Making Stained Glass Equipment

As with all things, there is essential equipment and then there is would be nice to have equipment.

Essential Equipment

Glass Cutter

Cutting glass is not difficult, but you do need a good glass cutter. There are various glass cutters to choose from. My personal favorite glass cutter is the pistol cutter. It is important to choose a cutter that works well for you, as this is a stained glass tool you will use constantly.

There are basically two types of cutters, one with steel wheels and those with tungsten carbide wheels.

Cutters with steel wheels tend to be less expensive but, usually don’t last very long. The steel wheel becomes dull after repetitive use and must be replaced. Steel wheels are good for general purpose or softer glass. The size of the wheel and angle of the bevel on the wheel will determine how hard of a glass it can score.

Tungsten carbide wheels are more expensive than steel wheels. There durability tends to out weigh the cost difference. Many are self-lubricating which can save time.

Glass Grinders

Grinders are used to smooth out cuts and insure exact fitting, as well as to lessen the chance of cutting yourself. The alternative to a grinder is a diamond file. This is less expensive, but the time and effort needed far out weights buying a grinder.

When choosing a grinder consider the size of the work surface, the power of the grinder and the accessories included such as bits, face shield and foot switch.. Additional considerations should be the warranty and price

Soldering Iron

There are a wide variety of different manufactures, types and sizes of soldering irons. Most soldering irons range from 60 to 150 watts with tip sizes ranging from 1/8 inch to 3/8 inch. When choosing your iron check out how long it takes to heat up, how long it holds the correct temperature, does it have a temperature controller and are the tips removable.

Probably, the most important thing to consider when doing stained glass soldering, is to choose an iron that feels comfortable in your hand. If the iron is not comfortable, then this will more than likely show up in your solder lines.

Yes, price it a factor, but remember, a good quality soldering iron will last for years and give professional results.

Soldering Iron Stand

After choosing your soldering iron, you will need to purchase a soldering stand. The stand can be simple or elaborate. The simple ones hold your iron and sponge, whereas, the more expensive ones will have a built-in temperature controller, iron stand, sponge, power cord, a solder roll holder, flux bottle well, brush and a catch-all tray. Needless to say, the more elaborate ones will cost more.

Temperature Controller

If your iron does not include a built-in temperature controller, then you will definitely need a separate controller. Using a temperature controller will maintain a constant temperature for your soldering iron.

Breaking Pliers and Grozer Pliers

These two hand tools are used for breaking glass. Breaking pliers are used after you score a line and want to break the glass. Grozer pliers are used for breaking away small areas of glass.

Semi-Optional Equipment

Foiler Burnisher

A foiler burnisher is used with Tiffany construction (copper foil). This tool will allow you to securely press and adhere the copper foil to the glass. A burnisher is an inexpensive tool though you could use a tongue depressor.

Table Foiler

A table foiler automatically peels off the paper backing, centers it to the edges of the glass and partially crimps it. Using a table foiler will also eliminate copper foil from unwinding and becoming tangled.

Came Saw

Came saws are used to cut metal came in either zinc, brass or copper. Came saws range from a manual model to a power mitre chop saw.

A manual came saw consist of a precision saw and a mitre vise. This is the least expensive of all came saws, but will require more time and effort. Electric power came saws range from 90 to 250 watt units. Blade sizes vary from 2 inches to 5 ¾ inches.

All came saws adjust from 0 to 45 degrees allowing for proper mitres.

The more powerful the came saw, the easier it will cut, not to mention durability.

Cork-Backed Stainless Steel Ruler

This is a steel ruler that is backed in cork. This is nice when drawing or cutting lines on glass. The cork backing eliminates the ruler from slipping.

Soft Bristle Scrub Brush

The soft bristle scrub brush is great for polishing your stained glass. With its soft bristles, it is able to get into the tiniest crevices.

A Fid

This inexpensive tool is used to widen came. This becomes very important when using heavily textured glass.

Optional Stained Glass Tools

Glass Saw

A glass saw is a nice addition to a stained glass workshop. With a glass saw you can make intricate cuts that otherwise would not be possible.

Glass saws can be a ring saw, band saw or wire saw. A ring saw has a circular diamond coated blade that allows you to cut in all directions. The band saw has a linear diamond coated blade and can cut glass up to ¾ of an inch thick. The wire saw has the thinnest blade giving you more flexibility for cutting intricate shapes and narrow cut lines.

All three types of saws come with various built-in features. It is up to you as to which one to choose. It needs to meet your own personal needs.

Came Bender

The came bender will perform precision curves on zinc, brass and copper came. This means greater design freedom when rigid came is used. With the came bender you can make circular and oval panels.

Copper Foil Sheers

These are specially designed sheers that will cut paper pattern pieces leaving the correct spacing needed for copper foil or lead.

Layout Blocks

These are used to hold cut pieces of glass together until you are ready to solder.

Glass Cutting Systems

There is a variety of glass cutting systems available. These systems will allow you to make repetitive and geometric shapes. Some of the more popular systems include Morton Portable Glass Shop, Circle and Strip Cutters, and Jitter Bug.

Light Box

The light box is nice for drawing patterns and viewing glass combinations.

Glass Drills

Glass drills are use to drill holes in glass.