1997 Glassworkers Tips Archive



The tips archive is an ever growing list of little things you may not know, to make your glass work easier and /or better.

Got a Favorite Glassworking Tip?

Just click on the icon and send it in!

If we use it we'll credit you here and send you a free pattern.

3/01 Preventing Hinge Seize 

11/2000 Garage Sale Glass Holder

10/2000 Mounting Panels in Curved Spaces

9/2000 Repair tips for came and foil work

8/2000 The Only Sure Fire Preventative for Mirror Black Edge

7/2000 Adding Computer Generated Text and Graphics to your work!

6/2000 Cleaning Grout Haze from Mosaics

5/2000 Prepare Now to Match Glass Later

4/2000 Preventing Soldering Cracks in "Problem Glasses"

3/2000 Avoiding "Lost Pieces" in Mosaic Stones

2/2000 Designing Lamps (Cont'd from 1/2000)

1/2000 Designing Lamps (and boxes too) -Cont'd from 9/99

12/99 A Third Hand

11/99 Preparing to Cut Glass

10/99 Holding 3-D Work for Soldering

8/99-9/99 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!)

7/99 Dealing with Pits and Interrupted score lines

6/99 A third hand

5/99 A dialog on grinder OVERuse

4/99 Handy Iron Holder

3/99 Came carrier/storage container

2/99 Inexpensive glass rack

1/99 Protect your Patterns!

12/98 Plastic Patterns

11/98 Turning Panels Over Safely- (Addition to Techniques Discussed at the Help Desk)

10/98 Desoldering for Repairs in Flat Work

9/98 Hold Your Patterns with Glue Stick

8/98 The "Tiffany Whisper", or Don't Rely on the Adhesive

7/98 Hold Your Work with "Upholstered Bricks"

6/98 Antique Patina

5/98 Choosing the Right Lamp Base

4/98 Cutting Narrow Strips

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 Head "Lockup"

11/97 Create a Color Reference Collection

10/97 Make foiling easier on the eyes

9/97 A Neat Variation for Zinc Frames

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 Installations

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 Ammoniac Water?!

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

5/96 Preventing Solder Run Throughs

4/96 Special Foil Applications

3/96 Use of Glass "Grain"

2/96 Choosing your foil size






12/97 Preventing Grinder Head Lockup

Our Thanks to Bob Renaud for our December tip!

"Attempting to adjust the grinding head or removing it to use a different size or type can be difficult as it becomes frozen to the shaft after a while.

I found by applying some Anti Seize, available in a small tube, will prevent it from becoming frozen to the shaft and ease removal or adjustment."

Bob Renaud

(Also known as "Tip Anti-Seize" the manufacturers intention for this product is to prevent screw-on type soldering tips from getting permanently seized onto the iron. Here at Dodge Studio we have used it on the set screw type irons as well, applying it to the screw that locks the tip into the iron. Last year we almost "lost" one of our grinders when the head wouldn't come off of the shaft. Now we have a new weapon in our arsenal.)

Thanks Bob!


11/97 Create a Color Reference Collection

Our Thanks to Lisa Arehart for our November tip!

"For those who are not experienced in color mixing and matching" Lisa suggests...
Begin a collection from mail order magazines, furniture catalogs, anything with completed glass combinations. Since not all patterns come colored (or with color recommendations) this allows for better planning and design. When you're ready to make a lamp or other special request, your clipping collection will provide ideas to generate creativity.


10/97 Make foiling easier on the eyes

This time around we have a simple little tip from our own Natalie Dodge!
Most of you are already familiar with the black backed and silver backed specialty copper foils.
(The designed purpose for the black is to use on clear type glasses when you are planning to use a black patina. By using the black backed foil you avoid getting that glint of copper coming from inside the glass on the finished piece. The silver backed foil serves a similar purpose if you are not planning to patina your piece at all.)
Well,...Natalie has different ideas! Even when working with fully dense opalescent glasses (not the intended use for this foil), she recommends using the colored back foils to improve the contrast with the glass and make it easier to see if the foil is centered. Use black back when working with light colored glass, and silver back with dark glass.

As a side note, I thought that I would also point out one other often overlooked use for silver back foil. I use silver back on white opalescent glass for any project that will be viewed "well lit". Standard foil imparts a coppery orange glow around the edges of white and light colored opals in lamps and windows. The use of silver back foil will prevent this.


9/97 A Neat Variation for Zinc Frames

Last month we looked at a little lesson in measuring and creating a classic mitered frame. This time around we'll take a look at a neat little trick I came up with that you can use with zinc, brass or copper "u" cames.

The bottom two corners are mitered in the usual way, but the side pieces of stock do not get cut to length right away. Instead leave them about an inch or so too long for a mitered corner.

