The most important step in making a stained glass piece is the actual cutting of the glass. This is important for many obvious reasons, but many people find the concept of cutting glass to be an insurmountable barrier to starting a career or hobby in stained glass.
This is understandable, considering that we are all raised to understand the dangers of broken glass, but the proper cutting of glass using the right tools and a few tips is safe and easily accomplished. I'd like to share with you a few of the tips I have admitted that make glass cutting easy and safe. But before we get to the tips, a few safety precautions should be discussed. Always WEAR SAFETY GLASSES. You only have two eyes and there are some pretty cool looking safety glasses out there that will not make you look dorky. Make sure you have a decent FIRST AID KIT available at all times when working with glass.
Now some tips:
1. Make sure you are using a surface to cut on that is either specifically designed for the job, like a Morton Surface or one that is firm but not to hard so that you do not abuse your glass cutting wheel, such as Homasote.
2. Learn to hold your glass cutter in as comfortable a position as possible during the cutting process so you do not fatigue. If you are uncomfortable, or your hand gets tired, you will not create a good clean score in the glass, so take a few moments between scoring pieces to shake out your hands. When adjusting your grip, make sure the cutter wheel is completely perpendicular and is turning freely and then adjust the angle between your arm and hand while you are scoring.
3. Make sure that your cutting tool is properly lubricated with a good quality cutting oil. There are many cutters that have oil wells built in to them. This is a great way to save time, but the trade-off is a heavier cutting tool. You may wish to experiment between cutters with oil wells and ones without to see if the trade-off is worth it.
4. You may not need a grinder for every piece. A simple carburundum stone is cheap and can often clean up smaller pieces faster and easier then an electric grinder, which can be expensive and intimidating.
5. When you make your score, be sure the wheel is completely perpendicular to the glass and is turning freely. Also, make sure the cutting wheel is still sharp. If the glass does not score easily without having to really put pressure on the glass, it might be time to purchase a new cutter.
6. For difficult glass like drapery glass, first make your score, then hold the piece in one hand and tap the bottom of the glass under the score line with either the back of the cutter or some other tool a few times to encourage the glass to break. Remember to score difficult glass on whichever side has the smoother surface for easier cutting.
7. The easiest way to get over the intimidation of cutting glass is to practice. Get some cheap glass to practice on, and spend some time cutting it, you will quickly get up to speed.
Source by Marc B. Harris