Glassworkers Tips Archive 1999
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If we use it we'll credit you here and send you a free pattern.
Preventing Hinge Seize
11/2000 Garage Sale Glass Holder
Mounting Panels in Curved Spaces
Repair tips for came and foil work
The Only Sure Fire Preventative for Mirror Black Edge
Adding Computer Generated Text and Graphics to your work!
Cleaning Grout Haze from Mosaics
Prepare Now to Match Glass Later
Preventing Soldering Cracks in "Problem Glasses"
Avoiding "Lost Pieces" in Mosaic Stones
Designing Lamps (Cont'd from 1/2000)
Designing Lamps (and boxes too) -Cont'd from 9/99
A Third Hand
Preparing to Cut Glass
Holding 3-D Work for Soldering
Designing Lamps - (This one is pretty
long and took quite some work to put together so I thought it was
fair as a two month tip!)
Dealing with Pits and Interrupted score lines
6/99 A third hand
dialog on grinder OVERuse
4/99 Handy Iron
Came carrier/storage container
Turning Panels Over Safely- (Addition to
Techniques Discussed at the Help
Desoldering for Repairs in Flat Work
Hold Your Patterns with Glue Stick
The "Tiffany Whisper", or Don't Rely on the Adhesive
Hold Your Work with "Upholstered Bricks"
6/98 Antique Patina
Choosing the Right Lamp Base
3/98 Creating a Personal Sample Set
2/98 Creating Easy Assembly Jigs for
Curved or Irregular Shaped Panels
1/98 Finishing Touches for Frames
12/97 Preventing Grinder
11/97 Create a Color
10/97 Make foiling easier
on the eyes
9/97 A Neat Variation for Zinc
8/97 Framing panels with Wood
Frame Stock or Rigid Came
7/97 Contributor Quick Tips:
Hinge Help and Reviving Old Foil
6/97 No-Spill Flux Holder
5/97 Adjustable Fit For Easy
4/97 Cutting a "V"
Notch Without a Band Saw
3/97 Glass Cleaner
2/97 A Few Notes on Selecting
and Matching Glass
1/97 Reusable Patterns
12/96 Sal Ammoniac / Sal
11/96 Organizing Scrap Glass
10/96 Fixing Foil Splits
9/96 Preventing Foil Splits
8/96 Adjusting Fit
7/96 Try Cutting Glass on a
Plexiglas Surface (Cutting Circles)
6/96 Straight Cutting
Against a Ruler
Preventing Solder Run Throughs
4/96 Special Foil
3/96 Use of Glass
2/96 Choosing your foil
12/99 A Third Hand
Our Thanks to Amanda
Turner for our December tip!
I use a
small vise mounted on my workbench with rubber pads glued to the
jaws to protect my work.
This is great to hold small objects that need the edges soldered.
It holds them at a 90 degree angle and frees up both hands.
11/99 Preparing to Cut Glass
Our Thanks to Kathleen
Gallagher for our November tip!
Before scoring with your
glass cutter, always prepare by sweeping your working surface to
get rid of tiny pieces of glass or little beads of lead.
If caught beneath your
piece of glass during scoring , the scoring pressure applied by
your cutter might cause the score line to begin to run or cause
the whole sheet to shatter.
Holding 3-D Work for Soldering
Our Thanks to
Bob Isaacs for our October tip!
When soldering two pieces
of glass which have to be held at an angle just use large lumps
of Blue Tack.
Simply attach them to the inside of the angled glass, use your
adjustable set square to get the angle and the separation of the
two sheets correct, then tack solder the job together.
This works even on very
small jobs and for any angle you want, the Blue Tack allows you
to make very small adjustments to the work piece separation
and/or angle and holds the bits securely while soldering.
Caution, don't put the
Blue Tack near the spot which you are going to solder, it smells
pretty bad when heated.
NOTE: Blue Tack is available at stationery
8/99-9/99 Designing Lamps
Designing Panel Lamps
1) Lets start with the simplest example, a panel lamp made up of
one tier of flat panels. The first thing you need to think about
is the overall width of the lamp. Decide what you want by looking
at the area where the lamp will go or at the base that it will go
on. Hold up a ruler or hold your hands apart while viewing the
lamps future home and get an idea of the size you want.
