If you work in stained glass you must have spent some time repairing, or attempting to repair, a copper foiled panel. Here is an easy way to do it.
Cut the top and bottom off of a soft drink or beer can. Then cut the can into strips,
varying the sizes from 1/4″ to 1″ wide. Cut them the entire length of the can. I have
found kitchen scissors work fine for cutting this thin aluminum.
Starting on either end of a solder seam, run off as much solder as possible.
You can do this by fluxing the seam, then holding the panel upright and slightly tipped
forward. Slowly run the soldering iron along the seam allowing the hot solder to drop onto
a newspaper placed under the panel. Do this on both front and back of the panel. Be very
careful so that hot solder does not drop on you. This is not a time to be wearing sandals
or open toed shoes. (Sometime, I’ll tell you how I know about hot solder and sandals!)
If you are removing an edge piece, lay the panel flat, with the broken glass, you want to
remove, sticking out over the edge of your work bench. While holding the soldering iron on
the seam, slide an aluminum strip between the two pieces. It’s easiest to slide it in just
behind the soldering iron.(Hold the strip with a gloved hand…it gets hot). Slowly move
the soldering iron along the seam and at the same time slide the aluminum strip behind
the iron. It will open up the seam for you, and the glass should be easy to remove.
When the piece is on an edge piece do the same preliminary steps as for an edge piece.
Then, heat the solder at any given point and, using a narrower piece of aluminum, poke
it into the melted solder and wiggle it between the two pieces of glass. It works best
if you hold the soldering iron on the back side while pushing the aluminum in from the
front. Then you can slowly work it around the piece as described above.
Once the piece of glass is out, run the soldering iron around the surrounding edges
to make sure there is no solder left. Cut a new piece of glass, check for a good fit,
foil it, and put it in place.
Since the rest of the panel is already soldered, the new piece will lay lower than
the other glass. To get around this problem, place pennies under the new piece of
glass before you solder it. The pennies will raise it up to the right level.
Now you are ready to, solder, clean and patina your newly repaired panel.
Once in a while this method won’t work, especially if the glass is a really tight fit,
but it is worth trying first, before going to other methods of repair.