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Tips for Improving Your Glass-Cutting Skills

Part of the Stained Glass For Dummies Cheat Sheet

One of the first skills you need to master as you begin your stained-glass hobby is cutting out your glass shapes accurately. Here are some tips that can help you get off to a successful start:

  • Select a high-quality, self-oiling glass cutter that fits comfortably in your hand. Always check the oil level in your cutter before you start cutting, and make sure the oil lubricates the cutting wheel as it turns. Add more oil when needed.

  • Purchase a pair of safety glasses that fit your face comfortably. Wear your glasses every time you work with glass to keep your eyes safe from flying glass chips and dust.

  • Make sure you have good lighting in your studio so you can see what you’re cutting. Cutting in low light is dangerous and can lead you to make poor, inaccurate cuts.

  • Stand whenever you cut glass. Applying the right amount of pressure to the cutter is difficult to do when you’re seated.

  • Position all your pattern templates at least 1 to 2 inches away from the edges of the glass. Doing so gives you enough glass to hold when breaking and helps support the glass.

  • Score from one edge of the glass to the other, and don’t apply so much pressure that the cutting wheel crushes the glass. Try not to have any gaps or skips in your score line. You may be overscoring if your score line is bright white and chips of glass are flying from that line.

  • Don’t go back and forth over a score line with your cutter. If your initial score line doesn’t turn out right, move over 1/4 inch and try again.

  • Use your hands to break the glass whenever possible. If you need more leverage, use your glass-breaking pliers. If you’re using a pair of breaking-grozing combo pliers, make sure the flat side of the pliers is on top of the glass and the curved side is under the glass.

  • Clean up any rough edges using the ridges inside your grozing pliers or glass grinder. Each cut piece has to be the exact size as your pattern template so all the pieces fit together during the building process.

  • Keep your cutting surface clean and free of glass chips and shards. Use a bench brush or a clean paint brush to sweep your cutting area in between cuts. If you try to cut your glass pieces on top of small chips of glass, your glass may break unexpectedly.

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