Tuesday, April 16, 2013

12 Tips To Make Your Glass Cutting Easier

These 12 tips will make your glass cutting easier to accomplish.

Cutters Mate Commercial Model  

1 - Always purchase the best glass cutter you can afford to buy.

A good glass cutting tool is an absolute necessity and will save you money in the long run.  In addition, a good glass cutter will help you make accurate cuts more comfortably over a long period of time.

You will appreciate a good glass cutter if you get into making Tiffany style lampshades where tedious multiple cuts must be made over a long period of time.

Get a cutter with a comfortable handle and a high quality carbide steel wheel.  These cutters are long lasting and contoured to fit your fingers so more downward pressure can be easily applied to the score line.

Cheap steel cutters have neither of these features.

2 - Always use some sort of cutting lubricant on the wheel of your glass cutter.

If you purchased a good self lubricating cutter, use a name brand stained glass cutting oil in the handle reservoir or as a last resort, mineral spirits. 

It's also a good idea to occasionally dip your cutting wheel into the oil to ensure a frictionless score.

Mineral spirits is easier to clean up but unless you get the odorless type, it has an objectionable odor to it.  A good cutting oil doesn't smell, is a smoother lubricant and is less harmful to your skin.

3 - Always use the right size wheel for the glass you are cutting.

The smaller the wheel, the less pressure is needed to make a crisp score line. 

Wheel size is the determining factor in how much pressure is needed to penetrate the surface of the glass.

For thin or standard thickness stained glass, a small 1/10th of an inch diameter wheel is what is needed.

The wheel angle also affects how glass is cut. 

For thin or standard thickness stained glass, a 120 degree or 135 degree wheel angle is what is required and for glass thicknesses over 10 mm, a 160 degree angles is what is recommended.

Among others, the Silberschnitt Adjustable Oil Wheel Easy Grip Cutter and Toyo Pistol-grip Supercutter are recommended for professional cutting of standard and thinner stained art glass.

4 - Always cut your glass at room temperature.

Believe it or not, the temperature of the glass affects how easy it is to cut. 

Warm glass is less brittle and cuts easier than cold glass so if your glass is in a colder storage area, consider letting it achieve room temperature before cutting.

5 - Always score the smooth side of the glass you are cutting.

Ripple glass, glue chip, artique and some other types of stained glass often have one side smoother than the other.  Always score the smoother surface of the glass for ease of cutting and cleaner breaks.

6 - Always apply even pressure and move at a uniform speed when cutting stained glass.

You should hear a consistent sound as you make your score.  If your score sounds scratchy or crackly, too much pressure is being placed on the cutting wheel and the glass is actually breaking apart around the wheel from the excess pressure.

When done properly, you should hear a smooth "zinging" sound as you make your score.

Obviously when cutting thicker glass, more pressure is needed to make a good score. 

Some instructors suggest measuring the amount of pressure exerted by placing the glass on a scale while making a score line however, experience is the best teacher. 

7 - Use you whole body when scoring glass

If you stand up and slightly away from your workbench when making a cut, you have a tendency to keep your cutting wheel more perpendicular to the surface of the glass.  This stance gives you a more even score than if you are sitting next to your workbench cutting with just your arm or your hand.

If you use your whole body you'll find that cutting circles, arcs and close cuts become much less of a chore.  You can move around as you make your cut and apply pressure more evenly to the glass as you score.

8 -  Always keep your score line as close to the middle of the piece you are cutting as possible.

Try to position your score so that there's is an equal amount of glass on each side of the score.  This prevents the glass from breaking below the scoreline.

A break below the scoreline always moves to the side where there is less glass.  This gives you an edge that flares out from the score line. 

If you are cutting a bunch of narrow strips as you would for wind chimes, start with a piece of glass that is much larger than the amount of thin strips needed.  Then cut each piece exactly in half, and then each of the other remaining pieces in half, until you have all the strips you need.

Keeping an equal amount of glass on each side of your score line will give you perfect strips that are as narrow as the glass is thick.

9 - Always make your score from the interior of the sheet when cutting curves.

Glass always tends to run as directly as possible to the edge of the piece that you are cutting.

It stands to reason then, that when you are cutting a complex shape, start running the circle or complex curve away from the edge of the glass you are cutting.

10 - Always break out your glass immediately after making your score

If you walk away and let the glass sit too long, the scoreline will begin to develop fractures that will radiate along the entire length of the scoreline.  This will give you a "dirty" jagged edged cut.
If you break out your glass right after you make your score, you will achieve a clean cut almost every time.

11 - Always avoid tapping your scoreline

For some reason many of us were taught that tapping the scoreline before breaking out the glass helps with the break.

The truth is that tapping the scoreline usually leaves you with a jagged edge.  If you feel you just have to "tap" a thick piece of glass, tap it directly underneath the score line; not from the top.  This minimizes any jagged edges.

12 - Never score twice over the same line.

When you score over the same scoreline twice you will dull your cutting wheel and probably still not make a clean cut.

A better solution to a bad score is to turn the glass over and carefully score along the same line and break the glass apart as you normally would.

This saves your cutting wheel and will give you a more professional cut.

Most of the above 12 tips to make your glass cutting easier  you already know about however, some of them you may not have been aware of could save you time and money with your stained glass suncatchers.

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