2) To design the panel for the lamp start with the size you
decided on for the width. Using the formula pi(D) (pi times
Diameter where pi is about equal to 3.14) you can get the
circumference of the bottom of the lamp.
Ex: You want the shade to have a diameter (width) of about
16". Using the formula Pi(D) you multiply 16" by 3.14
to get 50.24" as the circumference of the lamp.
3) Next decide on the number of panels you want the lamp to have.
The more panels in the shade the rounder it will look. Six is the
minimum number to use without getting a very angular look but 8
is much more common and a lot rounder looking.
4) Divide the circumference (as determined in step 2 above) by
the number of panels you decided on to get the width for the
bottom of each panel.
We've decided on an 8 panel shade so we'll divide the
circumference 50.24" by the 8 sides to the shade. The result
of 50.24 divided by 8 = 6.28 or about 6 1/4". That is how
wide each panel will be at the bottom.
5) Now you need to decide on how tall you want the lamp to be. If
the lamp is going on a base that you have, the shade should be
tall enough to hang on the harp with the bottom falling just at
or below the bottom of the harp. For our hypothetical shade we'll
imagine that we're using an 8" harp and designing a shade
with a 9" depth.
6) Now that we have decided how deep the shade must be we can
determine the length the side panel must be in order to make a
shade of the desired height. To get started we'll forget about
the cap altogether and just let the shade come to a point at the
top. (Keep in mind that you may have problems with the sides of
the shade hitting the harp, but you'll find out about that later
when you make a cardboard mockup of the shade.)
Look at illustration 1. It is a flat octagon (inscribed within a
16" circle) divided up into eight equal sections. Obviously
if you just cut the octagon up and use the panels to make a lamp
the lamp will be flat. Each panel is just long enough to meet in
the middle while laying flat.
In order to make the lamp taller you need to extend the
pointy end (center) of the panels. The longer each panel
is the taller they will stand up in the middle of the
To determine just how much to
extend the length of each panel we'll employ a bit of
junior high school geometry, and you said you'd never use
that stuff! The Pythagorean theorem states that the sum
of the squares of the sides of a right triangle is equal
to the square of the hypotenuse, expressed as
"a" squared + "b" squared =
In our application of this
formula "a" represents the height of the lamp (
as decided on in step 5, for our example we have decided
on 9"), "b" (shown as the green line in
illustration 1) represents the distance from the center
of the circle to the middle of one of the flat sides (by
flat side I mean the purple line in the illustration that
is actually the width of the panel at the bottom) and
"c" is the length of the final panel measured
from the point to the middle of the panel bottom (shown
in purple in ill.1). This is of course an unknown, and
the answer we need.
7) Actually right now "b" is
unknown too but we can get that answer by doing a quick
construction on paper using a straight edge ruler, and a compass.
Just draw a line the length we
decided the panel bottom would be, 6 1/4". Now set
your compass to the length of the radius of the circle.
Our diameter is 16" so the radius will be half of
that, 8". Place the point of the compass at each end
of the line and draw an arc.
Where the two arcs cross will be
the point of the panel. Draw a line from each end of the
panel bottom line to the point where the arcs cross and
you have created a single slice of the pie shown in
illustration 1. If you now measure to find the center of
the bottom and draw a line from the point to the middle
of the bottom, the line you draw will be the green line
in ill. 1.
Measure it, you have your value
for "b". (Actually you could have used the
Pythagorean theorem here too but the solution is a bit
tougher because you'd be solving for a or b, so we've
taken the easy out.)
In this example the value for "b" measures out
to be about 7.3 inches.
Now let's plug the numbers into the formula.
||"b" square = 7.3x7.3=53.29
||a square + b square = 81+53.29=134.29
|So if a square + b square =c square, c square
|The square root of 134.29=11.59 or about 11
8) OOOOkkkkkkkay now. We can just extend the green line from ill.
