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Stained Glass Tips and Tools For Beginners

Updated on August 30, 2016
This lamp I made after attending six months of classes at a stained glass workshop.
This lamp I made after attending six months of classes at a stained glass workshop. | Source

If you're thinking about trying your hand at the craft of stained glass there are a few things that are helpful to know before you begin.

Stained Glass Classes

I highly recommend taking classes or joining a stained glass workshop where you can learn the basics of stained glass techniques. Many shops or studios that sell glass and tools will offer private, semi- private, and group lessons. You can also check with your local community college, as many of them have stained glass classes and workshops.

Most workshops will allow you to use most of their tools and equipment. When I first started taking classes the only tools that I needed to purchase right away were a cutter and grozer pliers.

Stained Glass Tools

What is a Cutter

A cutter is what you will score the surface of the glass with in preparation of breaking the glass with grozer, breaking or running pliers. There are many different styles and prices of cutters. The best type will have a carbide steel wheel, and will stay sharp for many repeated uses. Most cutters will have a steel ball at the top of the cutter. This is for tapping on the glass making it easier to break.

Cutter Style Tools

  • All stained glass cutters have s a carbide steel wheel.
  • With any cutter it is important to always have the wheel oiled. I keep my cutters standing in a jar, on top of a small sponge that is soaked in oil. This insures the wheel never dries out.
  • When choosing a cutter you will want to buy one that you find most comfortable to use. This cutter is called a Pistol Grip, and is held in the hand rather than the other one, which is held like a pen. Some people find the Pistol Grip easier to hold, with less stress on the wrist.

Pliers For Stained Glass

Breaker/Grozer Pliers
Running Pliers
These pliers are used for breaking away small pieces of scored glass.
These pliers are used when you need to make a straight cut.
Also used for accurate trimming.
After making a straight score with your cutters, position the pliers at the end of the score line and squeeze.

Soldering Irons for use with Glass

  • When you are ready to use a soldering iron you will want to make sure that it is a high performance iron.
  • Most household general purpose soldering guns or irons are under 40 watts. For stained glass you will need an iron that is 80 to 100 watts of power, and one that will reach 700 degrees.
  • I would recommend an iron that has temperature control. This will allow you to have the iron hot enough to run a solder bead, and cool enough so that the glass will not be cracking on you.
  • The tip or tips that come with the iron should have a pre-tinned, ironclad tip rather than a copper tip. Copper tips need to be replaced frequently when using them for stained glass.
  • When using the soldering iron be sure that you have it on or in a stand. A damp sponge should be placed in or under the stand so that the tip of the iron can be easily cleaned. You may want to purchase a soldering iron tip cleaner rather than using the damp sponge.

Stained Glass Grinder

To get a piece of glass to fit perfectly for any stained glass project you may be doing, a glass grinder will most likely be needed. There are people that can cut the glass to the precise measurement and shape they need, but for most people, you will find the glass grinder a very handy tool.

Each piece of glass that is run across the grinder will need to be cleaned by washing it off, as you need to remove any glass dust that is left on it. Omitting this step will create problems when foiling.

When I bought my grinder I purchased a face shield along with it. This protects you from small pieces and shards of glass that can fly while using the grinder. You should also wear safety glasses when working with glass.


Health Tips For Working With Lead

When working with lead solder you should make sure that all cuts and sores on your hands are covered with a bandage or a Band-aid. The reason being for this is that lead can be absorbed through cuts and sores on your skin.

You should not smoke, drink or eat while doing stained glass in order to avoid ingesting any lead.

Always wash your hands really well with soap and water when you are finished working with the glass.

There are people that work with stained glass on a daily basis who go every three months to have blood work done, to assure that they do not have lead poisoning.

Before going out and purchasing all of the tools and supplies you need for stained glass, I personally would recommend you take a class or two before making any big purchases, as stained glass for a hobby can be expensive.

If you do decide to get into this hobby check in your local newspaper or on Craig's List as well as Kijiji for people selling their equipment, as you may be able to get everything for a very good price.

A Quote by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross (Swiss-American psychiatrist and author)

"People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within."



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    • Just Ask Susan profile image
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      Susan Zutautas 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thanks so much Ed and Happy New Year!

    • ahorseback profile image

      ahorseback 2 years ago

      Happy holidays Susan ! after working for twenty years or so in the commercial and residential glass trades I find this hub really interesting . Kudo's to you for doing something I always thought I'd try ! Never did though , although we removed and re-installed many a church window after repairs . Stained glass work is an art ! And You are an artist ! But then we always knew that !.......Ed

    • SamitaJassi profile image

      Samita Sharma 4 years ago from Chandigarh

      I love this idea! So cute, and easy.