Look at the first illustration. I have drawn the sides of the frame labeled A-D in different colors for clarity.
The bottom stock (C) is mitered on both ends, the sides, (B&D) are mitered at the bottom ends only.
The top piece (A) is not mitered at all, but is cut to fit between B and D. [ (A) can be cut to size after the bottom mitered corners have been soldered.]
The final cutting to length of the sides can be done after everything is soldered in place!

The hangers for the panel are made from screw eyes from the hardware store. Fill the open top ends of cames B and D with solder. Be sure to work flux deep into the opening first, then use plenty of heat to ensure that the solder inside the cames is truly bonded. Next pre tin the screw threads on the screw eyes. Again be sure to heat the metal sufficiently, especially if it is steel or galvanized rather than pure brass.
Now just get everything hot at once and you will be able to set a screw eye into the solder inside the end of each came.




8/97 Framing panels with Wood Frame Stock or Rigid Came

Wood framing stock, (ill.1a) and rigid cames, such as zinc or brass, (ill.1b) are some of the most popular options for finishing off stained glass panels. However, just how to measure and cut them can be confusing.
Hopefully the following tutorial will provide some simple answers.
Illustration 2 shows a stained glass panel with a scrap of framing stock or came, (hereafter referred to as "stock") placed over the edge of the glass, flush against the edge of the panel.

Place the stock to be cut against the side of the panel so that it is aligned with the end of the scrap piece as shown in ill. 3. You can hold it in place with masking tape.

Move the scrap piece to the other end of the panel and mark the stock for cutting using a pencil or knife. (You can add on a bit extra here if you are not confident about your ability to cut the miters neatly and will need to sand or file to adjust.)
If you are a real hotshot with a miter saw, you can miter your piece as you cut it from the long stock. Otherwise you may find it simpler to cut your
ends square first and miter them later. Repeat the procedure for the stock on the right side of your panel. (ill. 5)

In ill. 6 the stock for the ends is measured for cutting, and ill. 7 shows the miter cuts being made at 45.

Fit the frame together around the panel to check the fit. If it is a bit large you can fill the extra space in wood stock with came scraps, rolled up masking tape bumpers or adhesive felt.
With metal stock you will be soldering the stock to the panel at every solder line so a bit of extra room is no problem. Solder it at the corners and all solder or lead lines, front and back and you're done.

With wood stock you will have to either glue, nail, dowel, screw, or a combination of these methods to finish the frame, (although we don't recommend glue alone).

Each of these methods requires drilling into the stock. Be sure your hole is aligned to hit the wood of the adjacent stock. Be careful not to drill into the side of your panel!

In ill. 9 the upper left corner is drilled, the ends of the stock are glued and a wooden dowel with glue applied is inserted. The joint should be clamped and allowed to dry before cutting the dowels flush.
The upper right corner is cross nailed. Small pilot holes are drilled and brads are hammered in and set beneath the wood surface using a nail set. We recommend glue for this method, but it is not absolutely required on small to medium size panels.
The lower right corner shows the location for a screwed corner. Pre-drill and countersink for the screw head. Note that the screw is inserted into the side of the frame so that the screw shaft carries the weight. If you were to put the screws in from the top and bottom of the panel, all of the weight would be held up by the screw threads. ( Keep this in mind also when hanging the panel. Screws or screw eyes screwed into the top piece of stock are not secure!)


7/97 Contributor Quick Tips: Hinge Help and Reviving Old Foil

Our Thanks to: Mark Robinson and Maureen Monaghan for our July quick tips!

When making jewelry boxes and display cases you often need to attach a hinge. The hinge is most likely made out of copper wire and hollow metal tubing. The problem begins to occur when you try to make that smooth seam right at the corner of the box or at the end of the pipe. Soon you find yourself with a pipe full of solder and a messy looking project.

I find that the best way to solve this problem, is to place a toothpick in the end of the pipe. This will allow you to make that perfect seam at the end of the pipe every time and at the same time, the inside of the pipe will remain solder free. Mark Robinson

I've found that as foil gets older, it tends to lose some of its 'sticky quality.' Also, sometimes the glass is just purely obstinate and will not allow the foil to adhere well.

This has worked for me for years... I use an old electric frypan [just packed away in storage...never used anyway] to heat the glass to medium-low. I just keep the glass warming while I foil each piece.

It's a non-fail technique! Maureen Monaghan


6/97 No-Spill Flux Holder

Our Thanks to Elaine Thornton for our June tip of the month!

To keep my flux from tipping over when I am working, I use a cellulose sponge and a film canister.
I draw a circle around the canister in the center of the sponge and cut the circle out. (I use the cut out piece of sponge on my iron stand.)
I pour a very small amount of flux into the film canister and insert the canister into the hole in the sponge. I can lay my brush on the edge of the sponge and not get flux on my work surface. When it gets dirty, I throw it away and do another. The flux will keep when not in use by closing the canister.

Elaine Thornton


5/97 Adjustable Fit For Easy Installations

Our Thanks to Ann Marie Grzinich for our May tip of the month!

