Edge Beading A Stained Glass Copper Foil Project

Edge beading is pretty simple once you get the hang of it. Just remember that every edge has three surfaces…the front surface of the edge, the back surface of the edge, and the outside edge which you see when you hold the panel vertical/perpendicular to your work surface. You are going to put solder on all 3 surfaces of the edge…front, back and outside edge.

Start by fluxing the front surface of the edge. Hold your iron so the tip faces the outside and your hand and the rest of the iron are over the glass. If you hold the iron from the outside facing in, most of the solder will run off due to the heat of the iron pulling the solder down. Go along and run solder on the front surface. Turn the panel over and repeat the above instructions on the back surface of the edge. Some solder will run over the edge on both sides. Do not worry about it, and do not worry about making the front and back surfaces perfectly smooth. When you are finished, all 3 surfaces will be smooth and round.

Finally, turn the panel so the edge is facing up (vertical to your work surface). I usually use Wedgies to hold it in position. Wedgies are wonderful little wedges made specifically for stained glass work. They hold your panels, lampshades, just about anything in position for soldering.

However, if the panel is round or oval, you will be constantly moving it so the spot you are working on is absolutely parallel to your work surface. If you tip it too far forward or backward, even just a little bit, the solder will run in that direction rather than staying put and forming a bead. If you are going to hold the panel in your hand while you bead up the edge, be sure to wear protective gloves, or hold the panel with a towel that will drape over your hand and arm to prevent burns from falling hot solder.

Flux the outside edge and using a touch and lift motion go along the edge with your soldering iron. There is usually enough solder that has run over from the front and back, so you will not have to apply any more. If there is not enough, add it wherever needed. Work along the edge slowly. The solder on all 3 surfaces will round up and give you a nice bead.

The touch and lift motion consists of touching down into the solder, all the way to the foil. As soon as the solder melts and flows, gently lift all the way out of it and touch down again close enough to the last touch so the iron is on the edge of where you last touched down. You will find a rhythm to it once you get comfortable with the technique.

When you have finished the outside edge, have a look at the other two surfaces just to make sure there are not any places that need fixing up. Ninety nine percent of the time, all three surfaces will be round and smooth after you have done the final touch/lift technique.