    • Just Ask Susan profile image
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      Susan Zutautas 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thanks so much lyricwriter!

    • thelyricwriter profile image

      Richard Ricky Hale 4 years ago from West Virginia

      I love the idea of creating stained glass Susan. Great work on this article. Stained glass is so beautiful and there's a lot of different things that you can do with it. Good solid tips and informative article. Voted up, useful, interesting, and shared on FB.

    • Just Ask Susan profile image
      Author

      Susan Zutautas 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thanks so much DDE!

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Great tips and most helpful indeed on Stained Glass Tips and Tools For Beginners. An informative and useful hub! Voted up!

    • Just Ask Susan profile image
      Author

      Susan Zutautas 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thanks Audrey!

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 4 years ago from California

      What a great hub!!

    • Just Ask Susan profile image
      Author

      Susan Zutautas 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Indian Chef, Thanks so much, I'm so glad you liked my hub.

    • Indian Chef profile image

      Indian Chef 4 years ago from New Delhi India

      Very informative hub, especially the health tips. voting it up and awesome.

    • Just Ask Susan profile image
      Author

      Susan Zutautas 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Steve, Thank you. I'll message you an answer :) Thanks for sharing and for voting, I appreciate it very much.

    • poshcoffeeco profile image

      Steve Mitchell 4 years ago from Cambridgeshire

      What a very informative article you have here. Has it performed well in terms of sales for you?

      I am sharing this on FB and voting up

    • Just Ask Susan profile image
      Author

      Susan Zutautas 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      KKG Please let me know if you have any questions, and thank you!

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Haze 4 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Whaqt a wonderfully thorough hub. Your instructions are fantastic. I had a neighbor years ago who used to do this and I have been trying to remember how she did it. I will be trying it now thanks to you. Up, useful, interesting and awesome.

    • Just Ask Susan profile image
      Author

      Susan Zutautas 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      LCDWriter, If you happen to try stained glass make sure you have a box of band-aides on hand :) I am forever cutting myself. Thank you for reading and leaving a comment.

    • LCDWriter profile image

      L C David 4 years ago from Florida

      I had no idea that there was so much to know about working with stained glass. I have family members who absolutely love how it looks. Very interesting!

    • Just Ask Susan profile image
      Author

      Susan Zutautas 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thanks so much Rosey!

    • profile image

      Rosey 4 years ago

      How wonderful! I know that even with this fantastic write-up I wouldn't be able to do this so well. I'm challenged in such areas, but yours is really, really terrific.

    • Just Ask Susan profile image
      Author

      Susan Zutautas 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      tipoague, Thanks so glad that you like the lamp. It was one of my bigger projects. Let me know if you ever do get into stained glass and Happy New Year.

    • tlpoague profile image

      Tammy 4 years ago from USA

      I would love to try this out, but have a feeling I would be making a bigger mess than a project. Your lampshade is beautiful. I will have to keep this in mind for one of those days that I am craving to try something different. Thanks for sharing this!

    • vdragonsblood profile image

      Tina Elliott 5 years ago from Saint Cloud, MN

      It's very fun! I love doing as many artistic aspects as I can lol!

    • Just Ask Susan profile image
      Author

      Susan Zutautas 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      vdragonsblood, Nice to see you here. I so enjoy stained glass and only wish I had more time to spend doing it. Something I've always wanted to try is working with clay to make pottery. I think working with a wheel and clay would be fun.

    • vdragonsblood profile image

      Tina Elliott 5 years ago from Saint Cloud, MN

      Thank you for posting on my hub! Love this article! I may have to look into some class work. I have a friend, who moved out of state, that does awesome stained glass work. Currently I do many other creative art work...dry medium portrature, sculptures etc, and have always wondered if I should add stained glass to the mix. Thanks for this article!

    • Just Ask Susan profile image
      Author

      Susan Zutautas 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Janis, It is time consuming. Thanks for stopping by and for your comments.

      GoodLady, Thank you.

    • Just Ask Susan profile image
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      Susan Zutautas 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Judi, I've broken my share of glass :)

    • Just Ask Susan profile image
      Author

      Susan Zutautas 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Wilderness, It was always something I thought I might like to try so I looked for a place to take classes. Once I started the classes I was hooked. I then set up a workshop in my basement.

    • GoodLady profile image

      Penelope Hart 5 years ago from Rome, Italy

      This lamp is just what I dream of making. Thanks so much for making it seem possible. Love it and this hub, thanks.