1 to the new length of 11 5/8" and draw lines from the ends
of the panel bottom up to the new point of the panel at the end
of the extended green line.
Wow, like magic we've got ourselves a panel pattern.....with one
minor detail left. We need to make room for a washer or cap at
the top so the harp can go through. If the washer is 1" wide
we can use the old familiar pi(d) formula. D=1"(the diameter
of the washer) x 3.14(pi)=3.14 (the circumference of the washer).
Divide 3.14 by the number of panels, 8 = .3925, or about
3/8" plus a little bit. This is the width we need at the top
of each panel to fit the washer in.
Just find the point near the top where the panel is 3/8"
wide and cut it off there as shown by the blue line in ill. 2
9) Cut 8 panels from heavy cardboard and tape up a mock-up shade.
10) Try it on your lamp base and if you like what you see, make a
lamp! ___To be
Dealing with Pits and Interrupted score lines
If you've been involved in stained glass
for over...say, 15 minutes, you've already had to deal with it.
You're going along happily scoring your glass and it happens.
Your cutter just hangs up, stops dead. You've fallen into a pit
in the surface of the glass and you're beginning to sweat. Worse
yet, the line you were scoring was an inside curve. Things are
starting to look pretty grim. What can you do?
Well there are a few things you need to
know to get yourself out of this one.
First off, here just as in basic
glass cutting confidence is 90% of the battle, (but
confidence doesn't cut it 'till you know what to do.) So
Don't lift your cutter off the
glass. Just reduce your pressure a bit and if you're
using only one hand to score the glass it is time to call
for reinforcements, (your other hand).
Use the thumb and index finger of the other hand to grasp
the cutter all the way at the bottom just above the
wheel. Rest the heel of this hand on the glass for
stability and use the fingers to ease the wheel up and
out of the pit.
Complete your score line as
O.K. That's a start but your score line
may have lost its' integrity at the point of the pit and you've
got to deal with it carefully.
|Even if your score is
just a moderate curve that was a straight forward
cut before, now you will have to take it out in
stages. In the illustration you can see the shape
of the piece you are trying to cut traced on the
glass. The arrow points to the fault (caused by
the pit) in the score line. The "added score
line" was made after it was known that there
was a problem and that piece is then removed
|Now that you have
removed the excess glass the scrap that will come
out next is more flexible because it is skinnier.
That will prevent it from exerting too much
stress in unwanted directions. You need to start
opening the score line at the fault. Place you
plier across the fault as shown in the second
illustration. This will start the score opening
on both sides of the fault at the same time and
as both sides open the break will meet in the
this type of problem score with a running plier! The line
will run off through
your piece at the fault EVERY
Once you have gotten the line
open across the fault you're pretty much back to business
6/99 A third
Our Thanks to
Peggy Ayling for our June tip!
For ease in attaching hanging chains and
loops, also for connecting zinc around my projects I have a
6" x 6" piece of wood 18" long with a groove about
2" deep and between an 1/8 and 1/4 inches wide cut into it.
It is sturdy enough to hold a 25" round panel while
connecting the zinc and the hangers. It is like a third hand. It
also is the right size for smaller pieces. No more hot zinc or
chain etc to handle.
You can make it any size to fit your purpose. I have a smaller
one with the a couple of grooves to accommodate some of the metal
pieces I attach as wings etc.
A dialog on grinder OVERuse
The following is an excerpt from a dialog
that occurred in an internet chat addressing the common practice
of using the grinder as a basic cutting tool for stained glass
rather than as a substitute for grozing with pliers.
TEXT DISPLAYED IN GREEN
ARE MY REPLIES
>..........While I certainly respect the ability to cut glass
perfectly with no mechanical aids... in those rare instances when
I have been able to accomplish the feat, I've found that copper
foil doesn't stick well to a clean cut, so I find myself lightly
grinding the edge in any case.
Copper foil will stick
fine to a clean cut but not to DIRTY GLASS. Try just dipping your
well cut pieces in plain water and towel drying them and I'll bet
that problem would be solved.
