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What Are the Best Tips for Making Stained Glass Windows?

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  • Written By: Anna B. Smith
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 16 September 2016
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When making stained glass windows, artists should wear appropriate safety gear at all times, look for patterns with evenly sized pieces, and use equipment specifically designed to work well with glass panels. Glass cutters, specialty foil lining, and soldering tools may be purchased from local hobby shops or through glass making dealers on the Internet. Each piece must be cut and connected to the others with precision, so that interior lines match evenly. Beginners may wish to begin by watching videos of each step of the process before attempting their own project.

The art of making stained glass windows requires both skill and patience to perfect. Glass pieces are traced to match a larger, overall pattern, and broken carefully into smaller, individual pieces. Each piece is outlined in a thin strip of metal, such as copper, and soldered together to form one whole window or hanging panel. Safety goggles and gloves should generally be worn at all times when working with the various glass making pieces as edges tend to be sharp and burns from a soldering iron can occur.

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The overall pattern used when making stained glass windows should be uniform and consistent in size. Patterns that contain very small pieces with irregular sizes should be avoided, as these require glass shapes that can break easily during handling. Individuals making their own design can avoid drawing unnecessary lines to create the mosaic effect of stained glass by focusing on symmetrical spacing and similarly sized portions in glass pieces throughout the pattern.

Glass cutters may be purchased online or from local hobby stores, and tend to cut best when designed with a carbide head. Inexpensive cutters often feature wheels made of inferior materials that fail to score or cut glass as needed. Glass pieces should be cut from one edge to another edge. Small pieces often must be taken from large pieces that are pared down in size and shape through multiple cuttings.

Frames may be used to hold the unfinished projects while soldering the individual pieces used in making stained glass windows. These frames may be constructed at home of flat pieces of wood temporarily nailed to a backer board of plywood. The open space between the wood should match the finished dimensions of the project. The glass pieces can be assembled with the front of the project resting on the plywood so that soldering may occur on the back first. The initial soldering lines that hold the glass together tend to create small irregularities that are often best hidden on the back of the project.

Corners and intersections must be soldered first to hold the pieces together. These corners are then connected by additional solder and smoothed evenly once the pieces are firmly connected. Hooks for hanging projects can be incorporated into solder lines once the project has cooled and been flipped to complete the front.

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