    • Janis Goad profile image

      Janis Goad 5 years ago

      Stained glass is so beautiful. Thank you for showing us how. I don't think I will get started with it now--I have to put my time in other places.

    • Judi Bee profile image

      Judith Hancock 5 years ago from UK

      I've always liked that style of lampshade - yours looks beautiful, but like Billybuc I have a feeling my attempts might involve a lot of broken glass! Pinning it though, you never know!

    • wilderness profile image

      Dan Harmon 5 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      Not something I would associate with home crafts, but I guess you learn something every day. Making stained glass art work at home looks really interesting; bookmarked for the slow winter days.

    • Just Ask Susan profile image
      Author

      Susan Zutautas 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      sofs, Thank you.

    • Just Ask Susan profile image
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      Susan Zutautas 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Ruby, Thank you, and I think you'd enjoy doing stained glass.

    • Just Ask Susan profile image
      Author

      Susan Zutautas 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Natashalh, The woman that I took stained glass classes from told me that you could use any type of oil to use with your cutter. I use olive oil and I always keep it in olive oil. The wheel is always ready to go.

    • Just Ask Susan profile image
      Author

      Susan Zutautas 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Hi Carter, I find it relaxing. It's a shame that you couldn't have taken the panels with you. I've made removable transoms for two of of windows and my front door has a stained glass window that I can remove if I happen to move. Thank you so much and glad you liked the hub.

    • Just Ask Susan profile image
      Author

      Susan Zutautas 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Whenever I've bought glass out of a stained glass supply store it's always been of a good quality. There are many many different types of glass you can purchase depending on what you plan to make. Anyone that works in a supply store will be more than happy to discuss all the different glass they have with you.

    • Just Ask Susan profile image
      Author

      Susan Zutautas 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Steve, It's a great hobby, and I hope that you enjoy it.

    • sofs profile image

      sofs 5 years ago

      I have been meaning to take classes sometime soon. I love stained glass art .. useful hub, voting it up and useful.

    • Just Ask Susan profile image
      Author

      Susan Zutautas 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      RH, I did ceramics years ago. I made so much stuff. My sister in law still has an entire set of dishware along with coffeepot, teapot and cream and sugar that I made as a shower gift for her.

      If your mom isn't using the tools I'm sure she'd be happy to free up some space :) If you ever have any questions you know where to find me.

    • Just Ask Susan profile image
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      Susan Zutautas 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Bill, Thanks for stopping by to have a look. Always nice to see you.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 5 years ago from Southern Illinois

      You inspire me to do this. Your lamp is beautiful. I love stained glass..Thank you..

    • Natashalh profile image

      Natasha 5 years ago from Hawaii

      This is awesome! In middle school we cut glass and made mosaic tiles. I remember really enjoying it. Stained glass projects seem like the next, awesome step past that! I also cut glass, now, for other uses. My cutter instructions said to oil the blade every two or three cuts, but it wasn't clear about how much oil to use. Thank you for the cutter/oil tips - I will have to start storing mine differently.

    • carter06 profile image

      Mary 5 years ago from Cronulla NSW

      Such a cool thing to do and...relaxing yeah? My hubby made some beautiful stained glass panels for our front door of our first house...it was a federation style with a huge verandah and I loved them & still miss looking at them...your hub is really well explained Susan & easy to follow...well done...cheers

    • profile image

      WhydThatHappen 5 years ago

      Thanks, is there anything about quality or cut, or any sort of detail that I should keep in mind while shopping?

    • Just Ask Susan profile image
      Author

      Susan Zutautas 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      WhyDThatHappen, I buy my glass from a local stained glass store. You can buy it on eBay as well.

    • poshcoffeeco profile image

      Steve Mitchell 5 years ago from Cambridgeshire

      Nice hub and information for anyone considering having a go at stained glass. Must admit I had never thought of taking this up until now.

    • RealHousewife profile image

      Kelly Umphenour 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Thank you so much! I do have a place that offers classes pretty close to where I live. I have taken the girls there to make ceramics in the girl scouts:) lol

      I know my mom bought everything to do this but it's still in her basement! Wonder if she could just let me borrow it - I am going to try it for sure! I knew it was gonna be an expensive habit but - I gotta have my fun!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      This is obviously one of those times when I'm here to support you because honestly, Susan, there is little chance I'll be trying this. I'd have broken glass all over the rug faster than you can say "stained glass." Great hub and very detailed instructions.

    • profile image

      WhydThatHappen 5 years ago

      This sounds like a blast and I'd love to try my hand at it; voted up and shared- where do you buy the glass from though?