder, band saw or ring saw on your workbench is pretty much a necessity.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Light Tables: Why You Need A Light Table

Beginners often question why you need a light table for stained glass suncatcher construction.

The answer is that you don't REALLY need a light table, but having one facilitates the cutting process to a great degree.

Light tables or light boxes as they are sometimes called are great additions to any stained glass workshop.

They are an invaluable aid to cutting opalescent and dark colored glass that you can't see through to cut in the conventional manner.

Light tables are also a great aid when laying out your stained glass suncatcher projects.

When you can actually see the light coming through the back of the glass project that you are constructing, it makes it much easier to accurately position and esthetically arrange the different types, textures and colors of glass in your pattern.

Light tables are normally constructed of wood, frosted glass and some sort of fluorescent or incandescent lighting fixture.

If you plan to be cutting stained glass directly on your light box; make sure you use either frosted acrylic, or at least `1/4" thick plate glass for the surface. This is needed to withstand the pressure that is exerted when making a cut.

You can use clear plate glass for the surface and "frost" it using Krylon's frosted glass finish spray, applying a window frosting film, having it sandblasted, or paying a little extra to get the real thing.

For reflective purposes, the insides of the box should be either lined with thin gauge metal, metal foil, or just painted white to provide the most light possible from the fixture you are using.

Almost all the supplies you need can be purchased at Lowes, Home Depot or any other retailer for under $50.00 if you are a DIY enthusiast.

This YouTube video is a little lengthy but shows one type of light table construction that will give you an idea on how to proceed.

The dimensions, light fixtures and type of surface you use are all variables that you can adapt to your stained glass workshop.

Light tables like any other tool make the job of constructing stained glass suncatchers easier.

This is precisely why you need a light table in your workshop.