>Do you never have to use groziers either? I rarely have a
smooth edge after grozing. While I agree sometimes grinding is
time wasted. I think teachers want students to be able to have
the satisfaction of a completed project with minimal pain.
Don't get me wrong. I
never said that I am against the use of grinders. I allow my
students to use grinders in class but they must use it only when
necessary, as an easy alternative to a grozing pliers. I've had
many students take my class that had been instructed elsewhere
that the proper stained glass technique involves intentionally
cutting every piece of glass too large or with no allowance for
foil, then grinding each piece down to size. This is almost as
absurd as a carpenter replacing his saw with a belt sander.
I start every beginner class by making a small panel and
explaining all the techniques used along the way. Just to prove
the point I never use the grinder on this project but always
demonstrate the use of the grinder on scrap as an alternative to
The BIG problem all begins because the beginner is allowed by
this flawed technique of OVER GRINDING to produce a product that
looks deceptively good. Once having made a nice looking product,
the thought of the next not being as good or better is
unbearable. Sure they'd like to try cutting the glass better but
the fear that it will come out too small and the solder lines
will be fat or uneven is overwhelming. Almost from the first
project they're hooked!
I tell my students that there is no shame in making an imperfect
piece. "Send it off to your relatives out of state. They'll
LOVE it and you won't have to look at it!
Each new piece you make will be better than the last and you'll
quickly learn to do it better."
In short, every
craft properly done has its' own learning curve. Trying to avoid
this "break in" period entirely results in never
actually learning the craft.
So what, you ask?
There is a definite down side. Grinding a piece of oversized
glass takes several times as long as it does to just cut the
piece. Add to that the expense of constantly buying grinder heads
and the wear and tear on your fingers from all that water and
Handy Iron Holder
Our Thanks to
Cynthia Wesley for our April tip!
I have found that rather than purchase a
soldering iron stand a large eye screw from the hardware store is
perfect for holding my hot iron. I screw it into the side of my
wooden work bench where it can hang inverted and out of the way,
Colours by Cynthia Wesley"
Custom Stained Glass Artwork
Editor's note: Take care that the iron
is not located where you or someone else might get burnt. If you
are not sure that your position is safe I would recommend that
you also hang a deep tin can below the screw eye so that no one
can accidentally come in contact with the business end of the
Came carrier/storage container
Our Thanks to Keith
Lundquist for our March tip!
How do you keep
lead came straight on the way home from the stained glass store?
I used to carefully grab the six-foot pieces in two
hands, carry them out to the car and then lay them down in the
trunk trying not to get a kink in them.
I made a "came carrier" out of 2" PVC pipe (used
in outdoor irrigation or other plumbing work) with a cap at both
ends. One cap is secured with PVC cement and the other end just
fits on tightly.
Now when I go to the stained glass shop for lead came or zinc
border, I bring along the PVC came carrier to safely carry home
the materials. Came can also be stored in this container under a
counter or over a workbench to avoid any unnecessary bending.
PVC pipe is inexpensive and can be purchased at most home
improvement centers or hardware stores. Just make the carrier
slightly over 6 feet long.
Our Thanks to Eileen Daum
for our February tip!
I have a great inexpensive glass rack tip. I use
discarded racks from dishwashers.
The bottom racks already have wheels on them and keep the glass
sorted, the same way you keep your dishes separate. Some of the
top racks also have wheels on them. They slide beautifully under
my work bench, and they're FREE.
Make friends with your local appliance store........... they throw them out!
Our Thanks to Kathleen
Jeffery for our January tip!
It's so wet and messy when you're grinding and fitting
- what I do is use those inexpensive plastic sheet protectors and
slip the good copy of my pattern inside. (For larger projects, I
slit one side of two protectors and use clear tape to put them
together). Then as I'm griding I place my pieces over the plastic
protector to fit them to the pattern. This keeps my pattern clean
When I've completed my project, I just slip my cut pattern pieces
inside the sheet protector along with the copy of the pattern and
place the entire package in my binder for future reference - no
lost pattern pieces!