{Editors note: The following tip is actually quite standard practice when working in lead came but is not widely known to the majority of hobbyists working in copper foil.}

"I learned this tip for installing a window panel.....Use H-came around your finished window panel. If you made a slight error in measuring the correct fit, you can always shave away the outer edge of the came until the panel fits perfectly into your window. This saves a lot of aggravation and frustration in trying to re-cut your panel to fit."

Ann Marie Grzinich

{Editors post script: Don't forget to plan ahead and adjust the original panel size to allow for the came. (We use a full 1/2" came on the outer border of all of our came work. This allows some latitude to trim your panel on all sides and still have enough came left to nail through to fasten the panel into the frame.)
If using 1/2" came you will need to reduce the width and height of your glass by about 5/8" overall. (The cames will add about 5/16" to each side.) }


4/97 Cutting a "V" Notch Without a Band Saw

Here's a little trick to help you make some of those "impossible" cuts even if you don't have access to a band saw!

You will need either a grinder with a top bit or a glass drill. (Both Glastar and Inland sell inexpensive drill bits for your household hand drill that will drill a hole in glass.)

Just drill a hole at the deepest point in your cut as shown on the left in the illustration below, then use your glass cutter and score the lines leading toward the drilled hole.
If you have strong hands and good control you can open the score lines by hand, otherwise use running pliers and a gentle touch to open the scores up gradually. ( I never recommend tapping.)

After the score lines are open you can remove the glass wedge by wiggling it until it lets go. If necessary you can score a third line right up the middle of the wedge to the hole and run it with your pliers to help break the wedge out.

You can expand on this same basic technique to make more complicated cuts requiring the drilling of more than one hole.


3/97 Glass Cleaner

Our Thanks to Tim Anast of T-Cap Co. for our March tip of the month!

Tim writes;

Here is what I feel is the worlds best glass cleaner. I've been using it for about 25 years now and it's the cheapest, best cleaning, easy to make, stained glass cleaner/soldering gunk remover ever.

  • In a 1 gallon milk jug add----
  • 1 cup sudsy ammonia
  • 1 pint rubbing alcohol
  • 1 teaspoon dishwashing liquid
  • fill remainder of jug with water.

That's it! I told you it was easy.
The only thing to watch is that you don't leave it on your foil for more that a day or so, as it will make that green stuff that you hate to try and solder over.
I keep a quart spray bottle of this stuff on my bench at all times...It even works great for a quick clean up on your hands.
Tim Anast


2/97 A Few Notes on Selecting and Matching Glass

  • As any photographer knows, each different type of light source produces light with it's own unique "color balance". Fluorescent light bulbs cast a light that has much more green in it than natural light. Incandescent bulbs give a light that is slightly warmer than sunlight, meaning it has more light in the orange and yellow tones.
    Photographers use filters over their lenses to correct for the color balance of the ambient light. As glass workers we can't use filters to correct for the effects of our light source, but we shouldn't ignore those effects either. When selecting glass for a project always view your glass samples in the same light (or type of light) that the finished work will receive.
    Fluorescent light tends to make your glass look flat and lifeless. If making a cover for a fluorescent you will need to choose colors that are a bit warmer and more vibrant so they can hold their own against the light source. By the same token, avoid using fluorescent light to choose glass for a window.
  • Just as important as the source of your light is whether the finished piece will be viewed in reflected light (the light that bounces off the glass), transmitted light (light that passes through the glass) , or both.
    Items like tissue boxes have no internal light source and are viewed only in reflected light so be sure to select glass that looks good without holding it up to a light.
    Lamps on the other hand are viewed mostly in transmitted light from the bulb inside. Check them out held in front of a bulb at about the correct distance. Glass at the bottom of the shade will be further from the bulb than those at the top. Choose glass that lights up brighter for the bottom pieces to produce a more even illumination for your shade. (Wispy glasses need less light to "turn them on" than dense opals.)
    Windows will be viewed in both transmitted and reflected light, and both natural and artificial light. (Four combinations, natural transmitted, natural reflected, artificial transmitted and artificial reflected.)
    Be sure to check your glass under all four lighting situations.


1/97 Reusable Patterns

Our Thanks to Sandy Lux/De Lux Glass Creations for our January tip of the month!

Preserving patterns for future use:
I use my patterns over and over by preserving them in clear plastic shelf liner.
First I make two copies of the pattern I am going to use, then I number each pattern piece on each copy. Next I place the plastic liner (sticky side down) onto the pattern copies and cut out the pieces of one of the copies for marking on the glass.
When I am finished marking and cutting the glass pieces I place the cut pattern pieces in a zip lock plastic bag and mark the pattern name on the outside of the bag. The uncut pattern is used to place the cut glass on so you can get a good fit and grind the pieces and replace them on the pattern.
Even after you foil the pieces they can remain on the plastic coated pattern and be tack soldered. You then wipe the pattern copy off and place it in the zip lock bag with the cut pattern pieces ready to use again and again.

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