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Glass Fusing Basics - Glass Cutters

Updated on July 22, 2009

Glass Cutting Tools

Glass cutting tools come in a lot of shapes and sizes. They range from the very basic cutter that is available in most home improvement stores, up to specialized cutters designed for a specific purpose.

As is the case when buying any tool, for any job, it is always wise to do a little research about what is available, try out some of the different glass cutters available if you can and then make an educated decision about which one you will purchase.

This might sound a little involved when you are talking about a glass cutter, but when you think about it, the glass cutter will be one of the most often used tools in your glass studio and you want one that is comfortable, functional and just flat out feels good to use.

Let's see what your choices are!

Basic Cutter
Basic Cutter

Basic Cutters

This basic glass cutter is probably the one you are most familiar with. It is available at most home improvement stores for about $5.00.

These cutters are designed and marketed for the average do it yourself home owner, they are great if you're just trying to replace a small pane of glass in your garage or shed, but they are not really suitable for anyone who has aspirations to become a stained glass or fused glass artist.

A basic glass cutter is just that! Basic glass cutters are short, lightweight and often have cutting wheels that are mounted loosely and wobble when you try to cut a straight line or a curve.

TOYO Style Cutter
TOYO Style Cutter

"TOYO" Style Cutter

This is a very popular style glass cutter. The "TOYO" style cutter is my choice for glass work. This straight up, pencil style cutter is made in a variety of materials with the solid brass model leading the way. The brass "TOYO" style cutter is priced anywhere from $25 to $30 dollars and will last for years. You can often find a plastic version of this cutter online and be led to believe you are getting a great deal, however the plastic version is considerably lighter in weight and just may not feel good in your hand.

In addition to being a solid cutter that has enough weight to feel good while scoring a piece of glass this cutter also has a replaceable cutting head that swivels which is ideal when free hand cutting curves. The cutter also has a built in cutting oil well and provides a constant flow of lubricant to keep your cutter moving smoothly. This is an extremely important feature and makes the additional price you pay for the cutter a great deal.

Pistol Grip Cutter
Pistol Grip Cutter

Pistol Grip Cutter

A shorter version or the "TOYO", this cutter also features a replaceable cutting head and an oil reservoir. The shorter barrel and thumb rest make this an ideal cutter for ladies or guys with smaller hands, it is very comfortable to hold and work with. The drawback of this cutter for me is that I am so used to the straight up style pencil cutter that I often apply to much pressure while running scores. This is due in part to the thumb rest and shouldn't really be a problem if you practice with it.

This cutter is priced anywhere from $25 to $35 dollars and is a great tool. Once again if you are able to shop locally in a stained glass or fused glass art studio you should be able to test drive this cutter before you buy it!

Small Circle Cutter

Small Circle Cutter
Small Circle Cutter

Strip Cutter

Glass Strip Cutter
Glass Strip Cutter

Large Circle/Arc Cutter

Large Circle/Arc Cutter
Large Circle/Arc Cutter

Specialty Cutters

Specialty glass cutting tools come in all shapes and sizes. While these cutters are not a necessity for beginners they often make many jobs a whole lot easier.

The small circle cutter that is pictured here is capable of scoring circles anywhere from 1/2 inch to 5 inches in diameter. While it is great for scoring small circles you will still need to break the glass and additional tools such as nippers and running pliers will be needed to complete your small circle.

Also available are combination tools such as the strip cutter and circle/arc cutter. The strip cutter uses a detachable straight edge to help you score numerous pieces of glass in the same width. This is extremely useful and may be a great tool for the beginner with a slightlylarger budget. Just slide off the straight edge and slide on the circle/arc center point and you're ready to cut large arcs and circles. While the scale on this cutter runs all the way down to fractional inches the circle cutter really isn't designed to cut circles smaller than about 2 inches in diameter. Trying to cut smaller circles with this tool can be cumbersome.

As is the case when considering any tool purchase, make sure you aren't buying it on an impulse. If you're anything like me you might find yourself drawn to neat looking tools, but ask yourself if you really need it before you buy it! I have tons of neat looking tools that I get very little use out of, and I really could have spent the money on glass for projects instead!

Once again, make sure you get a chance to use it before you take it home!


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