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A Stained-Glass Shopping List

Part of the Stained Glass For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Stained glass is a hobby that requires quite a bit of equipment. Thankfully, most of the equipment is rather versatile and can be used for both copper foil and lead came projects. Some supplies, though, are specially designed for a particular technique. Print off the following shopping lists and take them to your nearest glass or hobby shop to make sure you have what you need for whatever project you’ve set out to create.

General stained-glass tools and supplies

The following tools are needed for both copper-foil and lead-came projects:

  • Basic drafting supplies: These supplies include a metal ruler, white pattern paper, a pencil, and permanent markers.

  • Combination breaking-grozing pliers: You need both breaking and grozing pliers, but you can save a little money by buying just one pair of combination pliers. You can use your combo pliers to help you break glass and fine-tune unwanted glass shards.

  • Flux and brush: Flux is a chemical you have to use to clean any surface on your project that you want to solder; you can’t solder where you don’t flux. You can use a basic disposable brush to paint the flux onto the foil and lead surfaces of your project.

  • Glass: When you first start out with stained glass, you should work mainly with clear glass because it’s less expensive than colored glass. Then, when you’re ready to create your first full-color project, visit a glass shop or go online and purchase some smooth, colored glass (smooth glass is easier to work with than textured glass).

    Always buy 25 to 50 percent more glass than you think you’ll need for your project.

  • Glass grinder: This must-have power tool has a diamond wheel that allows you to grind away any unwanted glass edges so your pieces fit together perfectly on your pattern.

  • 100-watt soldering iron: A 100-watt soldering iron gives you plenty of heat for all your stained-glass soldering needs. Note that stained-glass artists don’t use soldering guns.

  • Project patterns: All stained-glass projects — even simple sun catchers — start as designs drawn on pattern paper, so the first step in any project is to find a pattern. You can find hundreds of patterns to work with online or in stained-glass books.

  • Safety glasses: Select glasses that are comfortable to wear so you’ll be sure to wear them whenever you work in your glass studio.

  • Self-oiling glass cutter: You can select a pistol-grip cutter that’s easy to hold in the palm of your hand or a barrel cutter that you hold more like a pencil between your fingers. Both cutters have the same cutting heads.

Special copper-foil tools

Before you start your first stained-glass project using the copper-foil construction technique, make sure you gather up the following basic tools and supplies:

  • 7/32-inch copper foil: To wrap each piece of glass in your project, you use thin strips of copper foil with adhesive backing. (3/16-inch foil is also common among stained-glass artists, but it’s a little more difficult to work with than the larger 7/32-inch foil.)

  • Foilmate roller: This little tool helps you burnish, crimp, and roll copper-foil tape tightly to each piece of glass in your project.

  • 60/40 solder: You need to use solder that’s 60 percent tin and 40 percent lead to hold your foiled glass pieces together.

Special lead-came tools

Before you can start creating stained-glass projects using the lead-came technique, you need to purchase the following tools and supplies in addition to the general stained-glass supplies:

  • 50/50 solder: When soldering lead-came projects, you need to work with solder that contains an equal blend of tin and lead.

  • Horseshoe nails: You use these nails to secure glass and lead-came pieces during the construction process.

  • Lead came: Cames are strips of lead that come in either H or U profile shapes. The glass pieces of your project fit into the cames. The most common lead-came sizes are 3/8-inch H, 3/16-inch H, 7/32-inch H, and 1/4-inch U.

  • Lead nippers or lead knife: You use these tools to trim your lead came to the correct size when building your projects.

  • Rheostat: A rheostat is a temperature controller that helps you reduce and control the temperature of your soldering iron so that you don’t heat your lead came too much. Note: If you’re working with an iron that has a built-in controller, you don’t need this tool.

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